Tag: Wealthy Habits

 

10 Minutes For 10 Days: Easy Ways to Prep for the New Year Financially

The new year is a great time to get a fresh start. And while you’re making a pact to get back into a morning yoga routine or to cut down on the carbs, don’t forget to also prep your finances for the new year.

It’s not as hard as you think to turn your money situation from a frowny face emoji to a muscle arm emoji. Here are 10 ways you can shape up your finances for the new year in just 10 minutes a day:

Auto Save

I’m a huge fan of the “set it and forget it” approach, and autosaving is my Number 1 favorite money tactic. With minimal effort, you can set it once and you’re golden.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t save as much as you’d like. Even automatically saving five dollars a week into your emergency fund adds up to $260 in a year. Double that to $10 a week, and you’ll have $570 buckaroos. Not too shabby!

Make a Date With Your Spending Plan

Check yourself before you wreck yourself—with your budget, that is. It’s important to remember that your budget is a living, breathing thing. It changes as your money situation evolves, and what worked last year may not work next year.

Did your income change from switching jobs? Did you have to move? Are you spending more money on quality groceries? You get the picture.

Case in point: This was my year of “forced upgrades.” I moved and bought a new car. In turn, my monthly expenses went up, and I had to make changes to my spending plan.

Time Your Bill Payments With Paydays

If you are member of the gig economy, and get several paychecks at different times of the month from different gigs, staying on top of your bills can be challenging.

To ease the cray, time your payments so they sync up with when you get paid. For instance, if you get paid from a particular gig on the 10th of each month and your cell phone bill is due on the 15th, sync up that payment with your cell phone bill. If you’re a Chime Member, you can get paid early – making it easier to pay bills earlier as well. All you need to do is set up direct deposit with at least one employer.

Turn On Alerts

By setting alerts on your credit cards, you’ll get notified if a transaction exceeds a set amount, or if a payment was made online instead of in-person. This can help you keep your spending in check, as well as keep you informed of any fishy activity on your cards.

Check Your Net Worth

It’s easy to get caught up in the illusion of wealth—flashy cars, designer clothes and McMansions. But true wealth can be boiled down to one thing: your net worth. You can determine your net worth by adding up the amount of money you have in the bank, as well as the value of your car, house and any investments. Subtract your debt from this amount and you now know your net worth.

An easy way to track your net worth is to use a money management app. Just poke around the Apple Store or Google Play and you’ll find no shortage of free apps to help you track how many Benjamins you’re stacking.

Prioritize Your Money Goals

You likely have some of these financial goals—paying off your debt, saving for an emergency fund and saving up to buy a house.

If you’re like me and have a gazillion goals, it’s best to prioritize them. This way you can focus your efforts and yield greater results. For 2019, for example, I’ll prioritize bolstering my retirement, saving for my first home, and socking cash away for my personal projects.

Link Up with a Money Accounta-Buddy

Teaming up with a buddy to help keep you accountable with your money goals is super helpful. This may mean hopping on a Google Hangout with a friend once a month to keep each other in check, or having casual conversations in person.

What works for me is to just chat about money. I am lucky to have a handful of money accounta-buddies, and we talk about everything from paying off debt, to saving for retirement, to any issues that arise. Talking about money with trusted pals is cathartic. And it feels good to know you’re not suffering alone.

Link Up a New Habit to an Old One

The majority of our actions are rooted in habits, so try forming a new habit by linking it to an existing one. For instance, if you meditate for a few minutes every day, commit to checking your recent transactions or net worth right after that.

Figure Out an Easy Win or Big Win

To make progress on your money situation, you can either focus on an easy win or a big win. An easy win is something that will give you a boost in the beginning, while a big win will help you make greater strides.

For instance, if a money goal for 2019 is to cut back on your expenses, an easy win would be to lower your cell phone bill. You only have to negotiate once and then enjoy a lower bill. A big win would be to cut back on your food expenses. While it requires more work to lower your grocery bills, this can help you net greater savings.

Look for Forgotten Money

This is one of my favorite feel-good money tactics. In-between wading through your debt load and coming up with a plan to bolster your emergency fund, finding forgotten money gives you  a psychological lift.

To start, look in places where you may have forgotten money stashed away, like funds in a savings account you once opened but haven’t used, contributions to a retirement account through a former employer, coins in your “spare change” jar, or even cashback credit card rewards.

The Best Time to Start Is Now

There’s no time like the present to begin improving your money sitch. Using the 10 suggestions here, you can spend just 10 minutes a day taking positive actions. Just remember: No matter how many financial mistakes you made in the past, you can make changes for the better starting right now. What are you waiting for?

 

How Gratitude Can Make You Wealthy

Two weeks ago, I was due to fly home on an early-morning flight from a conference in Cleveland. There was just one problem: The airplane was knocked out of commission by a mechanical issue and the flight was canceled. A mob of angry customers rushed upon the poor customer service agent.

I was last in line. By the time I reached the desk, the woman looked up at me, expecting the same furious reaction. Instead she got this: “I know it can’t be easy on you to deal with all these people, and I really appreciate your help in getting me home.”

The surprised agent looked up. I told her where I was going. The bad news: She initially didn’t find any flights to get me home that day. Then she double-checked and found a flight out, but it was on a different airline leaving right then. She called and asked the airline to hold the plane so I could run down and make it. I did, and I arrived home that same day just a mere hour after my originally-scheduled time. I don’t know if expressing gratitude prompted her to check again and get me on a flight. But, I do know that I got home in time to complete my freelance work and I got paid right on schedule.

This is just one example of how gratitude can make a positive difference. Did you also know that gratitude can make you happier — and therefore wealthier? Read on to learn more.

Gratitude Can Broaden Your Social Network

There are numerous studies that show how expressing gratitude promotes “prosocial behavior.” This means you’re more likely to engage with potential friends, colleagues, and supervisors, cementing those friendships so that your network expands.

A robust social network can also lead to higher-paid work opportunities, not to mention you’ll have more people to call upon when your car breaks down or you need helping moving.

Gratitude Rewires Your Brain for Happiness and Health

There’s a lot of research that shows how gratitude and happiness are strongly linked. Take, for example, one of the most widely-cited studies on gratitude. The authors of this study divvied people up into various groups, some of whom journaled negative things, neutral things, or positive things they were grateful for each day.

At the end of the study, people who journaled about gratitude exercised more, had fewer medical problems, slept better and for a longer periods time, were more optimistic, and felt more connected to those around them.

Indeed, it doesn’t take a brain scientist to see how these attributes can make you more productive, healthier, and wired to go make more money.

How to Practice Gratitude

Have we convinced you? Good! Let’s get ready to be grateful.

The first thing you should know is that practicing gratitude isn’t a one-and-done thing. You can’t make a single donation to a charity and expect the good vibes to last forever, for example.

Instead, you need to make gratitude an everyday practice. In fact, two other scientists showed that daily gratitude journaling can have lasting impacts on how your brain registers gratitude. This can happen in as little as three months.

Expressing gratitude literally rewires your brain, but only if you do it frequently. Take a look at three ways you can start practicing gratitude:

  • Say “Thank You” to at Least One Person per Day

No, we’re not talking about the generic “thank yous” that you pop on the end of your emails. You need to either write out why you’re thankful in that email, and/or say it to someone face-to-face.

If you’re a supervisor at your work, this goes doubly for you. In one nifty experiment, a university alumni donations manager who expressed gratitude towards call-center employees managed to increase the number of calls made by employees by 50%.

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal

I admit, I was super skeptical when I first tried this myself two years ago. “Jeez, this is hokey,” I thought. “How will thinking happy thoughts help me out?”

But, like we saw above, there’s actually some serious science that shows how gratitude journaling can literally rewire your brain. And in my case, keeping a gratitude journal actually helped me double my income after about a year.

This one is my favorite because you don’t need to share your “experiment” with a doubtful world. You can do it in the comfort of your own home, without anyone knowing, and without it taking up a ton of time.

All you have to do is write down three things per day that you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be profound revelations; it can be as simple as “today, I’m really grateful for having heat in my apartment, because it’s cold outside.” You can expand upon them if you want, or just leave them as bullet points. It’s your journal; do what you want as long as you’re consistent.

  • Send Thank You Cards

Here’s another idea. Buy a box of thank you notes, and make a practice of sending out at least one per week. You’ll brighten someone’s day, and provide yourself with an opportunity to express gratitude.

How Will You Spread Thanks?

Expressing gratitude is a wealth-generating tip that only achieves results if you put in the work. You can’t just read about it and not actually do it.

So, we challenge you: How will you practice gratitude daily? And how far can that goodwill go toward helping you boost your bank account and save for your financial goals?

 

Why You Should Spend With Your Debit Card vs. Credit Card This Holiday Season

The holiday season is approaching and you know what that means — spending money. Whether it’s buying gifts for loved ones or booking flights to travel home, the holiday season typically means a spike in spending for many of us.

And, because you may spend more than at other times of the year, you’re probably going to use credit cards. But, did you know that while credit cards offer some cool rewards like cash back, using your debit card is often a wiser choice? Read on to learn why.

1. You spend only what you have

Everyone wants to think they’re responsible with credit and only buy what they can afford. Well, a lot of people are wrong. According to a 2017 study by Magnify Money, 68 percent of consumers attributed their holiday debt to credit cards.

Of the consumers surveyed, 44 percent racked up more than $1,000 and five percent accumulated more than $5,000 in credit card balances. More disturbing is the fact that half of those consumers noted that it will take more than three months to pay off the debt they accrued during the holidays. That’s more than a quarter of the entire year!

When you use a debit card, however, you spend only what you have in your bank account. And, this helps you become more mindful and realistic about your budget. Using a debit card during the holiday season can also help you avoid fees and that dreaded holiday credit card debt.

2. You don’t have to worry about making another payment

The holiday season can make the most organized person run around like a headless chicken. Everyone’s schedule seems packed to the brim and there’s always something else added to the to-do list (Think: “Buy white elephant gift for the company party.”)

When you’re so busy, some of your normal day-to-day duties can fall to the wayside. And, if you don’t have auto-pay set up, you can potentially miss a credit card payment. Another common problem during the busy holiday season: You say you’ll “do it later” and then when you remember to pay your bill, it’s late.

When you use a debit card, however, you don’t have to add anything else to your to-do list – including making yet another payment. The money comes straight from your bank account and you don’t have to do a thing.

3. A debit card is free to use

One of the biggest perks with using credit cards is the rewards, like cash-back and airline miles. But oftentime the best rewards cards come with an annual fee and the conversion on the rewards isn’t as great as you think. In many cases, miles are literally worth about a penny per mile or less.

So, you may actually be spending your money on an annual fee, high interest rates, late fees, and more – without getting much in return.

Here’s where debit cards take center stage. Debit cards are free and can help you avoid debt.

4. Your debit card can help you save

At Chime, we’re all about helping you save money when you spend money. It’s all about balance. Am I right?

With this in mind, check out Chime’s round-up savings program, where every time you use your debit card, we round-up the purchase to the nearest dollar and put it into your Savings Account. This way you can effortlessly save and know that you’re being financially responsible at the same time.

5. Stop fraud instantly

There are no two ways about it: Fraud can be rampant during the holiday season. A lot of credit card enthusiasts think this is a solid reason to use credit over debit.

But, your debit card can offer protections that are similar to your credit card. For example, if you suspect any fraudulent uses on your Chime card or your card goes missing, you can simply go into the app and immediately put a halt on purchases by disabling transactions. No need to stay on a long customer service line (who wants to talk on the phone?!) and no need for lengthy emails. Just put a stop to it, now.

Not only that, but Chime alerts you any time you use your debit card. So, if your debit card get into the wrong hands, you’ll know right away.

Bottom line

The holiday season should be a time of joy and fun, not stress and debt.

Using debit instead of credit can help you keep your spending in check, plus you’ll have one less thing to worry about. So, this holiday season: Try spending only what you have and enjoy the season with family and friends. It sure beats worrying about money!

 

How to Make Your Life Work with Two Jobs

We talk a lot about saving money, but there’s another big way to improve your personal finances: Make more money. Working a second job can be a good way to do that, and a new study finds workers with two jobs perform just as well as colleagues with one job.

But moonlighting comes at the expense of personal and family time, the study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology finds. The study, led by Brian Webster, an assistant professor of management at Ball State University, looked at the job performance and engagement of a sample of bartenders and teachers who moonlighted in a range of jobs.

Webster believes successful moonlighters understand their employers expect them to be focused at work.

“There seems to be that recognition that if I’m at work and I’m doing this, I’m going to perform adequately,” he said.

If people can’t perform, they leave. Webster noted the study didn’t look at people who used to moonlight, but stopped.

This is good news for employers, who can count on their workers being focused, but that extra time and energy has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere tends to be family, the study finds. Only about 4.9% of workers have multiple jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but over the course of a lifetime, many people could find themselves moonlighting, Webster said.

So how can moonlighters find a healthy balance?

How moonlighting affects you

People moonlight for two reasons, Webster said: To make more money or to do something they enjoy, like an accountant teaching a class on weekends. Warren Robbins, senior sales associate for Policygenius, found himself needing to do the former in 2015, when he took a job as a bartender while working full-time at a health insurance company.

Robbins had just learned his partner, now his wife, was pregnant. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, and the two decided they needed more money.

His solution was to take a second job. Robbins worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at his day job and took on two overnight shifts at a bar, from Saturday night into Sunday and Sunday night into Monday at 4 a.m.

“My sleep schedule was all messed up,” he said.

The beginning of the week was tough, Robbins said. He would sleep all day Sunday after getting off work early that morning, work a night shift at the bar and then get to the office on maybe four hours of sleep.

His focus and drive at work suffered. So did his personal life.

“It was tough,” Robbins said. “I never saw my wife, and if I did, it was after work on a weekday. We never got to spend quality time.”

The only moments he could take for himself were during closing time, when he would pour himself a Guinness, lock the door and count the money as the sun rose.

How to find balance

Moonlighting can be stressful, but there are ways to make it better, said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. The first is to get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your mental and physical health, he said.

Also, take time each day to rest and recharge to relieve any stress from work.

“It’s free to sit back for 15 minutes and just rest,” Gionfriddo said. “It’s free to spend 20 minutes and take a walk.”

Find even a short amount of time for something you want to do, whether it’s family or a hobby, as a break from people telling you what to do, he said. If work becomes life and life becomes work, you can lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.

It’s important to be able to say why you’re working so hard, whether it’s to save for a trip, or support your family or retire early, he said.

“If you lose purpose in what you’re doing, then you’re in a real downward spiral that can lead to some real serious mental health problems,” Gionfriddo said.

You may not notice the signs of a problem, he said. You don’t necessarily have to feel suicidal to be clinically depressed.

If you feel excessively tired, or your eating habits suffer, those could be signs your mental health is suffering, Gionfriddo said.

“A lot of these things happen on a continuum,” he said. “It’s not that one day I have depression and the day before I didn’t.”

The Mental Health America website has free and anonymous screening toolsthat can tell you whether it’s likely you have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. The tools also offer more information on mental health conditions, referrals to services, self-help tools and engagement with other people who may have the same condition.

If you do have a diagnosable condition, the law offers protections against being fired or disciplined for that condition, Gionfriddo said.

“There’s no shame in having a mental health condition or concern, even a diagnosed one,” he said. “In fact, the sooner you seek help for it if you think you need help, the quicker your recovery and the more likely your recovery is going to be.”

Before moonlighting, you may want to talk to your boss to see if your current schedule can bend enough to take on a second job, Webster said, or try to find a second job flexible enough that it won’t strain your existing schedule too much. You may also want to look for a second job that complements your existing job.

“If you enjoy what you do, the two jobs might benefit or contribute to each other in some way,” he said.

Robbins only moonlighted for three months. The birth of his son made his second job impossible. He wouldn’t moonlight again, given the choice.

“It was this period where you would get revived just to get depleted again,” he said. “I would never do that again.”

A second job isn’t the only way to boost your savings. Try making these small changes.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Hygge Hacks for Healthy Finances

Have you ever heard of hygge?

The concept of hygge has been around for centuries, but it has recently resurfaced as a popular lifestyle trend. In fact, the word hygge was on the short-list for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016.

So, what does hygge mean? While it can’t be directly translated into English, this well-known word in Denmark loosely means “coziness.” It’s the practice of slowing down and prioritizing time spent with the ones you care about and doing more of the things you love the most. Incorporating hygge into your life can help you find more joy, but it can also improve your finances.

Read on to learn more about how practicing hygge can help you can spend less, save more, and prioritize your financial future.

Does hygge lead to happiness?

Hygge is a Danish concept (pronounced hoo-ga). According to Visit Denmark’s website, hygge is described as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Visit Denmark goes on to say: “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.”

And they must be onto something. Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world for the last four years, according to studies done by the World Happiness report.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate some hygge into your daily life.

What does hygge have to do with your finances?

The concept of hygge means trying to find joy in the little things in life – and usually those things are cheap or even free.

You don’t need a fancy lifestyle in order to be happy. You don’t need an enormous house, expensive cars, or luxury vacations to find joy or peace. You can find hygge by slowing down, taking in the moment, and spending more time doing the things you truly love.

How to embrace the concept of hygge this year

There are dozens of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life – for free. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay in instead of going out

You can have just as much fun spending an evening at home as you can going out to a fancy and expensive restaurant. So, try having a hygge-ful evening by lighting the fireplace, baking some cookies and reading a book.

By staying in, you won’t just sneak in your fill of hygge, but you could save a good chunk of change simply by not going out on the town.

  • Give hygge-related gifts

Gifts can not only be expensive, but can often be forgotten after a year or two. Maybe it’s time for you to give the folks you care about the gift of hygge.

Gifts like candles, cozy socks, books, and gourmet coffee make great gifts and these presents also give the gift of well, presence. These gifts won’t break your budget and your loved ones will also get the chance to incorporate hygge into their lives.

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal

What could be more hygge than a home-cooked meal? By cooking at home more often, you’ll get to regularly enjoy the benefits of hygge.

Not only can you eat dinner in your favorite and most comfortable clothing, but you can create a warm and inviting ambiance by lighting candles and dimming the lights. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll save a boatload of cash.

So, instead of going out, invite your friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Or, lower the cost and increase the hygge even more by hosting a potluck, where everyone can bring over their favorite, home-cooked dishes to share.

  • Decorate with frugal, hygge decor

With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to invoke a sense of coziness in your home and practice hygge while you’re at it. Fortunately, home decor doesn’t have to be pricey – there are plenty of frugal ways to liven up your home.

You can decorate with candles, family photos and plants. From there, get creative. These items are easy to find, don’t cost much money, and up the hygge level of your home.

Prioritize time with family and friends

The bottom line: the idea behind hygge is to spend time doing more of the things that are truly important to you.

As you can see by the examples here, you don’t have to plan extravagant get-togethers or even leave the house in order to enjoy time with your loved ones. In fact, most people can claim that the best memories spent with family or friends are the times spent just sitting around, catching up at home.

Now it’s your turn to up your hygge ante. So, invite guests over, crack open a bottle, and enjoy shared plates around the fireplace this winter. By doing so, you’ll save money while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

The Best Budgeting Habits to Help You Save Money

You may have grown up believing that netting a six-figure salary, winning the lottery, or getting a windfall of cash will be your ticket to wealth. But those beliefs may have done you wrong financially.

Want to hear a #truthbomb? The road to wealth is far less sexy and way more practical. Take it from a money nerd like me. My emergency fund certainly didn’t grow overnight. Ed McMahon didn’t come knocking on my door with an oversized check. I didn’t amass a gazillion views on my YouTube channel, catapulting me to viral video superstar status.

How did I grow my money sitch? I tweaked my mindset, behaviors, and habits gradually, and  over time, I managed to improve my relationship with money. From there, the money in my savings account grew.

Now your question may be: how do you do the same thing? Let’s start with the essentials, shall we? It all boils down to budgeting. Yes, that “b” word is ugly, especially when you feel like it will deprive you of having F-U-N. But here’s the thing: without a budget or money plan, you’ll be prone to spending your money willy-nilly. What’s worse, you may overspend.

To help you avoid pitfalls and improve your money habits, take a look at our budgeting tips.

Pick Your Approach

If you’re new to budgeting, there are a number of methods to keep things simple and stay on track:

50/30/20 Budget: This popular budgeting approach breaks up your budget into three major sections:

  • 50% goes toward needs (rent, bills, and insurance, and debt)
  • 30% goes toward wants (clothing, concert tickets, mini splurges, cool gadgets)
  • 20% goes toward your savings

Zero-Sum Budget: With the zero-sum budget, each dollar you get is assigned a task. So if there’s $50 left over in your budget, you’re not done yet. You need to figure out what to do with those “extra” buckaroos. Yes, even those bonuses from work, or a surprise cash gift from your Aunt Genie need to be allocated appropriately.

Anti-Budget: For those who want to essentially set it and forget it, the anti-budget is definitely worth considering. First, figure out how much you want to save. Then, squirrel away money for your savings goals, investments and paying off your debt. Whatever is left over can be spent on whatever you please. This is the mode for those who are lazy about budgeting.

Track Your Spending

Unless you have an uncanny ninja sense for where your money is going, you’ll want to monitor your cash outflow. This is the case with every single dollar. Why? Well, tracking your funds will help you figure out exactly what you’re spending your money on. In turn, you’ll be able to make adjustments. Pro tip: using a money management app will save you loads of time, plus help you save more cash.

For instance, when tracking my cashflow, I discovered that I am spending far too much on groceries. While I don’t normally have assigned amounts to each spending category, I resolved to do this.

Automate

There’s no better budget-saver than automation. Because your willpower acts like a muscle, every decision you make wears down your ability to make the best future choices. So the fewer choices you have to make about money, the better off you’ll be.

By autosaving, you’re looking out for the long-term without having to make extra effort. If you’re a Chime member, you can set up a payday rule to autosave a portion of your paycheck each month. And if you sign up for direct deposit, you can get paid early. This comes in particularly handy if you have side hustles and need to set aside part of your earnings for Uncle Sam.

Create a Buffer

If you get a bit spendy in a given month, don’t freak out. In fact, plan for it. That’s not to say you should be going on shopping blowouts and purchasing designer handbags and shoes each month. But allow for a bit of overspend by including a bit of padding. I like to keep a bit of a cushion in my savings account.

Set Alerts

Just like how retailers try to remove points of friction (aka barriers) to get you to spend more, adding in your own barriers will help you spend less. I receive a daily text notifying me of the balance in my main checking account. Plus, I get an email whenever I spend more than a designated amount in a single credit card transaction. This way I can keep tabs on my spending. If I find myself putting too much on one of my cards, I momentarily freeze it until I get back on track.

March to the Beat of Your Own Drum

There’s certainly no cut-and-dried approach to budgeting. While these habits will most likely help you live within your means, it’s a good idea to exercise creative license. Over the years I’ve tried a number of things, including tracking every transaction on a spreadsheet and creating a budget on a money management app. The key is to figure out what type of budgeting works for you and stick to it.

Ready to Make It Rain?

Just like you, your budget is a living, breathing thing, bound to constantly evolve. By checking in on it regularly, making adjustments along the way, and finding your own style, you’ll build wealthy habits that will help you grow your money and achieve your financial goals.

 

9 Financial Empowerment Tips for the Newly Single

Ending a long-term relationship can be a complicated affair. Not only do you have to learn how to be single all over again, you’ve got to tackle all life’s various responsibilities on your own. Taking ownership of your finances as a newly single person can be especially challenging.

“Suddenly finding yourself divorced or single can be overwhelming, particularly if you’ve relied on a dual income and your partner to handle the finances,” Leah Hadley, certified divorce financial analyst and senior financial adviser at Great Lakes Investment Management, says. “You’re in a new place in life, and you’ll probably have a new perspective on what your life and retirement will look like.”

With careful planning and an eye on the details, you can take charge of your money. Here are nine financial empowerment tips for the newly single.

1. Take inventory

First, you should complete a thorough inventory of your finances. This review should include:

  • Accounts: Make a list of each financial account in your name, whether you share it with your ex or not. This includes bank accounts, credit cards, retirement and investment funds and any other accounts that contain liquid assets.
  • Property: Next, list your other assets: cars, your home and valuable property.
  • Cash flow: You need a thorough understanding of your monthly cash flow. Take note of your monthly income and your outgoing expenses, including bills, child support and savings, with the understanding that you may need to adjust your budget.
  • Monthly bills: As you total your monthly expenses, make sure you know what bills you’re still expected to pay post-breakup, and keep track of the due dates so you don’t miss a payment.

“After one has a working understanding of their cash flow, debts and savings, one can develop a strategic plan to work toward increasing savings (personal and investments), decreasing debts and working toward their future goals,” said Margaret M. Koosa, CEO at The Alchemists, Your Wealth Concierge.

2. Create a budget

Now that you know your income and expenses, you can put together a realistic monthly budget. This simple spreadsheet can help.

Account for necessities such as rent, bills and groceries, then prioritize savings. Recreational and discretionary spending should come last. Your budget may be more conservative than you’re used to, but having one and sticking to it will help keep you in good financial health.

3. Split your accounts

During a divorce, splitting up joint accounts is sometimes a legal affair. But when possible, work with your ex to shut down credit cards, bank accounts and utilities. Work on opening up accounts in your name. You may need to establish your own health insurance coverage, utilities and even Netflix account.

4. Understand your divorce decree

If you’re going through a legal separation, your divorce decree will influence how you restructure your finances. For instance, you might have to account for child support or alimony payments in your new budget. Some divorce settlements also mandate an ex-spouse maintain or buy life insurance with the other as their beneficiary. That way, your ex and your shared dependents are protected from the loss of income in the event of your death. Be sure you understand what your settlement requires to set yourself up for financial success.

5. Update beneficiaries

If your divorce decree permits (or you weren’t legally married) and you no longer want your ex as the beneficiary on any of your financial accounts, update that information immediately.

“Newly single people should update their beneficiaries on all of their insurances, financial accounts, estate documents (will, power of attorneys, healthcare proxy, trust), etc. to reflect their post-divorce intentions.”

Keep in mind, there are situations where you might want to keep an ex on a certain account. We mentioned life insurance above, but the same rules generally apply to disability insurance, which protects your income — and your ability to pay child support or alimony — in the event you become too ill or injured to work. Learn more about updating your insurance policies specifically post-divorce.

6. Review tax implications

If you previously filed taxes as a married couple, your tax situation may change dramatically. Filing as a single person might be beneficial, especially if you previously were a dual-income family. But there are many wrinkles, such as if you sold a home or have kids. Review the tax implications of your separation carefully and look into whether you should change the amount of money your employer sets aside from your paycheck for Uncle Sam during the year.

The Internal Revenue Service has a calculator that tells you how much to have withheld from each check based on your filing status, number of dependents and income. Use it as a starting point — and make sure you are extra-diligent at tax time.

7. Reassess your retirement

Because your financial outlook may be very different as a single person, evaluate how you’re preparing for retirement. Without your partner, you may need to adjust your retirement savings to make sure you have enough money in your golden years. It’s never a bad idea to increase your retirement savings for better financial security, especially since there are easy ways to do so in five minutes or less.

8. Check your credit

Divorces and breakups can be hard on your credit. Closing old accounts, applying for new credit cards or loans, and liquidating assets can have major implications for your creditworthiness. Check your credit report periodically to look for unpaid bills that got lost in the shuffle and old accounts you forgot to close. You may even want to make sure your ex isn’t opening accounts in your name.

You can pull your credit reports from the big three credit bureaus for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. There are numerous websites and credit card issuers that let your monitor your credit score at no charge every month, too.

After the dust settles, you should be able to build strong credit by practicing good financial and debt management habits.

9. Hire a professional

If navigating the waters of personal finance as a newly single person is too overwhelming, you might want to enlist professional help.

“The day-to-day expenses might be overwhelming at first, but thinking ahead is also important,” Hadley says. “Develop a strong partnership with a trusted financial adviser. Knowing that you have someone in your corner who can explain the short and long-term implications of your financial decisions can be a huge asset.”


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

20 Awesome Ways to ‘Treat Yourself’: A Chime Guide

You work hard. You want to do the right thing and save money. But you also want to treat yourself and enjoy life a little. All work and no play sucks. Right?

The good news is that when you use Chime, you can save money and treat yourself at the same time. How does this magic happen? Using Chime’s
Save When I Spend feature, your purchases can be rounded up to the nearest dollar and your spare change is then automatically deposited into an optional (and free!) Chime Savings Account.

To celebrate you and encourage you to YOLO-on-the-cheap, we’ve come up with this guide on how to treat yourself. Take a look.

1. Get your Pumpkin Spice Latte

I hereby give you permission to get yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte this fall #nojudgement. In the personal finance world, conversations about lattes run about ad nauseum. We’d like to just stop that conversation in its tracks and say go ahead. Get your latte and brighten your day.

2. Take a local dance class

One way to treat yourself is to get moving and take a dance class. Try something new. You can check out Groupon for sweet deals. I bought a Groupon for belly dancing classes and it comes out to about $5 per class. Now this is what we call an inexpensive and fun way to get your groove on.

3. Go gourmet

Learning how to save money means sacrificing some things, like eating at home more and going out to dinner less. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge at a lower price point. One way to have a fancy gourmet dinner for two is to get a baguette, some brie (or other fancy cheese), some meats, and a bottle of wine. I used to do this and it costs about $20 for two people. At $10 per person, including alcohol, it can’t be beat. Also, it requires little effort and feels fancy.

4. Write a thank you note

Writing a thank you note is a dying art. While it’s always good to write a thank you note to someone you appreciate, I’m going to switch it up a bit and encourage you to write a thank you note to your future self. What will you be thankful about in 10 or perhaps 20 years from now? This can put you in a positive mindset and get you thinking about where you want to go in life.

5. Get some new skivvies

Want to feel like a bold and brave new person? Do you want to treat yourself with something fun and not break the bank so you can still save for a rainy day? Get some new underwear. Seriously. You can get something lacy and fun. Or perhaps it’s time for rock some new comfy granny panties. Do whatever floats your boat and makes you feel like a secret superhero under your clothes.

6. Buy some herbs

Want to spice up your life? Buy some herbs…ahem, not that kind. You know, the kind you can cook with or add to drinks. You can go to Trader Joe’s and buy some fresh mint or basil. Add that to a jar of water and boom — infused water.

7. Ditch technology (for now)

If you are honest with yourself, you know that the majority of your day is likely spent in front of a screen. A computer screen, a TV screen, your phone. Sure, these devices can give you some enjoyment and entertainment, but it can be a lot. Give your brain a break from being a constant consumer of information and let it just be. Ditch technology for at least two hours each day (and this doesn’t include your sleeping hours or when you’re in the shower!) If you can do the whole day, do that.

8. Read for pleasure

After ditching the technology, commit to reading for pleasure. Not for work. Not for self-improvement. Read something for FUN! Something that can take you away for a bit. Better yet: read a real book where you have to turn actual pages.

9. Get a new phone case

If you want to save money and treat yourself, look for a new fun phone case. Let’s be real. You spend a lot of time on your phone and have probably dropped it a few times. Protect it and enjoy what you’re looking at with a new phone case. Need inspiration? Check out this Faux Mink case in the delicious color of Golden Apricot.

10. Get a massage (at a discount)

Wondering how to save money on self-care and relaxation? Go to a school! You can get a massage at a huge discount by going to a local massage school. The same goes for haircuts, facials, and more. Go to a local beauty school and rack up the savings.

11. A mug just for you

Mornings can be rough. But having a special mug that is just for you can help you start the day off right with a little dose of inspiration. Consider this “Not Today Satan” coffee mug on Etsy.

12.  Buy a mug warmer

Now that you have your favorite mug, invest in a mug warmer. We’ve all been there: you get carried away with work and go back to your tea or coffee…and it’s luke warm, or worse, cold. Keep it hot and fresh with a mug warmer.

13. Get a reel viewer

If you’re a nostalgic toy lover, getting your own reel viewer can be the perfect way to treat yourself and a fun way to preserve your memories. You can add your own favorite photos too. Not only is this fun for you but a great conversation starter and an awesome and unique way to share your favorite memories with others.

14. Act it out

When you want to learn how to save money fast, you may have to cut back on entertainment and going out with your friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Invite your friends over and ask them to bring their favorite piece of text — a poem, an article, a play — and have everyone read aloud to each other. At the core, many of us are storytellers and hearing your friends read their favorite text aloud can be a special thing.

15. Make it hot

If you like things hot and love a robust flavor, indulge in a special hot sauce. It can take your meal from boring and bland to straight fire. We’re pretty sure that hot sauce sales went up when Beyoncé crooned “got hot sauce in my bag, swag”. If it’s good enough for Queen Bey, it’s good enough for you.

16. Do whatever you want

As adults we get stuck in to-do lists and “shoulds”. It’s hard to hear your own voice sometimes and know what you really want. So, let go of responsibilities for one night. The dishes will be there tomorrow, I promise. If you want to nap, do that. Want to watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before a 3rd time? Do that. Want to work on the next great American novel? Do that, no self-judgement. Do whatever makes you feel good.

17. Go down memory lane

A great way to save money and spend nothing is to take a trip down memory lane and look at old photos. Look at your old vacation pics. Pictures of you and your SO when you first started dating. Look at that crazy photo from childhood and remember who you used to be. Looking at old photos can bring a feeling of joy and take you back to a fun time.

18. Try a new recipe

Cooking is a process of trial and error and following directions on a recipe can lead to a great new meal. You don’t have to be a master chef to make something that tastes good. Consider trying a new recipe. The process of cooking can help you slow down, stay in the moment, and experiment.

19. Party for one

Get your favorite food, a favorite glass of wine or cocktail and put on your favorite music. Dance in your living room and enjoy everything just how you like it. Throw yourself a party for you and only you.

20. Play hooky

Some days you just don’t want to go to work. And maybe sometimes you shouldn’t. Now, we don’t recommend this strategy often, but once in a blue moon you should play hooky. Do something fun during the week or stay in your PJs all day.

It’s All About You

There you have it: 20 fabulous ways to treat yourself. Better yet, all of the ideas here are affordable and some of them cost no money at all. We invite you to slow down, enjoy life and give yourself a break once in a while. You deserve it.

 

5 Things to Do with Your Money If You Get a Raise

Getting a raise can make you feel on top of the world. You get to do the same job for more money. Who wouldn’t want that?

Still, it’s important to put your raise to work if you don’t want it to disappear. Lifestyle inflation can take over when you’re complacent, which is why you should create a plan for your newfound wealth.

Before you do anything, wait a few weeks to let your raise sink in. Ask yourself what you want out of life and how your excess funds can help you achieve it. From there, come up with a strategy to put your raise to work.

Here are some of the best options.

1. Boost your 401(k) contributions

If a wealthy retirement is at the top of your list of future goals, using your raise to boost your retirement contributions is a smart move. This is easy if you invest for retirement through an employer.

With a work-sponsored account like a 401(k), all you have to do is increase your retirement contributions in an amount commensurate with your raise. If you scored a 5% raise, for example, head to your workplace human resources department and ask about increasing your contribution this much. Your employer may ask you to fill out a new W-4 form to set your new contribution level.

This strategy is easy since it’s automatic and conducted via payroll. You may never see the money from your raise, but it will grow for the future thanks to compound interest.

2. Open an IRA

Another option to consider is opening an individual retirement account. You can open this type of account whether you have a workplace retirement account or not.

There are two main types of IRAs to choose from — the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. In 2018, you can contribute up to $5,500 across both accounts (or $6,500 if you’re age 50 or older).

Money contributed to a traditional IRA can be tax-deductible if you meet certain income requirements. Once you contribute, your money grows tax-free until retirement.

With a Roth IRA, on the other hand, you contribute with after-tax dollars. However, your money grows tax-free and you can take tax-free distributions once you reach age 59 1/2. You can also take out your contributions to this type of account at any time without penalty, which is why some people use this account to save for college or other goals.

3. Pay down debt

Paying down debt is a smart move since it can help reduce interest costs and increase cash flow. Since the average credit card interest rate reached 17% in May, according to Bankrate, it’s easy to imagine how paying off high-interest debt like credit card bills could improve your finances.

While your raise won’t arrive in a lump sum, you can still use it to pay down debt faster. Add the amount of your raise to the monthly payments you make each month, starting at your highest-interest debts. You’ll pay down debt faster and reduce the interest you pay.

4. Build an emergency fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund, you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt. After all, cars need repairs and roofs need replacement — and insurance doesn’t always cover your bills.

Most experts suggest you have three to six months of expenses saved in an emergency fund. This way, you’ll be okay if you lose your job, take a pay cut or face unexpected medical or home repair bills.

You can use a raise to start building your emergency fund. Open a new savings account designated for your emergency fund only, then set up regular contributions on payday or once per month. If it seems like you’re saving for no reason, think how grateful you’ll be next time a surprise expense pops up and you have the cash to cover it.

5. Set up targeted savings accounts

Investing and debt repayment are important, but what if you want to have some fun? Whether you set aside money for retirement or pay down debt, you can still allocate part of your raise toward something you want.

Whether it’s a family vacation, a new deck for your backyard or a new car, set up a targeted savings account and automatic contributions. Even if you can only contribute $20 of your raise each week toward the cause, the money you save will add up — especially if you put it in a high-interest savings account that earns a decent return.

A raise means you’ll have to redraft your budget. Check out our simple budget template to get started.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

5 Frugal Celebrities—and What We Can Learn From Them

Sure, you may know that rap songs and the baller lifestyle can send the wrong message about money. On the other hand, what about beloved celebs who live frugal-fabulous existences?

We’ve rounded up our top 5 sweet money-minded celebrities. Take a look at some financial tips we can glean from their penny-pinching ways:

1. Dave Grohl

Ah, yes, the Frugal Gods look quite fondly at my hubby in a future life (swoon.) The drummer of Nirvana and frontman of The Foo Fighters is known to deposit his paychecks straight into his bank account. He also drives a family car. (Note: he also splurged on a $140,000 Tesla.)

Grohl’s money mindset was formed at an early age when his mom suffered a stroke while working on her taxes. Grohl has been reported to say, “And it left this indelible mark on me that was ‘Money will kill you’, that people spend their lives dying inside because of money.”

What we can learn: Your early experiences with money will shape your relationship with it. The memories and emotions you felt in your younger years may help you understand why you behave the way you do.

Are you a big ole miser, like Scrooge McDuck? Are you prone to overspending when you’re feeling bored or anxious? Or, if you’re like Grohl, did the association between “money” and “death” become deeply ingrained in you from an early age? To get to the root of your money story, look toward your past.

And of course, pay yourself first. While you may not be uber wealthy, commit to stashing away a percentage of your income with every pay cycle. If you can auto-save a portion of each paycheck, that’s even better.

2. Lady Gaga

The pop singer may be worth a cool $275 million. But, even though she bought an estate in Malibu for $23 million, she still loves a good deal. She cuts coupons while out shopping, goes bargain hunting for clothes, and has even tweeted about her frugal finds.

What we can learn: Spending money is all about what you value. If it makes you happy, drop a ton of money on luxurious digs—but only if you can afford it.

Plus, it never hurts to save where and when you can. But only do it if it’s something you naturally enjoy. If you like couponing and scouring swap meets, more power to you. If bargaining for lower rates on your cable subscriptions is more your speed, then let that be your mode for slashing expenses.

3. Sarah Jessica Parker

The actress and Sex and the City star dresses her son in only hand-me downs from relatives. The reason? She refuses to spoil her kids, and believes that they shouldn’t be entitled to the fruits of her labor and immense success.

What we can learn: A dollar earned is a dollar cherished. There’s value in working hard for your money. And, maintaining consistent cash flow can be challenging. That’s why you should start saving money right away. It also doesn’t hurt to get access to your cash as soon as you can. Pro tip: if you’re a Chime member, when you sign up for direct deposit, you can get paid up to two days early.

4. Zooey Deschanel

Besides recently getting rid of her bangs (which caused a stir on the interwebs), Zooey Deschanel got divorced in 2012 and her financials were revealed. While she was worth three million at the time, she spends $2,000 a month on clothing, $1,500 to charity, $800 in utilities, and $300 on her phone bill.

What we can learn: Okay, so having a money spend of 2,000 buckaroos on clothes isn’t exactly the norm. But relatively speaking, this girl lives within her means. Only buy things you can afford, and don’t go over budget. On top of that, spend in accordance with your values. If you are big on reducing your carbon footprint, then shop second-hand or buy from eco-friendly companies.

5. Jay Leno

 Apparently the classic car collector and former talk show host only spends money from his comedy routines. In other words, he saves all the money he raked in from The Tonight Show. He started doing this back when he worked two jobs: one at a Ford Dealership and at McDonald’s. He spent the money he earned from one job and stashed the rest.

What we can learn: There is a great lesson on money management tip for artists, freelancers, and other members of the gig economy. If you’re juggling different gigs or clients, use the paychecks from several clients on your living expenses. The rest can go toward discretionary spending or savings.

Having trouble figuring out which paychecks should go toward your expenses? Choose the gigs that are more consistent where you’re raking in more dough. That way you’ll be sure you can pay your bills on time.

Final Word

Just because you’re rich and famous doesn’t mean you need to spend your dough like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, the more money you have, the more financial decisions you’ll be tasked with making. The key is to make the most of what you have, and to manage it well.

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