Tag: Seasonal

 

The Ultimate Back-to-School Budgeting Guide

Back to school season is right around the corner. That happened fast! 

While kids are probably not ready to give up on summer fun, it’s important that parents start planning for back-to-school expenses and consider creating a budget. Indeed, as it gets closer to crunch time, every paycheck counts. 

According to a recent survey, families plan to spend around $685 per child during the back-to-school season. In order to help you figure out how to manage these costs, we came up with the ultimate back-to-school budgeting guide.

Get started by prioritizing your expenses and planning out your spending. Take a look:

Narrow Down Your Back-to-School List

If back-to-school shopping is overwhelming, you’re not alone. You probably have tons of school supplies and more on your list and if you’re not organized, you can easily overspend or forget something. 

So, before you head to the store or start shopping online, narrow down which expenses are your priorities. Some of the most popular categories are:

  • School supplies
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Backpacks and lunch boxes
  • Books
  • Technology

For starters, set a recommended spending amount for each category and notate this in your budget. This way you have something to shoot for. For example, if you only want to spend $120 on clothes, include this in your budget to help you plan your spending strategy more effectively.

Factor in Any Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about hidden back-to-school costs, like after-school activity fees, band equipment fees, setting up a school lunch account and the likes. Identify these costs early so they don’t bust your budget. 

Take Inventory Around the House

Before you start doing any shopping whatsoever, take a look around your house to see what you already have. I do this each year and it saves me a ton of money

When my son comes home on his last day of school, I unload his backpack, remove all of his leftover school supplies, and store them away. I often find unused pencils, packaged notebook paper, markers, crayons, and folders that are in pretty good shape. 

When August rolls around, I take the stash of school supplies I saved and use that to determine what items I actually need to buy. 

You can do this with clothes as well. Go through your child’s closet before shopping and start to piece together existing outfits that still fit and are in good condition. 

Determine Your Savings Timeline

Once you know how much you have to spend and what you need to buy, start developing a timeline for your shopping so you can save up in advance.

For example, if you find that you’ll need to spend $400 on back-to school items this year, break out that amount over your next few paychecks and start saving. You can make it even easier by setting up automatic transfers every time you get paid. 

Also, see if you can spread out any purchases. For example, school starts a week later for us this year so I plan to use the extra time to spread out my spending. I’ll buy school supplies first, and then take my time purchasing clothes and anything else.  

Follow the Deals

When shopping, make sure you take advantage of deals and coupons to save money. Stores like Target and Walmart, and office supply outlets tend to have competitive back-to-school offers. 

One year, we took advantage of Office Depot’s penny sale and scored several items for a single penny. 

You can also shop in spurts as some stores may give you a coupon to use when you come back. In this case, it makes sense to do one round of back-to-school shopping and then return a few days later with the coupon. 

Thanks to the Internet, you can also save money shopping from your living room. Sites like Rakuten are great for earning cash back on your purchases without having to use a credit card. You can also use sites like Flipp and Hollar to scan for deals from your phone. 

Shop Used or Find Free Items

Another great way to help you stick to your back- to-school budget is to shop for used items. Clothes can be expensive and sometimes I wait around for the Labor Day sales, but I also like to mix in some used clothing.

Thrift stores like Goodwill and local resale shops allow you to get more bang for your buck and you can often find great name brand items. 

If you need specific supplies, you can also ask around to see if family or friends can help. For example, an older child may need a special calculator for math. Before you run out and buy one, see if anyone you know has that calculator and will let you borrow it for the year. Perhaps they’ll even give it to you if they no longer need it! 

Avoid Overspending 

Try to use some of these savings strategies to help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Odds are, you have other expenses to consider during the fall and winter months so remember not to drain your finances with back-to-school shopping.  

A good tip is to set realistic expectations with your kids and plan to mix in used items. With the proper planning and budgeting strategy, you can still get everything you need for the school year! 

 

Career Moves for the Summer Slowdown

If you’re skipping a summer getaway this year because you’re trying to save money, don’t feel bad about it. It could actually be a good thing if you’re hoping to get ahead at the office. 

In fact, summertime can be an ideal opportunity to do some strategic career planning. For example, perhaps you can use this time to map out your next moves at your current job. Or, perhaps you can begin strategizing about your next career move. 

If you’ve got some time on your hands this summer, here are four ways to potentially brighten your career prospects by the fall. 

1. Volunteer for Extra Tasks

Your colleagues may be taking time off and leaving part of their workload unfinished. That’s a chance to step up and pick up some of the load – and perhaps get the attention of higher-ups. 

“Taking on extra work and doing a great job of it can be an effective way to impress your boss,” says Chris Chancey, career expert and owner of Amplio Recruiting

Chancey says not to think of this as picking up the slack for your coworkers. Instead, “see it as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, showcase skills and strengths your supervisor and teammates probably did not know about.”

Just be sure that taking on extra work doesn’t compromise your ability to manage your regular workload. 

Jason Patel, founder of college and career prep company Transizion, says to prioritize the kinds of tasks you offer to take on to focus on high ROI activities. Also, review your work schedule so you know what you can really do.

“This will help you discern how much extra work you can take on. Knowing how much you should help a coworker will save you from burnout,” Patel says.

2. Grow Your Network

Your network can be an invaluable tool for moving up the career ladder, so consider expanding your connections this summer. 

“Summer is a great time to get out of the office and socialize,” says Laurie Berenson, founder of Sterling Career Concepts

Some ways to connect? “Meet people for lunch or happy hour, reconnect with former colleagues, reach out to people with whom you’ve worked on projects in the past but haven’t seen lately,” Berenson says. 

Those kinds of activities can reinforce your existing relationships. If you want to add people to your network, Chancey says to expand your scope. He suggests taking up a group hobby or attending Meetup events to meet new people who may share similar career backgrounds or professional interests. 

You can also broaden your network online through LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. 

“You probably have a little more time in the summer so why not take this opportunity to send out personalized invitations to connect with people whose role you admire and aspire to,” Chancey says.

“This is also a great time to reach out to some of your existing contacts and see what they are up to. On LinkedIn, you can write them a recommendation or endorse their skills.”

3. Learn Some New Skills

Knowledge is key for career advancement so consider initiating your own version of summer school. For instance, take a class, attend a workshop or seminar, volunteer, read some useful books or listen to some motivating podcasts. 

“Summer is a great time to take a course,” Berenson says. “If your company offers internal training, look at what’s offered or find out if you can be reimbursed for third party courses.”

Focus on filling in any knowledge gaps you might have that could help you shine at work or potentially help you land another job down the line. 

This is where having a mentor can be invaluable. 

“What works for everyone interested in professional growth is getting mentored by an industry expert, either online or in person,” says Maciej Duszyński, a career expert at ResumeLab

“Why? Because industry experts can get you up to speed in a heartbeat.”

4. Start Planning Now for a Job Search

Setting clear goals for what you want to do career-wise can help you get clarity on how to achieve them if your plans involve changing companies. 

“Define your career goals for the fall and begin mapping out your next ideal move over the summer,” says Jeanna McGinnis, professional career coach and director of client triumph for Mentor Happy

“By planning now, you’ll have a better understanding of what you’ll need to accomplish prior to beginning a job search in the fall.”

McGinnis says that in addition to setting goals, you should focus on some tangible tasks. That includes updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

You can also research for salaries, which can help you potentially earn more money if you’re offered a new position. And, you can practice your interviewing skills and elevator pitch over the summer so that they’re fine-tuned when it’s time to use them. 

Stay on Your Toes at Work this Summer

One last tip for making forward moves on the job this summer: Maintain your professional image at work.

Just because everyone is slacking does not mean you should come to work late and sneak out early or show up in beach attire,” Chancey says.

“While you should enjoy the cheer, do not let your guard down too much such that you ruin your reputation, especially in the eyes of your boss.” 

That’s good advice! While we want you to enjoy the summer heat, keeping it cool at work can help you get paid what you’re worth if you’re angling for a raise or promotion. 

 

How to Throw an Epic Fourth of July Party for $100

There is nothing more ubiquitous in American culture than a big July 4th party.

In fact, 86% of Americans plan to celebrate Independence Day this year. They also plan to spend a total of $6.7 billion on food items, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The most popular July 4th activity for 61% of those surveyed? Cookouts, barbecues and picnics. And, according to the NRF, the average cost per person for a July 4th BBQ is expected to hit $73.33 in 2019.

What does this mean for you? It means that a typical July 4th celebration can quickly bust your budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your quintessential red, white and blue celebration affordable. In fact, you can actually save money and throw an awesome bash for $100. Take a look at 6 ways to do this.

1. Be Selective with Your Guest List

Keep your holiday cookout cozy by inviting a small number of people. This immediately lowers the overall expenses for your event.

Here’s a tip to help keep your party guest list from getting out of hand: Send out same day invitations to some extra folks. Many of your friends may have already said “yes” to another party invitation so if they say “no” to yours, they’ll never know that your goal is to keep your number of attendees low.

2. Host a Potluck

Hold a potluck and ask your party guests to pitch in and bring a dish. This keeps your food expenses low while allowing your friends to do their part.

A couple of tips to make your next holiday potluck fabulous:

·      Create a Google doc and have attendees share what they’re bringing. This way you won’t end up with duplicate dishes.

·      Run a contest to see who brings the most tasty dish. The winner gets bragging rights for the next year.

·      Be clear with your guests about what you’re providing as the host. If you’re providing all of the alcoholic drinks, for example, you can ask your guests to bring seltzer water or lemonade instead.

If you’re still a little nervous about hosting your first potluck party, check out Apartment Guide’s tips.

3. Use a Savings App

Couponing sometimes feels like a hassle. Instead, strategize your savings with your favorite savings apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51. Then, double up with savings from your favorite grocer’s discounts.

Here’s how this works:

·      Create a list of items that you will provide for your July 4th holiday event.

·      Quickly check each app to see if you can save on that item.

If you’ve earned cash back from your savings app, use that cash towards your party expenses.

4. Borrow a Grill and Other Supplies

No grill? No blender? No worries. Fight the urge to buy new appliances in order to make your event happen.

Instead, ask your neighbors or friends if you can borrow a grill, a blender or BBQ supplies. If you think you’ll continue using these appliances or items, perhaps you can compare costs and purchase them on sale. This way you’ll also have them on hand for future parties.

5. Grocery Shop Your Pantry

Before heading to the grocery store, shop your pantry. Spend some time looking at the ingredients that are already in your home. Make simple dishes with those ingredients. If you’re short on inspiration head over to Pinterest to search for ideas.

6. Watch Fireworks as a Group

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spent $885 Billion on fireworks in 2017.

Instead of purchasing fireworks, you can instead spend nothing on pyrotechnics and instead head out as a group to see a local fireworks show. Check the following places for more information on fireworks displays in your area.

·      Your city’s website

·      Professional sports teams websites. An example of this is the Colorado Rockies in Denver, Colorado. The Colorado Rockies typically have a fireworks show if they’re playing in town July 3rd or July 4th. The great thing about this display is that you don’t have to attend the game in order to enjoy it.

Start Saving Now for Next July 4th!

Now that you’re set for this year, it’s time to start saving up for your next July 4th party.

By following the tips above, you now know that you can host a fabulous party on an affordable budget – year after year. Happy 4th of July!

 

 

How to Fight Summer FOMO and Fatten Up Your Savings Account

Summertime brings warm weather — and a major temptation to spend money. From hitting the concert circuit to shopping for new clothes to taking a dream group vacation, the opportunities to spend money are endless.

Blowing through your cash may be fun but it can also put a major dent in your bank account.

The good news is: You don’t have to shut down your social calendar when the lazy days of summer set in. By following these five tips, you can keep the summer FOMO at bay – and potentially boost your savings by fall.

1. Unplug from social media

Imposing a ban on checking your social feeds can be one of your best defenses against FOMO spending.

“It’s very easy to feel like you’re missing out when scrolling through countless summer posts showing your friends enjoying themselves,” says Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans.

He says the pressure to spend only gets worse if you’re receiving invites to go out via social. The solution? Take a time out from Insta, Facebook and all the rest. If you can’t do that, be ready to make a frugal counter-offer if a friend suggests some pricey fun.

“If someone is posting about wanting to go to a particularly swanky place for happy hour, you could propose an alternate location that’s still trendy but also affordable,” says Edstrom.

Or even better, suggest a BYOB get-together at home. You could even make it a regular thing, with a different member of your circle playing host each week.

And, let your friends know from the start that you’re trying to curb your spending for summer and step up your savings. That way, if you have to say no to an outing, they’ll understand why.

2. Set up a “just for summer” savings fund

The next best thing you can do to avoid summer FOMO is to be prepared for it. That means having a special savings account just for summer fun, says Rebecca Gramuglia, personal finance expert at cash back site TopCashback.com.

“Summertime means longer days and more time for activities and sometimes those summer adventures come with a price-tag, which is why starting a summer fund is so important,” Gramuglia says.

The simplest way to create a summer fund? Set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a separate savings account each payday. Pick a target amount you want to budget for your summer spending each month, then break that down by the number of paychecks you receive monthly. Commit to having that amount sent straight to savings, then transfer it to your checking to use as activities with friends come up.

Gramuglia says that ideally, if you start building this fund a few months before summer kicks off, you’ll have a cushion ready to go. But if you’re getting a late start, take advantage of small windfalls to build it up.

“Any time you have leftover change, bonuses or (get) cash back, add it into your summer fund,” she says.

3. Don’t spend without looking for deals and discounts first

With so many coupon apps, deal sites and money-saving apps to choose from, there’s no reason to pay full price for summer spending, whether it involves travel, dining, shopping or entertainment.

If you’re planning a trip with friends, for example, try doing it backwards, says Meghan Fox, a money-saving expert at gift card marketplace Raise.

“Find the best deals on sites like Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia, then pick a destination where you’ll get more bang for your buck.”

Sites like Skyscanner and Hopper are also good for comparing prices on airfare. Purchasing discounted gift cards is another option for saving on flights, hotels and other purchases. At Raise, for instance, you can find discounted gift cards from Hotels.com, Airbnb and Southwest Airlines.

For summer spending other than travel, visit deal and coupon sites like Groupon, LivingSocial or RetailMeNot to see what’s on tap for promo codes and coupons. You can find discounts on spa packages, restaurants, and movie tickets.

4. Plan some solo activities

If you’re worried that hanging out with friends over the summer will push your budget to the limit, schedule in some alone time. Then, fill that time with things that don’t cost a dime.

That’s something Julia Askin, a marketing coordinator with mobile app development firm Fueled does. After moving to New York City six months ago, she’s feeling the pressure on her budget to “do it all”.

“To combat FOMO and protect my budget, I commit much less to social engagements and focus instead on growing my areas of interest and passion,” Askin says.

In the summer months, this includes spending time outdoors and taking free online classes to learn new skills, both of which leave her bank account intact.

If you’re looking for free or low-cost things to do, check your local recreation center. Or, head to your library or a museum for an afternoon. Volunteer your time for a good cause. Challenge yourself to come up with as many free ideas as you can. To make it really interesting, consider doing a no-spend week over the summer to see how much you can save.

5. Create money goals to keep you motivated

It’s tough not spending money, especially if you feel a little left out of the fun. Giving yourself some clear goals can help you maintain a positive mindset.

For example, your goals might include:

  • Paying an extra $2,000 off your student loans by the end of August
  • Saving $1,500 in a baby emergency fund in a month
  • Starting your savings cushion for a down payment on a first home
  • Finally getting around to opening up an IRA to save for retirement

Your goals can be big or small, but make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Any time your friends are tempting you to spend, remind yourself of your goals. This could be all you need to dodge the FOMO bullet.

Summer FOMO doesn’t have to wreck your budget

The fear of missing out on fun with friends can only sabotage your spending if you let it. Planning ahead and setting some ground rules for spending over the summer can make it easier to avoid giving into temptation.

As a bonus, you may end up with a padded savings account!

 

10 Summer BBQ Hacks

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With summer just around the corner, grilling outdoors is about to become a weekly staple. And, if you plan to invite folks over for a BBQ on the regular, you may be worried about blowing your budget and dipping into your savings account.

The good news is: With a little advanced planning, you can enjoy the wonderful weather, good company and delicious food without sweating bullets. Just heed these 10 summer BBQ hacks and you’ll be on your way to saving money.

  1. Choose Cheaper Cuts of Meat

    Merilee Speigner, Founder of the Debt Snowball Calculator says that, “chicken drumsticks are one of the best options for BBQing because they are not only inexpensive but they also stay moist because it’s dark meat.” Plus, according to Speigner, “drumsticks are also perfectly casual…people are already expecting ‘messy’ for BBQs!”

  2. Grill More Veggies

    Adding more veggies to the mix can help keep costs low. Vegetables are generally much cheaper during the summer and there’s no shortage of delicious veggie recipes these days. You can add more veggies (or fruit if you prefer) to seafood or meat kebabs and other recipes to make meals stretch further.

  3. Keep the Decor Simple

    Look no further than your local dollar store for affordable party decorations. Of course, if you happen to be good at crafting, Pinterest has no shortage of ideas for creating a festive theme without breaking the bank. If you plan to host a few BBQs this summer, then be sure to recycle or repurpose your decorations for each one.

  4. Stock up on meat during summer sales

    If you already have a membership at a warehouse store such as BJ’s or Costco, then this is a great place to buy meat in bulk at any time of the year. Outside of this, most grocery stores often run promos on BBQ food items throughout the summer, and especially around major holidays. For example, hotdogs, hamburgers and pork ribs are often cheapest during the Fourth of July weekend. You may also consider investing in a chest freezer in order to stock up on meat when prices are more affordable.

  5. Make it BYOB…

    This is not to say that you should have zero alcohol on hand but rather, it indicates that you don’t plan to spend hundreds of dollars on drinks. Plus, your guests can bring their beverage of choice. Creating a signature cocktail, serving homemade iced tea and fruit-infused water are also excellent thirst-quenchers that you can provide that won’t break the budget.

  6. …And/or Potluck Style

    Diana Farmen, a middle school teacher and founder of Diana on a Dime, says that when it comes to budget hacks for summer BBQs, “I always recommend a potluck.” After all, as the saying goes, food always tastes better with company. And, as Farmen says, (a potluck) “cuts down the cost for everyone and allows for a wide variety of dishes.” Another good rule of thumb: Create a group chat so that everyone doesn’t bring the same side dishes.

  7. Ditch the Pre-Made Extras

    “It can be very easy to get sucked into the grocery stores’ BBQ prepped food, but by making it yourself, (you can save a considerable amount of money). For example, “a fruit salad can be made from fruit in season or on sale.” says Farmen. “Take a few minutes to cut them up yourself instead of paying for the convenience of a store prepping it.” The same principle can be applied to pretty much any side such as guacamole!

  8. Take Care of Your Grill

    By properly maintaining your grill, it can last you for many years to come. The good news is that you don’t need to invest a lot to keep your grill in tip top shape, according to Cecilia Paola, a young wife and mother in New Jersey. She says that when it comes to cleaning your grill, “a grill brush with soap and water works perfectly.”

  9. Don’t Go Crazy on Grilling Accessories

    Many of us are guilty of purchasing kitchen gadgets that we never end up using. Avoid going down this same route by investing in three key items to start: a sturdy set of tongs, a good meat thermometer and a grill brush. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find the other accessories you need by taking a quick look through your cupboards.

  10. Make Enough For Weekly Meal Prep

    One great way to reduce your per-meal fuel cost is to cook enough leftovers that will last a couple of days. This will also save you time during the week and help you avoid the need to order takeout.

Summer-Proof Your Budget

It’s important to budget for every season since our spending habits change just like the weather. Summer happens to be the second most expensive season – a time when people tend to overspend during longer, warmer days. Creating a separate “summer fun money stash” is a great move if you want to avoid slipping into credit card debt.

And one of the easiest ways to save money for BBQ season is by automating your savings. Chime makes it easy for you to do this by helping you to save as soon as you get paid. If you open a Chime bank account and select Automatic Savings, Chime will automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck directly into your savings account.

It’s also important to create a budget for non-fun items that can easily derail your budget during this time of year. Last summer, for example, the AC in my car suddenly stopped working. However, because I had been funding my miscellaneous spending account during the prior few months, handling an unexpected $600 expense was no sweat off my back.

Now that you’ve learned how to take the heat off your summer budget, it’s time to fire up the grill and make the most out of the next few months!

 

Summer Side Hustles to Try This Year

It’s almost summer! This means BBQs, beach days, and road trips. Yet, summer isn’t all fun and games. It’s also a great time to make more money.

Whether you decide to get a temp job or strike out on your own with a new side hustle, now is the perfect opportunity to put extra cash toward your money goals. To help get your wheels rolling, check out these eight side hustle ideas.

1. Real Estate Agent Assistant

Spring and summer are the busy seasons for real estate agents, especially if you live in a region with a hot housing market. Many agents need extra help with listings, and this includes taking photos of houses and shopping for personalized thank-you gifts for clients. At the same time, agents may not have the budget or need for a full-time employee. That’s where you come in.

Perhaps you can become a freelance personal assistant to a local real estate agent. Don’t be shy. Start pounding the pavement, meet with real estate agents, and let them know what you can bring to the table.

2. Social Media Manager

Admit it. You already spend too much time on Instagram and Snapchat. Why not get paid for your social media usage? Restaurants and stores need people with good communication skills to increase their online presence. So, create a sample account to show local businesses how you can help them gain more traction with social media.

You can charge an hourly rate or offer a flat rate package that includes a set of curated images, posting ideas and content creation. For an extra weekly charge, you can even manage the company’s social media accounts daily.

3. Manager for Airbnb Hosts

Did you know that you don’t actually have to own a rental to profit from Airbnb’s popularity? Instead, you can become a property manager for Airbnb hosts in your area.

Many Airbnb hosts rent out their home on the side but still have a busy life to maintain too. Summer months might also be the time that hosts want to do some traveling on their own, without stressing out about their own guests.

You, in turn, can be the reliable person that can fill in the gap for them. As part of the deal, you can also offer to clean the rentals between guest stays, do lawn care or welcome guests. You can even offer to improve their listings with better photos and descriptions.

4. Summer Program Instructor

Have you thought about becoming a swim instructor or teaching kids yoga classes? Perhaps you can offer children’s art or drama classes?

Summer is a great time to get your creative juices going and teach kids classes. If you haven’t taught swimming in years or you want to learn a new skill, the American RedCross offers a Water Safety Instructor’s Course in many areas. This course prepares you to teach preschoolers and children, as well as ‘Parent and Me’ aquatic classes. You can charge $25-35 for an hour of one-on-one swim lessons or charge $300 upfront for a package of 10 swim lessons.

When it comes to yoga, this may be easier than teaching swimming because you don’t need a pool and can run classes at a local park or even in a backyard. And don’t worry if you’ve never taught yoga before. You can hook up with a company like Pretzel Kids yoga, which offers an affordable online training course enabling you to start teaching children’s yoga classes immediately. Pretzel Kids teachers can earn $40 to $100 a class, depending on where you live and how many children are enrolled in your classes, says Pretzel Kids founder Robyn Parets.

“Some of our Pretzel Kids teachers also run mini-camps for a week or even three days during the summer. The best part: You can pick a summer week when you’re around and even bring along your own kids. It’s a lucrative and flexible way to earn extra cash doing something to enrich kids’ lives,” says Parets.

5. A Sitter for All Needs

Once school is out for the summer, many parents are desperate for affordable day care.

Have you considered becoming a babysitter? Even if you are only free nights and weekends, you can still pick up regular gigs when parents need a date night. If you become a child’s favorite sitter, you might even get invited on vacation.

Pet sitting and house sitting are also in-demand during the summer months. Many people prefer in-home pet sitting to boarding their animals, especially if they have more than one fur baby. For an easy way to make more money, check out Rover.com to apply for local house or pet sitting gigs.

6. Teach Kids Online

Companies like VIPKid hire online instructors to teach English to children in China. The virtual one-on-one teachings pay up to $22 an hour. To be a teacher, you need a bachelor’s degree and to pass the application process.

You can also look into other online teaching opportunities at companies like Outschool, which hires independent contractors to teach all sorts of classes for kids via video conference calls. With Outschool, you have to go through an approval process and then you can set your own hours and rates.

7. Garden and Lawn Care

We know, mowing lawns is the ultimate cliche of summer jobs, but it is for good reason. Taking care of your lawn is harder in the summer when plants and weeds grow faster.

So, try offering extra services that a regular gardener does not do, such as dog poop removal, palm tree trimming and patio power washing.

You can even skip the monthly service all together for a one-time charge. Call it the “Take a Week Off” special, offering individuals an hour of garden care for $25.

8. RV Prep and Cleaning

Hitting the open road is a summer favorite for many families. Yet, prepping the RV and cleaning it after the trip is something many wish they didn’t have to do.

You, however, can profit off of this common pain point with your own RV service business. To boot, advertising this type of business door-to-door is easy, since most of your potential customers will have their RV parked on the side of their homes.

Get Your Side Hustle On

Now that we’ve given you eight great ideas to make extra money this summer, it’s time for you to get started!

And here’s one final pro tip to level up your income: If your employer offers direct deposit, you can get paid early with Chime. Even without direct deposit, you can still manage your side hustle paychecks with Chime and automate your income. Simply transfer a percentage of your paycheck into a separate account every time you get paid. This way you can reach your money goals with ease.

 

Best Money Advice from Dads

For better or worse, your parents were likely your first money role models.

While I don’t recall my dad distilling any particular nuggets of wisdom on the topic, his actions preceded his words. For one thing, he was the ultimate cheapskate. We would only dine out on “Kids Eat Free Tuesdays”, and our go-to spots for quality time were the neighborhood park and local library.

One year, after spending $100 on an “Adventure Girl” bike for my birthday – complete with a safari-pattern frame, and pink and baby blue streamers dripping from the handlebars – my dad muttered after we left Toys R’ Us, “Nothing is free.”

The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

As a self-described “frugalista,” I still enjoy a good bargain and have trouble parting with my money. In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a round-up of the best money advice from dads:

Know your numbers

It’s easy to let your money management slide when you’ve long neglected your finances, or when your money situation isn’t exactly where you would like it. Michael H.’s (that’s his blog pseudonym) dad helped him understand the basics of cash flow management by teaching him about income and expenses.

His dad helped him create spreadsheets, and always made sure that his numbers were balanced. “It was a tedious task at the time, but the lesson was invaluable,” says Michael, the founder of Financially Alert.

Michael wants to teach his children that money is merely a tool – nothing more, nothing less.

“I don’t want them to be afraid of it, and I also don’t want them to feel entitled to it,” he says.

“It’s a fine balance of teaching them the value of a dollar through hard work, saving and investing, and giving to those less fortunate.”

How to apply this to your own money situation: Check your bank balance. You can easily do this by logging into your bank account, or by way of a money management app. Know how much is coming in and how much you’re spending each month. There’s nothing like being blindsided by a low bank account balance.

The best way to double your money

When Logan Allec was around eight years old, his dad asked him, “Would you rather have $1,000,000 or a penny doubled for 30 days?”

Even though he was just a youngster, he instinctively went with the cool million. But his dad then demonstrated how a penny doubled for 30 days would actually yield more money.

“The morale was that you want to multiply your money and not just go for the quick wins,” says Allec, CPA and founder of Money Done Right.

“Since I’ve been making money, I’m also looking for ways to multiply my pennies,” he says.

“A lot of the frugal decisions I’ve made in my life trace back to this mentality: Would I rather spend my pennies on some item or experience, or would I rather invest them so that they can multiply and make me rich?”

How to apply this to your own money situation: Find ways to save so you can grow your money. For instance, drum up tactics to help you save on your living expenses. Or, learn how to negotiate to earn more money on the job. For easy, no-brainer savings, open a bank account with no fees.

Pay yourself first

The best money lesson Mike Pearson’s dad ever taught him was to pay himself first. For instance, every time you receive a paycheck at work, the first 15 to 20 percent should go into either a savings account, retirement account – or both. That’s right: You should pay yourself before paying your rent, car loan, cell phone bill, or what have you.

Now that Pearson’s a dad himself to two young kids, he wants to teach them to automatically invest in the stock market once they get their first “real” job out of college.

“The magic of compound interest is real,” says Pearson, the founder of Credit Takeoff.

“If you start investing 15 percent of your paycheck into a 401(k) for your entire working life, paycheck after paycheck, you will retire a multi-millionaire – simply because of automatic savings and compound interest.”

How to apply this to your own money situation: Before you pay your bills and debt, stash some money aside for your savings and retirement. To set aside money toward your future goals,  create an account and set up automatic savings. Even saving a dollar a day adds up to $365 a year. Save two bucks a day and you’ll have $730 in a year.

Don’t treat your paycheck like a cash advance

When Kristin Larsen was in college, she had a job working at a clothing store. Truth be told, she took the job mainly to snag an employee discount. Instead of receiving a paycheck and then making a purchase as a separate transaction, Larsen had the option to have her purchases come directly out of her paycheck.

“That wasn’t very smart as I barely broke even with each paycheck,” says Larsen, who is the founder of Believe in a Budget.

“Once my dad caught wind and took a look at my earnings and spending, he told me it was time to find another job.”

Bottom line: Don’t treat your paycheck like cash advance. It’ll be gone by the time you receive it.

How to apply this to your own money situation: If you’re a Chime Bank member, the “Save When I Get Paid” feature can help you sock away some money before all that money goes toward your living expenses. If you have direct deposit set up with Chime, you can even get a bit of an actual advance up to two days before your payday.

Parting Advice

Whether your dad gave you sound financial advice or not, pay attention to your money matters. This way you can take steps to improve your situation and reach your financial goals.

 

Should You Get a Summer Job?

Ah summertime. With vacations, beach days, and backyard barbecues on the mind, you’re probably not thinking about getting a summer job. But whether you’re a teacher with summers off, a student on break, or you just want to save some money, summer is an ideal time to look for extra work.

Here are four reasons why you should get a summer job.

1. You can take advantage of seasonal work

Summertime boasts a plethora of seasonal jobs that aren’t available any other time of year. This is excellent news because it means a lot of employers are hiring just for the summer. It’s also great news for you as you won’t have to stress about giving your notice after only a few months. You can simply work for a short time and bank the extra cash.

As an added bonus, there is generally less competition for these jobs since they are only guaranteed for a season. Some seasonal opportunities include working in retail, lifeguarding, tourism, and landscaping – just to name a few.

To find jobs near you, it’s pretty easy to ask around, join neighborhood Facebook groups or and post what you’re looking for on NextDoor. Chances are, you’ll get a few referrals in a matter of minutes! Or, you can check out SummerJobs.com to find employers near you.

2. You’ll earn extra cash

Who wouldn’t benefit from some extra cash?

While a simple, seasonal job might not make you rich, it can certainly help you achieve your financial goals faster.

Want to pay off debt? Consider a summer job. Start an emergency fund? Save for a trip? Then you should definitely consider seasonal work.

Better yet, if you have other income from your primary job, you can stash away what you earn from your summer gig. Even an extra $200 a week can add up – helping you save $1600 in just eight weeks! That’s plenty of dough to kickstart your savings goals.

3. You’ll give your days structure

Maybe an abundance of free time isn’t for you. Or, perhaps you can use some structure this summer. Either way, a summer job can provide you an opportunity to fill your time and earn money.

Because let’s face it: There are only so many days you can sit at home before you become bored out of your mind. Summer can feel incredibly long if you don’t have anything planned. So, take advantage of your downtime and earn some money while you’re at it.

And, if you’re pushing your kids to find a summer job, this is an excellent opportunity to teach them about budgeting, saving, and time management. You can even open a mobile bank account and teach your teens how to track income and expenses while on the go.

4. You’ll learn new skills and have some fun

If you have ever wanted to try out a new career, then a summer job is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Maybe you want to take a break from teaching and work in tourism this summer. Or, perhaps you want to land an internship before heading back to grad school. Or, if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, then you can use this summer to launch your business.

There are hundreds of new skills you can learn by shaking up your routine and trying out a new summer job. Whether it’s customer service, billing, manual labor, or coaching, get out there and try something new.

Are there drawbacks to a summer job?

Of course, there are plenty of instances where a summer job may not be worth it.

For example, when you have a summer job, you lose out on time you could be spending on other things, like traveling, home improvement projects, or lazy summer days at home with your kids. A secondary summer job can also add a layer of stress to your life if you already work a demanding 9 to 5 job.

So, before you jump into a summer job, weigh the pros and cons. Just remember: While a summer job isn’t for everyone, if you have the luxury of free time this summer and can use the extra money, then why not? Besides, a summer job can be just what you need to bolster your financial goals.

 

Family Vacations on a Budget

Everyone loves to get away from time to time.

But here’s the problem: Vacations can be expensive, especially for a family on a budget. To drive this home, it’s estimated that 212 vacation days are forfeited annually in America, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Do you want to let your vacation days go unused this year? I bet not. And, believe it or not, it’s possible to save money and create a family budget that will allow you to take that much-needed vacation.

To help you plan your family trip on a budget, we’ve put together a list of six fabulous places to go that won’t bust your bank account. Some of these U.S. destinations may surprise you. Take a look:

1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is one of my favorite American cities. It’s pro-green with a bit of a hipster vibe and wonderful art. It also boasts The Mall of America, the world’s largest mall. This is ideal for the kiddos, especially if it’s pouring rain.

Besides every store imaginable, the mall has an aquarium and an amusement park. Yet, if you don’t want to pay for these attractions, you can spend days simply window shopping or going back-to-school shopping.

Minneapolis also has plenty of other free things to do, like the Weisman Art Museum, Basilica of Saint Mary Tours, Como Zoo, and Minnehaha Park.

2. Washington, D.C.

If you think Minneapolis has lots of free activities, you’re in for a real treat if you go to Washington, D.C.!

It’s almost hard to find activities that you have to pay for as most attractions are free for U.S. citizens. Smithsonian museums (yes, plural)? Free. U.S Capitol tours? Free. White House tours? Free. National Mall? Free.

Just be sure to request tickets for certain things like the Capitol and White House well ahead of time – you do need tickets in advance for security reasons.

Most of the attractions in the nation’s capitol are clumped together, but if you need to travel around the city, you can hop on the train. And, there are plenty of affordable places to stay in D.C., including The Arc Hotel. Another option is to stay in a nearby city, like Alexandria, Virginia.

3. Daytona Beach, Florida

There’s just something about a beach vacation that unravels a world of stress. Daytona Beach is a perfect place to let the worries of the world melt away.

A great and affordable place to stay is the Holiday Inn Resort. Kids under 12 eat free at the restaurant, which will save you tons of money on dining. Plus, it’s right on the ocean, but also has a pool onsite if you want to avoid all that sand.

Daytona Beach itself is 23 miles long and offers many different activities. Aside from the beach, other attractions in Daytona include the Ponce Inlet where Florida’s tallest lighthouse stands and the Daytona Boardwalk and Pier.

4. Lake Tahoe, California

This time we’re headed over to the West Coast.

Lake Tahoe is the perfect place for a family vacation. The beauty alone is worth the trip (and free). The beaches, such as Kings Beach State Recreation Area, are generally free to access or in some cases, there is a small fee. The must-do activity in Tahoe is Emerald Bay State Park, which is free to access, although you can pay for add-on tours.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, The 7 Seas Inn has free WiFi, breakfast, and parking. You can even bring your pet if you’d like. It also offers a free private beach. Another budget friendly option is the Tahoe Resort Hotel. This hotel has a “deals” tab on the website so that  you can check out promo rates. If you take advantage of the midweek savings deal, you can save 15%!

5. Yellowstone, Wyoming

Yellowstone is massive and you can spend plenty of time just exploring the national park itself. It’s actually in three states, though the majority is located in Wyoming.

Yellowstone, the first national park in the United States, is free to enter and explore on your own – just make sure to visit the eruption of Old Faithful. You can also fish, bicycle, and discover Yellowstone via water. The park even features special activities for kids!

While there are plenty of hotels options near Yellowstone, the most popular and cost-effective way to lodge is by camping!

6. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Rounding out our list of family vacations on a budget is Wisconsin Dells, also known as the Waterpark Capital of the World.

The Dells offer both indoor and outdoor water parks so you can enjoy them any time of the year. There are several waterpark resorts to stay at as well, including Great Wolf Lodge. Free kids’ activities at Great Wolf include character appearances, a pajama party, and morning activities before the water park opens. Other resorts, such as Kalahari Resort, also include an array of free and low-cost family activities.

Research is Key

Something to remember when searching for a budget-friendly family vacation: Always do your research. Make sure you compare your options to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Familiarize yourself with the cheapest time of the year to travel so that you can maximize your savings, and be on a lookout for sales or Groupons for hotels and activities at your destination.

Are you ready to start planning a family vacation on a budget? Summer fun is waiting!

 

What To Do Now That You’re Broke From Coachella

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It was worth it.

You paid a steep price to make all of your Childish Gambino-Grande-Solange dreams come true. And witnessing Idris Elba fulfill his lifelong dream of scoring the Coachella DJ gig. Well, that was priceless!

Yes, the three-day music festival event may have drained your bank account – at least that’s how you felt in the moment.

Now, however, the music has faded away and it’s time to start saving money again and get your finances back on track. But how do you do this?

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a four step guide to shoring up your financial situation. And, if you play your budgeting cards right, you may even have enough cash for your 2020 Coachella trip. Read on to learn more.

1. Assess the Damage

It’s time to look reality in the face. How much debt did you rack up to pay for Coachella? How much money do you have left in your bank account?

To get started, calculate all the expenses you will need to cover from now until payday. Get real about your financial situation. You may have to cancel after work drinks or eat dinner at your parents’ house three times this week. But, whatever you do, don’t get behind on your bills.

The faster you get back on track, the better.

2. Create a Bare-Bones Budget

A bare-bones budget is your old budget with all of the extra perks stripped away.

Basically, you can include money for groceries, but don’t you dare think about that Cloud Macchiato from Starbucks. You had your fun, now it’s time to get back to adulting. Plus, you only have to live with a minimalistic budget until your bank account is back in the black.

Make a list of essential, non-negotiable expenses, such as your rent/mortgage, car payment and insurance. These bills get priority. Next, write down all of your other expenses. What can you cut out temporarily, like eating out or your Hulu subscription?

Get creative with flexible expenses like groceries. Make a game of it. What new meals can you come up with from leftover food in your pantry? Adjusting your meal plan to feature cheap staples like rice and beans can cut your food bill for the month as well. Other quick ways to save over the next month or two include:

  • No shopping other than groceries
  • Use cash for groceries. No backup payments to save you at check-out
  • Cut or pause all subscriptions, like Netflix, your gym membership and Prime
  • Carpool or rely on public transportation to save on gas
  • No eating out
  • Minimize utility usage – i.e. shorter showers and shutting lights off
  • Return anything you recently bought that is still returnable

3. Get Extra Money Fast

Now is the time to sell anything and everything that you no longer need. You can list small, valuable items on eBay to make shipping easier. Large items can be sold through local marketplaces, like Craigslist and OfferUp. You can sell the rest of your stuff by holding a yard sale.

Here’s another idea to raise cash fast: See if you can put in a few extra hours at work or pick up more shifts. Try offering babysitting, dog walking or cleaning services to family, friends and neighbors.

Devote every penny you earn towards debt payoff and balancing your budget. This is not the time to reward yourself with extra splurges.

4. Save for Next Time

Already making future Coachella plans? Money.com estimates that festival costs about $2,347. Start saving now by putting $200 into savings each month if possible. Automatic savings makes this part a cinch.

If you’re a Chime member, you can take advantage of automated savings in two ways. First, you can choose to have 10 percent of your paycheck automatically transferred on to your Chime Savings Account. Secondly, you can have every purchase you make on your Chime Visa® Debit Card rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round up amounts are automatically transferred to your Chime Savings Account. Cha-ching.

Plan Before You Splurge

Life without trips and adventures is kind of blah. And, while Coachella may have put you in a tough spot financially, hopefully it was a wonderful experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

You can have the best of both worlds, though. Every new adventure or splurge doesn’t need to derail your budget. By following the guide above, you can effectively plan and save for Coachella, as well as other fun experiences.

Are you ready to start saving and budgeting so that you can achieve your financial goals and treat yourself to special events?

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