Tag: Technology

 

Overspending Because of Social Media? Here’s How to Stop.

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It’s hard to scroll through Instagram or any other social media platform and not be inundated with post after post showing you everything you’re missing. And it’s not just the ads that pop up in your feed, it’s the people you know — or the influencers you think you know — that may be causing you to spend. 

Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey found that more than a third of Americans admit that their spending has been influenced by what their friends are sharing on social media. And they also say that this FOMO is causing them to overspend. In fact, nearly half of millennials spend money they can’t afford on experiences with their friends. With stats like this, it’s not hard to see that social media can be a barrier between you and your savings account. 

So, what can you do to stop overspending due to social media FOMO? Here are four tips to help you curb the urge to spend. 

1. Curate your feed

It’s time to find balance with who you follow. While it’s fun to follow celebrities or friends who live it up, get in some other #goals. 

Find accounts that make you feel good, without necessarily making you feel the need to spend more. If you’re a runner, following running accounts can help inspire you to run, a low-cost activity. Love baking? There are plenty of social media accounts that will help you indulge in that hobby. I love hiking, so following accounts that show people getting outdoors inspires me to do the same.

If you want to balance some of the flashier accounts that grace your feed with others that will bring you back to reality, try finding money savvy accounts to follow. You’ll find some inspiration by searching hashtags like #debtfreecommunity and #moneymotivation. With these hashtags, you’ll find accounts of real people sharing the things they’re doing to reach their money goals

And remember, if you’re searching for new accounts to follow and Instagram keeps suggesting accounts that will only fuel the need to spend, you can request that they stop showing you those type of posts.

2. Remind yourself it’s a highlight reel

You know your friend who is always posting about a new trip, a new bag, or an epic brunch? That’s a small piece of her life. Of course she’s not going to post about her morning commute or the sad salad she had for lunch.

This an important thing to remind yourself as you start to feel envy over her life: It’s not her entire reality. 

And if you ever find yourself stopping mid-scroll and wondering how someone can afford everything you see, think about this: Maybe he can’t. He may have massive credit card bills, be dealing with debt, or have nothing saved at all. It’s very easy to see someone’s spending, but it’s very difficult to see his savings

3. Remember what you value

With social media, you’re constantly taking in images and information. Sometimes, without realizing it, you can get so caught up in what other people are doing and sharing that you forget what makes you happiest. 

Next time you start feeling pangs of jealousy seeing someone wearing a new outfit, driving an amazing car, or living the life on vacation, take a step back. Think of what you value and what makes you truly happy. Maybe it was the potluck dinner you hosted, or the night you spent on your couch with a friend eating popcorn and bingeing on Netflix. Or, perhaps it was a great walk in the park you took Saturday morning. Maybe none of those things would look so fabulous on social media, but they sure felt great. 

4. Take a break from your apps

How much time are you spending on social media apps? Maybe more than you think. People spend an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day on social media. How does your usage stack up? Your phone can easily tell you. On the iPhone, you’ll find your data by checking the Screen Time section of your settings. On the Google Pixel, you can find it under Digital Wellbeing. 

If you’re spending a lot of time on these apps and they’re hurting your wallet, it might be time to take a break or cut back on your use. 

Or, to avoid mindlessly opening them, try taking them off your home screen or using an app that blocks social media, like Offtime, or an app that helps you curb your usage, like Moment. If that doesn’t help, try scheduling your social media usage during one specific time of the day, like on your evening bus ride home. If you find yourself reaching for your phone mindlessly, download a good book and make a habit of reading a few pages.

If all else fails, delete your apps. You can always reinstall them, but you may find that a few days of space gives you the perspective that you need. 

Final word

Social media can be a great way to stay up to date with friends. But don’t let the lifestyle you see on social media influence you to spend more and save less. And remember: Your happiness is much more important than a social media feed.

 

How to Stop Spending Based on Your Financial Triggers

Financial triggers: We all have them, and just like any issue having to do with money and emotions, they typically won’t go away forever. 

If not addressed proactively, financial triggers can become serious obstacles to making progress on your money goals. For starters, these triggers often result in bad habits like credit card binge spending or overspending in general, which can rack up hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in debt.

Studies show that almost half of Americans (49%) cite emotions as the reasons they spend more than they can afford. Stress, excitement, and sadness are the most common emotions arising out of overspending. When you’re in need of retail therapy, nothing feels better than splurging on new scented candles or a pair of shoes. However, the emotional high fades once you realize you’ve accrued more debt or depleted your savings

Here’s the good news: You can identify your personal financial triggers and manage them so that they don’t derail your future goals. Take a look at how you can more effectively handle your financial triggers and thus stop overspending.  

Be Aware of Your Triggers

The first step to manage financial triggers is to admit they even exist. It’s easy to write off

overspending as something that everybody does. Still, if you notice a pattern in how you spend money when you feel a certain way, you should be mindful of this.

Most financial missteps happen when we unknowingly slip into everyday habits. You might be

bored over the weekend and decide to go “browse” at your favorite store. And while this may seem innocent enough, you may soon realize that you just walked out with bags full of merchandise you never planned on buying.

Or, perhaps your trigger is the result of peer pressure. How many times have you gone out for drinks with friends to celebrate a birthday or promotion, or maybe simply to blow off some steam after work? Maybe you promised yourself you’d only get one or two cocktails, but you ended up with a $100 bar tab. 

Unplanned spending happens to the best of us. If it happens regularly, however, it’s a problem that can quickly spin out of control.

So, don’t feel ashamed about your financial triggers. Once you’re aware of them, you can take steps to manage them. This way they won’t throw your bank account off track.

Find Ways to “Trick” Yourself

The thought of tricking yourself to avoid overspending sounds silly at first, but it actually makes sense due to the emotional nature of financial triggers. It takes time to unlearn old behaviors, and a few personalized techniques can help as you build self-discipline.

For example, maybe you’re prone to splurge on going out to eat after a long day. To help resist the urge, you can instead create a meal plan or stock up on prepared dinners. If weekend boredom is your Achilles heel, make room in your budget for “fun money.” (It’s best to use cash so you’re not tempted to swipe a credit card.) Once you run out of cash, keep a notebook or whiteboard handy, with a list of free things to do when you’re bored.

You might even have to resort to extreme measures to curb your financial triggers. This could

include literally freezing your credit cards or moving money to a bank account that you don’t allow yourself to use. It won’t be fun when the impulse to spend arises, but the bright side is that you’re making a smart financial choice for your future self.

Find an Accountability Partner

Working to change old habits is a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone. Talk to a

family member, friend, or partner about your financial triggers. You might not be comfortable

sharing all the details about your finances, and that’s okay. It can be as simple as asking someone to join you in free activities or check in weekly about your spending.

There are other options if you don’t have anyone close to talk to or feel ashamed of sharing

such personal information with loved ones. If this sounds like you, you might want to consider joining an online group with like-minded individuals. There are tons of online personal finance communities available to answer any questions you might have and include you in challenges to help you meet your money goals.

Final Takeaway

Financial triggers can be tricky and frustrating to navigate, but they don’t have to take over your life. Once you’re aware of them and have tools in place to better manage your money, you’ll know what you need to do to spend less on stuff and keep your hard-earned money in your bank account.

 

How to Quit Your Food Delivery Addiction

Have a food delivery addiction? There’s no denying that restaurants offering a delivery service provide lots of convenience to busy people who don’t have the time or energy to cook.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Millennials are three times as likely to use food delivery apps as their parents. That’s partially what’s fueling the online food delivery market, which is projected to grow from $17 billion to more than $24 billion by 2023.

To boot, new delivery app services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have taken it to the next level. With these apps, you can quickly order meals from your phone to be delivered to you at work, home, or anywhere else.

Unfortunately, the food delivery habit adds up. And, spending regularly with food delivery apps can definitely negatively impact your savings account.

If you’re tired of eating up all your money (literally) with food delivery apps, here’s what you can do to quit your food delivery addiction.

Actually Visualize What Your Spending

One thing you can do to motivate yourself to quit is to actually look at what you’re spending. Track what you spent on food delivery apps over the past 90 days and add up the total. You may be shocked by the numbers you see.

For example, Uber Eats charges a flat rate fee which is usually under $5. However, sometimes they tack on a ‘busy fee’ during high volume times. Postmates, on the other hand, charges a $5.99 delivery fee (which is reduced to $3.99 for partner restaurants) for orders under $20. These noticeable fees add up each time you place an order.

Once you add up what you’re spending, you can actually see what your food delivery addiction is costing you. Then, think about your annual salary or hourly rate at work and compare it to your food delivery purchases. How many hours did you have to work just to be able to afford all that takeout? What else could you have done with the money instead?

Delete the Apps

It may be tough, but you might want to go cold turkey and delete all your apps at once.

You can still dine out occasionally to make the transition smoother. This way, you can indulge a little but you’ll be actually be leaving your house for the social experience of dining out. Better yet, you’ll skip out on the hefty delivery fees.

Plan Your Weekend Meals

Let’s face it, most people feel the urge to dine out and order food on weekends. Maybe you have a busy schedule or perhaps you just want to relax.

Instead, try meal planning in advance so you feel prepared and don’t resort to using delivery apps. Prepare a simple breakfast like oatmeal and fruit, or homemade avocado toast and eggs before you head out for the day.

If you’ll be out all day, consider packing a lunch to bring with you. You can also buy snacks in bulk at stores like Costco to help curb your appetite between meals.

Lastly, consider preparing a delicious batch meal (multiple servings) to enjoy for dinner over the next few nights so you won’t have to cook. It only takes an extra hour to meal plan for busy days during the week but the savings are worth it.

Pay Yourself First

Do you have other financial goals that you need to reach? I’m sure your main desire isn’t to spend a ton of money on food delivery each week, right?

To start, narrow down what you really want to do with your money and then, start paying yourself first to save up.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to take a tropical vacation, start saving money whenever you get paid. If your dream has always been to remodel your kitchen, pay yourself first and set aside money for this project each month.

These goals are fun, exciting, and motivate you to pay yourself first. I love this concept because it ensures that you will be able to afford your most important expenses. From there, you can budget with whatever is left. If you still want to dine out or order food occasionally, you can do so without feeling like you’re overspending and neglecting what’s important.

Prepare Freezer Meals for Emergencies

We all have those situations where it’s been a busy day and there’s no plan set for dinner. In the past, you may have resorted to ordering food on Grubhub or Postmates.

Instead, prepare some emergency meals in advance to stick in the freezer. The ‘freezer cooking’ trend is huge on Pinterest and you can find tons of recipes and meal ideas to prep.

Imagine the convenience of being able to pull a healthy meal out of the freezer to warm up for dinner. It will only take minutes and save you tons of money over time.

Don’t Fall For the Convenience Factor

Food delivery is an expensive addiction to have. To break this habit, you’ll have to be motivated and consider how much it is costing you.

So, think about purchases you’d have to push off or smart financial moves you couldn’t make due to your excessive take-out habits. With this in mind, you’re more apt to consider deleting your food delivery apps or at least cutting down and trying some of the alternatives mentioned above.

Are you ready to try ditching your food delivery habit? Give it a go. Your savings account will thank you (and possibly your waistline too!)

 

8 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information While You’re Banking

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While banking security has certainly improved over the years, thieves, scammers and hackers still find ways to steal your personal information and gain access to your hard-earned funds.

In fact, according to a 2018 online survey by The Harris Poll, almost 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft. And, in 2017, $16.8 billion was stolen from 16.7 million victims of identity theft, according to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research.

So, what can you do to safeguard your identity and finances against unscrupulous types? Here are eight steps you can follow to keep your money safe.

1. Change your passwords often

Keeping the same passwords across each of your bank, credit card, and email accounts for too long increases the risk of hackers accessing your information.

So, change your passwords frequently. Doing this at least once a month is recommended to keep your accounts safe and secure. If you find it hard to remember your passwords, try using a password generator/scrambler like Dashlane to create and organize your passwords. You can also store your passwords on a secure browser extension like LastPass.

Here’s another tip: Don’t store your passwords on your mobile device or laptop, says Nathan Grant, a credit industry analyst. While it may be convenient, if your device is stolen, your password is right there for a thief to use without having to lift a finger.

“Also, be careful not to enter any passwords or financial information on websites if the URL doesn’t have a secure lock symbol or https in the web browser address bar, especially on public networks,” says Grant.

2. Avoid using public WiFi and shared computers

Speaking of security, be careful before connecting to WiFi in a public place, say experts.

“Public WiFi is great for browsing the web, but you shouldn’t use it to log into your personal accounts and mobile banking apps,” says Adele Alligood of EndThrive.com.

“Doing so can make it easy for someone to intercept your login information and steal your financial data.”

Likewise, avoid sharing your computer or using a public shared computer (like one in a library) if you’ll be conducting banking or financial transactions. If you must do this, log off after your session is over — and, depending on your device, enable two-factor authentication when logging is.

How to tell if your connection is secure? There will be an image of a padlock next to the WiFi address or before the URL on your Web browser. And, if you have to access your bank app? Make sure the app you’re using is security encrypted — especially if you’re making payments.

3. Download anti-virus software

A computer virus is an inherent risk when using public WiFi. But even in private, you may be at risk if you don’t have a good antivirus software installed on your laptop or desktop.

“With a little research, you can choose which antivirus software is right for your computer,” says Justin Lavelle, a spokesman at BeenVerified.com.

“Antivirus software makes sure malicious software is detected and removed from your computer,” says Lavelle.

4. Use caution at the ATM

You can never be too careful at an ATM — even if you guard your debit or credit card carefully.

Lavelle says you should be mindful of criminals who use credit card skimmers. These are devices that can record your card’s information to then use that information to make unlawful purchases.

“Whenever you use a credit card reader, it is smart to inspect the device first,” he says.

“Look at the machine for scratches, ill-fitting parts or seals. Jiggle the machine as well as the PIN pad, or credit card insert. Most gas pumps, ATMs or vending machines are manufactured to be secure. Broken seals or loose parts may be an indication that the machine has been breached, and a skimmer has been installed.”

Lavelle says that most skimmers use Bluetooth technology, so one way to detect a skimmer is to use your smartphone.

“Turn on the Bluetooth pairing, and then see how many odd things pop up. It might just alert you to a skimmer.”

5. Watch out for “sidlers”

You should also exercise caution at busy public points of sale, since this is where thieves known as “shoulder surfers” are known to use stealthy methods to get the digits off your card.

“If another consumer is crowding you in line to pay, don’t be shy to ask them to please back up and give you space,” says Jim Angleton, president of AEGIS FinServ Corp.

“Yes, it seems a bit harsh; however, the vast majority of ‘sidlers’ are purposefully inching up to pretend to use their smartphone to look at email when they are really taking cellphone video of you entering your card and inserting your PIN.

Once they have the perfect photo, they go to their car and use a laptop and portable printer to create a blank card that looks just like your card. They can then go online and purchase a five dollar item to see if the card works. Once they have confirmation, they can then sell the fake card with your valid credit card number, explains Angleton.

Want to know how you can avoid this problem? Opt for merchants that accept mobile payments straight from your phone.

6. Never reveal your personal information

Guarding your bank account numbers or debit card digits isn’t just about hiding your details physically or behind passwords. Sometimes, ID theft involves revealing info to the wrong people.

“Emails and phone calls may seem official and important, but you should never give out your personal details unless you can verify, without a doubt, that it’s safe,” says Lavelle.

“Most retailers make it clear that they will never ask for your password, social security number, or other sensitive information by phone or email.”

Pro tip: Make sure your bank account offers added protection against hackers. Chime’s debit card, for example, comes with an instant block function to prevent unauthorized use of your funds. You can simply disable transactions through the Chime app.

7. Destroy your documents

In the event you want to get rid of old receipts and sensitive banking information, don’t just dispose of this in the trash. Thieves know no shame and will happily dumpster dive to find each piece of a torn-up document.

Instead, invest in a paper shredder that makes any document unsalvageable and unreadable. You can also bring your documents to a UPS, Staples or other local office supply store that offers low-cost document shredding services.

8. Check your credit report

When was the last time you checked your credit report?

Checking your credit report and score is essential so that you know where you stand with your credit. Getting a copy of your credit report will also reveal any erroneous information that could negatively impact your credit.

So, scour your report — everything from the spelling of your name, the amount of your loans and your credit accounts (both open and closed). If you find an inaccuracy, each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) have simple steps you can take to dispute anything unfamiliar on your report.

And, here’s another layer of protection: Switch to a bank account that will send you real-time alerts each time a transaction is made.

Stay Safe and Secure

Using these eight steps, you’ll be well on your way to safeguarding yourself and your finances in any scenario — whether you’re banking from your laptop at home, getting cash at an ATM, or shopping on your mobile device.

 

Monthly Expenses Got You Down? Zero in on Unnecessary Spending

Is turbocharging your savings your main goal this year?

If so, it’s time to get real about your spending. Perhaps you’re funneling dough to items you don’t really need.

But, did you know that most of the expenses listed out in your budget may not be actual needs? Yup, those Hulu and Amazon Prime accounts are not exactly necessary expenses.

To start creating a budget that works and reach your financial goals, you’ll first have to define your necessary and unnecessary spending. Read on to learn more.

Necessary Costs

Necessary costs are items you can’t live without. These are not items you think you can’t live without, like organic coffee beans and three streaming services. Here are a few needs that belong at the top of your budget:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Insurance
  • Food and water
  • Gas and electricity
  • Medicines or medical needs
  • Non-negotiable debts, such as student loans

Unnecessary Costs

Unnecessary costs, or wants, are items that you do not need to survive. You may not want to part with your daily latte or Spotify, but you aren’t going to keel over if you cut them from your budget. Here are some examples of unnecessary costs:

  • Cable or alternative cable services, such as Hulu or Netflix
  • Monthly subscriptions like meal kits or beauty boxes
  • Gym memberships
  • Eating out
  • Travel
  • Entertainment

Fixed Costs

Now that you’ve taken a closer look at your necessary and unnecessary expenses, it’s time to look at your fixed costs. These are your monthly expenses that do not change. They are predictable costs with regular due dates. Here are some common fixed monthly expenses:

  • Rent or Mortgage: Whether you rent or own, your shelter costs will be the same each month. Since this is usually your biggest expense, prioritize it.
  • Health insurance: Health insurance premiums can increase yearly, but you won’t see an uptick in price until your renewal time. You can also opt-in to your employer’s health insurance plan to have this monthly cost taken out of your paycheck pre-tax. This allows you to declare a smaller taxable income. For example, if you make $65,000 and pay $4,000 yearly for health insurance, you are only accountable for $61,000 of earnings at tax time.
  • Car insurance: As long as you maintain a clean driving record, your rates should remain steady. My car insurance is about $1,000, split into four payments per year. I transfer $84 into a savings account each month so that I am ready for the $250 quarterly charge.
  • Internet and cable: Your Internet and cable are not necessary expenses, but they do cost the same each month. Minimize these costs by taking advantage of promotions or downsizing your package.
  • Car payments: If you didn’t pay for your car in full, then your monthly payment was locked in at the origination of the loan. If you are leasing your vehicle, be sure to follow the strict guidelines so you can turn in the car at the end of the lease term with no additional fees.

Six Actions to Cut Down Unnecessary Monthly Spending

Now that you understand your fixed expenses, it’s time to look elsewhere to save money. The natural place to cut the fat is with your unnecessary costs.

Here are six ways to trim these expenses down:

1. Pick one streaming service and ditch the rest

Do you really need Hulu, Netflix, Sling and Prime? Definitely not, especially if you also have cable. Speaking of cable, if you haven’t cut the cord, now is a good time to do it. Not only will you save money, but you might also decrease your binge-watching habit.

2. Dump your carrier’s unlimited plan

Paying a premium for unlimited data plans is pointless when you are surrounded by WiFi. Entertain the idea of joining a family plan (even with friends) to save even more on your cell phone costs.

3. Rethink your car

Is your car payment like a dead weight? Maybe it’s time to get rid of your car and take public transportation to get around. Alternatively, you can sell your wheels and buy a more affordable used car.

4. Skip brand names

This rule applies to almost everything you buy. If a brand is pouring millions into packaging and celebrity endorsements, then you can be sure that this is reflected in the cost. Mic calculates that shoppers can save up to $1,500 annually when they switch to generic brands.

5. Put an end to subscription boxes

We all love happy mail, but are your subscription boxes truly worth the cost? Initially, when you break down the cost of the items in the box, it may seem like a bargain. Yet, if you weren’t planning to purchase these items in the first place, they are a waste of money.

6. Ditch expensive gym memberships

Exercise is a necessity for a healthy lifestyle. Yet, you may be paying for an expensive gym that you never use. Instead, cancel that membership and take up running or biking. You can even connect with a friend and go for a hike once a week. Get creative and make use of the great outdoors.

Time to Take Charge of Your Budget

Stop thinking of your budget like a cage that keeps you locked up from enjoying your life. By simply cutting out unnecessary spending, you’ll have more money to devote towards your savings goals.

Just think: That freed up cash can help you go on that Tahiti vacation or afford a down payment on your first home sooner rather than later. Are you ready to zero in on your unnecessary spending and save more money?

 

Chime’s Automatic Savings Features

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

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

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

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

Why Auto-Saving Is King

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

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

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

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

Save When You Spend

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

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

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

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

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

Save When You Get Paid

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

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

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

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

Science to Back It Up 

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

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

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

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

Start With the Easy Stuff

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

 

How to Be Prepared for a Market Downturn in 2019

If you had money invested in the stock market in 2018, you may be feeling a tad bit of anxiety. Well, maybe a whole lot of anxiety. That’s because last year was the worst year for stocks in a decade, with the S&P 500 down 6.2%, the Dow falling 5.6%, and the Nasdaq dropping four percent. Yikes.

As we move into 2019, you may be wondering if the stock market will continue to decline or whether it will rise. While no one has a crystal ball to see into the future, some financial experts believe a period of slowed economic growth is headed our way, according to Investor’s Business Daily. So, what can you do to prepare for a potential market downturn in 2019?

There are many steps you can take to protect your finances and stay ahead in the event that we head into a period of financial decline. Take a look at these four tips from financial experts:

1. Set expectations for your money

First things first: Figure out your money goals. For example, if you need cash for short-term goals, like living expenses and paying off debts, this money should ideally be held in an emergency fund or another savings account that isn’t subject to stock market fluctuations, says Ellen Duffy, CFP and owner of Parkway Wealth Management in Boston. Parkway’s services are provided through Aevitas Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor.

According to Duffy, you should keep three to six months worth of expenses in an emergency fund. This way the cash is available if you should need it for any unforeseen reason, like a job layoff or major car repairs.

Also, consider life cycle changes happening in your life now or in the near future. For example, are you expecting a baby, planning to buy a home or considering leaving your job to start a business? If these or other life changes are on your horizon, you’ll want to beef up your cash reserves – regardless of which direction the stock market goes.

“Understanding that you have ample cash on hand can a great tool for being patient during periods of market fluctuation,” says Duffy.

2. Understand that market fluctuation is part of investing

Here’s a fact: Market declines are part of investing.

“They occur regularly and are difficult to predict,” says Duffy.

So, why do we feel nervous and emotional when the stock market declines?

“Because we are human! It is natural to feel uneasy during periods of market volatility,” she says.

But, here’s the good news: Declines don’t last forever and generally speaking – while past performance does not predict the future – markets do go up over long periods of time  – “they just don’t go up in a straight line,” says Duffy.

The best thing you can do if you’re worried about the volatility of the stock market is to educate yourself on the fluctuations over time, prepare for this and ride it out. Remember: What goes down, will come back up.

According to Fidelity, it’s impossible to predict when the good and bad days will happen. If you miss even a few of the best days, it can have a lingering effect on your portfolio. For this reason, it’s best to stay the course. 

Adds Duffy, “try to avoid making emotional decisions or trying to time the market – both actions can be harmful to investment performance.”

Here’s another tip: A market decline can be a good time to add to your investments – that is, if you have ample cash on hand, are prepared to invest long-term, and can handle potential volatility. Think of this like getting a great deal on a vacation or new car.

“People love to buy clothes, cars, airline tickets etc. when they are available at a reduced price… yet this premise often doesn’t translate to some investors,” says Duffy.

When stock prices fall, this may benefit you as you may be able to buy more shares or spend less money per share. Case in point: The worst times to jump into the market may actually turn out to be the best. For example, the best 5-year return in the U.S. stock market began in May 1932—in the midst of the Great Depression, according to Fidelity.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Ok, this may seem cliche but this major premise in investing is also called “diversification.”

“Downside risk and performance can be amplified if you are invested in a single asset class or single stock – also referred to as ‘concentrated position risk’,” says Duffy.

Instead, you should consider investing in multiple asset classes, including: large cap stocks,  growth or value stocks, and small cap stocks. You may also want to consider investing in international stocks, emerging markets, commodities, real estate, and multiple categories of fixed income securities.

“Each asset class has its own attributes and over time may outperform or underperform for any given period ..and no one particular asset class has been the top performer year over year.”

If this information seems too high-brow, let’s boil it down this way: Diversifying, or spreading your investments across various asset classes, may help lower the fluctuation in your portfolio. To create a diversified portfolio, it’s important that you also understand your risk tolerance, as well as your timeline and goals for investing.

4. Save money automatically

Regardless of whether you have a lot, a little or no money in the stock market, it’s important that you save money. This can help you during a time of financial uncertainty (see #1). It can also help you reach your financial goals regardless of whether the market goes up or down.

A good way to stash away more money is to automate your savings. If you open a no-fee Chime Bank account, you can start saving more money right away. How? You’ll get a Chime Visa Debit card and every time you use your card, Chime will round up your transaction to the nearest dollar and deposit that change into your Chime Savings Account. Those pennies add up – fast. For example, if you use your Chime card twice a day on average, you’ll save more than $300 a year – without even thinking about it.

Stay the course

We get it: A potential stock market downturn may cause you to feel stressed out. But, if you use the four tips above, you’ll be more apt to weather a financial storm.

With that in mind, here’s a final pro tip: If you want or need more expertise on how to best manage your money, it’s a wise idea to seek help from an investment professional or financial advisor. This way you’ll have an expert who can help guide you through market ups and downs, as well as help hold you accountable to your money goals.

 

The 7 Types of People Who Use Dating Apps

Contrary to what your sweet nana thinks, not all dating apps are the same. And if you want to keep money from flying out of your savings account faster than Mexican jumping beans, it’s important to choose wisely.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We put together a list of the best dating apps for you, taking into consideration your personality type and what you’re looking for.

For the Highly-Educated, Distinguishing Shopper: The League

We see you, Ivy League graduate. You’re the type of person who wouldn’t dare be seen on Tinder. What would your friends — or worse, your colleagues — think, after all? That’s why you’ll like The League. This app requires you to add in your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, so that you’re hidden from people you actually know – in case they are on the app as well.

You’re also the type of person who doesn’t settle. If you prefer a lifetime of intelligent conversation to quick one-night-stands, you’ll love this app. It’s designed to cultivate the best-of-the-best, which feels a little creepy, but gives you a high caliber of potential mates to choose from.

For the Flirty Adventurer: Tinder

You’re single, and you love it. After all, there’s a time and a place to settle down (maybe….) but it’s not right now. In the meantime, there’s a whole world of people out there to enjoy, and you want to meet as many of them as possible.

If this sounds like you, Tinder is your best best. But then again, you probably knew that already, since you’ve got a go-get-’em attitude.

For the Liberal Woke Folks: OkCupid

You can be found participating in the Women’s March, the March for Science, or any other number of enlightened protests that suit your interests and political leanings.

You’re also the type of person who doesn’t like to be put in a box and answer campy dating questions. This is a big reason why you’ll love OkCupid, which offers 22 — 22! — gender options, along with 13 different orientations. OkCupid also asks fun questions, not just the what’s your favorite type of food-esque questions that are found on more mainstream dating apps.

For the Marriage-Minded: eHarmony

You’re not a tire-kicker. You mean business, and the ultimate goal of the dating game is marriage, right? Maybe you’re a shy person who doesn’t like to meet endless people. Maybe you’re ready to start a family. Or, maybe you’re just looking for a serious partner to share the rest of your life with.

Either way, eHarmony is probably your best bet, because it uses proprietary, scientific-based algorithms you can’t find on any other dating platform. The goal: To help you find the best potential matches for today — not five years from now. And that’s especially important for you, since you want to spend as much time as possible with your future spouse.

For the Busy Career Professional: Elite Singles

You don’t have time to waste weeding through endless profiles, half of which haven’t been active in years. Your time is more valuable than that, and you’re an independent-minded career professional. Still, life gets boring just being alone all the time, and you think it would be nice to share it with someone.

That’s why Elite Singles is for you. This dating app delivers custom-matched active profiles straight to your phone every day, so you can cut right to the chase. You won’t find many people fresh out of college on this app, which is fine since you want someone who is equally ambitious and as mature as you are.

For the Facebook Junkie: Hinge

You’re the type of person who thinks it would be great to date someone who is an extension of your existing social circle. This way you’ll at least have shared friends in common. But you’re also the type of person who thinks it’s a little weird to ask your friends for eligible dates.

No worries — the Hinge app uses your existing Facebook profile to quickly create a profile for you. Then, it will send you custom matches based on friends-of-friends, so you don’t even have to put out an embarrassing public call for love on Facebook.

For the Bold Woman and the Men Who Respect Her: Bumble

You’re a woman who’s tired of playing second fiddle to guys. Or, maybe you’re a man who enjoys allowing women the space to shine.

Either way, if this sounds like you, you’ll love the Bumble app because it puts women in the driver’s seat. Only women are allowed to initiate conversations with men, which suits you just fine since you think the whole dating scene is full of creepy dudes anyways.

Which App is Right for You?

You’re a fan of money saving apps, so it’s a no-brainer that you want to try a dating app, too. We’ve put together a pretty extensive list here for you to choose from. Now the only question is — which app is the best one for you?

 

6 Best Dating Apps When You’re On a Budget

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

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

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

Saving Money With Dating Apps

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

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

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

Best Dating Apps

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

Match.com

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

Subscription cost: Starting from $20.99/month

Tinder

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

Plus subscription cost: Starting from $2.99/month

Gold subscription cost: Starting from $4.99/month

The League

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

Member subscription cost: Starting from $29/month

Owner subscription cost: Starting from $83/month

Hinge

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

Preferred subscription cost: Starting from $7/month

Bumble

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

Bumble Boost subscription cost: Starting from $24.99/month

OkCupid

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

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

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

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

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

 

How Chime Offers No Hidden Fee Checking Accounts

You’ve probably heard the adage Nothing in Life is Free. Well, we’re here to debunk this. Did you know that you can get a free Chime checking account with no hidden fees?

Chime is a mobile-only bank account that helps you save money automatically and manage your finances from anywhere. Chime offers members a Spending Account, an optional Savings Account, and a Chime Visa® Debit Card. Rated the “Best Free Checking Account of 2018” by NerdWallet, Chime is on a mission to eliminate bank fees while empowering you to take control of your finances and save money.

Those pesky fees add up – fast. Did you know that the average U.S. household pays over $329 in bank fees annually, and that most Americans haven’t switched to a checking account with no fees? Pretty remarkable, right? If you’re ready to make the switch and kiss those fees goodbye forever, take a look at why Chime offers a no fee checking account, and how you can benefit.

Chime is committed to helping you get ahead financially

When you have to pay monthly fees just for having a checking account, this doesn’t help you pocket your hard-earned cash. Instead, banks profit off of you and Chime would rather profit with you. So, instead of charging you fees – like most traditional banks – Chime has turned the banking industry on its head. It makes no money off your no fee Spending Account, allowing you to keep all of your cash. How does Chime make money? Good question. Here’s the answer: Every time you use your debit card, Chime earns a small amount from Visa (paid by the merchant.)

Chime offers an awesome banking alternative to big banks

Did you know that the five largest banks in the U.S made more than $34 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2017? Chime, along with other challenger banks, want to change this with no fee checking accounts and debit cards that empower you to save money. Yet, regardless of where you bank, here’s a tip from Chime: Be sure to learn about any fees you may have to pay, including overdraft fees, savings account fees, account maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees, and more. And if you want a bank that will never rely on unfair bank fees for profit, Chime is here for you.

Chime offers a Spending Account that suits your lifestyle

With a Chime no fee checking account, you can do all of your banking right from the modern and intuitive mobile app. This includes depositing checks on the go, paying friends, transferring funds, paying bills and even mailing checks. Here’s how these main features work:

  • Mobile Check Deposit

To deposit a check, all you need to do is snap a quick photo with Chime’s mobile banking app, and then sit back and watch your account balance grow. No need to fill out a deposit slip, go to a brick-and-mortar bank or ATM, wait in a bank teller line, and write out a paper check and put it in the mail. You can deposit checks from anywhere in the world. Easy peasy.

  • Pay Friends

With a Chime Spending Account, you can send money instantly to friends and family, even to those that aren’t yet Chime members! Using the Pay Friends feature, you can divide up rent payments or split the bill when out to dinner with friends. And, you’ll never pay fees.

  • Automatic Savings

Now that you love your Spending Account, it’s time to automatically grow your savings with the Save When I Get Paid or Save When I Spend features. Automatically save a percentage of your paycheck into your Chime Saving Account with Save When I Get Paid. You can also automatically round-up your purchases and save the difference into your Savings Account with Save When I Spend.

  • Pay Bills Electronically

Using Chime’s bill pay feature, you can pay your bills, track your expenses, and keep tabs on your balance from the mobile app on any device. You can even leave your wallet at home when you go shopping as Chime supports mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

  • Mail a Check

We know mailing checks is old school. But, sometimes you gotta do it and Chime makes this task simple. It even puts the check in the mail for you. That’s right. If you have to mail a check, you can do this through the mobile app. All you have to do is let Chime know who to send a check to and for how much. Chime will then make sure your check gets to where it needs to be. Now this is what we call the best kind of virtual personal assistant.

Chime offers easy access to your money

While Chime is a mobile-only bank with no brick-and-mortar locations, this doesn’t mean you’re limited when it comes to ATMs. In fact, just the opposite is true. You can use your debit card to withdraw money from your no fee checking account at over 38,000 fee-free ATMs. In addition, you can use 30,000 plus cash-back locations.

Chime is part of the MoneyPass® and Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks, with locations throughout the United States. You can use the mobile app to find an in-network free ATM and then use your debit card to withdraw cash without fees. Now that’s convenience to the max.

Chime helps you save automatically

Now that we’ve explained Chime’s mission to help you save money with no fee bank accounts, it’s time to break down some of the key ways in which you can keep more of your money, while boosting your savings. And, remember, these money-saving features from Chime cost you nothing in fees and will help you save money without even thinking about it. Take a look:

Save When I Spend

With Chime, you can save money every time you make a purchase or pay a bill with your Chime debit card. The Save When I Spend feature automatically rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the round-up from your Spending Account into your Savings Account.

Save When I Get Paid

 This automatic savings feature allows you to save money with every paycheck. This way you can reach your financial goals faster. If you’re a Chime member, you can automatically transfer a percentage of every paycheck directly into your Savings Account.

Get paid up to two days early with early direct deposit 

Getting your paycheck early means you’ll have two more days to do more with your money. When you open a no fee checking account with Chime, you can set up direct deposit two ways: you can request an email with a pre-filled direct deposit form that you can give to your employer, or set it up yourself using the Account and Routing numbers listed in your Chime app. No waiting for your money while it sits in some mysterious electronic limbo, and no more worrying about lost paper checks. You’ll get your cash two days before most other traditional banks make the funds available to you. The waiting game is over!

Are you ready to open a no fee checking account?

If you’re currently paying bank fees, this means you are paying your bank for the right to hold onto your money. Ridiculous, right?

Yet, you have a choice. You can switch to a no fee bank account. Signing up for a Chime account takes less than two minutes and there is no minimum balance required to open a no fee checking account. What are you waiting for?

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