Tag: Saving

 

5 Money Questions Every 35-Year-Old Should Ask Themselves

Everyone has that magic moment where they decide to double down on their financial health — or risk meeting long-term life and money goals. After all, wealth rarely builds itself. If you’re unsure of how to get or stay financially fit, here are five money questions every 35-year-old should ask themselves.

1. What is my credit score?

Your credit is uber-important to your financial health, as a solid score qualifies you for better rates on home loans, insurance policies, cell phone plans and more. That’s why credit monitoring isn’t one-and-done. In fact, you should check your digits regularly, ideally once a month, not just right before you apply for a loan. Added incentive to stay on stop of your credit standing: Errors on credit reports, along with instances of identity theft, are more common than you may think.

Fortunately, you can check your credit reports from the major bureaus for free every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com and you can monitor your credit score sans charge via certain credit card issuers or certain personal finance websites, like Credit Sesame.

2. What is my net worth?

Your net worth is the sum of your assets (investments, savings, home equity), minus your liabilities (mortgage, credit card debt, student loans). It’s also probably the best gauge of your financial health at any given time. If your liabilities outpace your assets, you’ve got some work to do — and you can prioritize what debt or issue to tackle first. If your assets outpace your liabilities, you can explore the best ways to put your money to work.

Your net worth is also a great benchmark when you’re ready to put a financial protection plan in place. Case in point …

3. How much life insurance do I need?

If you have dependents — or plan to have dependents — life insurance is a key component to your family planning … well, plan. A policy allows your loved ones to cover their expenses and liabilities were you to pass away while they are still reliant on you. It can also cover big-ticket items in your family’s future, like college tuition. Life insurance rates increase as you age or develop health conditions so it’s important to get coverage when you are young and healthy.

Most people are best-served by a term life insurance policy, which covers you for a set number of years, then expires, though there are a few instances that call for whole life insurance, which lasts until you die and comes with a forced-savings component. Policygenius can help you compare and buy life insurance, starting with a tailored online recommendation.

4. Am I paying myself first?

That’s a fancy way of asking if you are saving enough for a rainy day? Basic rule of thumb says everyone should bank at least three-to-four months of expenses away in emergency savings.

If your cash-on-hand falls short of that stat, try auto-depositing a small amount of your paycheck into a high-yield online savings account. Those dollars will eventually add up. You can also tap a budgeting app or tool to find places to pare back. This simple budgeting spreadsheet, for instance, has line for “savings contribution” all ready for you.

5. Do I need to save more for retirement?

Most people do. In fact, a recent survey from Northwestern Mutual found one in five Americans (21%) have no retirement savings at all and nearly half (46%) haven’t taken any steps to prepare for the likelihood that they could outlive their savings. That’s unfortunate, because there are a few easy ways to boost your nest egg.

Start by upping your 401(k) contributions, even by as a little as 1%. (A small increase can make a difference, thanks to compound interest.) Where possible, take advantage of other employer-sponsored benefits to lower your taxable income, like flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits and health savings accounts. Bonus: HSAs often double as de facto supplemental retirement account because you can make penalty-free withdrawals for any reason once you turn 65.

Finally, consider opening a Roth individual retirement account. Here’s why.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

9 Ways to Make the Most out of Payday

There’s no day like payday … to start overhauling your financial life! Said very few people. Ever. But a paycheck is actually a great reminder of all the little money things you should do — or stay on top of — in order to maintain solid financial health.

Here are nine ways to maximize your next payday.

1. Scrutinize your tax withholding

Big changes to the tax code went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 — and, per a recent report from the U.S. Treasury, there’s a chance your employer isn’t taking enough money (known as “withholding” in tax jargon) out of your checks to pay Uncle Sam. If that’s the case, you could face a big tax bill at the end of the year.

Fortunately, there’s still time to avoid owing way more than you can pay in April. The Internal Revenue Service has a calculator that tells you how much you should withhold from each check, based on the current tax code and information on your paycheck. Head over to its website to see if you need to fill out a new W-4, the form instructing your employer how to much to withhold each pay period. Here are a few other ways to avoid an year-end tax crisis.

2. Tackle high-interest debt

High interest credit card debt, in particular, does big damage to your financial health, so if you’re carrying tons of it, put as much money as you can toward your balance with the highest annual percentate rate ASAP. Be sure to make the minimums on all your other accounts, though. Once you’ve paid that balance, move to the one with the next highest APR. If you’re really floundering, check out our full explainer on getting out of credit card debt faster.

3. Pay yourself first(ish)

That’s code for saving a chunk of the check that just hit your bank account before arranging, say, a big night out. As a general goal, aim to save at least 20% of your paycheck. Keep yourself on task by sending some money straight into savings via auto-deposit.

4. Redraft your budget

If you’re having trouble with tasks two and three, review your budget. You can often “find” some extra dollars by auditing your financial statements for clear money-wasters, like old subscriptions you’re no longer using, or big spending hikes that’ll indicate where you can pare back (All. Those. Rideshares.). Also, consider renegotiating a long-term service contract. Certain providers, like cable, cell phone and utility companies and auto insurers, change prices all the time and you may be paying more now than you were as a new customer. See if you can score a better price by asking for one … or shopping around.

Once you’ve made adjustments, redraft your budget. We’ve got a simple spreadsheet that can help.

5. Up your 401(k) contributions

Payday is a great reminder to save more for retirement. If your employer offers a 401(k), aim to max it out. In 2018, the IRS allows you put up to $18,500 (or $24,500 if you’re 50 years or older) into that account. If that’s a stretch, aim to at least meet your employer’s match. And if that’s a stretch, try increasing your contributions by 1%. It’ll make a difference, thanks to compound interest.

6. Protect your income

As we’ve said before, you can’t bank money if you don’t make money. Disability insurance is designed to protect payday specifically. It covers your income in the event you become too ill or injured to work. Consider applying for a policy, even if you get some disability insurance through work. Those long-term policies are generally pretty slim. We can help you compare and buy disability insurance to get adequate protection.

7. Update your beneficiaries

If you have some life insurance, disability insurance, a 401(k) and other benefits through work, check who will get any money associated with those accounts, should something unfortunate happen. Many people set and forget their employer-sponsored benefits, but your financial situation or lifestyle may have changed since you started your job. Make sure your accounts reflect any of these changes. For instance, if you got married, you might want to make your spouse your beneficiary in lieu of a sibling.

8. Set up an separate emergency savings account

Everyone should aim to have three-to-six months of expenses socked away for a rainy day. One secret for actually getting there? Open an online savings account. These accounts generally tout higher annual percentage yields (APYs) and are more difficult to draw from — meaning you’ll be less inclined to tap that money for non-emergencies.

9. Check your credit

Your credit plays a big role in every aspect of your life — from getting a mortgage to renting an apartment or securing lower insurance premiums. You want to know where you stand and check for signs of fraud throughout the year. You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com and checking your credit scores for free more frequently via certain credit card issuers or credit education sites.

Don’t like what you see? There are ways to improve your credit in 30 days or less.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Budget for Vices: What Percent of Your Income Do You Spend on Vices?

Do you budget for vices? A recent study found that households earning less than $30,000 per year spend 13% of their income on things like lottery tickets, prepared drinks, and restaurants. The same low-income families spend an average of 4x as much on lottery tickets as households bringing in $75,000 or more in annual income. Spending on vices can be fine from time to time, but only if your budget for vices and can make them work with your more important personal finance goals.

How much people spend in financial vices

My first job after college was as a bank branch manager. I remember a few specific cases of people coming in after winding up with hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees, asking for relief. One woman came in, statements in hand, very upset about her overdrafts that happened at the grocery store and gas station. Groceries and gas are two areas that most reasonable budgets include, and I waived a large portion of her fees.

Another customer came in, a middle-aged man, angry about his fees. In addition to rudeness and blaming the bank for his money woes, this particular person spent a lot of money at casinos, liquor stores, and tobacco shops. His overdrafts all took place at casino ATMs and on alcohol purchases. Let’s just say I was a bit less forgiving in this situation.

While it is easy to blame others for financial woes, it is important to first look in the mirror. No one made that man put his ATM card in the machine to withdraw cash at a casino. And his life would probably be better if he drank a little less. But those are life choices. You can spend your money however you want. What’s important is that you budget to spend how you want so you don’t end up in a worse situation for spending on vices.

A September 2018 study from Bankrate found that 38% of Americans dine out at least 3 times per week, 25% buy prepared drinks at least 3 times per week, and 10% buy lottery tickets at least 3 times per week.

Budget for vicesvia Bankrate

Building a budget for vices

The average American spends just under $3,000 per year on luxuries. That is $250 per month. Depending on your income, a $250 per month budget on fun purchases, luxuries, and vices could be just fine. But you certainly don’t want to spend money in these areas if you can’t afford it.

If you have high credit card balances or stress about money on a regular basis, it may be time for a budgeting reality check. You may even find that a budgeting process that includes a budget for vices is easier than you realized. A budget isn’t something that holds you back from spending, it gives you a financial blueprint to make the right spending choices for your needs and long-term goals.

If you have high-cost consumer debt or want to turn around a bad financial situation, the first place to go is your budget. You can absolutely include a budget for vices if it makes sense, but you need to start with the most important things: mortgage/rent, groceries, transportation, and savings. Once those priorities are covered, you can add in lines for additional categories.

When you finish your budget, every dollar that you earn should have a job. Put them to work first for thing things that make your life better and put your budget for vices at the very bottom of the priority list. Keep in mind that the average family needs to save at minimum 10% to 15% of their total income to maintain the same lifestyle in retirement.

The lottery is not a retirement plan

During college, a friend joked that his long-term financial plan was to win the PowerBall. But the odds of bringing home one of those massive jackpots is around 1 in 175 million. You are more likely to become an Academy Award winning movie star, die in a plane crash, get killed by a vending machine, get attacked by a shark, get elected President of the United States, have identical quadruplets, win an Olympic gold medal, get struck by lightning, or get hit by a part of a plane falling from the sky. In other words: probably not happening.

Don’t waste your time “investing” in an unlikely lottery win or other vice. Instead, put those dollars to use in a way that will give you a better long-run result. You’ll be glad you did.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

Beware of These 6 Holiday Budget Breakers

Classic Christmas movies like to depict the holidays as a time of cheer, warmth, and blissed-out festivities with loved ones.

But the reality? Holiday blues can emerge full-throttle. Plus, awkward scenarios with the fam and the stress of travel and last-minute shopping can up the anxiety levels. And when it comes to your pocketbook, the holidays can be a season of utmost terror. In 2017, Americans racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt, according to a survey.

What’s worse, only half of those surveyed said they planned to pay down their debt in less than three months. The rest? They expected that debt to linger for five months or more. Frightening? You betcha.

But there’s a silver lining: By being mindful of common culprits that devour your money, you can avoid the plunging depths of holiday debt hangover (HDH).

Here are 6 budget breakers to beware of – and how you can avoid them.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Oh, these autumn treats are so-very-delicious, yet dangerous to thee pocketbook. Whether it’s a Jack Skellington Latte, apple cider donuts, or pumpkin scones, these seasonal favorite drinks and goodies can really do you in financially. Even five bucks a day during the week for two months adds up to $200.

We get it. The colder climes may send you into cozy nesting mode, making it even more tempting to splurge on sugary, warm libations. Plus, since you’re donning heavier coats and oversized sweaters, who will even notice that bit of extra padding around your waistline?

How to Avoid HDH: While it’s unrealistic to deny yourself a pumpkin spice latte during the season, set limits. For instance, commit to just one drink a week. Or load up a gift card to your favorite coffee shop, and indulge in seasonal goodies until you’re out of funds.

If you’re afraid of overdoing it, turn on notifications for transactions you make on your Chime debit card. This will keep you in check.

Impromptu Holiday Gatherings

A company holiday party is one thing, but those last-minute happy hour hangs and spur-of-the-moment gatherings with out-of-town friends can really add up. And it’s not just your food and drinks that can be pricey. Because you’re in the giving spirit, you may treat folks to rounds of drinks you may not be able to afford. Plus, to look your festive best, you may want to buy new garb for those holiday soirees.

How to Avoid HDH: Be selective in the gatherings you attend. We all experience bouts of FOMO, but make sure you won’t be paying for that nice dinner six months later. And there’s nothing wrong with suggesting a cheaper alternative, such as lunch instead of dinner, or a happy hour.

And when it comes to your attire? Sure, you want to look awesome for the gram. But take it from someone who wore the same four dollar sale dress as a maid of honor and officiant for two weddings. Most people won’t notice if you dust off an outfit.

Another option: Try mixing and matching an outfit that’s already in your closet with inexpensive accessories like a fun tie, cuff links, or perhaps a glittery wrap or stand-out neckpiece. There’s no shortage of discount retailers, from Poshmark to eBay to Nordstrom Rack. And you can also find stylish finds at a thrift store or consignment shop.

Last-Minute Gifts

Yes, I am one of those nerdy people who creates a spreadsheet for holiday gifts. But guess what? It comes in super handy when you’re trying to stick to a holiday spending plan. My spreadsheet includes gift ideas, added costs like shipping, and the amount I can spend for each giftee. So, for a last-minute gift, I first check to make sure I can afford it. If not, I can make adjustments in my current list and free up the cash that way.

How to Avoid HDH: Check that list, and see where you can consolidate. For instance, instead of buying a gift for your Aunt Jenie, Uncle Fred, and three kids, would it be appropo to buy a single gift for the entire fam bam? And instead of getting something for each of your co-workers, what about baking goodies for the entire office to share?

Another way to cut down on your holiday gift-giving is to come up with a no-gift pact. Over the years I’ve done this with my friends and some family members. It prevents any hard feelings, and we can all breathe a shared sigh of relief. My extended family also has a no-gift policy for adults. We just give gifts for the kids.

Obligatory Gifts

We all have people that we feel like we have to buy gifts for. It may be that aunt we see only once a year. Or that cousin we secretly dislike. But if we don’t get them gifts for the holidays? We might be met with awkward silence or “how could you” glares from family members on Christmas morning.

How to Avoid HDH: See if you can skirt around it by suggesting a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange among the adults. Or give yourself permission to send that distant relative a card. If you’re still feeling a tinge of guilt, then consider spending a bit less than you planned to. Or if you’ve racked up a bunch of rewards points on a credit card, consider redeeming them for a gift card.

Impulse Buys for Yourself

We’ve all done it. During the manic of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we may trick ourselves into believing we’re purely buying stuff for others. But in fact, we add a few items here and there for ourselves. How can you resist a killer deal, right?

How to Avoid HDH: Set limits. Remember: the best way to save money is not to spend any in the first place. And, once again, set alerts on your banking app for transactions you make with your debit or credit cards.

Overlooked Expenses

Those little overlooked expenses, such as Lyft rides to and from parties, buying gift wrap and bows at the last minute, and babysitting or pet sitting costs can sneak up on you.

How to Avoid HDH: When putting together your holiday budget, don’t forget to include these little expenses. Also, look for pockets of money you may have forgotten about. For instance, don’t forget about that jar of spare change in your closet. Or money you forgot you had in your Venmo or savings account. You can use that spare cash toward these expenses.

Tis the Season to Watch Your Spending

You know full well it’s far too easy to go overboard during the holidays. But, by minding these 6 budget breakers, you can avoid falling into debt. Your 2019 self will thank you.

 

America’s Most Expensive Cities: How to Save on Rent in Boston

Welcome to Expensive Cities, a new series designed to help renters find affordable apartments in the nation’s most unaffordable metros.

A post-recession boom has put Boston’s rents among the priciest in the country. With a thriving biotech industry and dozens of premier colleges and universities, Boston is currently the fifth most expensive big city for renters, according to apartment listings site Zumper. With rents in central Boston up nearly 55% since 2009, “affordability is a greater problem than ever,” according to Northeastern University’s Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2017.

Consider the South Boston waterfront. Once a bleak collection of warehouses and shipping docks, the are has been entirely redeveloped, at a cost of billions, into the hip and trendy Seaport district.

“There’s a Warby Parker, an Equinox and seasonal farmers markets. Even the barbershops are expensive,” says Wade Vaughn, a spokesperson for Zumper. One-bedroom apartments there now? A cool $3,200 a month.

How much does renting cost in Boston?

Across Boston, median rents are up to $2,300 for one-bedroom units. In posh Beacon Hill, with its Federal-style row houses, one-bedroom apartments cost $2,550 a month.

Renters in Back Bay, near the Eataly food hall in the Prudential Center and the art galleries of Newberry Street, can expect to pay $2,675. No wonder one in four Boston renters spends half their income on rent, far more than the 30% of income experts consider prudent, according to Boston Magazine.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Boston renters don’t rate among the nation’s savviest tenants. For more on why, check our the Policygenius Renters Index.

Why is the rent in Boston so high?

In all fairness to Bostonians, they face some unique challenges that renters in other pricy cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, are less apt to face.

If you’re apartment-hunting in Beantown, you might know some of these quirks. For one thing, there’s intense competition: About 70,000 off-campus college students badly skew the supply-demand equation, keeping rental prices inflated.

Plus, to accommodate the academic calendar, “about 70% of the apartment leases start on September 1, which means you have to sign leases, hire movers and get moving permits from the city, all extraordinarily early,” says Vaughn. To get a jump on the competition, some renters start their apartment searches as much as four months in advance. (We can help you quickly compare and buy renters insurance quotes here.)

Worst of all, it’s tough to find a no-fee apartment.

“Some 90% of the privately-owned apartments require you to pay an agent. That’s another month’s rent,” says Vaughn.

How to find affordable rent in Boston

Fortunately, there are some wallet-friendly neighborhoods that offer value and fun. If you’re on a limited budget, check out some of these expert-recommended affordable neighborhoods in Boston.

1. Cross the river to East Cambridge

If your job is in Cambridge, consider rentals in the neighborhood of East Cambridge, where a typical one-bedroom goes for about $2,000.

“For that side of the river and south of Somerville, East Cambridge is your best bet,” says Vaughn. “Great restaurants are popping up and a lot of the bars have a warm vibe in an industrial setting.”

Close to Kendall Square and the multitude of eateries along Cambridge Street, East Cambridge has deals as low as $1,800 a month if you’re willing to take a basement unit. For ground-level apartments, expect to pay a minimum of $1,930, Vaughn says. Act quickly, though, as he predicts rents will increase to $2,150 by September 1.

2. For near-beach living, head to Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill is another affordable option. Located in South Boston, or “Southie,” this neighborhood is extremely walkable, with a mix of low-rise apartment buildings and condos near the water. You’ll have access to authentic Italian food, without being swarmed by tourists in the North End.

“For the four or five months out of the year that it’s not snowing, you can go to the beach!” Vaughn says.

Typical one-bedrooms rent for around $2,100, though a recent search turned up a listing for a sunny one-bedroom, with in-unit laundry, for $1,800, including heat and hot water.

3. Consider the Streetcar Suburb Jamaica Plain

“JP,” as everyone calls Jamaica Plain, is a progressive, family-friendly part of town with lots of green space, including portions of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century. The neighborhood was one of the U.S.’s first streetcar suburbs to develop after the Civil War.

Many of the units are in former single-family-houses that have been converted into three-unit apartments, says Vaughn.

“While JP feels more suburban than other neighborhoods in Boston, it’s still relatively close to downtown,” says Joshua Clark, an economist at HotPads, a map-based apartment search website that is part of Zillow Group. One-bedroom units rent for around $1,750.

4. The best neighborhoods for students? Allston & Brighton

The adjacent neighborhoods of Brighton and Allston are popular with millennials and students alike. Median rents for one-bedrooms range from $1,835 to $1,920.

“These areas are affordable, with great nightlife and public transit access to downtown, which can appeal to younger professionals and recent graduates as well,” says Clark.

With excellent walk and bike scores, easy access to transit and plenty of entertainment options, Allston-Brighton jointly ranked as one of the 20 hottest urban neighborhoods in the country, according to study from Chicago-based Hotspot Rentals.

5. Bonus tip: Arrive prepared

Whichever neighborhood suits your needs, one thing is certain. With the Boston apartment market so competitive, you’ll want to move decisively once you find an affordable place that you like. Be sure to bring along your essential documents — credit score, paystubs, references and checkbook — so you’re prepared to secure the apartment of your dreams.

Wondering what neighborhood in Beantown pays the most? Check out our list of the highest-paying ZIP codes in each state.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

How To Manage Your Money With Chime’s Mobile Banking App

Let’s face it — managing your money isn’t something that you’re taught in school (but learning about isosceles triangles sure came in handy.) Yet, learning how to manage finances is key to proper adulting.

Indeed, the best way to manage money can seem like a process of trial and error. But here’s a secret: using the right tools can make it much easier. That’s right. There are financial tools out there that can help you learn how to manage money and simplify the whole process.

Where should you start? With your bank. You may not realize it but your bank account is part of the foundation of your financial life. If your bank isn’t helping you manage your money, you can feel lost at sea. But with the right bank account app? You can get on the path of financial freedom and be the boss of your money.

Perhaps the best example of this is with Chime Bank. So, let’s dive in and find out how the Chime bank account app can help you manage your money.

1. Take control of your financial life

It’s time to take control of your financial life and make money moves that will benefit you now and in the future. Unfortunately, traditional banks make going to the bank seem like a pain. You may not like going to in-person branches, waiting in lines and dealing with tellers that treat you like a number. And, while traditional banks may have online banking apps, many of them are clunky and not very user-friendly.

When it comes to online banking apps, you’ll want to look for one that’s flexible, convenient and accessible. It’s also important that the app is intuitive and just makes sense. Chime’s online banking app fits the bill. It’s easy to use and works with your lifestyle so you can take control of your financial life.

Some other perks: you can cash checks on the go and easily transfer money from your Spending Account to your Savings Account. Plus, if you’re out to dinner and need to pay back a friend, you can easily transfer money to that friend using the Chime banking app.

Chime can help you stay on top of your financial life and make managing your money easier and convenient. No more bank visits, frustrating online apps or confusing websites. Chime has one of the best mobile banking apps, giving you the power to take charge of your money.

2. Know where your money is going

Wondering how to manage money? The first step is knowing where your money is going. But tracking can be tedious. Using the Chime bank account app, you know where you stand with your money at all times and where your cash is going.

You can get instant transaction alerts when you use your debit card. Not only that, but Chime sends you daily updates on your bank account balance.

So there will be no “OH MY GOSH how did my bank account balance get so low?!” moments. You won’t be left in the dark.

3. Avoid hidden fees

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

Perhaps the most annoying little expense is a hidden fee that you didn’t know about. This includes monthly maintenance fees from traditional banks — like, aren’t they supposed to maintain your account anyway regardless of how much is in your account? Isn’t that a bank’s job?

But at traditional banks, fees are everywhere. From monthly maintenance fees to overdraft fees, to ATM fees and foreign transaction fees. All of those fees can add up and cost you. In fact, the average household in the U.S. pays an astonishing $329 in bank fees every year.

When you’re trying to get your money right, you need to keep all the coins you can. Keep in mind: you’re the one trying to pay down your student loans, get out of credit card debt and save for that trip to Aruba you’ve been dreaming about.

With Chime online mobile banking, you can ditch fees forever. Seriously. No fees. No surprises. You can take that money and put it toward debt, savings, or something fun just for yourself. All of that money adds up and can make a difference.

4. Make the most out of payday

What’s your favorite day? When asked that question, most people would say “payday.” There’s something exhilarating and calming about knowing that money is hitting your bank account. It’s your reward for your hard work and a job well done. And, it also helps you pay your bills.

Imagine if you could get paid two days before payday. How exciting would that be? What could that do for your cash flow, your ability to pay bills faster and save more money? At Chime, we know the benefit of getting paid early. This is why we’ve created Early Direct Deposit. When you sign up for this option, you can get paid up to two days before your payday.

Your funds won’t be held hostage and you won’t have to deal with pesky physical checks. Getting your money early can help you take action on your financial goals.

Pay bills. Save money. Spend on the stuff that matters to you most. All without waiting for the money that you earned. Sounds like a win, right?

5. Supercharge your savings

You want to save for a rainy day. Save for your future. Save for your friend’s wedding next summer. Save for a ticket to Burning Man. It can all seem so overwhelming if you’re trying to figure out how to manage finances.

Using Chime’s online mobile banking app, you can save easily and effortlessly for everything you want. We have a Save When You Spend feature which rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers that money from your Spending Account to your Savings Account.

So, if you go out for coffee and get a cappuccino for $3.75, that figure will be rounded up to $4 and twenty five cents will be transferred to your Savings Account. While that may not seem like a lot, your collective transactions add up and you’ll save a good chunk of change before you know it.

On top of that, you can automatically save 10 percent of each paycheck with Chime. This way, when you get paid, you know you’re already saving money without extra work on your part. Boom. Savings just got easier. Your goals just got closer.

6. Protect your hard-earned dough

If you lose your debit card it can be quite scary. After all, your card links straight to your checking account and this is where your money is housed. So, what can you do if you lose your debit card or it gets into the wrong hands?

Instead of waiting in a long line to talk to a customer service rep and answer a million questions, you can use the Chime app and put a halt to your transactions immediately. Simply open your Chime bank account app and block transactions on your debit card. This will prevent any new transactions or withdrawals from your account.

Additionally, Chime has a Zero Liability policy so you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges. In an environment ripe for data breaches and identity theft, being protected is crucial. We take an extra security measure and require two-factor authentication and also have fingerprint authentication.

Final word

Ready to finally learn how to manage your money? A bank account like Chime can help you both manage your money and reach your financial goals.

Life is more than just paying bills and working. With one of the best mobile banking apps on the market, Chime aims to make managing your money simple and even, well, fun. Isn’t it time you lived a less stressful life?

 

Budget for Back to School as a Single Parent

As if summer isn’t already expensive for parents given the cost of camp, childcare, activities, and vacations, August can pack a particularly hard punch. This is because we are about to enter the back-to-school season.

The average amount parents spend on school supplies and back-to-school clothes has doubled within the past 10 years and this can pose a strain on single parents with only one income to rely on. If you’re a single parent looking for some hacks to help you budget for back-to-school supplies and clothes, here are some top tips from other parents who have been in your situation.

Start Setting Aside Money Early

Surprise expenses are no fun for anyone, particularly for a single parent.

Capriciana Bush, a single mom of three kids, starts setting aside money a few weeks in advance so back-to-school shopping doesn’t put a huge dent in her budget.

“I usually start budgeting to set aside $20 to $40 per paycheck in June or July so I can be prepared to buy school supplies and clothes,” says Bush.

To help hit her savings goals, Bush automatically saves small amounts per every paycheck. Over time, the money adds up and it’s less stressful than having to deal with a huge bill.

Take Advantage of End of Summer Sales

Timing is everything. While retailers tend to offer some good sales on back-to-school items, clothing can still be expensive regardless of when you purchase the apparel.

Tammy Myers, a single parent of two who works as a nurse, claims that the best time to score deals from retailers is when they’re trying to empty out inventory. She lives in the Midwest where the weather is still pretty warm during the first few weeks of the school year. This allows her to shop the end of summer sales in August instead of buying fall clothes.

“I can usually find outfits for my son to wear for two to five dollars since stores are trying to get rid of summer clothes and push fall clothes for the kids going back to school,” says Myers.

“I found okay deals on clothes during the back to school season, but they are much better after Labor Day or in October.”

Myers also recommends shopping at department store sales and factory outlet stores for good prices on quality brands. If your kids need gym shoes for fall sports for example, an outlet store like Nike or Adidas may have a better deal than regular retail shoe stores, she says.

Shop Used First

This is something I started doing when I was a single parent and I still do it today to save money. If you have younger kids, you too can particularly benefit financially by shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill before going to regular stores.

Over the years, I’ve been able to find quality fall clothing items- some name brands – and it’s helped me save money in the long-run. If you like to shop online, ThredUp is one of my favorite sites to order gently used clothing for cheap.

Pay Attention to Coupons

Even if you start saving up in advance for back-to-school shopping, you’ll still need to shop wisely especially if you’re buying items for more than one child.

Bush shops only at stores that have sales or where she can use coupons to use for supplies and clothes. So, pay attention to those annoying retail commercials at this time of year. You may even get coupons emailed to you or receive offers in the mail. Take advantage of what you need to stretch your dollars.

If you want to save time looking for coupons, consider using money-saving apps and sites like Ebates which is a free site that helps you earn cash-back on online shopping. Ebates also searches for relevant coupons you can use on your purchases. Some other coupon apps I like are Flipp, Cartwheel, and Honey.

Get Your School Supplies Sponsored

Yes, you can definitely get your school supplies sponsored for free. This what Sarah Bettencourt does when it’s time for her son to go back to school.

Bettencourt does social media management and branding work and uses her services to barter for free goods which is pretty genius.

“I partner with local toy stores and makers who can supply me with free school supplies,” Bettencourt says. “It’s typically more unique than normal school supplies but it makes a statement and allows me to get some of our school supplies for free.”

Even if you don’t run a social media business, you can still barter and offer your skills to small business owners in exchange for freebies.

Save Up Gift Cards and Rewards

This is another unique way that Bettencourt uses to lower her out-of-pocket costs for school supplies and stick to her budget.

“Sometimes I save up my Target gift cards from birthdays and utilize those for supplies while doing a little couponing,” she says.

If you receive gift cards or store credits throughout the year, you can always hold onto these things for back-to-school shopping as well. If you earn credit card rewards or cash back, this can also come in handy when supplementing your spending for supplies and clothes.

Attend Free Back-to-School Events

If you’re looking for another way to get free school supplies, you can try attending local back-to-school events in your area.

Organizations and local businesses often sponsor these community events to get everyone excited about the upcoming school year and provide free entertainment, food, and school supplies.

“I went to a free back-to-school event once and got a few free school supply items including a backpack,” Bush says. “The supplies given away at these events are great basic items to start with if you don’t have any school supplies at all.”

Stress Less

This time of year is tough enough for single parents. So, don’t let the back-to-school season overwhelm you.

With a little planning and determination, you can stick to your budget while obtaining all the items your children need for the school year. Plus, with extra creativity, you can save big bucks while maybe even banking some cash.

 

How To Spend $100 On Back-To-School This Year

The average parent will spend around $500 per child of their hard-earned money on back-to-school supplies.

For many parents, this price-tag seems daunting. But here’s the good news: you can still get your kids the school supplies they need without spending anywhere near $500. In fact, with careful planning, you can spend $100 (or less) on back-to-school necessities this year. Take a look at our 5 tips below and start saving money right now.

1. Shop Your Home

Before you even set foot inside a store, take inventory of what you have at home. Do you have binders that are in good shape? Do you have boxes of crayons, markers, or pencils that your child can use instead of new ones? Shop your home first by seeing what supplies you already have available. Then, cross off the items, gather them together, and make a list of all the remaining school supplies that you still need to buy.

2. Buy Only What’s Needed

If you’ve received a list from your school district stating what you need to buy for your child this year, only buy the items on the list. And, unless the list states a specific brand or size, choose the cheapest option available. As long as the particular item will serve its purpose and get your child through the school year, there’s no need to pay extra for the brand name. For example, in the Midwest, Crayola Crayons cost about $4.98 for a pack of 24 crayons. Yet, store brands from Target or Walmart only cost $2.98 for the same 24-pack.

Remember, you only have a $100 budget. If you want to make sure you don’t go over that amount and you’re only buying what you absolutely need, go shopping with only $100 in your checking account (you can always move money to your savings account and then back to your checking account later.). While some banks may charge you for dipping below a certain amount, in your checking account, you can always switch to a no fee bank to avoid that.

If your child needs more crayons (or any other school supplies) throughout the year, purchase them when the time comes. And remember: if you purchase extra items that aren’t on the list provided by your school, they may sit around your house all year. Wasted money.

3. Buy Online

Along with only buying what you need, you can receive significant savings on back-to-school supplies by shopping online. Not only does this save you time, but different stores will typically offer online only deals on school supplies.

Popular stores like Staples, Walmart, Target, and even Amazon will send out emails about back-to-school deals. If you haven’t signed up for these email lists, now is a great time to do this. This way you can get deals delivered right to your email in-box.

Another great reason to shop online for back-to-school supplies is that you’ll often qualify for free shipping straight to your home, or even to your local store if you’d rather pick up there. The items you find and pay for online are still eligible for returns, so there is no risk to you if you choose to shop online for back-to-school supplies. Instead, it’s just another way to save money, time and energy.

4. Use Coupons

If you have to buy brand name items, or if you want to save even more money, coupons, price matching deals, and savings found on apps can shave even more dollars off your back-to-school shopping bill. Almost all major retailers offer price matching, so if you find a product cheaper somewhere else, you can alert the store you’re purchasing from and they will match the price. The major retailers want your business, so don’t be shy. Take advantage of price matching to get the best deal for you.

If you decide to use coupons, remember to read and understand the store’s policy on how you can use your coupons. Each store is different, and it’s better to know the policy up front so you aren’t wasting time later. For example, some stores will not accept a store coupon on top of a manufacturer’s coupon. So, if you have a store coupon and manufacturer coupon for the same item, you may only be able to use one. The bottom line: read the policy, get your coupons in order, and make sure you have everything squared away before using them.

Even if you don’t use price matching or coupons, you can still save money or earn money back through your purchases. Apps and websites such as Ebates, Ibotta, and Checkout 51 all give you cash back for purchasing certain items or shopping at particular retailers. All you have to do is submit your receipt and the cash back or savings is then added to your account.

Also, if you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card, your purchases will round up with each transaction, thus adding more money into your savings account without having to think about it..

5. Check Out Discount Stores

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to check out discount stores or thrift stores. These stores aren’t just for cheap clothing or household items. You can find a plethora of back-to-school supplies for $1 or less. Plus, if your local thrift store offers discount days or extra coupons, you can use those to save even more.

If you decide to shop at a discount store, it’s important to remember that you may not find name brand items. However, if that’s not important to you, a discount store like the Dollar Tree can help you spend just one dollar or less on each item you buy. In other words, if you buy 40 items you may get away with spending only $40, which is well under your new $100 budget for back-to-school supplies.

Don’t Bust Your Back-To-School Budget

While the average parent may spend $500 on back-to-school supplies, you don’t have to spend anywhere close to this much money. It is possible to stick to a $100 budget for your child’s school supplies. All it takes is a little planning and willingness to shop around for the best deals.

 

We Asked College Aid Experts How to Pay for School

While it’s hard to deny the value of a college education, rising costs have made it harder for students to afford their degrees. Average tuition at public, four-year schools surged to $9,970 for the 2017-18 school year and those costs rise to $20,770 per year when you add room and board, according to the College Board. A private school or an advanced degree, will cost you even more.

With these figures in mind, it’s important to know you don’t have to follow the crowd when it comes to earning a degree. You can plot a different path by looking for ways to reduce the cost of admission or by attending a different school.

Many college aid professionals and counselors wish you would consider alternative options. When it comes to paying for college, here’s what the experts have to say.

Pricey schools don’t always pay off

Ben Luthi, college expert for Student Loan Hero, says you can get a quality education without paying a premium. To accomplish this goal, you may have to consider a different school than the one you want to attend.

“The name of your school might help you get your first job, but it likely won’t matter for the rest of your career,” he said. That’s why you should make sure you include more affordable schools in your college search.

“And if you’re already in school and you’re overwhelmed with the cost, consider transferring. I’ve worked with countless people who went to colleges that I’ve never heard of,” he said.

Joe Orsolini, who serves as president of College Aid Planners, says many students and parents get hung up on college rankings or where a school lands on a best-of list. As a result, they make poor decisions regarding their undergraduate education.

“The reality is that nobody cares where you got your undergraduate degree,” he said. “Do you know where your doctor earned their undergraduate degree?” Probably not.

Focus on your return on investment

Robert Farrington, founder of The College Investor, says too many people think of college as a time to find themselves without thinking of the long-term consequences of their student debt.

“Students need to think of college as an investment, and so they need to focus on the ROI of that investment,” he said. “Why are they going to college? What will it cost? What can they expect to make after graduation in their first job? Based on those answers, students can get a good glimpse of their potential ROI.”

When you focus on your return on investment and think of college as a business transaction, you can avoid borrowing too much to pursue a degree that won’t pay off. Farrington suggests making sure you never borrow more in student loans than you can earn in your first year after graduation.

“That will allow you to realize an ROI on your education and keep your student loan debt at a manageable level,” he said.

You can save if you don’t live on campus

Debbie Schwartz, founder of Road2College.com, says students who have the option to live off campus or at home should consider it (just remember you’ll need renters insurance if you live in an apartment).

“In many cases, room and board can be more expensive than tuition,” she said. If you can live with your parents or another family member or share an inexpensive apartment or house with other students, you can reduce the amount of cash you need to borrow for school.

Take the right courses in high school

Kathy Hart, a California-based scholarship consultant and college coach, says many students assume harder courses will help them get into college. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

“Take classes in high school that allow you to be successful,” she said. In other words, don’t fall victim to the pressure of having to take Advanced Placement coursework if you know if you can’t earn an A. If you can’t, an AP class could hurt your chances of getting into the school you want.

Apply early for scholarships

Jocelyn Paonita Pearson, scholarship expert and founder of The Scholarship System, believes all students can secure scholarships. She also believes they should start searching for grants as early as sophomore or junior year in high school and apply for every scholarship for which they qualify.

“Despite the majority of stories we hear, there are many students out there that manage to graduate debt-free,” she said. The key to earning scholarships is taking the time to find them and applying, and unfortunately this can require a big investment of time and effort.

Pam Andrews, college admissions coach for The Scholarship Shark, says it’s important to think about other types of aid as well – including federal or state grants and merit scholarships. Merit aid can be especially lucrative if you have excellent grades.

“Know what the college offers in merit aid, how you can qualify for it and what it takes to maintain it,” she said. “It is also important to know the application deadlines to apply for merit aid. Sometimes those deadlines are before a college’s application for admissions deadlines.”

Never assume you won’t qualify for a scholarship. Andrews says it’s important to approach the scholarship system with an open mind and without any limiting beliefs.

“If you don’t feel like you can succeed then you’re less likely to act or even think about acting,” she said. “Having the right attitude towards winning scholarships is the first step because it then moves the student to take action.”

Tuition may keep rising, but some states and colleges have made tuition free. Here’s where.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Over 60% of Americans Don’t Know What They Need to Retire

A recent study found that 61% of Americans don’t know how much money they need to retire. This concerning statistic highlights a major problem with retirement savings in the United States. A huge number of Americans have little to no retirement savings despite advice to stash away cash for a comfortable future. Let’s look at some important retirement savings rules to make sure you are not part of this scary statistic.

Americans don’t know how much money they need for retirement

A new study from Bankrate found that six in ten Americans do not know how much money they need to retire. With a large wave of Baby Boomers reaching their golden years and preparing to leave the workforce, millions of Americans may be in for a big surprise when the regular paychecks stop flowing in.

While Social Security or an increasingly rare pension plan can offer a safety net to aging Americans, most of us need much more than we will get from the government to maintain the same standard of living in retirement.

The study went beyond asking what people need to retire. Older Americans fared slightly better than Millennials in the survey and fewer than 2 in 5 non-retirees indicated that they feel their retirement savings are not on track.

Using the 15% rule to save for retirement

To avoid a ramen diet in retirement, you should follow best practices for retirement savings today. That may include contributing the maximum allowed amount to an IRA or Roth IRA in addition to participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k).

One quick and easy option to meet your retirement needs is to save at minimum 10% to 15% of your gross income (that’s your income before taxes and deductions). This is easy to do automatically in most employer retirement plans.

To reach the maximum $5,500 per year in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or Roth IRA, you should save $211 per pay period if paid every other week to reach the target savings rate at the end of each calendar year.

If you make $50,000 per year, that means you should save $7,500 per year, or $625 per month, at the very least to maintain the same quality of life in retirement. But remember that this is just a minimum. You can save far more for retirement if you choose!

Calculate your actual retirement needs

While saving 15% or more for retirement is a good estimate on how much to save, you should do better and estimate your actual financial need in retirement. This is a tricky thing to calculate with a ton of accuracy, as you have to estimate your retirement date, how long you will live, and how much you need per month to get your total number.

Lucky for you, a Ph.D. is not necessary to calculate your retirement need. There are a handful of useful tools that make it easy and quick to estimate your financial requirements for retirement.

This in-depth calculator from AARP gives you detailed results on your retirement readiness. The Kiplinger calculator gives you a quicker result in estimating your retirement needs, but with a little less detail.

You control your retirement destiny

If you are behind on saving for retirement, there is no one to blame but yourself. But don’t dwell on the past and savings that have yet to take place. Instead, focus on the future and boosting your retirement savings starting today. That is the only way you will get on track to reach your retirement goals.

It may seem like a long way off, but your retirement is just around the corner in the scheme of things. Take the steps you need now so you don’t end up in a difficult situation in retirement. Many older Americans find themselves stuck working in retirement or skimping at home to make ends meet. Even if you can’t start by saving a full 15% of your income, you can start with something. Some retirement savings apps let you start with as little as $1 or $5!

Start saving and get yourself on track for your dream retirement. Your future self will thank you.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

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