mint http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11255/all en-US 7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-512432890.jpg" alt="use these free apps to monitor your credit" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The <a href="http://www.fico.com/en/blogs/risk-compliance/us-credit-quality-continues-climb-will-level/">average FICO credit score</a> of U.S. consumers is 695, according to the latest data from the FICO company. If you think this number is encouraging, you'll also be glad to hear that 54.7% of Americans are able to score at least a 700!</p> <p>This data proves that it's very possible to improve your credit score. There's no excuse these days for not monitoring your credit. Credit score monitoring? There are apps for that! Let's review some of the best free and easy to use apps available for giving your credit score a boost.</p> <h2>1. Credit Karma</h2> <p>Claiming that you can sign up for a new account within two minutes, <a href="http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-2822544-10817209-1462225929000">Credit Karma</a>'s app offers free credit score tracking. Your score and list of reports are updated weekly. Credit Karma offers a credit report card, which breaks down every factor contributing to your credit score health, such as open credit utilization rate and average age of open credit lines, and helps you understand how your actions affect your credit score.</p> <p>Keep in mind that Credit Karma shows you a <a href="https://www.creditkarma.com/credit-scores">Vantage 3.0 credit score</a>, which isn't the same as a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fico-vs-fakes-are-you-getting-the-wrong-credit-score">FICO credit score</a>. The app allows you to track your credit score from TransUnion and Equifax (two of three main credit reporting bureaus, the third one is Experian). To learn more details about Credit Karma, take a look at <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-free-credit-score-monitoring-with-credit-karma">our review</a>.</p> <h2>2. Mint: Money Manager, Budget and Personal Finance</h2> <p>Besides being a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-free-debt-management-tools">free debt management tool</a>, Mint offers a free credit monitoring app that provides an easy-to-understand summary of how you can improve your credit score. The credit score provided under any of these apps is the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax.</p> <p>By connecting your bank accounts, credit cards, and investments accounts to your Mint account, you'll have a comprehensive picture of all of your finances, too.</p> <h2>3. Credit Sesame</h2> <p><a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-12336153-1455123184000">Credit Sesame</a>'s app offers you a peek into your Experian National Equivalency Score (ENES). While the FICO credit score ranges from 300 to 850, the ENES ranges from 360 to 840.</p> <p>By using this alternate credit scoring model, Credit Sesame is able to perform a &quot;soft&quot; pull on your credit history and show you how much you owe, what your current interest rates are, and what your credit score is.</p> <p>Additionally, Credit Sesame offers you some refinancing options in partnership with Lending Club to pay off higher-interest debt. To help you understand whether or not this would be a good fit for you, Wise Bread took a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-interest-rates-with-credit-sesame-and-lending-club">closer look at Credit Sesame' services</a> and the steps of the loan process application process through Lending Club.</p> <h2>4. Credit.com</h2> <p>Credit.com is another option to access your Experian National Equivalency Score and Vantage 3.0 credit score at no cost. You'll receive a grade, ranging from A+ to F, for each one of the five factors affecting your credit score: payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and number of inquiries.</p> <p>Through its visual aids and specific action items, this app allow you to spot credit blunders and understand how to fix them.</p> <h2>5. Experian</h2> <p>Since so many of these apps use the credit rating model from <a href="http://www.experian.com/consumer-products/credit-monitoring.html">Experian</a>, you may be wondering if you can just go straight to the source. Yes, you can! Through the app you'll monitor changes to your Experian credit profile and have the option to sign up for push notifications directly on your device whenever a change takes place. Your free Experian credit report is updated every 30 days.</p> <h2>6. TransUnion</h2> <p>The credit reporting bureau allows you to <a href="https://www.transunion.com/credit-monitoring">check your TransUnion credit report</a> from your smartphone. Similar to the FICO credit score, the <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12771108-1480442728000">TransUnion</a> credit score ranges from 300 to 850. Still, remember that the FICO and TransUnion credit score aren't the same.</p> <h2>7. CreditWise</h2> <p>CreditWise offers free credit monitoring services from Capital One. You don't need to be a Capital One customer to sign up for a new account. If you're an existing user of the Capital One CreditTracker service, you can use your existing username and password that you use at the CapitalOne.com site. Every week, this app will provide your TransUnion credit score. A differentiating factor of CreditWise is its credit simulator, which allows you to simulate ways to improve your TransUnion credit score.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Know Your Score!</h2> <p>FICO maintains a total of 28 different FICO scores, which are widely used by issuers of home, auto, and credit card loans. Remember that each one of these apps offers a free snapshot of a credit score based on a separate model and that snapshot is only for educational purposes. If you want to get the actual FICO credit score, you'll have to pay <a href="http://www.myfico.com/products/credit-score-monitoring-products/">at least $19.95 per month</a>.</p> <p>While the advice provided by any of these services can be valuable to improve your credit score, your potential lender may be working with a very different score than the one gleaned from an app. If you're working toward meeting the requirements for a mortgage or auto loan, ask your lender what credit score she's using. That way, you'll choose the app that can provide a more accurate estimate.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-often-your-credit-score-gets-calculated">Here&#039;s How Often Your Credit Score Gets Calculated</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/once-bitten-twice-shy-what-is-credit-security-worth-to-you">Once Bitten Twice Shy: What is Credit Security Worth to You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-your-credit-report-does-not-include">7 Things Your Credit Report Does NOT Include</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report">How to Read a Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Technology apps credit karma credit monitoring credit score Equifax Experian fico mint smartphones TransUnion Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:00:17 +0000 Damian Davila 1848172 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_tsa_line_20741660.jpg" alt="Man making money moves in endless TSA line" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the airport closest to me, the TSA lines are legendary, especially during the holiday season. Last year, they were telling people to give themselves <em>an extra hour</em> before their flight, just to make sure they got through security on time. That's an extra hour on top of the usual hour or two recommended!</p> <p>I don't know about you, but I dread long lines. I spend the entire time thinking about what else I could be doing. Over the years, though, I've come up with ways to use my &quot;line time&quot; well. Here are a few things you can do to improve your financial life while waiting for TSA to get on the ball.</p> <h2>1. Start Using Mint</h2> <p><a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> is a great way to track your finances. You sign up for an account, connect all of your bank, investment, and debt accounts, and it quietly tracks your overall financial situation. It allows you to look at spending, debt, and net worth automatically and with ease.</p> <p>This is a great thing to do if you're not really tracking your finances right now, or if you don't have a handle on your overall financial situation. Starting with the big picture is almost always a good idea, so that you know what is good and what is bad, right from the start.</p> <h2>2. Sign Up for Digit</h2> <p><a href="http://digit.co">Digit</a> is an online service that saves money for you. You connect the app to a bank account, and they track your spending. Based on what they find, they schedule automatic withdrawals to another account. They don't say much about their analysis algorithm, but people (myself included) claim that they don't notice or need the money that Digit removes from their accounts.</p> <p>If you're already saving, you probably don't need this tool. But if you forget to pay yourself first, this can be a great way to save without really thinking about it. And it's fun to watch your savings build up over time!</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit</h2> <p>If you haven't looked at your free credit report in the last 12 months, you should. <a href="http://annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is the place to start. From there, you can enter identification information and view a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check for incorrect information or credit cards/lines of credit that may have been opened fraudulently.</p> <p>Do make sure that you have a secure Internet connection before you start sharing sensitive personal information. If you aren't sure, add this to your To Do list and work on something else while you're in line.</p> <h2>4. Set a Financial Goal</h2> <p>What would you like your money to do for you? Do you want to travel? Maybe you need to buy a new car. Think about your wants and needs, and choose one or two financial goals for the next few months. Having a goal will help you focus, and it will make you more likely to do things like curb spending or follow through on a savings plan.</p> <p>Don't set too many goals, though. Picking one or two things to save for &mdash; maybe one practical thing and one that's fun &mdash; will give you plenty of motivation without the stress of feeling like your money has to go in too many different directions.</p> <h2>5. Choose a Charity</h2> <p>If you're like me, giving often falls by the wayside. It's not that I don't want to do it, but that I want to be responsible with it. If you want to make sure that any charity that gets your money is actually using it for their stated purposes, do your research while you stand in line.</p> <p>Start by going to your intended charity's website. Most of them will offer some sort of fiscal documentation. If you want to give to a smaller charity, you may need to give them a call and ask for it, instead.</p> <p>If you don't even know where to start giving, start with a simple Google search. Pick an issue that is important to you, and look for charities that target it. You can even limit your search to charities in your local area, if you're interested in volunteering or getting more involved.</p> <h2>6. Check Your Bills</h2> <p>Not sure how long you'll be in line? Pull up your latest credit card bills and glance through them. Make sure that you recognize all the charges and that, to the best of your knowledge, they are for the right amount. Many people find mistakes on their credit card bills, and you can always contact the company to have them fixed. That usually means more money in your pocket.</p> <p>If you don't recognize a charge but you aren't sure, flag it for later, when you can go through your receipts and figure out if it's correct. If you find something very concerning, call your credit company from the line. The sooner you can get in touch with them, the sooner you'll have your money back where it belongs.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg&amp;description=6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Money%20Moves%20You%20Can%20Make%20While%20Stuck%20in%20an%20Endless%20TSA%20Line.jpg" alt="6 Money Moves You Can Make While Stuck in an Endless TSA Line" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-money-moves-you-can-make-while-stuck-in-an-endless-tsa-line">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sign-up-for-global-entry">How to Sign Up for Global Entry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-monitor-your-credit-for-you">7 Apps That Monitor Your Credit for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-every-new-college-student-should-make">7 Money Moves Every New College Student Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-modern-ways-to-split-the-bill">5 Modern Ways to Split the Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Travel airports apps bills budgeting charity credit report digit free time mint money moves security tsa waiting in line Thu, 10 Nov 2016 10:30:29 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1830272 at http://www.wisebread.com The One Personal Finance Skill You Must Master Before All the Others http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_working_102244905.jpg" alt="Woman mastering personal finance skill before all others" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Recently, I detailed <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 personal finance skills to master</a> to improve your happiness and quality of life.</p> <p>Mastering this set of skills will put you on the road to financial independence, but it's hard to master 12 things all at once. If you are looking to get your finances on track quickly, what is the first personal finance skill you should master?</p> <p>Start with budgeting.</p> <h2>What a Budget Can Do for You</h2> <p>A detailed budget holds the answer to one of the most important questions about your personal finances: &quot;Where is all the money going?&quot; When you understand where your money is going, you can find opportunities to better utilize your money to meet your goals instead of letting it slip away on things that are not important to you.</p> <p>And a budget can be a great motivational tool. For example, if you learn from your budget that you are coming up $100 short each month, you can be motivated to solve the problem. Having a specific goal and measurement of progress toward the goal helps you take effective action. Without a budget, you may have a general feeling that you don't have enough money, but this can be hard to turn into tangible results.</p> <p>&quot;Can I afford this?&quot; is another question that a budget will answer. With detailed knowledge of how much money is coming in and how much you need to cover bills and expenses, your budget will show whether you can handle taking on a new expense.</p> <p>Looking at the bigger picture, your budget tells you if you are heading in the right direction, or if your financial situation is a sinking ship and you need to make some changes. Without a budget, it may not be clear whether you are moving up, down, or sideways. But most people don't have a budget...</p> <h2>Why Most People Don't Budget</h2> <p>Clearly there are significant benefits from having a detailed budget, but Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance survey shows that only 32% of American households have a <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/162872/one-three-americans-prepare-detailed-household-budget.aspx">written or computerized budget</a> for monthly expenses. If having a budget is so useful, why do so few people actually do it?</p> <ul> <li>Some people have no idea how to prepare a budget.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>It takes too much work to quantify expenses and keep the budget up-to-date.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Some people are afraid to know much they are spending. They don't want to change their spending habits, so they avoid facing the numbers.</li> </ul> <p>All of these reasons contributed to me not having a budget for years. I had plenty of other tasks on my list of things to do, and putting together a budget never made its way to the top of my list. Plus, I liked buying whatever I felt like buying and didn't want a budget to get in the way of being able to spend money however I wanted.</p> <p>I finally realized that I didn't really know where my money was going, and this was preventing me from reaching financial independence. Preparing a budget was my first effective step to getting my finances on track.</p> <h2>How to Start an Effective Budget Today</h2> <p>Getting started budgeting is easier than you think &mdash; the hardest part is deciding to do it.</p> <h3>Step 1. Where Is All Your Money Going?</h3> <p>The first step in budgeting effectively is to assess your current cash flow situation, figuring out exactly how much income you have and breaking down your spending by cost category. This may seem like a lot of work, but this will give you insight into where all of your money is really going. You may be shocked. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-saving-more-with-this-one-simple-tool?ref=seealso">Start Saving More With a Spending Book</a>)</p> <p>First, total up all of your income during the month. Look at your pay stubs, or check your direct deposits from your bank account statement.</p> <p>Then, figure out your expenses. You will need to keep track of the cash that you spend as well as bill payments from your checking account and spending with credit cards. When I started my budget, I used colored highlighters to mark credit card statements and bank statements to sort the spending into categories such as food, clothing, pets, entertainment, transportation, housing, utilities, etc. I put these numbers into a spreadsheet along with my income, and I had my first budget. Or, you can try budgeting tools like <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> or <a href="https://www.youneedabudget.com/">You Need a Budget</a>.</p> <h3>Step 2. Where Do You Want Your Money to Go?</h3> <p>After you know the good, the bad, and the ugly about where all your money is going, you might want to make some adjustments. I found that overall spending was too high, especially spending on food, car payments, and fuel.</p> <p>We started using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">money envelope</a> to pay for all food to help control this expense category. On payday, I put cash for food in an envelope. When the envelope is empty, we know we have spent all we have available, so we wait for the next envelope to spend more on food. We also sold our most expensive vehicle and replaced it with a less expensive one that uses less gas, saving hundreds of dollars each month. Without a budget, I would not have been motivated to make these changes and get my finances on a better track. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat?ref=seealso">Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes Flat</a>)</p> <p>For your budget to be effective, you need to monitor expenses and make updates to your budget as they change each month. In other words, making a budget is not a one-time exercise. Keep track of the budgeted amount for expense categories and how much you are actually spending every month. As you understand your spending and work to control your expenses, you will be able to create budget items such as &quot;emergency fund&quot; and &quot;retirement fund&quot; and consistently have money to fund your future.</p> <p>Wherever your life takes you on the road to personal finance mastery, it won't take you there if you don't master this skill first.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">37 Savings Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting cash flow expenses financial independence mint money management skills Wed, 02 Nov 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1825228 at http://www.wisebread.com Easy Budgeting for People Who Hate Math http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_budgeting_math_98602015.jpg" alt="Woman doing easy budgeting for people who hate math" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many people, budgeting is challenging not because of its tediousness, but because of the math. Numbers make them cringe. If that's you, here's how to get past your dislike of digits and get in the budgeting game.</p> <h2>Make Peace With the Process</h2> <p>Budgets get a bad rap. People who don't use one tend to hate the very idea of a budget. It sounds so constraining. It feels like so much work.</p> <p>But people who use a budget say it's actually freeing. There's peace of mind that comes from knowing where their money's going. That knowledge gives them the power to make proactive decisions about how to best use their money.</p> <p>That perspective can be really powerful. While this article will minimize the math involved in using a budget, some will be required. What'll take the edge off is accepting, at least on faith, that using a budget will be beneficial to you.</p> <h2>Get the Math Part Over With as Quickly as Possible</h2> <p>Planning is the first of three essential steps involved in using a budget. That means deciding how much you're going to divvy up your dough &mdash; how much to save, invest, and spend on everything from gifts to groceries.</p> <p>This is usually the most math-heavy part of the process. But there are plenty of guides available, including the free downloadable <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">Recommended Cash Flow Guidelines</a> I created, which shows how much you could allocate to the most common categories based on household size and income.</p> <p>Download the Excel version of the Cash Flow Plan as well and enter the recommended amounts from the Cash Flow Guidelines as a starting point. Then customize your cash flow plan based on your priorities. You may value vacations more highly than buying new clothing, so adjust accordingly, making sure that in the bottom right corner, outgo equals income.</p> <p>At very least, the guidelines will help you avoid having to start from scratch, crunching lots of numbers to figure out how much to allocate to this or that.</p> <h2>Choose the Tracking Tool That Works for You</h2> <p>The second of the three essential steps involved in using a budget is tracking where your money is actually going. This can be tedious, and is often where first-time budgeters bail. Keep in mind, this is not a one-size-fits-all process. There are a variety of tools you could use. The best is the one you <em>actually will use</em>.</p> <p>Among the many options available, two are especially well-suited to those who don't like math. First, there's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">the envelope system</a>. With this approach, you'll write checks or use electronic bill-pay for expenses such as your mortgage or rent, utilities, and insurance. For discretionary expenses, where spending can vary and you have to be more intentional about managing your spending, you'll use envelopes &mdash; one for each category such as groceries, entertainment, and clothing.</p> <p>If you get paid once a month and your monthly clothing budget is $100, you'll put $100 cash in an envelope marked &quot;clothing.&quot; You'll take the envelope with you when you go clothes shopping, make your purchase with money from the envelope, and put any change back in the envelope. If you're paid twice a month, you'll put $50 in the &quot;clothing&quot; envelope each time you're paid.</p> <p>The envelope system requires very little math. At a glance, you can see how much money you have left to spend until the next payday.</p> <p>Second, there are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget?ref=internal">online budgeting tools</a>. The beauty of online tools, such as Mint.com, is that they do much of the math for you. Your job is to enter your budgeted amounts for each category and then link your checking and credit card accounts. Your online tool of choice will then automatically capture your spending (you only need to manually enter cash transactions) and show you how your spending in each category compares with your budgeted amounts. With just a few quick clicks, you can see how you're doing this month, this year, or other time frames, and the information is available to you anywhere you can get online.</p> <h2>Review, Revise, and Repeat</h2> <p>The third of the three essential steps involved in using a budget is reviewing how you're doing. If your groceries envelope became empty two-thirds of the way through the month, or if the groceries category in your online budget tool showed the same, you either need to allocate more for groceries or get more proactive about how well you're stretching your grocery budget.</p> <p>Getting the allocations right may take a few months, but it doesn't require much math. You just need to shift dollars from categories where you have money left over each month to those where you need more.</p> <p>Don't let your dislike of math hold you back from using one of the most powerful tools available for wise money management &mdash; a budget. The envelope system is a simple way to proactively plan and manage your spending with no number crunching required. Online tools bring a lot of sophistication to the process, while doing most of the math-related heavy lifting for you.</p> <p><em>How do you budget?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day">Money Management in 5 Minutes a Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others">The One Personal Finance Skill You Must Master Before All the Others</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-will-help-you-finally-organize-your-money">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting bad at math crunching numbers Envelope system mint money management numbers organization tracking Tue, 06 Sep 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Matt Bell 1785279 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Refreshing Ways to Use Mint http://www.wisebread.com/15-refreshing-ways-to-use-mint <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-refreshing-ways-to-use-mint" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5974262259_a99bb9972c_z.jpg" alt="peppermint plant" title="peppermint plant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As far as herbs go, peppermint is wholly underused in my humble opinion.</p> <p>But recently I&rsquo;ve started picking up the herb when I stock up on the usual suspects for my fridge, like basil, rosemary, and cilantro, and I have to admit that I&rsquo;m totally stoked by all the applications mint has.</p> <p>Primarily I use it to make a water-based metabolism-boosting drink that also features lemon and fresh ginger. But even after two or three pitchers per week, I have lots of mint leftover in the bunch. This abundance has forced me to discover other ways to use it up. Here are 15 of my favorites. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-uses-for-garlic-that-deserve-a-round-of-applause">15 Uses for Garlic That Deserve a Round of Applause</a>)</p> <h2>1. Keep Mice Away</h2> <p>I live in New York City, and when I was thinking of planting a garden in the backyard, I was advised to plant a bed of mint because it deters rats. Same goes for household mice. The vermin despise it, and they&rsquo;ll steer clear of any area it&rsquo;s in.</p> <h2>2. Relieve Cramps</h2> <p>Mint has natural digestive properties that help relax tract muscle and relieve cramping. So when your tummy hurts, mix mint into a soothing liquid drink like hot tea or warm water spiked with lemon.</p> <h2>3. Soothe Your Feet</h2> <p>The refreshing, tingly sensation you experience when you eat mint comes from the menthol it contains. To give your feet a pick-me-up, chop up a cup of mint leaves and combine with a cup of sea salt and one-third cup of olive oil. Scrub away.</p> <h2>4. Reduce Headache Pain</h2> <p>Use mint to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-beat-a-killer-headache-with-stuff-you-have-around-the-house">reduce headache pain</a> the same way you would to relieve cramps. Infuse your hot tea with mint or add mint to a glass of water and drink it.</p> <h2>5. Prevent Infections</h2> <p>Mint is known to slow down &mdash; and sometimes completely stop &mdash; bacteria and fungus from growing in the body because of its antibacterial properties. A diet that includes mint may give your body the boost it needs to ward off certain infections, like athlete&rsquo;s foot, for instance.</p> <h2>6. Open Up Your Airways</h2> <p>Have a stuffy nose? Put mint in a pot of boiling water or hot tea and breathe in the spicy menthol to open up your passages. It works much like Vicks VapoRub, only peppermint is cheaper and all natural.</p> <h2>7. Relieve Stress</h2> <p>Mint has been linked to feelings of calmness and reduced levels of stress.</p> <h2>8. Potential Cancer Preventative</h2> <p>Studies are ongoing, but <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/peppermint">peppermint may help prevent</a> certain types of cancer, including those that affect the skin, lungs, and colon. The research is currently inconclusive, but hopefully there will be sufficient evidence in the future that will give us another weapon to fight the deadly disease.</p> <h2>9. Spice Up a Salad</h2> <p>Want to add a little zing to your summer salad? Tear up a few leaves and toss them in with your other greens, fruits, and veggies for a surprise that&rsquo;ll make your taste buds sing.</p> <h2>10. Make Grooming Products</h2> <p>With mint oils you can give a fresh scent to homemade soaps and shampoos that will save you lots of money over store-bought products. You can usually find these essential oils in a craft or natural food store.</p> <h2>11. Add to Ice Cubes</h2> <p>If your mint is in danger of rotting, put one leaf in each cube of an ice tray and freeze for later. Add a minty cube to water, lemonade, and iced tea for an instant refresher.</p> <h2>12. Refresh Your Face</h2> <p>Add mint leaves to a large bowl of cold water and let them steep for an hour or so in the fridge. Take it out, submerge your face, and experience the refreshing rush of this natural cleanser.</p> <h2>13. Freshen Your Carpet</h2> <p>Sprinkle a mixture of dried mint and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesomeness-of-sodium-bicarbonate-27-uses-for-baking-soda">baking soda</a> on your carpet, let it sit for an hour, and then vacuum it up for a room that smells fresh and fantastic.</p> <h2>14. Make an Air Freshener</h2> <p>Mix mint with other fresh flowers and herbs for a homemade potpourri that will leave your house smelling bright and clean. For an easy mint potpourri recipe, try <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ehow.com/how_7353502_make-mint-potpourri.html">this pick from eHow</a>.</p> <h2>15. Refresh Your Breath</h2> <p>Add mint oil to a baking soda/peroxide mixture to create a tasty homemade toothpaste that will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth.</p> <p><em>Have more usual uses for mint that we should know about? Please share them with us in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-refreshing-ways-to-use-mint">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-alternative-uses-for-lemons">25 Alternative Uses for Lemons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-smartphone-apps-that-make-self-care-a-snap">14 Smartphone Apps That Make Self-Care a Snap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-stop-drinking-soda">22 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-smart-water-bottles">The 5 Best Smart Water Bottles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-to-drink-tea">10 Reasons to Drink Tea</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Health and Beauty alternative uses home remedies mint Fri, 25 Jan 2013 11:24:31 +0000 Mikey Rox 965735 at http://www.wisebread.com Money Management in 5 Minutes a Day http://www.wisebread.com/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7658165122_12d1f71e0b_z.jpg" alt="woman using laptop" title="woman using laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some aspects of managing money are a huge challenge. Just ask all the savers who married spenders (and vice versa)! But a lot of the day-to-day dealings with money don&rsquo;t have to be so complex, especially with the many websites and electronic tools specifically designed to make managing money easier. Here's how to take the task of managing money down to five minutes a day. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</a>)</p> <h3>Maintain a Central Financial Operating System</h3> <p>A huge key to success with money is cash flow management. That means being proactive about how the money that flows into your life flows out. <em>Knowing </em>where it&rsquo;s going is essential if you&rsquo;re going to <em>choose </em>where it should go.</p> <p>Of course, I&rsquo;m talking about budgeting. If you don&rsquo;t use a budget, you may need to take this on faith, but a budget is the single most powerful tool anyone can use to manage money well.</p> <p>There are two major steps involved in using a budget: setting it up and managing it. The set up will take a little time; managing it takes just a couple of minutes each day.</p> <p>To get started, choose a tool. In our household, we use <a href="http://www.mint.com">Mint</a>. But there are other choices as well, such as <a href="https://www.adaptu.com/home/">Adaptu</a>, <a href="http://www.learnvest.com/">LearnVest</a>, and others. Ask friends who manage money well which tool they use, open an account, link it to your bank and credit cards, and then use these <a href="http://www.soundmindinvesting.com/visitors/res/resources.htm">Recommended Spending Guidelines</a> to set up a plan.</p> <p>I start most days by taking a quick look at our cash flow on Mint. Did the system categorize recent transactions correctly? And how does our actual spending so far this month compare with our plan?</p> <p>Head to the grocery store without a clue as to how much you can afford to spend and chances are approximately 100% that you will spend too much. Glance at your month-to-date spending on groceries vs. the targeted amount you set up, and you&rsquo;ll be much more intentional about how you shop.</p> <h3>Semi-Automate Monthly Bill Payments</h3> <p>Chances are good that your monthly utility bills will be accurate. That&rsquo;s why we have those fully automated. We look at the bills to see if anything seems wrong, but that has happened so infrequently that we&rsquo;re good with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments">paying those bills automatically</a>.</p> <p>Others I like to review before paying, like our credit card bills. We still pay them online, but we review them first and then manually make the payment.</p> <h3>Batch the Manual Payments</h3> <p>Some people like to pay their manual bills as close to the due date as possible, so they can earn interest on their money as long as they can. However, in today&rsquo;s low-rate environment, checking account &ldquo;interest&rdquo; has become a theoretical concept. I prefer the very real time savings that comes from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-time-with-batch-processing">paying most of our monthly manual bills in one sitting</a>.</p> <h3>Automatically Prepare for Periodic Bills and Expenses</h3> <p>Some bills and expenses are due less frequently than monthly, like our semi-annual property tax bill and our annual life and homeowners insurance premiums. We take the total annual cost of all such bills, plus the total annual cost of all periodic big expenses like holiday gifts and vacations, divide that amount by 12, and automatically have that much transferred to savings each month. When the bill or expense comes due, we have the money on hand.</p> <h3>Investment Monitoring</h3> <p>I am not a believer in following the daily gyrations of the market. That&rsquo;s a recipe for worry. Our mutual fund-based investment strategy involves monthly reading of the investment newsletter we follow, occasional trades throughout the year, once-a-year rebalancing, and a once-a-year review of whether we&rsquo;re on track with our long-term goals. It&rsquo;s a very straightforward strategy that requires very little time on our part.</p> <p>We have accounts at more than one brokerage house, but Mint enables us to see all of our investments on one screen.</p> <h3>Credit Monitoring</h3> <p>We see <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-what-identity-theft-protection-companies-dofor-free">no need to pay for monthly credit monitoring</a>. Instead, I have recurring reminders in my electronic calendar to use <a href="http://www.annualcreditreport.com">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> to pull the free report from Equifax every January, TransUnion every May, and Experian every September. Reviewing those reports every four months doesn&rsquo;t take much time and serves as a free credit monitoring system.</p> <p>Through the use of a handful of financial web sites and an electronic calendar, our day-to-day money management takes less than five minutes a day.</p> <p><em>What about you? What other tools do you use to manage money efficiently?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-budgeting-pocketsmith-helps-you-forecast">Beyond Budgeting: Pocketsmith Helps You Forecast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others">The One Personal Finance Skill You Must Master Before All the Others</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-people-who-hate-math">Easy Budgeting for People Who Hate Math</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tools-to-get-organized-family-style">Tools to Get Organized, Family Style</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-will-help-you-finally-organize-your-money">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Productivity financial tools mint money management saving time Wed, 21 Nov 2012 11:24:32 +0000 Matt Bell 955418 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Ways Technology Makes Personal Finances Easier http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-technology-makes-personal-finances-easier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-ways-technology-makes-personal-finances-easier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mint-iphone-app.png" alt="Mint.com iPhone app" title="Tracking my finances via the Mint.com iPhone app" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="375" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="openforum-link"><em>This article is </em><a title="Warning: The Government Mail You Received Might Be a Scam" href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2009/11/3-ways-technology-makes-personal-finances-easier.html"><em>Wise Bread's contribution</em></a><em> to <a href="http://mylifescoop.com/personal/">Life Scoop</a>, where ordinary people learn how to make surprising things happen with technology.</em></p> <p>From saving money to staying on budget, technology has made it easier than ever to stay on top of my personal finances. Here are 3 ways technology has helped me save money and time.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Banking, budgeting, and investment tracking always within reach.</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/bofa-bloomberg-iphone.png" alt="iPhone apps from Bank of America and Bloomberg" /><br /> <em>iPhone apps from Bank of America and Bloomberg</em></p> <p>Smartphones (and even regular cellphones) puts control of my finances in my pocket.</p> <p>Banking has become much easier since I got my <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/">iPhone</a>. I can check balances, transfer money between accounts, and look for the nearest ATM just by pulling out my phone. Even folks with regular cellphones can check bank balances and/or get low balance alerts via text messages.</p> <p>Budgeting -- really, sticking to a budget -- is now 10 times easier with my iPhone. One of the problems I had with sticking to a budget was keeping track of my spending. At first, I was good about keeping receipts and entering the totals into a spreadsheet at the end of the day. But as the days went by, I got lazier about entering receipts each day. Eventually, I stopped tracking my spending altogether.</p> <p>These days, I can enter amounts I've spent into my phone right away. Even when I didn't have a smartphone, my regular cellphone had a way to store simple notes. This made it easier to keep track of my spending on a day to day basis.</p> <p>Once I started using <a href="http://www.mint.com/">Mint.com</a> (and their great iPhone app), the process got even simpler. If I use a debit or credit card, the transaction is added to my Mint account automatically. Even better, Mint does a good job of automatically categorizing expenditures, which makes analyzing my spending at the end of the month easier and more accurate.</p> <p>Finally, keeping track of how my favorite stocks are doing is now a breeze with the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/">Bloomberg</a> iPhone app. I can now easily check my portfolio daily, and make trades as soon as I notice trends or hear interesting news. Rather than waiting until the end of the month to look over statements or meeting with my broker once every quarter, I can now stay on top of my investment portfolio while waiting in line or when I'm having lunch. The iPhone has made me a faster and smarter investor.</p> <h2>2. Crowdsourcing my way to better buying decisions.</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/yelp-amazon-iphone-400.jpg" alt="iPhone apps from Yelp and Amazon" /><br /> <em>Making smarter buys with consumer reviews on Yelp and Amazon.</em></p> <p>Between local business review site <a href="http://www.yelp.com/">Yelp</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/">Amazon</a>'s customer reviews, I now buy with a lot more confidence. No more wasting money on restaurants or products that disappoint. Nowadays, I hardly ever walk into a new restaurant before checking out what fellow foodies have to say about the place on Yelp. And I almost never buy something without checking Amazon's user reviews. Thanks for the recommendations, world!</p> <p>By the way, both Amazon and Yelp have iPhone apps so I can look up reviews while standing in front of a new restaurant or walking around a big box store.</p> <h2>3. More data than ever available to consumers.</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/zillow-screenshot.gif" alt="Zillow provides real estate info previously only available to real estate agents" /><br /> <em>Zillow provides info previously only available to real estate agents.</em></p> <p>The Internet has been a boon to consumers hungry for information. Not just product reviews, but large scale trending data that helps them make big purchases. I'm looking to buy a home in the next year or so, and I've been a frequent visitor to <a href="http://www.zillow.com/">Zillow</a>. I haven't even contacted a real estate broker yet, but I feel like I already know more about the real estate market in my area than my parents ever did when they were house shopping.</p> <p>Rather than depend on an agent to feed me limited information, I can use Zillow to get a list of all houses on sale in my neighborhood, details about each home (including nearby schools, lots of photos, and a bird's eye view of the neighborhood), and even historical charts of the home and neighborhood's value. Technology has given us home shoppers unparalleled information that was previously only available to professional real estate agents.</p> <p>Once I am ready to make an offer, I can use another site, <a href="http://www.smarthippo.com/">SmartHippo</a>, to shop for mortgages. SmartHippo is Yelp-for-mortgages. Consumers review their lending institutions and even individual agents. Again, leveraging the power of the crowd to make smarter buying decisions!</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For more ways to do everyday tasks better, faster, and smarter, check out these great tips from <a href="http://mylifescoop.com/personal/">Life Scoop</a>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://mylifescoop.com/top-10/2009/11/10-great-blogs-for-advancing-your-career.html">10 Great Blogs for Advancing Your Career</a></li> <li><a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2009/11/the-wired-kitchen.html">Building a Wired Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2009/11/jetset-nearly-effortlessly.html">5 Tips For Jet-setting (Nearly)&nbsp;Effortlessly</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-technology-makes-personal-finances-easier">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/with-micro-investing-your-smartphone-pays-you">With Micro-Investing, Your Smartphone Pays YOU</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smartphone-apps-to-help-you-save-big">6 Smartphone Apps to Help you Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-apps-that-pay-you-to-workout">6 Apps That Pay You to Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-will-help-you-finally-organize-your-money">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-portfolio-blind-spots-that-are-ruining-your-investments">4 Portfolio &quot;Blind Spots&quot; That Are Ruining Your Investments</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Investment Technology iPhone lifescoop mint mortgage online banking stock market Yelp Zillow Tue, 17 Nov 2009 14:00:01 +0000 Greg Go 3829 at http://www.wisebread.com Beyond Budgeting: Pocketsmith Helps You Forecast http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-budgeting-pocketsmith-helps-you-forecast <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyond-budgeting-pocketsmith-helps-you-forecast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/billboard_calendar_1.png" alt="pocketsmith calendar" title="pocketsmith calendar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="135" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>note: PocketSmith is giving 5 Wise Bread readers a yearly Premium account. Read on for details.</em></p> <p>There are many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/resources">financial tools and services</a> that help you track your spending and stick to your budgets. But I'm one of those fortunate ones with very few expenses and have learned over the years how to curb my appetite for spending. So I never found use for tools like <a href="http://mint.com">Mint </a>and <a href="http://www.wesabe.com/">Wesabe</a>. I also never liked the idea of entering sensitive financial information for yet another company to keep safe.</p> <p>In comes <a href="http://www.pocketsmith.com">PocketSmith</a>, and I&nbsp;can honestly say that when I looked at this product, I thought to myself <em>This is exactly what I want</em>.</p> <p>While it does track your spending&nbsp;(and you can upload your exported financial accounts), it focuses on forecasting. That means it tells you how much money you should have in 6 months. It also tells you when you will reach your savings goals. For example, you want to know when you'll be able to afford that month-long trip to Europe? PocketSmith will tell you exactly when you'll have the money for it.</p> <p>The goals feature is a powerful motivator. If you can see how your spending affects your saving goals -- immediately -- you can weigh whether or not it's worth pushing your goals further for whatever it is you want to spend on now. And many times you'll find that your goals are closer than you thought. For example, you might find that if you stopped eating out, you'll have enough for that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-a-digital-camera">DSLR</a> after just 2 months. Whereas if you keep spending on eating out the way you currently do, you'd need to wait 4 months before being able to afford it.</p> <p>It also has easy integration with Google Calendar, iCal, CalDav, and Outlook.</p> <p>Having launched to the public just a few months ago, it's already getting noteworthy <a href="http://www.pocketsmith.com/reviews/">buzz</a>. It was also named one of the <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/small-business/news/article.cfm?c_id=85&amp;objectid=10556006&amp;pnum=2">top ten startups of 2008</a> in New Zealand.</p> <p>I am looking forward to more features added to this service (and current financial tools will no doubt try to add some&nbsp;of their innovative features as well).</p> <p>They have 3 pricing plans (though the first two is sufficient for most). Additionally, <strong>they're giving five Wise&nbsp;Bread readers a yearly <a href="https://my.pocketsmith.com/plans">Premium PocketSmith account</a> worth USD $60 each</strong>.</p> <p>To enter, leave a comment on what your saving goals are. <strong>Drawing closes on 9/10.</strong></p> <p>And go ahead and sign up for the free account first. If you win, they can upgrade your account.</p> <p>&nbsp;<a href="https://my.pocketsmith.com/signup/Free"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/free.png" alt="" /></a></p> <p><strong>This drawing has closed. The winners will be contacted shortly.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-budgeting-pocketsmith-helps-you-forecast">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day">Money Management in 5 Minutes a Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others">The One Personal Finance Skill You Must Master Before All the Others</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-free-wesabe-alternatives-goodbye-wesabe">5 Free Wesabe Alternatives | Goodbye Wesabe</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-52-ways-to-keep-your-finances-fit-during-the-holidays">Flashback Friday: 52 Ways to Keep Your Finances Fit During the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-budget-when-youre-no-longer-broke">How to Budget When You&#039;re No Longer Broke</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting financial services financial tools mint product reviews wesabe Thu, 20 Aug 2009 20:01:49 +0000 Lynn Truong 3520 at http://www.wisebread.com