saving money http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/165/all en-US 8 Money Moves You Can Make When We Turn the Clocks Back for Fall http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-you-can-make-when-we-turn-the-clocks-back-for-fall <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-money-moves-you-can-make-when-we-turn-the-clocks-back-for-fall" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_business_woman_showing_clock.jpg" alt="Happy business woman showing clock" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's nearly the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means we're close to one of my favorite days of the year: the Sunday in autumn when we get an extra hour in the day. As a perpetually busy person, I have a tendency to consider the gift of an extra hour in my weekend to be better than Christmas.</p> <p>Of course, that extra hour is only as valuable as you make it. It can be very easy to fritter away the time on Facebook or on your latest binge-worthy Netflix series &mdash; and I have certainly been guilty of wasting my extra time in years past. That's why this year, I'm going to dedicate my extra hour of Daylight Saving Time to making some smart money moves.</p> <p>Each of the following eight money moves will take you less than an hour, and taking care of one or more of them will help you improve your bottom line without eating into any of your usual time.</p> <h2>1. Set up an automatic transfer to savings</h2> <p>An emergency fund is the cornerstone of good financial health, but it's also the kind of thing that can easily get pushed to the back burner. If you try to find money at the end of the month to put into savings, you'll often discover there's nothing but pocket lint in your checking account, and another month will go by with no deposits into your emergency fund. This is why so many personal finance experts recommend creating an automatic transfer from checking to savings on payday. If you save your money before you have a chance to spend it, then it will actually be there for you in an emergency.</p> <p>During your extra hour this year, log onto your bank's website and set up your automatic recurring transfer online. Even if you can only afford to transfer $20 each paycheck, your recurring transfers will add up over time. While you're setting up the recurring transfer, set it to automatically increase in three months' time, and again in six months' and nine months' time so that you don't have to think about upping your savings rate again until the end of next year's Daylight Saving Time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Where to Find Emergency Funds When You Don't Have an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>2. Bump up your contribution to retirement</h2> <p>November is when many employers are going through their benefit cycles, so now is a great time to amp up your retirement savings. Increasing your contribution to your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement account is of the sort of thing that you never get around to since you have to get in touch with your HR department or otherwise look up how to do it. But contributing as little as an additional 1 percent of your paycheck to your 401(k) or other retirement savings vehicle will add thousands of dollars to your retirement savings. And if you are not already contributing the amount necessary to meet your employer's matching amount, remember that you are leaving free money on the table. Increase your contribution so you can get your employer's matching contribution. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/401k-or-ira-you-need-both?ref=seealso" target="_blank">401(k) or IRA? You Need Both</a>)</p> <h2>3. Adjust your withholding</h2> <p>In 2017, the average American received a federal tax refund of about $2,800 &mdash; which basically meant most Americans sent nearly $3,000 on a field trip to the IRS and received no interest when the money came back. While it's always exciting to receive a big check from Uncle Sam in April, you can do more with your money if you keep it in each paycheck rather than send it off as an interest-free loan to the government.</p> <p>To reduce your tax refund, start with <a href="https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/" target="_blank">the IRS withholding calculator</a>. This tool will help you determine how many withholding allowances you may take. Your withholding allowances do not determine your tax bill, only how much you pay in taxes per paycheck, so your answers on the calculator can be approximate. Once you have figured out your allowances, request and fill out a W4 form from your employer's HR department.</p> <p>Spending some of your extra hour doing these calculations will result in fatter paychecks as soon as your HR department files the new paperwork. Not bad for less than hour of truly &quot;free&quot; time.</p> <h2>4. Freeze your credit</h2> <p>The Equifax hack served as an important wake-up call on just how vulnerable our financial information can be. You probably looked into ways to protect yourself when Equifax was dominating the news, but it's understandable if you never got around to actually implementing the necessary work to keep your financial information from ending up in the hands of a scammer.</p> <p>One of ways you can protect yourself after such a data breach is to freeze your credit. You will pay a small fee, and then no one &mdash; including you &mdash; can open new credit in your name. The freeze will last indefinitely, so there is no need to remember to renew. The fees range from $5 to $10 per credit bureau, depending on which state you live in. This means you will pay between $15 and $30 to freeze your credit with all three bureaus &mdash; although Equifax has currently waived fees for initiating a credit freeze. In addition, if you have ever been the victim of identity theft, the fee for freezing your credit report is waived.</p> <p>You will need to call the credit reporting companies to place a freeze on your file. Here are the numbers to call:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Equifax: 800-685-1111 (NY residents: 800-349-9960)</p> </li> <li> <p>Experian: 888-397-3742</p> </li> <li> <p>TransUnion: 888-909-8872</p> </li> </ul> <p>Once your credit is frozen, you will have to temporarily lift the freeze if you want to purchase a new car or home or otherwise open up your credit. For instance, if you are leasing a car, you can ask the dealership which credit reporting company they're going to use to access your report, and simply lift the freeze at that company. It takes no more than three days to lift a freeze for this purpose.</p> <p>Spending time on the phone with a credit reporting agency is no one's idea of fun, but using your extra hour to do this means you don't have to carve out time elsewhere in your schedule. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>5. Check your credit report</h2> <p>In addition to freezing your credit, don't forget to take a gander at what's on your credit report. You are legally allowed free access to credit reports from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax once a year, and your extra hour is an excellent time to look them up.</p> <p>To do so, just log onto annualcreditreport.com for access your credit information. Getting your report will take just a few moments &mdash; you just need to fill out one form to request up to three credit reports (one from each agency), pick which agency's report you want to look at, and verify your identity to receive your credit report.</p> <p>While printing out your reports will take next to no time, be sure to use the rest of your hour to go over the reports in detail to make sure there are no errors. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-read-a-credit-report?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Read a Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>6. Set up overdraft alerts</h2> <p>Overdrawing your checking account is one of those easy-to-do mistakes that can cost you big-time. Your bank might offer you &quot;overdraft protection&quot; that allows you to continue to make purchases while you are in the red, but the accompanying overdraft fees can be a serious budget-killer.</p> <p>So while you're enjoying your extra hour, log onto your bank account and sign up for overdraft alerts. With these alerts, you'll get a text or email when your account balance dips below a certain level, keeping you from feeling the sting of overdraft fees.</p> <h2>7. Use up your excess FSA funds at the FSA store</h2> <p>Setting money aside in your flexible spending account is an excellent way to earmark funds for medical and other health costs throughout the year, but FSA money is use-it-or-lose-it, which means that at this point in the year, you might have a hefty amount of money you're in danger of losing.</p> <p>Instead of just giving up money that will be left unused, you can spend some of your remaining FSA dollars at <a href="https://fsastore.com/Default.aspx" target="_blank">fsastore.com</a>, an online marketplace for sunscreen, contact lenses, bandages, and other health-related items that you are allowed to use your FSA money to buy. Of course, you can spend it just as readily at your local pharmacy, too.</p> <h2>8. Update your beneficiaries</h2> <p>Do you know who your beneficiary is for your life insurance and other financial accounts? If you haven't checked the paperwork in a few years, you might find that you have an out-of-date beneficiary listed.</p> <p>For instance, when my sister first started her career, she named me as her life insurance and retirement account beneficiary. Since that time, my sister has gotten married and gave birth to my niece, which means it would be completely inappropriate for me to still be her beneficiary. Because these policies can often last for decades, many people forget to update their beneficiaries even as their lives change.</p> <p>Take your extra hour to look up your life insurance and other financial paperwork to make sure your beneficiaries are up-to-date and you're no longer leaving your life insurance money to that ex you were engaged to 15 years ago.</p> <h2>An extra hour of financial productivity</h2> <p>We all love having an extra hour of the weekend when Daylight Saving Time ends, but you can make that hour even more valuable by using it to make great financial choices. You'll be glad you did.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-you-can-make-when-we-turn-the-clocks-back-for-fall">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/7-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income</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/start-saving-more-with-this-one-simple-tool">Start Saving More With This One, Simple Tool</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-budget-overhaul-tricks-for-the-recently-unemployed">5 Budget Overhaul Tricks for the Recently Unemployed</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-the-95-best-ways-to-get-fit-for-free">Flashback Friday: The 95 Best Ways to Get Fit for Free</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/flashback-friday-the-76-best-life-lessons-you-should-learn-by-30">Flashback Friday: The 76 Best Life Lessons You Should Learn by 30</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting budget daylight savings extra hour fall back financial planning money moves saving money Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2037741 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Save for College Using a 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-save-for-college-using-a-529-prepaid-tuition-plan <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-save-for-college-using-a-529-prepaid-tuition-plan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_saving_for_education.jpg" alt="Woman saving for education" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most parents with college-bound kids know about the traditional 529 college savings plan. It allows parents or grandparents to put money into a tax-advantaged savings or investment account that can later be cashed in to pay for college expenses. But did you know that some states &mdash; and a large consortium of private schools &mdash; offer another kind of 529 plan as well?</p> <p>It's called a <em>529 prepaid tuition plan</em>. With this kind of plan, you use your college savings dollars to buy tuition credits, locking in today's tuition prices. Considering how much news there is about the skyrocketing cost of college, this seems attractive in many ways. Parents can pay for college now and not worry that price increases will outpace their earnings. Better yet, a prepaid tuition plan is an investment that shouldn't ever go down in value &mdash; if you buy a credit worth a year of college now and the stock market crashes next week, you still own a year of college as long as the program delivers on its promise. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-places-to-stash-your-kids-college-savings?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Smart Places to Stash Your Kid's College Savings</a>)</p> <p>However, there are a number of factors to consider before committing to this lesser-known type of college savings plan. Here are some questions you need to ask.</p> <h2>What if my student doesn't go to the selected college?</h2> <p>Plans can change: Maybe you've been gung ho about your child attending your alma mater or the local state college, but your child isn't interested in either. Or, maybe your kid wants to follow in your footsteps and attend MIT, but doesn't get accepted. What happens to your prepaid tuition savings?</p> <p>You'll have to read the fine print to find out what you will walk away with if the student doesn't use the credits you purchased at the intended university. Any plan will likely allow you to change the beneficiary. For example, if Sally doesn't want to go to the University of Illinois, you can use her credit for her little sister instead. The Private College 529 Plan, which has nearly 300 participating schools including Stanford and Boston University, will also allow participants to roll their balance over into a traditional 529 college savings plan.</p> <p>In addition, various states' plans have provisions for using purchased credits toward other schools. For instance, Florida's prepaid tuition program is designed to be used at state universities and colleges, but funds can also be used for out-of-state or private schools.</p> <h2>What if my child gets a scholarship or doesn't go to college?</h2> <p>Again, provisions for refunds vary by plan. Some will refund the amount of tuition the plan would have covered. Under certain circumstances, some plans will pay you only what you put in &mdash; which would be a major loss of investment growth if the money sat in the account for years.</p> <h2>Will prepaid tuition be a better investment than stocks and bonds?</h2> <p>No one can predict what the markets will do. On the other hand, prepaid tuition programs typically offer participants a predictable outcome: Pay in X amount and you will receive a certificate for a semester of college. As long as the plan does what it promises, prepaid tuition plans won't lose value. However, this is no guarantee that you will end up with more value than you would have if you'd invested in the market.</p> <p>By way of comparison, private college tuition rates increased 2.4 percent per year in the past 10 years, and the cost of public four-year colleges increased 3.5 percent per year, according to the College Board. During the same decade, the S&amp;P 500 increased an average 7 percent &mdash; even taking the 2008 crash into account. So if you invested in a prepaid college fund a decade ago, your discount on present-day tuition will only equal half as much as the gains you would have gotten if you'd put the money in a traditional 529 savings plan that matched the S&amp;P 500's performance.</p> <p>A prepaid plan will probably decrease your risk and ease your worries about market fluctuations, but it could cause you to miss out on investment gains when the market is doing well.</p> <h2>What if the plan runs out of money?</h2> <p>When you put money into a prepaid college plan, the plan administrators take your money and invest it, along with the money from other plan participants. When your kid is ready for college, the plan is supposed to pay the school the cost of tuition &mdash; even if its investment growth falls short of the tuition cost. This could happen in a down market.</p> <p>Plans can also fail to meet their goals if not enough new investors buy into the plan. If this happens too many years in a row, plans can fall short of their promises and leave families in the lurch. This risk attracts a lot of criticism to prepaid plans, and has pushed some states to end their programs. Before investing in a plan, find out what it guarantees and what it doesn't.</p> <h2>The bottom line: hedging market risk</h2> <p>All the 529 prepaid plans out there are different. Participating in one could help you hedge market risk that you'd otherwise face with a college savings plan, especially if you only invest part of your savings in the prepaid plan while investing the rest in the market. Be sure to read all the fine print to learn what will happen if things don't go as expected.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fshould-you-save-for-college-using-a-529-prepaid-tuition-plan&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FShould%2520You%2520Save%2520for%2520College%2520Using%2520a%2520529%2520Prepaid%2520Tuition%2520Plan-.jpg&amp;description=Should%20You%20Save%20for%20College%20Using%20a%20529%20Prepaid%20Tuition%20Plan%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Should%20You%20Save%20for%20College%20Using%20a%20529%20Prepaid%20Tuition%20Plan-.jpg" alt="Should You Save for College Using a 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan?" 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/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-save-for-college-using-a-529-prepaid-tuition-plan">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/6-questions-to-ask-before-taking-out-student-loans">6 Questions to Ask Before Taking Out Student Loans</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-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</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/why-saving-too-much-money-for-a-college-fund-is-a-bad-idea">Why Saving Too Much Money for a College Fund Is a Bad Idea</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/8-ways-college-students-can-save-money-before-class-starts">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</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-your-child-can-earn-college-credits-in-high-school-for-cheap">How Your Child Can Earn College Credits in High School (For Cheap)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training 529 plans college higher education prepaid tuition saving money scholarships school tuition Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2037240 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel_planning_concept_on_table.jpg" alt="Travel planning concept on table" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By signing up for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel credit cards</a>, earning travel points through bonus offers and regular spending, and using your points in the smartest way possible, you can travel to far-flung corners of the world while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months with Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>While this probably sounds intriguing and fun, and it is, there are so many nuances to this strategy that it&rsquo;s easy to get it all wrong. To be a pro, you need to know which types of travel currency to pursue, how to maximize your miles, and how to avoid the many pitfalls that come with using credit cards in general. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips</a>)</p> <h2>1. Missing out on a sign-up bonus</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Credit card sign-up bonuses</a> offer one of the easiest ways to earn points or miles in a hurry. Often, you can earn up to 50,000 hotel points or airline miles after meeting a minimum spending requirement in the $1,000&ndash;$5,000 range within three months. Sounds easy, right?</p> <p>Unfortunately, far too many people jumble the details along the way. Either they fail to meet the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement?ref=internal" target="_blank">minimum spending requirement</a> because they mix up the dates, or they misread the fine print and don&rsquo;t spend enough.</p> <p>Either way, you&rsquo;ll want to avoid this mistake if you want to maximize the points and miles you earn. It helps to read the offer details and understand it inside and out before you take the plunge.</p> <h2>2. Failing to optimize</h2> <p>Failing to optimize is another common mistake many new travel hackers make. When you don&rsquo;t understand the details of individual rewards programs, it&rsquo;s easy to assume they&rsquo;re all the same. The thing is, not all travel programs are created equal &mdash; not even close. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-travel-rewards-credit-cards-really-work?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How Travel Rewards Credit Cards Really Work</a>)</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a good example of failing to optimize: Let&rsquo;s say someone has 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and needs to book a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. Because they don&rsquo;t know any better, they might go ahead and book their flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for the current price, which happens to be 32,000 Chase points on that specific day.</p> <p>If they had dug a little deeper, however, they might find that you can often fly Southwest Airlines from Chicago Midway Airport into LAX for less than 13,000 points round trip. By transferring their points to Southwest instead of booking through the portal, they could have saved 19,000 points!</p> <p>The bottom line: Make sure you consider all your options before you use your points for travel. With some creative thinking and planning, you could find a much better deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frequent-flyer-rules-to-go-farther-on-fewer-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Frequent Flyer Rules to Go Farther on Fewer Miles</a>)</p> <h2>3. Racking up credit card debt</h2> <p>Often, people who aren&rsquo;t financially sophisticated dive into the credit card rewards hobby without setting limits or expectations. Unfortunately, not having a plan for credit or never tracking your spending can easily lead down the winding road of credit card debt.</p> <p>To avoid debt and all the stress that comes with it, only use credit cards when you have a spending plan in place &mdash; and the discipline to pay your balance in full each month. If you wind up in debt, the rewards you earn will be wiped out by the credit card interest you&rsquo;ll pay each month.</p> <h2>4. Letting your points expire</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s crucial to make sure your hard-earned points don&rsquo;t expire before you&rsquo;ve had a chance to use them. While some programs like Delta SkyMiles and Chase Ultimate Rewards offer points that never expire, other travel currencies can expire if you don&rsquo;t &ldquo;earn or burn&rdquo; any points for 12&ndash;24 months.</p> <p>The best way to avoid expiring currencies is to know when your points will expire and enact a plan to &ldquo;restart the clock.&rdquo; Most of the time, it&rsquo;s fairly easy to save points by shopping through a loyalty shopping portal or spending even a handful of points. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-frequent-flyer-miles-that-are-about-to-expire?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save Frequent Flyer Miles That Are About to Expire</a>)</p> <h2>5. Earning points without a plan</h2> <p>I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times I&rsquo;ve seen people earn points and miles without any type of plan at all. Sometimes they are pursuing a currency that won&rsquo;t even work with their travel plans. For example, I know one person who built up a giant stash of Southwest Rapid Rewards points for a trip to Europe, without ever realizing that Southwest doesn&rsquo;t fly to Europe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choose-the-best-travel-rewards-credit-card-with-this-guide?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Choose the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card with this Guide</a>)</p> <p>The best way to get ahead in the game is to get strategic about the points and miles you&rsquo;re earning and why. Figure out where you want to go, then decide which travel currency will get you there. Better yet, pursue flexible travel currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. That way, you can earn all the points you want and decide how to use them later on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-best-tools-for-tracking-your-rewards-miles?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Tools for Tracking Your Rewards Points</a>)</p> <h2>6. Waiting too long to book</h2> <p>While it&rsquo;s possible to book award travel right up to the last minute, anyone who has been in this hobby for a while will tell you it&rsquo;s better to book ahead.</p> <p>If you can book a flight six to nine months in advance, for example, you&rsquo;ll normally find more award availability than you will closer to departure. The same is true for hotels; since hotels have limited award availability, waiting too long to book can mean missing out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-expert-tips-for-redeeming-miles-for-free-travel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Expert Tips for Redeeming Miles for Free Travel</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Pitfalls%2520When%2520Chasing%2520Travel%2520Rewards.jpg&amp;description=6%20Pitfalls%20When%20Chasing%20Travel%20Rewards"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Pitfalls%20When%20Chasing%20Travel%20Rewards.jpg" alt="6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards" 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/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">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/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</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-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards">The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards</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/this-might-be-the-best-travel-rewards-program-no-matter-what-airline-you-fly">This Might Be the Best Travel Rewards Program (No Matter What Airline You Fly)</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-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">The Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</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/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you">Cash Back vs Travel Rewards: Pick the Right Credit Card for You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel credit card rewards credit cards saving money spending habits Spending Money travel rewards travel tips Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Holly Johnson 2037241 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Choose the Perfect Country to Retire In http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-perfect-country-to-retire-in <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-choose-the-perfect-country-to-retire-in" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_senior_couple_sitting_on_a_sail_boat.jpg" alt="Happy Senior Couple Sitting on a Sail Boat" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many of us harbor dreams of retiring overseas in some far-flung, exotic country. Whether it&rsquo;s for pure adventure, to make retirement dollars stretch further, or both, retiring abroad is becoming more common. But choosing exactly where to go can be difficult. Without proper planning and consideration, a country that appears perfect on the surface could end up being a nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-to-know-before-retiring-abroad?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Things to Know Before Retiring Abroad</a>)</p> <p>I know just how daunting the task of choosing a country can be. I&rsquo;ve been living a semiretired life in multiple countries over the past eight years and I&rsquo;ve written many articles on early retirement. I&rsquo;ve found it helps to start with a list of all the countries where you can envision yourself living. Maybe it will be made up of places you&rsquo;ve fallen in love with while visiting in the past. Perhaps you&rsquo;ll include countries you&rsquo;ve never visited, but have heard are great retirement havens for Americans. From there, follow these guidelines to shorten your list and eventually pin down the perfect retirement destination for you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a>)</p> <h2>Figure out your finances</h2> <p>Finding a country that fits your finances is probably the most important part of the puzzle. It&rsquo;s crucial that you opt for someplace where you can enjoy the lifestyle that you dream of without draining your bank account in the process. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-american-cities-where-you-can-retire-on-just-social-security?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 American Cities Where You Can Retire On Just Social Security</a>)</p> <p>As a first step, you need to calculate exactly how much you have in your retirement savings and how much you can withdraw every month. Then, project how much income you&rsquo;ll have from other sources, such as Social Security or any private pension or annuity plans you have. Account for any taxes you might have to pay, and come up with a ballpark figure for how much you&rsquo;ll be able to spend every month during retirement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford</a>)</p> <h2>Rule out unaffordable destinations</h2> <p>Once you have your estimated income, start researching the cost of living in each place on your dream list and determine whether it fits your finances. Tools like <a href="https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/" target="_blank">Numbeo</a> and <a href="https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living" target="_blank">Expatistan</a> are great for estimating the cost of living in different countries. Cross out the places you can&rsquo;t afford. This will naturally narrow down which countries are realistic to put on a short list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-where-you-can-retire-for-1000-a-month?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">5 Countries Where You Can Retire on $1,000 a Month</a>)</p> <h2>Check out the quality and affordability of health care</h2> <p>Health care is one of the most significant factors to take into account when choosing a retirement destination. Medicare generally won&rsquo;t cover you outside of the U.S., so you need to put a plan in place for how you&rsquo;ll afford any medical requirements. Fortunately, some of the most affordable countries to live in also have top class medical services, but it&rsquo;s something you&rsquo;ll need to research for each country on your list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad</a>)</p> <p>If the health care is cheap, it may be possible to just pay as you go, but you should also look into suitable insurance plans. In particular, think about how you&rsquo;d pay for treating a major illness or catastrophic injuries.</p> <h2>Take your hobbies and interests into account</h2> <p>No doubt you have a good idea of how you&rsquo;d like to fill your free time once you&rsquo;re not working anymore. But make sure you double check that you&rsquo;re able to do the things you love most in the country of your choice.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a keen golfer, there&rsquo;s no point in selecting a country that has no golf courses, as it&rsquo;s probably something you&rsquo;ll want to do more of in retirement. Don&rsquo;t just assume that every country will have the facilities or resources you need for your hobbies and pastimes.</p> <h2>Consider your security</h2> <p>Unrest and crime are two factors that can quickly endanger your life, affect your finances, and hamper your dreams. Though it&rsquo;s impossible to predict what will happen in the future, it is possible to make educated assumptions based on the historical and current security situation in the city, region, and country you&rsquo;re considering. Is it somewhere prone to civil unrest, gang activity, or petty crime? Are there upcoming elections that may significantly alter the political landscape?</p> <p>Check out the <a href="https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html" target="_blank">U.S. State Department&rsquo;s travel website</a>, which provides advice on every country in the world. Also read articles and check with local residents to see whether any problems reported in the media ring true in real life.</p> <h2>Research visa options and other relevant laws</h2> <p>Residency laws differ from country to country and can come with significant costs attached. Check these requirements thoroughly. In most cases, you can find information put out by the country&rsquo;s immigration office online. You can also contact the closest consulate or embassy of the country you&rsquo;re considering. Often, you will need to apply for residency while you&rsquo;re outside that country, but check first. (See Also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-countries-that-welcome-american-retirees?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Countries That Welcome American Retirees</a>)</p> <p>Consider other relevant laws and regulations, too. Perhaps you won&rsquo;t be allowed to work if you&rsquo;re on a retiree visa, or you won&rsquo;t be allowed to buy property in certain areas. You may or may not be subject to local taxes, as well. Remember also that moving overseas does not preclude the requirement to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/taxpayers-living-abroad" target="_blank">pay taxes in the U.S.</a>, even if it&rsquo;s necessary to pay them in your new home.</p> <h2>Consider cultural fit</h2> <p>Moving to a new country, not understanding the language, and trying to adjust to the culture all at the same time can be a singularly isolating experience. Ask yourself if you&rsquo;re ready to learn a new language if necessary, and whether you&rsquo;re able to change to fit in with the culture of the places you&rsquo;re considering. Are there things that you don&rsquo;t like about a particular culture that you think you&rsquo;d grow accustomed to? On the other hand, could annoying local biases or customs that you&rsquo;ve put up with on a vacation grow unbearably wearisome once you&rsquo;re living in that place full-time?</p> <h2>Get to know the weather</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s a good idea to check year-round weather forecasts, too. Even if you think you&rsquo;re familiar with the outlook somewhere, it could drastically change throughout the year. If you&rsquo;ve always visited during high season, make a conscious effort to check what the weather is like during low season. There&rsquo;s often a reason why tourists don&rsquo;t visit then. Temperatures may rise or drop to uncomfortable levels, storms may make living dangerous or at least inconvenient, and drawn-out rains may just make everyone miserable. Many weather websites or destination-specific websites have data on historical temperatures and precipitation for every month of the year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/33-places-to-retire-if-you-love-the-rain?ref=seealso" target="_blank">33 Places to Retire If You Love the Rain</a>)</p> <h2>Do a test run</h2> <p>Possibly the biggest mistake that retirees can make before heading abroad is to take the plunge without having tested the waters first. Do yourself a big favor and complete a test run in the country that you settle on. It may cost you a little extra, but the expense is usually worth it.</p> <p>Consider where you&rsquo;ll go if you don&rsquo;t like your new retirement country. Maybe you&rsquo;ll want to move back to the home you own in the U.S. If so, it makes sense not to sell right away. Perhaps you can rent it out temporarily while you do your test run.</p> <p>Then make a semi-permanent move. Rent a temporary home, preferably furnished, and get by with whatever you can take in suitcases. Give yourself enough time to experience different seasons, get to know a few people, and see if your monthly budget will really work. If it doesn&rsquo;t work out, you may be disappointed, but at least you&rsquo;ll have minimized your moving expenses and you&rsquo;ll have a place to go when you move back. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-you-need-to-answer-before-relocating-in-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Questions You Need To Answer Before Relocating in Retirement</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonBookmark" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Choose%20the%20Perfect%20Country%20to%20Retire%20In%20%284%29_0.jpg" style="float: left; width: 31%; margin-right: 3%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /></p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Choose%20the%20Perfect%20Country%20to%20Retire%20In%20%281%29.jpg" style="float: left; width: 31%; margin-right: 3%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /> <img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Choose%20the%20Perfect%20Country%20to%20Retire%20In%20%283%29.jpg" style="float: left; width: 31%; margin-right: 0%; margin-bottom: 0.5em;" alt="" /></p> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-perfect-country-to-retire-in">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/9-retirement-hotspots-that-are-cheaper-now-than-ever-before">9 Retirement Hotspots That Are Cheaper Now Than Ever Before</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/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford">5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford</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-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young">6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young</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-incredible-world-cities-you-can-afford">5 Incredible World Cities You Can Afford</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/dont-let-poor-health-kill-your-retirement-fund">Don&#039;t Let Poor Health Kill Your Retirement Fund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Travel living expenses moving retirement retirement fund retiring abroad saving money Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:30:10 +0000 Nick Wharton 2035913 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0 http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_jar_of_cash.jpg" alt="Woman with jar of cash" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Needing an emergency fund when you're living paycheck-to-paycheck feels like a classic Catch-22: You need a savings cushion to protect yourself in case of an emergency, but you don't make enough money to create that cushion before the next emergency strikes. It's enough to make you want to throw your hands in the air and give up.</p> <p>But it <em>is</em> possible to quickly build an emergency fund from zero, even if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Here are several ways you can fill up your emergency fund fast so that you are prepared before the next disaster hits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-reasons-you-need-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 New Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start a coin jar</h2> <p>Throwing change in a jar is the oldest trick in the book for creating a robust savings account, but it's a classic for a reason. Spare change and random dollar bills don't feel like &quot;real money&quot; to us, but they do add up quickly. Go on a treasure hunt through your purse/wallet, your house, your car, and your desk to locate all the spare change you can scare up. Even if the amount isn't huge, it's a great start that can go directly into your emergency fund at the end of the month. (It's also a great opportunity to do some deep cleaning.)</p> <h2>2. Adjust your withholding</h2> <p>In 2017, the average American received a tax refund of $3,050. That's over $250 per month that's taking a trip to the IRS and back. Just imagine how quickly you could build up your emergency fund if that extra money was still in your paycheck each month. Doing so is as easy as adjusting your withholding allowances on your W-4 form with your employer.</p> <p>To do this, first use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator" target="_blank">IRS withholding calculator</a> to determine how many withholding allowances you may take. Remember that the withholding allowances you claim do not determine your tax bill, only how much you pay in taxes per paycheck, so your answers on the calculator can be approximate.</p> <p>Once you have figured out your allowances, request and fill out a W-4 form from your employer's human resources department. It can take about a month for the new paperwork to make a difference in your paychecks, although it could happen as quickly as your next pay cycle, depending on your HR department.</p> <p>While you're at it, set up an automatic transfer of the extra money into your emergency fund so that you are not tempted to spend it.</p> <h2>3. Sell your stuff</h2> <p>When an emergency strikes, it can become clear that some of the stuff you own may be less important than you think. Instead of waiting for an emergency to realize that you don't truly need two gaming systems or 18 pairs of shoes, start looking at your stuff as if the emergency has already occurred. That will help you better understand which items are truly important to your well-being, and which you could stand to live without.</p> <p>The good news is that if you are selling stuff to fill your emergency fund, you have time to get the best prices for your items. From online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook, to local consignment shops and yard sales, there are a myriad ways to reduce your clutter while increasing your bank account.</p> <p>Set yourself a goal of selling at least one item per week and depositing the money into your emergency fund. The additional money will help your emergency fund grow quickly.</p> <h2>4. Negotiate your bills</h2> <p>You might feel reluctant to negotiate with your service providers, but taking the time to call and ask for a better price can result in savings that range from modest to impressive. No matter how much or little you save, you can immediately set up an automatic transfer of the difference into your emergency fund, which will help it to grow more quickly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-costs-you-should-always-negotiate?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Costs You Should Always Negotiate</a>)</p> <p>There are a few service providers that are open to negotiating with their customers.</p> <h3>Cable and internet providers</h3> <p>These companies are generally eager to give price breaks to their customers in order to keep them. The best way to get a better price from your cable/internet provider is to research the lowest going rates in your area &mdash; either the price your provider is offering to new subscribers or the rates offered by the competition &mdash; and use that price as leverage in your negotiation. When you call, ask to speak to the retention/cancellation department, since that staff generally has the most authority to make deals in order to keep you.</p> <h3>Cellphone service providers</h3> <p>Cellphone companies can also offer some wiggle room in their pricing, although timing is important. You are more likely to successfully <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill" target="_blank">reduce your cellphone bill</a> if you negotiate toward the end of your contract when your provider is desperate to hold onto you. Remind your provider of your loyalty, since it costs cellphone providers much more money to gain new customers than it does to retain existing ones, and be willing to actually cancel and defect to a different provider, since having some teeth behind your threat to cancel will give you the upper hand in negotiation.</p> <h3>Landlords</h3> <p>Though it may seem set in stone, your rent payment may also be negotiable, especially if you are a reliable tenant and you have plans to stay put for some time. You can request a longer-term lease in exchange for a lower monthly rental payment, which can be a win-win for you and your landlord.</p> <h2>5. Go on a monthlong spending ban</h2> <p>When you need to fill up your emergency fund in a hurry, a spending ban can help you find the money you need. A spending ban is a period anywhere from one week to one year wherein you refrain from all spending, other than for necessities. Going on a monthlong spending ban can help you to free up money in your budget to pad your emergency fund without otherwise affecting your bottom line.</p> <p>Here's how it would work: Decide at the beginning of the month what your absolute necessities are. These will include your rent/mortgage, utilities, credit card bill, car payment and gas, child care, food, and health care. For the month you are taking part in the spending ban, you will live without anything above and beyond those necessities.</p> <p>The one caveat to a spending ban is recognizing that it can be easy to jump right back into your old spending habits as soon as it is over (or alternately, have a &quot;last hurrah&quot; spending binge before it starts). Don't let your spending ban give you permission to overspend before or after the month.</p> <p>At the end of your spending ban month, your extra money can go into your emergency fund, and you can feel more comfortable with your finances. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Here's How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a>)</p> <h2>6. Hide money from yourself</h2> <p>There is something to the adage &quot;Out of sight, out of mind.&quot; You are much less likely to spend money if you don't know it's there &mdash; just as you are less likely to crave ice cream if you don't know there's a pint of Ben &amp; Jerry's in the freezer.</p> <p>That's why you can help pad your emergency fund by hiding money from yourself through creative accounting. To do this, simply subtract $100 from your account register for your checking account. You won't know the $100 is there, so you'll spend as if you were $100 poorer. But the money is still there, and at the end of the month (or several months), you can put all of your phantom savings into your emergency fund.</p> <p>This method may not work for all savers, however. Anyone who does not bother with an account register will not be fooled by this kind of mental trickery.</p> <h2>7. Hustle</h2> <p>Finding a way to make a little extra money on the side can be one of the fastest ways to build up an emergency fund. While traditional part-time jobs are always an option, modern technology has also made it possible to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash" target="_blank">find a side hustle</a> with flexible hours or one that allows you to work from home.</p> <p>Since your hustle money is over-and-above your normal paycheck, it can help you bring your emergency fund from zero to impressive as quickly as you are willing to hustle.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Easy%2520Ways%2520to%2520Build%2520an%2520Emergency%2520Fund%2520From%2520%25240.jpg&amp;description=7%20Easy%20Ways%20to%20Build%20an%20Emergency%20Fund%20From%20%240"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Easy%20Ways%20to%20Build%20an%20Emergency%20Fund%20From%20%240.jpg" alt="7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0" 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/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0">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/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</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/where-to-find-emergency-funds-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Find Emergency Funds When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</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-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</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/6-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast">6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast</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/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Extra Income bills change jars emergency funds paycheck to paycheck saving money selling stuff spending bans taxes withholdings Fri, 13 Oct 2017 08:00:07 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2035542 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Ways Americans Are Getting Better at Managing Their Money http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-americans-are-getting-better-at-managing-their-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-ways-americans-are-getting-better-at-managing-their-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father_and_daughter_with_piggybank.jpg" alt="Father and daughter with piggy bank" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We are used to hearing all kinds of terrible sky-is-falling news about how regular Americans are getting into debt, failing to plan for the future, and generally falling down on the job of managing their money. But the media rarely reports on the good financial behavior exhibited by Americans, even when there is plenty of great news to cheer about.</p> <p>So before we all assume that Americans are clueless about financial matters, consider the following money skills that we are excelling at:</p> <h2>76 percent of Americans have money set aside for an emergency</h2> <p>You may recall the grim reports just before the 2008 crash that showed Americans had the lowest personal savings rate since the Great Depression. According to The New York Times, as of 2006 the savings rate for the year &quot;was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to pay for purchases.&quot;</p> <p>Americans have since learned their lesson about being ready for an emergency. Bankrate's June Financial Security Index survey found that a full 76 percent of American adults have some money set aside for an emergency like a layoff or a huge medical bill. In addition, 31 percent have built enough of a savings cushion to handle six months of unemployment.</p> <p>And rather than having negative savings, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has found that the personal savings rate of Americans has gone from negative 1 percent up to 5.5 percent as of November 2016. That means that for every $100 Americans are earning, they are putting aside $5.50 toward savings.</p> <p>Not only is this higher savings rate great news for the individual households that may need to rely on their emergency funds in a financial crisis, but the economy as a whole also does better when citizens have savings to fall back on. That's because private savings today mean less government expenditure on social safety net programs tomorrow &mdash; and citizens who save will ultimately have money available to invest since they will not be stuck in a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-emergency-fund?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Ways Life Is Amazing With an Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h3>Manage your savings rate better</h3> <p>Whether you are among the top savers or are just starting your savings journey, remember that even increasing your savings rate by 1 percent now can make a big difference in your emergency fund or retirement account. Just remember to revisit that savings rate quarterly or twice a year to make sure you're maximizing the money you can set aside.</p> <h2>59 percent of Americans enjoy saving money</h2> <p>Generally, when you think of enjoying your money, you might imagine the pleasure you get from spending hard-earned dollars on something you love. However, more Americans claim that they derive more enjoyment from saving their money than they do from spending it, according to research by Gallup. As of May 2017, 59 percent of Americans claim to enjoy saving more than spending, while only 38 percent claim to enjoy spending more than building up their savings accounts.</p> <p>Gallup reports that &quot;in the years before the recession, Americans were close to evenly split in how they described themselves.&quot; The economic downturn helped many Americans learn to love the joys of saving money.</p> <h3>Improve your own outlook on savings</h3> <p>It can be difficult to find the fun in saving money if you're a natural spender. However, you can switch your viewpoint on saving money if you can find a way to make a game of your savings. For instance, you could challenge a friend to a save-off, motivate yourself with a savings goal thermometer, or even start saving all your $5 bills. Once you start seeing savings as a fun challenge, you'll be much more motivated to increase your savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-savings-tricks-you-havent-tried-yet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Savings Tricks You Haven't Tried Yet</a>)</p> <h2>65 percent of American consumers research products before they make a purchase</h2> <p>Americans are no longer happy to simply buy products without doing research. According to Retail Dive's 2017 Consumer Survey, 65 percent of consumers choose to do research on the products they want online before going shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. In addition, 41 percent of Americans practice showrooming, according to an Accenture survey &mdash; that is, examining merchandise at a nearby retail store and then shopping for it online to find the lowest price. Both of these savvy consumer behaviors can save Americans money by helping them find the best product at the best price.</p> <p>Some of this behavior is due to changes in technology. Even as little as 15 years ago, it would have been much more difficult for consumers to apprise themselves of all the product options and price ranges available, and the convenience of purchasing the first product examined overrode the price savings before the smartphone era. However, with the rise in smartphone usage, consumers can now educate themselves on the best-reviewed and lowest-priced options available.</p> <h3>Improve your use of technology and information</h3> <p>Technology can be a double-edged sword. While your smartphone makes it possible to research prices offered by other retailers, it also makes it easy and convenient to buy items you don't need with the click of a button. Make sure you are a savvy consumer by committing to do research before you make a purchase, and to take a timeout before you click Buy Now. Those two habits will help you save money and only get the products that will actually add to your life.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F3-ways-americans-are-getting-better-at-managing-their-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F3%2520Ways%2520Americans%2520Are%2520Getting%2520Better%2520at%2520Managing%2520Their%2520Money.jpg&amp;description=3%20Ways%20Americans%20Are%20Getting%20Better%20at%20Managing%20Their%20Money"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/3%20Ways%20Americans%20Are%20Getting%20Better%20at%20Managing%20Their%20Money.jpg" alt="3 Ways Americans Are Getting Better at Managing Their Money" 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/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-americans-are-getting-better-at-managing-their-money">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/dont-start-a-family-before-reaching-these-5-money-goals">Don&#039;t Start a Family Before Reaching These 5 Money Goals</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/money-a-mess-try-this-personal-finance-starter-kit">Money a Mess? Try This Personal Finance Starter Kit</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-signs-youre-making-all-the-right-money-moves">6 Signs You&#039;re Making All the Right Money Moves</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-easy-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund-from-0">7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0</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/6-fast-ways-to-restock-an-emergency-fund-after-an-emergency">6 Fast Ways to Restock an Emergency Fund After an Emergency</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance americans Comparison shopping emergency funds money moves price comparisons saving money statistics success united states Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2033791 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50 http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_sitting_on_floor_with_piggy_bank_under_money_rain.jpg" alt="Man sitting on floor with piggy bank under money rain" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Conventional investing wisdom says that as people age, they should put less of their money in stocks and more into stable investments such as bonds and cash. This is sound advice based on the idea that in retirement you want to protect your assets in case there is a major market downturn.</p> <p>But there are still strong arguments to continue investing in stocks even as you get older. Few people recommend an all-stock portfolio, but reducing stock ownership down to zero doesn't make sense, either.</p> <p>Consider that many mutual funds geared toward older investors still comprise hefty doses of stocks. The 2020 Retirement Fund from T. Rowe Price, for example, is made up of 70 percent stocks for retirees at age 65, and is still made up of 25 percent stocks when that same retiree is past 90 years of age.</p> <p>Why does owning stocks make sense even for older investors? Let's examine these possible motivations.</p> <h2>1. You're going to live a lot longer</h2> <p>If you are thinking about retirement as you approach age 60, it's important to recognize that you still may have several decades of life remaining. People are routinely living into their 90s or even past 100 these days. Do you have enough savings to last 40 years or more? While it's important to protect the assets you have, you may find that higher returns from stocks will be needed in order to accrue the money you need.</p> <h2>2. You got a late start</h2> <p>If you started investing early and contributed regularly to your retirement accounts over the course of several decades, you may be able to take a conservative investing approach in retirement. But if you began investing late, your portfolio may not have had time to grow enough to fund a comfortable retirement. Continuing to invest in stocks will allow you to expand your savings and reach your target figure. It still makes sense to balance your stocks with more conservative investments, but taking on a little bit more risk in exchange for potentially higher returns may be worth it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h2>3. Other investments don't yield as much as they used to</h2> <p>Moving away from stocks was good advice for older people back when you could get better returns on bonds and bank interest. The 30-year treasury yield right now is about 2.75 percent. That's about half what it was a decade ago and a third of the rate from 1990. Interest from cash in the bank or certificates of deposit will generate a measly 1.5 percent or less. The bottom line is that these returns will barely outpace the rate of inflation and won't bring you much in the way of useful income.</p> <h2>4. Some stocks are safer than others</h2> <p>Not all stocks move up and down in the same way. While stocks are generally more volatile than bonds and cash, there are many that have a strong track record of steady returns and relative immunity from market crashes. Take a look at mutual funds comprised of large-cap companies with diversified revenue streams. Consider dividend-producing stocks that don't move much in terms of share price, but can generate income. To find these investments, search for those that lost less than average during the Great Recession and have a history of low volatility.</p> <h2>5. Dividend stocks can bring you income</h2> <p>Dividend stocks are not only more stable than many other stock investments, but also they can generate cash flow at a time when you're not bringing in other income. A good dividend stock can produce a yield of more than 4 percent, which is more than what you'll get from many other non-stock investments right now. This will help ensure the growth of your portfolio is at least outpacing inflation.</p> <p>If you are unsure about which dividend stocks to buy, take a look at a well-rated dividend mutual fund. The T. Rowe Price Dividend Growth Fund [NYSE: PRDGX], for example, has a three-year total return of more than 10 percent, outpacing the S&amp;P 500. Its overall returns also dropped less than the S&amp;P 500 during the Great Recession.</p> <h2>6. Busts are often followed by bigger booms</h2> <p>A person who retired 10 years ago would have stopped working right when the market crashed, and there's a good chance they may have lost a significant chunk of their savings. That's bad. But it's important to note that in the decade since, the S&amp;P 500 has gone up every year at an average of more than 8.5 percent annually. In other words, someone who lost a lot from the crash of 2007&ndash;2008 will have gotten all of their money back and much more if they stayed invested in stocks.</p> <p>This is not to suggest that older investors should be unreasonably aggressive, but they should be aware that a single bad year or two probably won't completely wipe you out financially. If your retirement is long, you may see some market busts, but you'll also see some long stretches of good returns.</p> <h2>7. You may still be helping out your kids</h2> <p>When you're retired, you're supposed to be done with child rearing and helping out your kids financially, right? Unfortunately, it seems that older Americans are continuing to lend a hand to their children even as they grow into adulthood and have children of their own.</p> <p>A recent survey from TD Ameritrade said that millennial parents between the ages of 19 and 37 receive an average of more than $11,000 annually in the form of money or unpaid child care from their parents. With these additional costs on the horizon, those approaching retirement age may still want to invest in stocks to build their nest egg further. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-ruining-your-retirement-by-spoiling-your-kids?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are You Ruining Your Retirement by Spoiling Your Kids?</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F7%2520Reasons%2520to%2520Invest%2520in%2520Stocks%2520Past%2520Age%252050.jpg&amp;description=7%20Reasons%20to%20Invest%20in%20Stocks%20Past%20Age%2050"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/7%20Reasons%20to%20Invest%20in%20Stocks%20Past%20Age%2050.jpg" alt="7 Reasons to Invest in Stocks Past Age 50" 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/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-to-invest-in-stocks-past-age-50">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-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</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/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</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/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement">What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement</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/9-threats-to-a-secure-retirement">9 Threats to a Secure Retirement</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/9-safe-investments-that-arent-bonds">9 Safe Investments That Aren&#039;t Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement adult children bonds cash dividend stocks giving money to kids income late starters life span living longer risk saving money stocks yields Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 2031342 at http://www.wisebread.com Yes, You Can Pay for Education With an IRA http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-can-pay-for-education-with-an-ira <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/yes-you-can-pay-for-education-with-an-ira" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/education_fund_coins_652348714.jpg" alt="Education fund in jar" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When most people think of saving for a college education, they usually think of 529 savings plans or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESA). These accounts allow you to grow your money by investing in select mutual funds, much like a typical retirement account does. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-places-to-stash-your-kids-college-savings?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Smart Places to Stash Your Kid's College Savings</a>)</p> <p>While both of these accounts are great investment tools to pay for a college education, there's another option you may not have considered. A Roth IRA can also be used for educational expenses. There are pros and cons for each way to save for college. Here's a brief rundown:</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Coverdell ESA</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>529 savings plans</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>Roth IRA</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>No tax deduction from contributions.</p> </td> <td> <p>No tax deduction from contributions.</p> </td> <td> <p>No tax deduction from contributions.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Withdraw your contributions tax free.</p> </td> <td> <p>Withdraw your contributions tax free.</p> </td> <td> <p>Withdraw your contributions tax free. (If you withdraw interest, it will be taxed.)</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Annual contribution limit: $2,000 per beneficiary.</p> </td> <td> <p>No annual contribution limit but most states limit total contributions to $300,000.</p> </td> <td> <p>Annual contribution limit: $5,500, or $6,500 if age 50 or over.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Anyone can contribute but the amount they can contribute is limited by their modified adjusted gross income. Ability to contribute phases out once modified AGI reaches $220,000.</p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp; Anyone can&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; contribute.</p> </td> <td> <p>Must have income in order to contribute. People with high incomes ($181,000 for married couple) are prohibited from contributing.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Can be used for higher education and qualified K-12 expenses. Beneficiary must use account by age 30.</p> </td> <td> <p>Can only be used for higher education expenses.</p> </td> <td> <p>Can be used for higher education, first home purchase, qualified medical expenses, and retirement.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Account under guardian's name won't impact beneficiary's FAFSA.</p> </td> <td> <p>Account under guardian's name won't impact beneficiary's FAFSA.</p> </td> <td> <p>Withdrawals will increase your earned income and can affect beneficiary's FAFSA.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2>Roth IRAs</h2> <p>A Roth IRA differs from a traditional IRA in that the income you contribute is already taxed. The beauty of a Roth IRA is that the distribution you take from your contributions is <em>not </em>taxable (as long as the use is approved).</p> <p>Let's say your child is a college freshman. You withdraw $15,000 from your Roth IRA for their first year of school. None of this money will be taxed, as long as it is from your own contributions and not from the interest earned. Withdrawals are considered returns of contributions initially, for tax purposes. They are considered interest earnings second.</p> <p>Now, you are likely thinking, &quot;But aren't IRA withdrawals subject to penalties if you withdraw them early?&quot; Generally, yes. Normally, you must be age 59 &frac12; or older, and have had the account for at least five years to withdraw without incurring a 10 percent tax penalty. Why? Well, all IRAs are retirement funds, primarily. They are designed to be withdrawn only as folks approach retirement.</p> <p>But no penalty applies if the withdrawal is for qualified educational purposes (or a first home purchase, or qualified medical bills). Even if your child or grandchild has a scholarship for full tuition, it's no problem. Roth IRAs can be used for any qualified educational expense, including room, board, books, and supplies.</p> <p>If your child or grandchild ends up not going to college, or not needing all the money, you can simply keep the money to continue funding your retirement. Note that to place money back into a Roth IRA, it will be subject to annual contribution limits ($5,500 if under age 50, and $6,500 if age 50 or older).</p> <h2>Traditional IRAs</h2> <p>You can also use traditional IRAs to pay for college. Essentially, traditional IRAs reverse the tax advantage of a Roth. You get a tax deduction upfront for all money contributed to a traditional IRA &mdash; but all withdrawals will be taxed at the federal and state level.</p> <p>As with a Roth IRA, if traditional IRA distributions before age 59 &frac12; are used for qualified educational expenses, they are not subject to the 10 percent penalty. However, they will be subject to tax. The IRS will get its money whenever you withdraw from a traditional IRA, regardless of what you withdraw it for.</p> <p>Because of the tax implications, while it is <em>possible </em>to use a traditional IRA for educational expenses, it may not be the most prudent move. If you want to tap into IRAs for college expenses, a Roth IRA is the better bet financially.</p> <h2>An important caveat</h2> <p>Realistically, tapping your IRA to pay for your child's education should rarely be your first choice. It can be a smart move if you have a considerable amount saved and a lot of time left before retirement to pay it back. Otherwise, you'll be draining the account of funds you very much need. It may be wiser to use an educational savings account to save for your child's education instead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-saving-too-much-money-for-a-college-fund-is-a-bad-idea?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Saving Too Much Money for a College Fund Is a Bad Idea</a>)</p> <p>However, there are still benefits of using an IRA over an educational savings account if you know your retirement will still be secure. For example, by combining the funds into one account, you will have more flexibility in choosing whether to spend your savings on education &mdash; and how much &mdash; or to continue to hold it for your retirement.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyes-you-can-pay-for-education-with-an-ira&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520To%2520Pay%2520For%2520Your%2520College%2520Education.png&amp;description=Yes%2C%20You%20Can%20Pay%20for%20Education%20With%20an%20IRA"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20To%20Pay%20For%20Your%20College%20Education.png" alt="Yes, You Can Pay for Education With an IRA" 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/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-can-pay-for-education-with-an-ira">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/how-to-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</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/should-you-save-for-college-using-a-529-prepaid-tuition-plan">Should You Save for College Using a 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan?</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/which-retirement-account-is-right-for-you">Which Retirement Account Is Right for You?</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-smart-places-to-stash-your-kids-college-savings">5 Smart Places to Stash Your Kid&#039;s College Savings</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/this-one-thing-could-be-the-key-to-retiring-rich">This One Thing Could Be the Key to Retiring Rich</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Retirement college contributions distributions higher education qualified expenses Roth IRA saving money traditional ira Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:07 +0000 Anum Yoon 2029157 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Feel Better About Your Financial Situation http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-feel-better-about-your-financial-situation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-feel-better-about-your-financial-situation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/beautiful_young_african_woman_smiling_and_thinking.jpg" alt="Beautiful young African woman smiling and thinking" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When your bank account balance is looking dismal and you're digging through your pockets hoping for some forgotten cash, it's reasonable to be pessimistic about your financial situation. Don't despair. Instead, let's look at the piggy bank half-full, because there are plenty of positives in your financial situation that might be hard to see.</p> <h2>1. Count your blessings</h2> <p>While you may be on a tighter budget from time to time, you're not broke &mdash; not as long as you have clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and food in your belly, anyway. And if you still have a job? That's a blessing you can count each time a paycheck arrives.</p> <p>It's not ideal to have no savings, nor an emergency fund, nor a well stocked retirement account. But when you take a step back, you might see that your situation is manageable, and <em>changeable</em>. Start with a tally of what you have in terms of time, money, skills, and social connections. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-escape-the-paycheck-to-paycheck-cycle?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Escape the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle</a>)</p> <h2>2. Come up with a plan</h2> <p>Not having enough money isn't fun, but if you let that problem fester for too long, it will wear you down. Your confidence and motivation will suffer as a result, and you run the significant risk of relegating yourself to being someone who's always struggling financially.</p> <p>Focus on small ways you can change your financial situation immediately, such as selling stuff you no longer need, or looking for a side gig to bring in extra income. You don't even need a &quot;second job&quot; these days to bring in extra cash. You can pet sit in your neighborhood, rent out space in your home, drive for a ride-sharing service, plus dozens more moneymaking opportunities. I take on several of these tasks regularly, in addition to my job as a full-time journalist, because I like to have &quot;enough&quot; for the things I want. I live by the financial motto, 'If I'm not making money, I'm spending it' &ndash; which is why I have to spend more time doing the former than the latter to get ahead in life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-earn-extra-cash-when-money-is-tight?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Ways to Earn Extra Cash When Money Is Tight</a>)</p> <h2>3. Find a support group</h2> <p>Financial conversations can be extremely awkward, but it's important to seek out sources of support from people who understand what you're going through, and can provide advice. There's nothing wrong with setting boundaries when friends ask you to do something you can't afford. Politely say no and then lean on your supportive network. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-stay-on-budget-even-with-your-spendy-friends?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Stay on Budget &mdash; Even With Your Spendy Friends</a>)</p> <h2>4. Never feel guilty about saving money</h2> <p>Sometimes committing to living within your means, saving for an emergency fund, and reaching for financial independence means saying no to certain purchases and activities. It could mean letting your friends and family know that you won't be buying holiday gifts this year. Achieving your financial goals might require sacrifices here or there, but will be worth it when your purchases no longer come with a cost of credit card interest or future security.</p> <h2>5. Demolish that negative mindset</h2> <p>You know how when people start telling lies, they sometimes convince themselves that the lie they told is true? That's what happens when you're constantly saying you're broke. Eventually you'll begin to believe that, and being &quot;broke&quot; will become a way of life. Head that self-fulfilling prophecy off at the pass by removing that word from your lexicon altogether.</p> <p>Change your narrative about your situation. Believe that you have the ability to rise above &mdash; and tell yourself so.</p> <h2>6. Look ahead, not behind</h2> <p>If you're in your current financial situation due to bad money decisions in the past (been there, done that), it's no use to beat yourself up about it. Recognize what you've done, decide that you're going to learn from it, and then move forward. Make each day another opportunity to improve and make better decisions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-money-mistakes-everyone-makes-but-no-one-talks-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">20 Money Mistakes Everyone Makes But No One Talks About</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-to-feel-better-about-your-financial-situation&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520to%2520Feel%2520Better%2520About%2520Your%2520Financial%2520Situation.png&amp;description=6%20Ways%20to%20Feel%20Better%20About%20Your%20Financial%20Situation"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20to%20Feel%20Better%20About%20Your%20Financial%20Situation.png" alt="6 Ways to Feel Better About Your Financial Situation" width="250" height="374" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</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/6-ways-to-feel-better-about-your-financial-situation">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/6-ways-sloth-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Sloth Is Keeping You Poor</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/how-to-think-like-a-billionaire-when-you-re-broke">How to Think Like a Billionaire When You’re Broke</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-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money">How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than 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/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier">How Living on a Tight Budget Makes You Happier</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/39-mindless-ways-youre-wasting-money-in-every-part-of-your-life">39 Mindless Ways You&#039;re Wasting Money in Every Part of Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle broke figure of speech mental bias money habits no money out of money poor poverty saving money Tue, 03 Oct 2017 09:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 2029864 at http://www.wisebread.com How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/this_is_becoming_too_hard_to_handle.jpg" alt="This is becoming too hard to handle" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's say you bought tickets in advance for an upcoming concert, but the day of the show, a friend invites you to do something you'd enjoy even more. If you're like most people, you'll choose to go to the concert anyway. You don't want to waste the money you've spent, even though you'd rather be somewhere other than the concert. Your aversion to losing the money you spent on the tickets (aka a &quot;sunk cost&quot;) means you give up on doing something more enjoyable.</p> <p>A sunk cost is the time, money, or resources that have already been spent &mdash; and cannot be recouped &mdash; on a project or goal. Sunk costs should not color your decision whether or not to continue with a project, because the money and time has already been spent and cannot affect the outcome.</p> <p>The sunk cost fallacy is farther reaching than just financial decisions, though. It can also cost you much more than money if you fall victim to this fallacy. Here are five ways the sunk cost fallacy can affect various parts of your life beyond your budget.</p> <h2>1. Staying in a job you hate</h2> <p>When I was in high school, my mother very suddenly had to find a new dentist. The one she'd been going to for years had decided to quit dentistry and go back to school to become an accountant, which was what he had always wanted to do. We made a lot of jokes about it at the time, even though we were very happy that he was finally following his passion for accounting.</p> <p>This dentist had been practicing for over a decade when he decided to make this enormous career change. His family had pressured him to pursue dentistry, and it seemed like a waste to have gotten all that schooling and not practice. Once he became a dentist, each year that passed was another year that would have been &quot;wasted&quot; if he changed careers.</p> <p>Luckily for him, this dentist came to realize that his time at dental school and in practice was &quot;wasted&quot; anyway, since he did not want to be a dentist. Continuing in this profession would be wasting even more time because he'd be following a path he didn't enjoy.</p> <p>Many people who are stuck in jobs they don't like are not nearly as clear-eyed about their own professional sunk costs. If it feels like a &quot;waste&quot; of your time or education to get out of a job that is making you unhappy, then you are falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy. How you have spent your professional training and time up to this point doesn't matter if you're on a path that doesn't interest you.</p> <p>If you're worried about wasting what you've already sunk into a hated profession, make like my dentist and pursue what you truly love. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-that-job-you-hate-keeps-you-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways That Job You Hate Keeps You Poor</a>)</p> <h2>2. Staying in an unhappy relationship</h2> <p>If you regularly read dating advice columns, sooner or later you'll come across a letter from someone who wants to end an engagement, but feels like they can't because deposits have already been paid, people will be disappointed, and Great Aunt Hilda has already bought her plane ticket for the wedding.</p> <p>In short, these cold-footed would-be brides and grooms are focused on the sunk costs of the upcoming nuptials. That's because thinking about the loss of money, face, and Great Aunt Hilda's respect makes it difficult to clearly see the huge benefit of calling off a wedding: Not marrying the wrong person.</p> <p>Of course, the sunk cost fallacy doesn't just lead you down the aisle with the wrong person. It can also keep you in a relationship with someone who doesn't want the same things you do.</p> <p>If humans were able to think rationally about our relationships, it wouldn't matter that the deposit on the swan-shaped ice sculpture for the reception is nonrefundable. In this scenario, a rational decision would be to determine if the marriage or the current relationship is what you want and make your decision from there. But we all have a tendency to make current decisions based on what we've invested up to this point.</p> <p>So, we enter into marriages we're unsure about because we can't stand the thought of losing catering deposits, and we stay with partners who don't offer us what we want in a relationship because we can't stand the idea of losing all the time we've already put in.</p> <h2>3. Sticking with entertainment you're not enjoying</h2> <p>I'm ashamed to admit I watched the entire final season of a show I ended up hating. It was a truly terrible season of TV and it included virtually none of the characters that had made the previous seasons of the show charming and funny. So why did I endure 286 minutes of this show when I didn't have to? Because I had invested eight seasons in the show, and, by gum, I was going to finish it.</p> <p>My entertainment sunk cost experience is hardly unique &mdash; and game developers have actually taken notice of this quirk of our brains. Facebook game <em>Farmville</em>, which at its peak had 84 million people playing, was created to take advantage of the sunk cost fallacy. Since you could lose the time and money you have invested in the game ― your crops and livestock would die if you neglected the game too long &mdash; many players would return over and over again to protect themselves from loss. They weren't enjoying the game anymore. They simply didn't want to lose their investment in it.</p> <p>Despite the fact that <em>Farmville</em> was simply pixels on a screen, we have a tendency to stick with entertainment we dislike just to protect our previous investment or time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-resist-the-expensive-once-in-a-lifetime-mentality?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Resist the Expensive &quot;Once in a Lifetime&quot; Mentality</a>)</p> <h2>4. Eating food you don't want</h2> <p>As a parent, I've often found myself finishing meals my kids have only nibbled at, to keep from wasting food. Even before I had children, there would be times I'd force myself to finish eating something after I was already full, for fear of wasting money.</p> <p>The problem is that the food is just as wasted if it ends up as extra padding on my hips. The money and time has already been spent buying and preparing the food, and it's not as if I could actually send the excess to starving children in other parts of the world. Finishing the food simply takes away the visual reminder of the waste (until it shows up on my body). It does not negate the waste of buying and preparing food my kids refuse to eat or eating at restaurants that make portions too large to finish.</p> <p>If I'm full, I should stop eating, since the food in front of me is already a sunk cost. I should also get better at preserving the leftovers for future meals and reducing said food waste. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Keep Food Waste From Spoiling Your Budget</a>)</p> <h2>5. Keeping a cluttered house</h2> <p>All across the nation, there are bread machines and stationary bicycles gathering dust in basements, attics, and garages. I personally have a set of adjustable weight dumbbells in my basement that cost $300 and have been used fewer than a dozen times.</p> <p>The sunk cost fallacy keeps these unused items in our homes. We refuse to part with something we spent &quot;good money&quot; on, despite the fact that we would be happier with uncluttered homes.</p> <p>Even if we do decide to clear house, we often want to get back what we put into the items we don't use. The fact that we spent &quot;good money&quot; on an exercise bike or small appliance blinds us to the item's current value. We recall spending several hundred dollars for the unused item, and we hate to &quot;lose&quot; that investment by selling our stuff at a loss. But now that the item is covered with several years' worth of basement dust and it smells slightly moldy, its value is much lower than it was when we bought it.</p> <p>This sunk cost fallacy makes us believe that we can't get rid of unused items unless we can sell them for at least what we paid for them &mdash; forgetting that the money we spent is sunk, and that having a less cluttered house would improve our lives. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</a>)</p> <h2>Don't let sunk costs sink your decisions</h2> <p>The simple (but not necessarily easy) way to handle the sunk cost fallacy is to consistently check in with yourself. Ask yourself, &quot;Is this really what I want?&quot; and be honest when you answer. This question can help you decide what to do, whether you're staring down a career that you feel ambivalent about, a marriage that doesn't feel right, another episode of a show you're not enjoying, a French fry that you're not hungry for, or a panini press you haven't used since the first Bush administration.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Cutting%2520Your%2520Losses%2520Can%2520Save%2520You%2520More%2520Than%2520Money.jpg&amp;description=How%20Cutting%20Your%20Losses%20Can%20Save%20You%20More%20Than%20Money"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Cutting%20Your%20Losses%20Can%20Save%20You%20More%20Than%20Money.jpg" alt="How Cutting Your Losses Can Save You More Than Money" 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/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-cutting-your-losses-can-save-you-more-than-money">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/6-ways-to-feel-better-about-your-financial-situation">6 Ways to Feel Better About Your Financial Situation</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/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s</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-ways-to-live-like-a-celebrity-on-a-budget">5 Ways to Live Like a Celebrity on a Budget</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/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier">How Living on a Tight Budget Makes You Happier</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-how-too-many-decisions-costs-you-money">Here&#039;s How Too Many Decisions Costs You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Personal Development Shopping budgeting cut your losses improve your life lifestyle tips mental bias saving money spending habits sunk cost Fri, 29 Sep 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2028481 at http://www.wisebread.com This One Thing Could Be the Key to Retiring Rich http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-thing-could-be-the-key-to-retiring-rich <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-one-thing-could-be-the-key-to-retiring-rich" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/beautiful_young_woman_at_home_0.jpg" alt="Beautiful young woman at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Writing things down is a powerful exercise. Productivity experts and personal growth coaches have long known this truth, and frequently promote writing down goals and priorities as a way to take control of life and achieve more. Does the power of writing apply to your financial life, as well? Turns out that it does in a very significant way.</p> <h2>Written plans lead to more retirement savings</h2> <p>A recent report from Charles Schwab makes it clear that writing down your financial goals can have a huge effect on how well you do in reaching them. According to the report, people with a written retirement plan are almost twice as likely to increase their 401(k) contributions and rebalance their portfolio. And that's not all a written plan can do for you: You're also twice as likely to stick to your savings goals if you've written down your plan.</p> <p>Despite the obvious power of a written financial plan, most people don't have one. According to the Schwab report, even though about two-thirds of Americans have a financial plan, only a quarter of us have that plan in writing.</p> <p>Is it really a plan if it's not in writing? Maybe, but it's certainly not as powerful.</p> <p>Writing things down makes them seem more real and helps you understand clearly how to reach the goals you're setting. A survey from Wells Fargo found that folks with a <a href="https://newsroom.wf.com/press-release/wells-fargogallup-survey-us-investor-optimism-rises-highest-level-16-years" target="_blank">written retirement plan</a> felt much more secure about reaching their financial goals for retirement. It isn't that the amount needed for retirement changes, but that a written plan helped these individuals understand exactly what they needed to do to reach their retirement goals.</p> <h2>Start getting your plan on paper</h2> <p>How do you get your financial plan written down? Start simple and start right now: Get a piece of paper or open up a computer document, and start writing down your goals. Focus on three main areas: an income goal, a budget goal, and a long-term savings goal.</p> <p>The key is to just get started and remember that you can adjust your plan as you gain more information. Until you have everything written down, you don't really know what you're aiming for or if your goals are even possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/half-of-americans-are-wrong-about-their-retirement-savings?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Half of Americans Are Wrong About Their Retirement Savings</a>)</p> <h2>Get some professional help to improve your plan</h2> <p>Once you've gotten some basic ideas down on the page, consult a professional financial adviser to help you turn those basic thoughts into a viable financial plan. Over two-thirds of the people who do have a written financial plan got help from a financial professional.</p> <p>Getting professional help is a good idea for two reasons: First, it helps you to actually finish that plan you started. Second, having professional advice will result in a better financial plan. An adviser can help you ask questions, look at issues, and develop solutions you might have missed on your own. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement</a>)</p> <h2>Turn your plan into actions</h2> <p>Once you have your plan written down, you need to translate it into regular actions.</p> <p>For example, if you set a savings goal that you want to meet in five years, you'll divide that into a monthly savings amount. Now you have a monthly savings target (and we know that, with a written plan, you're much more likely to reach it). When you turn the goals on your plan into actions, you can quickly assess whether you're making progress or not.</p> <h2>Automate your financial actions</h2> <p>As much as possible, automate the actions that you derive from your financial plan. Set up automatic transfers into your savings account, for example, or have a certain percentage of your paycheck deposited into your savings account rather than your checking account.</p> <p>Those small automations take the work out of reaching your financial plan. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to stick to your plan. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a>)</p> <h2>Review your financial plan regularly</h2> <p>A written plan is not a static thing, so you need to review it regularly and adjust it as needed. Perhaps you get a salary increase or an unexpected windfall; how will you apply it? Review your plan, decide where to apply your wealth increase, and adjust your plan as needed.</p> <p>It's a great idea to set an annual appointment with your financial adviser; you can use that time to review your plan together. Then you can apply that professional insight to any adjustments you make to your plan, and move forward with even greater financial efficiency.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthis-one-thing-could-be-the-key-to-retiring-rich&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThis%2520One%2520Thing%2520Could%2520Be%2520the%2520Key%2520to%2520Retiring%2520Rich.jpg&amp;description=This%20One%20Thing%20Could%20Be%20the%20Key%20to%20Retiring%20Rich"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/This%20One%20Thing%20Could%20Be%20the%20Key%20to%20Retiring%20Rich.jpg" alt="This One Thing Could Be the Key to Retiring Rich" 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/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-thing-could-be-the-key-to-retiring-rich">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/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement">7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement</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/5-actions-women-can-take-right-now-to-get-their-retirement-on-track">5 Actions Women Can Take Right Now to Get Their Retirement On Track</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/yes-you-can-pay-for-education-with-an-ira">Yes, You Can Pay for Education With an IRA</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-dumb-ira-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">5 Dumb IRA Mistakes Even Smart People Make</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-save-for-retirement-when-you-are-unemployed">How to Save for Retirement When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement advice contributions financial advisers money goals saving money strategy writing things down written plan Fri, 29 Sep 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Annie Mueller 2028009 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Avoid Vacation Debt http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel_cost.jpg" alt="Travel cost" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation is meant to be fun and relaxing. With no office to go into and no stove to slave over, you can enjoy some peace and quiet and forget about life for a while. Unfortunately, many Americans return home to a rude awakening in the form of a big, fat vacation bill. Nearly three-quarters of Americans have gone into debt to pay for a vacation, racking up an average balance of $1,108, according to LearnVest's 2017 Money Habits and Confessions Survey.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid vacation debt and the havoc it creates. If you're gearing up for a trip but don't want to return home to a nasty bill, here are some steps you can take in advance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fool-proof-ways-to-stay-within-your-travel-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Fool-Proof Ways to Stay Within Your Travel Budget</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start a travel savings account</h2> <p>One possible reason Americans wind up with vacation debt could be the fact that more than half of us don't have a travel budget. The LearnVest survey shows that 55 percent of Americans don't factor vacations into their annual spending plans.</p> <p>One of the best ways to ensure you have vacation funds saved in advance of your holiday is to create a targeted savings account just for travel. A travel account allows you to see exactly how much you have to spend on vacation without digging into your regular budget, or worse, going into debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Build Your Best Travel Budget</a>)</p> <h2>2. Carve out some travel savings in your monthly budget</h2> <p>Once you have a travel account, you need to save regularly if you want your funds to grow. Make it easy on yourself by budgeting for travel expenses monthly &mdash; as in, set aside a few hundred dollars (or whatever you can afford) each month as if you were paying a regular bill. By stashing this money in your travel savings account, you help make sure it doesn't get spent elsewhere. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-budget-for-summer-vacation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Easy Ways to Budget for Summer Vacation</a>)</p> <h2>3. Find ways to save on travel</h2> <p>Part of our problem with vacation debt could stem from the fact that we're spending too much on travel compared to our incomes. LearnVest's survey showed that the average American spends around 10 percent of their income on vacations &mdash; meaning an individual who earns $50,000 is spending $5,000 a year on holiday travel. Worse, 39 percent of millennials spend 15 percent or more of their annual income on vacations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>While there's no one-size-fits all way to save on travel, we could all stand to dig a little deeper to find savings. Consider searching for package deals that include both airfare and hotels, for example. Or, vacation closer to home so you can avoid flying altogether. Also check out the many useful <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-vacation-deal-websites?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel deals websites</a> that can help you save money on nearly any trip. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-resources?ref=seealso" target="_blank">40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune</a>)</p> <h2>4. Leverage credit card rewards (but only if you're debt-free)</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Travel credit cards</a> can serve as a valuable money-saving tool, as long as you don't run a balance on them. If you plan ahead to earn airline miles or hotel points, and pay your bill in full before your due date every month, you can use rewards to supplement your travel budget and save money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-miles-and-points-for-a-big-award-trip?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Miles and Points for a Big Award Trip</a>)</p> <p>For example, if you cash in frequent flyer miles to pay for your airfare, you can focus on saving for your hotels and food separately. Or, consider driving to a hotel you paid for with points. In that case, you would only be on the hook for travel expenses, activities, and food.</p> <p>Of course, travel rewards are not a good option for people struggling with debt. The key to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=internal" target="_blank">using credit card rewards for travel</a> is to never carry a balance. Instead, consider your cards as a thoughtful extension of a planned out monthly budget.</p> <h2>5. Cut your expenses, or try a &quot;spending freeze&quot;</h2> <p>The LearnVest survey found that the most common ways Americans save money for travel are avoiding restaurants, shopping less often, and spending less on entertainment. This is all good news, as &quot;extra&quot; spending categories like dining out and entertainment are often the easiest to cut. But, that doesn't mean you can't look for more ways to save money over time.</p> <p>As you save up for a vacation, you can even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">try a spending &quot;freeze&quot;</a> &mdash; an exercise in which you only spend money on absolute essentials for several weeks or months. If you can avoid extra spending for short bursts of time, you can reach your vacation budget goal much quicker.</p> <h2>6. Pick up a side gig</h2> <p>Not everyone has enough wiggle room in their budget to cut out enough to pay for a vacation. Maybe you live in a high-cost area, or perhaps your monthly expenses are unusually high due to debt, child support, or other factors. Either way, it's hard to save for vacation when you're barely making ends meet.</p> <p>If you're struggling to come up with the cash to travel, consider picking up a side hustle or part-time job that leads to additional income. Since the extra cash you earn is in addition to the money you earn at your job, you should theoretically be able to save it for anything you want. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-best-side-jobs-for-fast-cash" target="_blank">14 Best Side Jobs for Fast Cash</a>)</p> <p>Your side hustle can be anything, although you'll probably earn more if you align it with your career or some skill you already have. If not, you can always try something like baby-sitting, dog-sitting, or housesitting. Mow lawns, drive for Uber, or tutor kids online. Start hustling, and by the time your next vacation rolls around, you'll be ready.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520to%2520Avoid%2520Vacation%2520Debt.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Vacation%20Debt"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Vacation%20Debt.jpg" alt="6 Ways to Avoid Vacation Debt" 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/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-vacation-debt">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/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards</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/10-frugal-fall-getaways-you-can-start-packing-for-now">10 Frugal Fall Getaways You Can Start Packing For Now</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-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier">How Living on a Tight Budget Makes You Happier</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-strategies-for-paying-off-debt-when-living-on-a-variable-income">7 Strategies for Paying Off Debt When Living on a Variable Income</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-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Travel budgeting expenses saving money side gigs Spending Money vacation debt Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Holly Johnson 2027163 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Keep Food Waste From Spoiling Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-459410387.jpg" alt="save money by tracking food waste" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How much food do wealthy nations waste? More than <a href="http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/" target="_blank">all of Sub-Saharan Africa produces</a>, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In the United States alone, from the farm to your kitchen, half of all produce ends up in the trash, according to a report by The Guardian.</p> <p>What does that waste mean for your household budget? If you're like the average family of four, you're literally <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/resources/wasted-how-america-losing-40-percent-its-food-farm-fork-landfill" target="_blank">throwing away $1,800 a year</a>, the National Resources Defense Council estimates.</p> <p>So a melon is a terrible thing to waste. We've heard it before. But what can we really do about it? Here are six ideas for taking action by quantifying food waste. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-wasting-13-of-the-food-you-buy-heres-how-to-stop?ref=seealso" target="_blank">You're Wasting 1/3 of the Food You Buy &mdash; Here's How to Stop</a>)</p> <h2>Weigh your waste</h2> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that households spend two weeks separating &quot;preventable food waste&quot; garbage from inedible scraps as part of its <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-02/documents/get_smart_ftgtw_2_1_2016_pubnumberadded_508.pdf" target="_blank">Food: Too Good to Waste Challenge</a>.</p> <p>At the end of each week, weigh and record the food you could have eaten but tossed instead. Then, spend three weeks using the EPA's tips to improve your planning, shopping, and storage practices. Finally, measure what you waste during the sixth week, and share the impressive progress you've (ideally) made on social media. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a>)</p> <h2>Get the app</h2> <p>So often in busy households food goes to waste because you forget it's there. The iOS app <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nowaste-food-inventory-list/id926211004?mt=8" target="_blank">No Waste</a> allows you to scan the barcodes of stuff in your fridge, enter expiration dates, and track everything you've got. If you don't mark a food item as &quot;eaten&quot; before its expiration date, the app marks that food as wasted. It keeps track of the percent of your food that you waste, and shows you a cute little tree that loses its green if your waste increases. It also allows you to compare your waste percentage with other app users, and gives you an estimate of how much money you're saving by eating the food you paid for.</p> <h2>Create a food diary</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.squawkfox.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Food-Waste-Diary.pdf" target="_blank">printable food waste diary</a> prompts you to record not just the amount of food wasted at each meal, but also the reason and estimated value. This should be helpful to put a weekly dollar figure on your waste and motivate you to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-uses-for-food-thats-about-to-go-bad" target="_blank">consume foods that are about to go bad</a>.</p> <h2>Impose consequences</h2> <p>Whether you used a printable from, a smartphone app, or simply scrawled the amounts and values of your waste on a scrap of paper stuck to the fridge, what do you do with this data? Why not use it to (gently) punish yourself? Take the total value of this week's waste, and deduct it from next week's grocery budget. Chances are, the pain of passing up buying the steak you wanted might help you remember to use up that meatloaf next week.</p> <h2>Track it publicly</h2> <p>Recording your food waste alone in your kitchen is OK, but wouldn't it be more fun to inspire others by planning a <a href="https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/research/assignments/mission-no-waste-meal1" target="_blank">Watch Your Waste Meal</a>? In the days leading up to your event, you're supposed to track your waste and share photos of your discards, which a celebrity chef might use as inspiration for a new dish.</p> <h2>Take a picture, it'll last longer</h2> <p>Are you more of a visual learner? Then follow The Frugal Girl's example and photograph <a href="http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/category/food-waste/food-waste-photos/" target="_blank">every bit of food you waste</a>. If you really want to push yourself to improve, share it online like she does! But even a private gallery of moldy horrors should be enough to encourage yourself to save the kale.</p> <h2>Beyond your kitchen</h2> <p>Once you've got a handle on what you throw away at home, turn your attention to the millions of pounds of food that gets thrown away by businesses before you even get a crack at it.</p> <h3>Buy ugly</h3> <p>In California and Portland, <a href="https://www.imperfectproduce.com/" target="_blank">Imperfect Produce</a> delivers weekly boxes of vegetables and fruits that are not cosmetically perfect enough to be sold in stores but still fresh and wholesome.</p> <h3>Take-out the trash</h3> <p>Still in beta, the app <a href="https://foodforall.us/" target="_blank">Food for All</a> will allow you to purchase unsold food from restaurants at the end of the day, at discounts as steep as 80 percent. Lucky Bostonians get to try this super frugal service first.</p> <h3>Save a mint</h3> <p>If you work in or own a restaurant, try the app <a href="https://www.mintscraps.com/" target="_blank">MintScraps</a> to track and reduce food waste.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Keep%2520Food%2520Waste%2520From%2520Spoiling%2520Your%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Keep%20Food%20Waste%20From%20Spoiling%20Your%20Budget"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Keep%20Food%20Waste%20From%20Spoiling%20Your%20Budget.jpg" alt="How to Keep Food Waste From Spoiling Your Budget" 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/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-food-waste-from-spoiling-your-budget">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/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way</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/shop-the-salad-bar-and-other-ways-to-save-big-on-groceries">Shop the Salad Bar and Other Ways to Save Big on Groceries</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-smart-shoppers-will-save-at-amazons-whole-foods">How Smart Shoppers Will Save at Amazon&#039;s Whole Foods</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-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier</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/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That&#039;ll Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink food shopping food waste green living groceries grocery bill grocery budget saving money shopping tips Spending Money Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2024819 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 College Perks You Might Be Missing Out On http://www.wisebread.com/8-college-perks-you-might-be-missing-out-on <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-college-perks-you-might-be-missing-out-on" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/i_am_prepared_for_exam_very_well.jpg" alt="I am prepared for exam very well" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College is expensive. Many students struggle to find the funds to attend college and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">avoid massive student debt</a>. And while student debt is an ongoing issue, there are many ways a student ID can provide big savings elsewhere. Savvy college students can utilize free or discounted activities and products to maximize their college experience and minimize their expenses. Here are eight college perks that you might be missing out on.</p> <h2>1. Reduced or free museum admission</h2> <p>Many museums and art galleries offer free or reduced admission to college students. New York University, for example, has a program called <a href="https://www.nyu.edu/life/arts-culture-and-entertainment/free-museum-access.html" target="_blank">Museum Gateway</a> that grants free admission to nearly a dozen museums and art galleries in New York City.</p> <p>Even if the college doesn't have a direct partnership with the museum to provide free admission to students, the museum might still have a student discount. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, for example, offers free admission with a valid student ID. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-freebies-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">20+ Freebies for College Students</a>)</p> <h2>2. Student discounts on computers</h2> <p>Computers are a vital tool. While students can access computers at local and college libraries, it can be a tad inconvenient. Computer manufacturers have created student discount programs to lower the monetary burden of students who need a computer.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="http://hp.force.com/external/hpacademy?AOID=51289" target="_blank">HP Academy</a> offers students 20 percent off HP products.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.dell.com/en-us/learn/purchaseprogram/university" target="_blank">Dell University</a> offers students 20 percent off Dell products.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/b/sale" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> offers students up to 10 percent off Microsoft computers.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/landingpage/students-and-teachers/" target="_blank">Lenovo</a> offers students 15 percent of Lenovo products.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you get really lucky, the university might also offer additional savings or a free computer or tablet upon enrollment.</p> <h2>3. Discounted or free software</h2> <p>Software can be essential for a successful college career. Spreadsheets, word processing, presentation programs, and graphics editing programs are expensive. Thankfully, as a student, you are spared the high cost of the programs.</p> <ul> <li> <p>Office 365 is free to all students with a valid student ID. You can either download the programs from your college's website or from <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/products/office/default.aspx" target="_blank">Microsoft</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/buy/students.html" target="_blank">Adobe</a> offers students 60 percent off the price of their photography and design apps.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>4. Free access to gyms and rec centers</h2> <p>Most on-campus colleges tend to have a gym and rec center that are free for students to utilize. The perks offered in the gyms are highly dependent on the school. Perks range from workout equipment, one-on-one personal training, online, or on-site workout classes, lap pools, lazy rivers, hot tubs, rock climbing centers, and indoor recreation rooms for various intramural sports. Gym and rec center memberships are expensive, so it's definitely worth taking advantage of this perk.</p> <p>If you're an online student without access to your university's gym, private gyms often offer a student discount you can cash in on.</p> <h2>5. Free entertainment</h2> <p>Colleges often offer free admission to movie screenings, plays, guest speakers, sporting events, and concerts. These college-funded events can be great ways to fill your free time without dipping into your bank account.</p> <h2>6. Free mental health counseling and services</h2> <p>College life can be stressful. Students who are mentally and emotionally healthy have a slightly higher chance of succeeding at school. In order to help students maintain a good mental health, many colleges offer free individual, group, or couples therapy. The sessions are meant to help students deal with issues, manage their personal problems, and develop coping strategies. This is a free service that can, in many cases, save your educational career.</p> <h2>7. Discounted airfare and hotels</h2> <p>Whether it's for summer break, visiting the family, or returning to school, plane tickets and hotels can be horrendously expensive. The good news is that there are travel sites that offer discounted prices to students.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://www.studentuniverse.com/" target="_blank">Student Universe</a> lets students buy flights and hotels at a discounted rate. A student ID or class schedule will often be required to prove that you are a student.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.cheapoair.com/deals/student-travel" target="_blank">CheapOAir</a> has a student travel page that offers discounted rates.</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.statravel.com/" target="_blank">STA Travel</a> offers an International Student Identity Card that provides discounts on flights and hotels.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>8. Clothing discounts</h2> <p>Students can receive special discounts at dozens of clothing retailers. This is especially true for students who need more formal clothing for internships or their first job after college.</p> <p>Once you have a little money to spend, go shopping for a few work-approved outfits before you graduate. Check out Banana Republic, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Club Monaco, Sam's Club for student discounts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-sites-where-the-right-email-address-can-save-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Sites Where the Right Email Address Can Save You Money</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-college-perks-you-might-be-missing-out-on&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520College%2520Perks%2520You%2520Might%2520Be%2520Missing%2520Out%2520On.jpg&amp;description=8%20College%20Perks%20You%20Might%20Be%20Missing%20Out%20On"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20College%20Perks%20You%20Might%20Be%20Missing%20Out%20On.jpg" alt="8 College Perks You Might Be Missing Out On" 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/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-college-perks-you-might-be-missing-out-on">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/6-genius-ways-to-stock-up-on-school-supplies">6 Genius Ways to Stock Up on School Supplies</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/how-smart-shoppers-will-save-at-amazons-whole-foods">How Smart Shoppers Will Save at Amazon&#039;s Whole Foods</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/8-money-saving-hacks-every-college-student-should-try">8 Money-Saving Hacks Every College Student Should Try</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/4-effortless-ways-to-save-on-back-to-school-shopping">4 Effortless Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping</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/6-things-its-better-to-buy-at-the-last-minute">6 Things It&#039;s Better to Buy at the Last Minute</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Shopping college perks college student discounts saving money shopping tips student discounts Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:30:17 +0000 Samantha Stauf 2023006 at http://www.wisebread.com We Do the Math: When Is It Worth Hiring Household Help? http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-when-is-it-worth-hiring-household-help <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/we-do-the-math-when-is-it-worth-hiring-household-help" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/clean_home_is_a_happy_home.jpg" alt="Clean home is a happy home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How much is your happiness worth? Turns out, it may be available for a very reasonable hourly rate. A recent study shows that <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170724161258.htm" target="_blank">using money to buy yourself free time</a> &mdash; by outsourcing household chores, for example &mdash; can lead to higher life satisfaction. Here are six common household chores that might be worth the investment to have someone else handle.</p> <h2>1. House cleaning</h2> <p>What's the average amount of time you spend keeping your house clean? A small apartment might require only an hour of focused cleaning a week. However, if you live in a bigger home, or have multiple family members making messes around you, the time you save on hiring someone to do the cleaning can be significant.</p> <p>According to the American Time Use Survey, <a href="https://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/household.htm" target="_blank">women spend about 30 minutes daily</a> &mdash; or 3.5 hours weekly &mdash; on interior cleaning; men average spend about 10 minutes a day, or just over an hour per week. Think about where you fall in that time spectrum. I spend more time cleaning up on a daily basis, but my husband (and kids) all pitch in two to three hours to clean up on the weekends. The average cost of having a typical <a href="http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/cleaning-services/hire-a-maid-service/#" target="_blank">single-family home cleaned is $130</a>, or you can arrange it by the hour, typically from $25 to $35.</p> <p><strong>Verdict:</strong> Worth it? My money says yes, if you have a house that takes you more than an hour per week to clean. Having a clean house is a morale booster, and not having to spend three or more hours cleaning it is an even bigger bump in life satisfaction. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-outsourcing-chores-can-save-you-time-and-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways Outsourcing Chores Can Save You Time and Money</a>)</p> <h2>2. Laundry service</h2> <p>I have four kids, so I spend a lot of time doing laundry. And I had no idea that laundry services are as available, or cheap, as they are. There are about 35,000 laundry service companies in the U.S. Laundry service is generally billed per pound (of laundry), ranging from <a href="https://www.angieslist.com/articles/home-laundry-service-dont-do-your-own-laundry.htm" target="_blank">about $1 to $3 per pound</a>. The variation in price is mostly due to regional location and the service.</p> <p>Some people love doing laundry. I do not understand these people. I do an average two loads of laundry (about 15 to 20 pounds) per day to keep up with my family's unreasonable clothes-wearing habits. It's about 20 minutes of my day to gather, wash, and dry that laundry, and another 15 to 20 minutes to fold and put it away. I'm spending over four hours a week taking care of clothes.</p> <p><strong>Verdict:</strong> Outsourcing the laundry for under $1 per pound sounds like a great trade for more time and happiness. If your local rates are over $1 per pound, however, the service costs would add up quickly. For an individual or couple, the price would probably still be worth the time saved. However, when you factor in a couple of kids who dirty clothes at an alarming rate, the volume of laundry would create a service cost too high to justify.</p> <h2>3. Food preparation</h2> <p>Food preparation may be one of the household chores that takes the most time. However, since it's typically handled in three separate tasks a day, you may not notice how much time you spend on it.</p> <p>Meal delivery services offer an alternative to spending all your time in the kitchen. With a meal prep service, you save the time you'd spend planning the meal, shopping for ingredients, and preparing the ingredients.</p> <p>These meal services often cater to specific dietary needs, and prices vary accordingly. Single meals cost anywhere from $6 for a kid's meal, to $16 each. Packages or subscriptions are the best value, but expect to pay anywhere from $70 for six meals to $152 for 10 meals delivered weekly.</p> <p><strong>Verdict:</strong> I'd love to justify this cost, but for my family, I can't. I'd need to pay the equivalent of what it costs us to eat at a restaurant for every single meal. I spend much less by buying what we like in bulk and cooking our favorites at home. However, for individuals or couples, or those with specific dietary requirements, a meal prep kit or ready-to-eat package could be a great value. Calculate what you spend on groceries each week, then compare with the cost of a meal service. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-meal-prep-subscription-boxes-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Are Meal Prep Subscription Boxes Worth It?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Yard work</h2> <p>The average American family spends 70 hours per year on yard work, according to the American Time Use Survey. Plus there's the cost of owning and maintaining the equipment needed to do the yard work. If you outsource, however, you don't need to worry about any of it: hire a service or an individual with their own equipment, and it's one less thing on your time/money cost. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-will-an-electric-mower-trim-lawn-care-costs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">We Do the Math: Will an Electric Mower Trim Lawn Care Costs?</a>)</p> <p>The average cost of a yard care service varies, but a typical suburban lawn will run about $60 per mowing. Many services offer a monthly plan, which <a href="http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/lawn-and-garden/" target="_blank">average $100 to $200</a>. The bigger your yard, the more it will cost to have it maintained; of course, that's also more time you're saving when you don't do it yourself.</p> <p><strong>Verdict:</strong> For most people, a yard care service is a worthy investment. You save time on the yard work itself, save on the cost of owning and maintaining equipment; and, if you contract with a service for the whole season, you'll often get extra services (such as end-of-year leaf collection) included for little or no additional charge.</p> <h2>5. Odd jobs</h2> <p>What about the odd jobs, like cleaning the kitchen appliances (bleh!) or assembling that new desk you bought from IKEA? Organizing, deep cleaning, assembling, and installing stuff you've bought can take hours of your life. Fortunately, there are people who will do that for you. Faster. And probably better. Outsourcing services like <a href="https://www.taskrabbit.com/" target="_blank">TaskRabbit</a> make finding these amazing people much easier. Create an account, and scan for a service provider who has the skills you need. But first you need to know what you're willing to spend.</p> <p>Start by clearly defining the task that needs to be accomplished. &quot;Deep cleaning&quot; is too vague; instead, list the specific tasks that need to be done. Next, estimate the time you'd spend completing each task.</p> <p>Now you can compare your estimated time cost to the hourly or project cost of hiring someone to do the job for you. If you can pay someone an hourly rate of $35 to do in a couple hours what might've taken you a full day, you've made a wise investment.</p> <p>Expect to pay $15 to $35 an hour for basic jobs that don't require special skills. Odd jobs that require lots of muscle (moving) or a specialized skill (carpentry) will range from $75 to $150 per hour.</p> <p><strong>Verdict: </strong>Absolutely worth it for jobs you hate or aren't good at doing. I'll move into a new house before I clean the stove; hiring someone to do it for me at $20 per hour is a win.</p> <h2>6. Car washing</h2> <p>Having a clean, sparkling car is a great feeling. Doing it yourself, however, is not so great. It can take a good chunk of your Saturday afternoon to wash, wax, vacuum, and so on. The cheapest way to outsource the car washing errand is to hire a neighborhood kid (or your own kid) to do the work instead. While you can charge a small amount for this task to be completed, the work might not be all that thorough.</p> <p>A car wash service can provide a fabulous car wash, even detailing, for a fraction of the time required to do it yourself. Waterway, for example, provides a <a href="http://www.waterway.com/car-wash-services/" target="_blank">$35 car wash</a> that includes &quot;attention to detail, sparkle and shine, inside and out.&quot; That's not exactly detailing, but for $35, it's worth the two to three hours you'd save doing it yourself.</p> <p>Most car wash services offer subscriptions or packages which can lower the cost per wash, or give you unlimited washes per month for a single monthly cost (from <a href="http://mistercarwash.com/unlimited-wash-club/" target="_blank">$22.99 to $49.99</a>, for Mister Car Wash).</p> <p><strong>Verdict:</strong> With a monthly package or subscription, it's a good purchase. Find out what's available in your area. If you'd spend an afternoon cleaning your car, you can save that time &mdash; and wash your care more often &mdash; for a very reasonable price.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwe-do-the-math-when-is-it-worth-hiring-household-help&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWe%2520Do%2520the%2520Math-%2520When%2520Is%2520It%2520Worth%2520Hiring%2520Household%2520Help-.jpg&amp;description=We%20Do%20the%20Math%3A%20When%20Is%20It%20Worth%20Hiring%20Household%20Help%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/We%20Do%20the%20Math-%20When%20Is%20It%20Worth%20Hiring%20Household%20Help-.jpg" alt="We Do the Math: When Is It Worth Hiring Household Help?" 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/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-when-is-it-worth-hiring-household-help">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/household-cleaning-hacks-that-save-you-money">Household Cleaning Hacks That Save You Money</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/4-ways-to-make-money-doing-household-chores">4 Ways to Make Money Doing Household Chores</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/8-signs-you-arent-prepared-for-an-emergency">8 Signs You Aren&#039;t Prepared for an Emergency</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-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget">5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze 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/4-things-to-consider-before-hiring-household-help">4 Things to Consider Before Hiring Household Help</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home chores cleaning cleaning the house cleaning tips housework laundry saving money yard work Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Annie Mueller 2023004 at http://www.wisebread.com