Tag: Technology

 

Chime’s Automatic Savings Features

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

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

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

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

Why Auto-Saving Is King

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

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

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

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

Save When You Spend

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

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

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

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

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

Save When You Get Paid

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

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


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

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

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

Science to Back It Up 

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

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

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

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

Start With the Easy Stuff

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

 

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 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 fees?

Chime is a mobile-only bank account that helps you save money automatically and manage your finances from anywhere. Now one of the fastest growing bank accounts in the U.S., 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 5 reasons why Chime offers a no fee checking account, and how you can benefit.

1. 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.)

2. 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.

3. 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 10% 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 different 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 10% 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?

 

Money-Making Apps: What You Need to Know

Is boosting your income on your to-do list? If so, you can start a side hustle or angle for a better a job. But, there may be an easier way to make a few extra bucks: money-making apps.

“While money-making and cash back apps can’t replace your 9 to 5, they’re a great way to earn some change to tuck away for a rainy day,” says Joy Hearn, founder of deal site Cards and Clips.

Indeed, money-making apps can put cash in your wallet. That’s money you can use to pad your savings account or pay off debt. Yet, you may be confused about what these apps do or which ones you might want to try, right? Well, we’ve got the details here, along with tips on how to leverage money-making apps. To learn more, read on.

How Money-Making Apps Work

The basic premise of money-making apps is that they allow you to earn a percentage of what you spend as cash back. You link your debit or credit card to the app, spend at partner merchants and cash back rewards are credited to your app account.

You’re free to use the cash back you’ve earned however you want. And you can double up on rewards if you’re also earning cash back from your linked debit or credit card.

What makes each money-making app and website different is the amount of cash back you can earn, where you can earn it and how that cash is paid out. Some of the most popular money-making apps include:

With Dosh, you can earn up to 10% cash back automatically when you pay with a linked debit or credit card at more than 1,000 stores and restaurants. You can also snag an extra five dollars each time you refer a friend to Dosh and they sign up for an account using your referral link. You can transfer the money you’ve made to your bank account, PayPal account or donate it to charity.

Lushdollar founder Tom Nathaniel likes Dosh because it’s a set-it-and-forget-it way to earn cash back.

“While I could check out which merchants give me cash back, I just look at it as a bonus if my purchase triggers a reward. Since you just add your credit card, the app always knows what you’re buying,” says Nathaniel.

Marc Andre, personal finance blogger at VitalDollar.com says Ebates is his money-making app of choice. Ebates offers up to 40% cash back at more than 2,500 partner retailers. Besides the app, you can also use the Ebates browser extension to make money from your desktop.

“When you’re visiting a website that participates with Ebates you’ll be notified and all you need to do is click on a button in the notification so Ebates can track your purchases. There have been many times when I wasn’t even thinking about getting cash back but the alert from the browser extension reminded me of it,” says Andre.

Another great feature: Ebates automatically searches for coupon codes to help you find even more savings when you shop.

Like Ebates, TopCashback.com is a money-making app that also has a downloadable browser extension. It also features one of the largest merchant networks, with over 4,400 partner businesses.

Hearn at Cards and Clips is partial to Shopkick and Checkpoints, both of which reward you with cash instantly just for walking into stores or browsing retailers online. The difference is that with these apps, you’re earning gift cards instead of cold hard cash. But, the gift card selection includes retailers like Target, Amazon and Starbucks – which can come in handy if you regularly spend with these brands.

Using Money-Making Apps Wisely

Cash back apps and websites can put money in your pocket fairly easily, but there are a few rules to keep in mind as you use them.

1. Set realistic expectations for what you can earn.

Don’t think of money-making apps as a way to get rich quick.

“I think some people download these apps expecting hundreds of dollars. As long as you go in knowing you’ll make a few bucks, they’re fun to use,” Nathaniel says.

2. Don’t try to game the system.

It sounds simple but pay attention to the rules set down by an app for making money. For example, Hearn says that in her experience, survey apps tend to have explicit rules about misuse.

“If they find you’ve created multiple accounts and can track it back to your specific IP address, you can be banned from using the app. Or, if they feel you deliberately raced through a survey to earn money, your account can be terminated,” says Hearn.

Bottom line? “It’s always best to follow instructions and do exactly what an app requires so you can earn your payout,” she says.

3. Be selective.

Deciding which money-making apps to use partly depends on your spending habits, says VitalDollar’s Andre.

Checkout51 and Ibotta, for instance, are designed for earning money on groceries while other money-making apps cover restaurants or major retail brands.

“There are so many different cash back apps that you really can’t use them all effectively. My best advice is to pick a few and stick with those,” says Andre.

4. Don’t let apps dictate buying decisions.

When using money-making apps, it’s easy to get caught up in earning cash. So easy, in fact, that you might end up overspending just to chase down a few extra dollars.

“You have to keep it in perspective,” says Andre.

“Getting 10% cash back on a purchase that you need to make anyway is great. But making a purchase that you don’t need just to get 10% cash back is not wise,” he says.

In other words, keep your spending habits firmly in sight. Getting cash back is great but not if it means blowing your budget.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

When you’re earning extra cash with these apps, think about what you plan to do with it. Money-making apps can turn into money-saving apps if you’re using those dollars and cents to grow your emergency fund or save up for other goals. Plus, it’s motivating to watch the cash from mobile payment apps pile into a savings account. Are you ready to give money-making apps a try?

 

Amazing Resources for Successfully Managing Your Personal Finances

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

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

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

1. Personal Capital

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

2. The Penny Hoarder

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

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

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

4. You Need a Budget

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

5. So Money Podcast

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

6. Robinhood

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

7. Credit Karma

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

8. Venmo

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

What’s your preferred money management tool?

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

 

6 Apps That Will Help You Be Better With Money Next Year

Do you want to “be better with money” in the new year? Welcome to the club.

This resolution is understandably popular — and also tough to achieve. So whether you want to save more money or finally pay off your debt, you’re going to need something that keeps you on task. Something like an app.

While Mint and You Need a Budget are great starting points, they’re far from the only financial apps available. Here are 6 more innovative apps that could transform your relationship with money.

Joy

When you think about personal finance, “joy” probably isn’t the first emotion you feel. But Joy wants to change that. It uses psychology, data and neuroscience to help “you make smarter spending decisions over time.”

After signing up, you’ll complete a science-based assessment that determines your money personality. The app will then assign you an AI-powered “money coach” who offers tips for changing your financial behavior.

Whenever you make a purchase, Joy will prompt you to rate it as a “happy spend” or a “sad spend.” The goal is for you is to examine which expenditures bring fulfillment to your life (and which don’t.) In addition, the app will analyze your finances to find a “safe” amount of money to save each day.

In a review for MagnifyMoney, Brittney Laryea writes that, while she didn’t save much money overall, the app “forced me to get face-to-face with my spending habits and and decide if they (really) made me ‘happy,’ or, um … not so happy.”

Chime

 

You can think of Chime’s mobile banking app as a guardian for your hard-earned dough.

It sends instant alerts whenever your debit card is used, plus you’ll get daily notifications that help you keep track of your balance. If your card goes missing, you can block transactions with a simple toggle.

You can also deposit checks through the app — and if you use direct deposit, you can even get your paychecks two days early. Like all Chime products, including it’s peer-to-peer payment features are totally free.

In a review of the app, Kate Pav says: “Best bank I’ve ever had… You can send money to friends no hassle. You can message them back and forth in the app with quick response. And who doesn’t love getting paid early?!”

Credit Karma

Your credit scores are vital to so many different parts of your life: They help you get loans, apartments, mortgages, and even jobs. So, it’s no surprise that monitoring and improving your credit is key to getting a handle on your money.

To start tracking your credit scores, download the Credit Karma app (iOS/Android), which has a clean and comprehensive interface. The app also monitors your personal information, alerting you to any suspicious activity and potential data breaches.

“I regularly use Credit Karma because its consolidates all your credit information into one easy-to-use free app,” says Lou Haverty, a chartered financial analyst and founder of Financial Analyst Insider.

“Seeing negative impacts on your credit scores helps you correct bad financial habits.” Plus, he says, credit notifications can help you prevent identity theft.

Charlie

Although Charlie isn’t technically an app, it works in similar ways. Instead of downloading software, you’ll sign up for the service via text message or Facebook Messenger.

Then, after connecting it to your bank accounts, this AI-powered money manager will take care of the rest. Its slew of services includes:

  • Analyzing spending and recurring charges
  • Negotiating bills
  • Helping you save for goals
  • Alerting you of expenses and fees

For example, it might remind you of an upcoming bill, or it might share real-time, data-based observations about your financial habits. You can even ask the platform questions like, “How much have I spent on groceries this month?” and receive an immediate answer.

“It’s given me great insight I would have never been able to tease out of my banking info,” writes Sasha Wilson in a TrustPilot review. “And it has given me clarity on how to improve my daily financial performance.”

Honeyfi

 

If you’re in a relationship, Honeyfi might be the app for you. It’s targeted specifically to couples — and the unique challenges of managing money with another person.

Once you and your partner sync your accounts, the app automatically suggests a household budget based on your spending history. Going forward, you can tag transactions as “yours,” “mine,” or “ours,” and write comments for your sweetheart to see. If you want to keep certain elements of your finances separate, that’s totally fine; you choose how much you want to share.

“I especially recommend this app for partners trying to keep (a) budget and hold each other accountable,” writes reviewer Kyle Conniff. “It is really helping us be more transparent with each other, and keep us both on the same page financially.”

Wealthfront

Are you ready to start investing in your future? Cough, retirement, cough?

Then check out Wealthfront, a robo-adviser that helps you plan, track, and manage your investments. (Full disclosure: I sometimes write for Wealthfront’s website, but am not being paid to recommend it here.)

The app offers a holistic view of your finances. Once you sync your accounts, it will calculate how much you must save to achieve your financial goals. It will then recommend the right investment accounts for each goal, and help you open and manage them.

“Wealthfront is a really innovative platform that brings some of the latest algorithmically-based technology to smaller investors,” says Haverty.

“It offers a really nice combination of budgeting combined with goal setting, as well as low-cost investing.”

Will This Be the Year You Get Better With Money?

To truly improve your finances — and your relationship with money — you can’t go it alone.

You’ll need support from your peers, your loved ones, and, yes, your mobile devices. Using one or more of the apps above, you can make this the year that you finally develop better money habits.

 

What Are Money Orders and How Do They Work?

Money orders are a popular option to send money and make payments, but unless you have used them before, money orders may seem like a foreign concept. In practice, money orders are a way to turn cash into a check without a bank account. You can get a money order from a bank, some grocery stores and big-box retailers, and even the post office! Follow along to learn more about money orders, how they work, and when you may consider using them.

What is a money order?

A money order is a financial instrument that works like a check. But unlike a personal check, a money order is considered “guaranteed funds.” This is an important distinction for some businesses. Landlords, for example, don’t want to get stuck with bounced check fees from new tenants. Requiring money orders for a deposit or first months rent, or any rent after a history of bounced checks, is relatively common when renting a home.

Money orders are typically available for amounts up to $500 or $1,000. Over that amount, you’ll need to head to the bank for a cashier’s check, a similar instrument used as a guaranteed check for larger dollar amounts. Because they are guaranteed, you’ll need to fund a money order up-front. That usually means handing over cash or swiping a debit card. Most stores will not sell a money order to someone using a credit card.

Depending on where you grew up, money orders may be unfamiliar. For the most part, this may be because money orders are more common in low-income communities. The sad reality is that low-income or low-credit renters are more likely to hand their landlord a bad check. To compensate, a large portion of the low-income community may be forced to pay extra to use money orders to protect their landlords even if they have no personal history of writing bad checks.

Money orders cost anywhere from around 50 cents to a few dollars each depending on where you buy them.

Why would I use a money order?

In most cases, you shouldn’t need to use a money order. If you already have a bank account, you can do nearly the same thing for free when you use a check. Until my late 20s, I never needed a money order for anything! When a landlord asked for my rent and deposit in money orders when I moved to Portland about five years ago, I had to do a little legwork to figure out where to even get a money order, and I used to be a bank manager! That is how rare money orders are to some people.

Other situations where you may want to use money orders, if you don’t have a checking account, would be to send money to someone in the mail. If you don’t have a bank account, you can’t send money with a free transfer or payments app, so you’ll need a non-electronic payment method. Money orders are more secure than cash, are written to a specific depositor, and don’t include your bank account number if you are looking for a safer alternative to a personal check.

These features also make money orders common for scammers. If you are ever asked for a money order by someone you don’t know in person, don’t send it or hand it over unless it is a verified, reputable business.

Where can I get a money order?

You can usually get a money order at a bank, though banks tend to charge more for money orders than some other providers. If you need a cashier’s check, your only option is a bank. You may have to go to your bank, though some banks are willing to issue money orders to non-customers with cash for a higher fee. At a bank, you should plan on paying around $5 for a money order.

Outside of the bank, the best two places to get a money order are your local Walmart store or a local United States Post Office branch. Both Walmart and the Post Office offer money orders at some of the best rates out there. Walmart charges just 70 cents for a money order up to $1,000. The post office charges $1.60 or less depending on the amount.

You can also go to a money transfer agent like Western Union or MoneyGram. You can find these types of transfer centers at many retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Plan on spending around $1 per money order at these locations.

A cheap way to send funds

At the end of the day, money orders act as an inexpensive option to send money. Even if you have a bank account, money orders may come in handy on occasion. For $5 or less, you can send a secure, guaranteed check. That’s what these payments are all about.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

New Year’s Prep: Give Your Bills a Makeover

New Year’s resolutions get all the glory when it comes to planning out next year’s money. But, we’d like to highlight another less-talked-about way to help your money situation in the new year: lowering your bills.

The beauty of going this route is that you just have to make the switch to a cheaper option once, and then reap the savings month after month. Remember, though — savings are only really savings if you actually…well…save that money instead of spending it on something else.

It’s easy to think of bills as a fixed expense that you can’t change. But, believe me — you can. Don’t think it’s possible? Here are three different money-saving apps and websites you can use to give your bills a fresh makeover before the new year starts.

Bill Shark

Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to negotiate your bills. It can also suck to try to negotiate better deals.

We get it: Not everyone is comfortable playing the negotiation game. At the same time, if you’re unwilling to negotiate your bills yourself, you shouldn’t be penalized by paying high bills forever. This is where Bill Shark comes in.

Bill Shark is a unique new company that employs real, flesh-and-blood expert negotiators to haggle your bills with your service providers on your behalf – sort of like a personal consumer advocate. All you have to do is upload your bills through their online portal or take a picture with their app. They can then start negotiating on your behalf.

The service isn’t entirely free, but it has a consumer-friendly pricing model. Plus, if their expert negotiators can’t lower your bills for you, you pay nothing. Nada. And if they are successful? You’ll owe 40% of whatever savings they get for you for a maximum of two years. This amount will be due after they’ve finished their negotiations.

Say, for example, Bill Shark is able to permanently lower your Internet bill by $20 per month. This will save you $480 over a two-year period. The fee for this would then be $192, leaving you to come out ahead by $288. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.

Metromile

The cost of car insurance depends a lot on which state you live in. In 2017, residents of Ohio had the lowest estimated annual car insurance premiums at $926. Michigan residents, on the other hand, clocked in at a whopping $2,551 annually.

That’s a big chunk of change. And if you don’t drive very much, car insurance can cost you way more than it should. If this is the case for you, it may be worth your time to get a quote from Metromile.

Metromile actually charges you a per-mile rate based on how far you drive. It knows this because the company requires you to plug in a tiny device into your car’s OBD-II port (it’s not hard to find; we promise) that records and transmits your actual mileage to the company’s billing department.

Another handy money-saving feature of using Metromile? Since the device plugs into your car’s diagnostic system, if that pesky “check engine” light pops up, you can use the app to see what the exact problem is and research the cost before taking it to a mechanic.

Right now Metromile is only available in certain states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. But keep your eyes out for Metromile to expand into more states.

Lemonade

Lemonade is a new type of insurance company offering policies for urban homeowners and renters. It’s based on a different business model than typical big insurance companies.

Lemonade is a public benefit corporation, which means that while it is still driven by profits (a flat fee is taken out of your premiums), it also gives back any other excess “profit” at the end of the year to a charity that you select. Since the company doesn’t operate on a never-ending quest to drain the contents of your wallet, insurance premiums for your home or rental can be less expensive than traditional insurance policies.

Filing claims and getting paid is also much simpler with Lemonade. The company expedites this process and pays claims super fast.

How much can you lower your bills for next year?

We’ve given you three different options for lowering your bills and starting the new year with a fresh makeover for your budget. Yet, you’ve got plenty of other options as well. All you need to do is research ways to lower your bills and then commit to making this a priority.

Here’s what we suggest for maximum impact: Start by going through your budget one line item at a time. Ask yourself: Is there any way to lower this? By switching to a lower-cost phone carrier, for example, you could save $30 per month or more. Over the course of a year, that’s an extra $360 in your pocket!

Now, we challenge you: How much can you save on your bills in the new year? And how much of that can you save into your bank account for your future?

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