spending http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/247/all en-US 10 Simple Ways to Start Living on Less Today http://www.wisebread.com/10-simple-ways-to-start-living-on-less-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-simple-ways-to-start-living-on-less-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-woman-calculator-Dollarphotoclub_70326803.jpg" alt="happy woman calculator" title="happy woman calculator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Is your resolution to lean your budget this year? Has a new baby increased your bills? Or maybe you're saving for a big project or dream vacation.</p> <p>Whatever your reason to start living on less, I'm glad you're here. At first, cutting back can seem like a daunting task. It requires much attention, modification, and &mdash; often &mdash; sacrifice. But I'm here to share the basics with you, along with a few tips and tricks that will help you achieve your bottom line.</p> <h2>1. Shop Thrift</h2> <p>If you have yet to set foot in a thrift shop, you need to see what you're missing. Sure, you'll probably come across some less-than-ideal items. More and more, though, I've been discovering like-new items on the shelves and racks. I'd say 75 percent of my wardrobe is second-hand. Or, skip the thrift store entirely by having a <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/clothing-swap-party-exchange/">clothing swap</a> with friends.</p> <h2>2. Or Not</h2> <p>You might decide you don't need to spend money (especially on clothes) at all. Many of us have closets full of shirts and pants we never wear. Excess clutter collects dust and takes up critical space on shelves. Before you purchase something new, stop and ask yourself: &quot;Do I really need this?&quot; You might be surprised with how often that answer is &quot;no.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe?ref=seealso">8 Essential Pieces For Your Minimalist Wardrobe</a>)</p> <h2>3. Sell Your Stuff</h2> <p>One of the easiest ways to make fast money is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/clear-out-that-clutter-15-places-to-sell-your-stuff">sell your stuff</a>. Obviously keep what you need and use on a daily basis. When you gather a good number of things you want to sell, check local consignment stores or online shops like <a href="http://www.thredup.com">ThredUp</a> for selling clothing. Craigslist is great for anything from coffee tables to guitars to cars. I've also seen a lot of local Facebook &quot;yard sale&quot; groups popping up lately. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-unusual-ways-to-sell-your-stuff?ref=seealso">11 Unusual Ways to Sell Your Stuff</a>)</p> <h2>4. Pay Attention</h2> <p>There are countless ways you're probably spending money without thinking about it. Take a hard look at your bank statements, too, since you might incur charges for services you've long forgotten about. It sounds overly simple, but you should keep track of where your money is going. All those coffees, lunches out, magazine subscriptions, random online purchases, and ATM fees add up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money?ref=seealso">10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money</a>)</p> <h2>5. Buy in Bulk</h2> <p>Now's the time to investigate what all those bulk buyers are raving about. In addition to cost savings, there are a number of benefits you'll experience through purchasing food and other items in larger quantities. You'll go through less expensive packaging, take fewer costly trips to the store, and even try more healthy whole foods, which are traditionally sold in bulk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bulk-buying-basics-what-to-buy-how-to-store-and-money-saving-tips?ref=seealso">Bulk Buying Basics</a>)</p> <h2>6. Try Discount Stores</h2> <p>Stop into your local dollar store to see what's inside. Granted, there are tons of products, like soda, gum, aluminum foil, cling wrap, bins &mdash; that aren't real bargains. However, my family still uses a great set of inexpensive glassware we purchased at a dollar store over five years ago. If you're throwing a party, you can frugally stock up on paper plates, decorations, and favors. Art and office supplies are also good deals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-buy-at-the-dollar-store-and-10-you-should">10 Things You Should Never Buy at the Dollar Store</a>)</p> <h2>7. Cook In</h2> <p>Another variable expense in your budget is your entertainment money. Consider cutting it back considerably by learning to cook and enjoy homemade meals. Don't like cleaning? No problem. Choose simple meals with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-5-ingredient-recipes-that-save-time-and-money">five ingredients or fewer</a> to get started. You might get so good at it, the restaurant stuff won't taste the same. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-make-restaurant-quality-pizza-at-home?ref=seealso">This Is How You Make Restaurant Quality Pizza at Home</a>)</p> <h2>8. Quit Your Gym</h2> <p>You don't need to hit the gym to get your sweat on. There are countless <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">at-home workouts</a> that utilize your own body weight and cost you nothing but energy to complete. Try jogging around your neighborhood, starting a push-up challenge, or creating a circuit right in your living room. If you need some extra motivation, check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-online-workout-videos-for-free-or-cheap">online workout videos and channels</a> that are free or cost only a few bucks a month.</p> <h2>9. And Your Cable</h2> <p>While you're at it, give your cable company the boot. Or at least see if they'll <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thirteen-minutes-to-a-lower-cable-bill">lower your bill</a>. A few years ago, we discovered that new customers were getting awesome sign-on promotions, so we called our provider and asked if we could benefit, too. Two seconds later, we were paying $35 less per month and getting premium channels for free. These days, we use Hulu and Netflix for the bulk of our entertainment &mdash; less than $20 a month total. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained?ref=seealso">8 Alternatives To Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a>)</p> <h2>10. Visit Your Library</h2> <p>You should also search the stacks at your library for DVDs &mdash; along with amazing pieces of classic literature and current bestsellers, of course. While you're there, be sure to stop by the local calendar for news of free events going on in your area. I worked in libraries for years, and if you can't find exactly what you're looking for, ask the staff to check into interlibrary loans. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-awesome-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-get-at-the-library?ref=seealso">14 Awesome Things You Didn't Know You Could Get at Your Library</a>)</p> <p><em>What are your tricks for living well on less?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-simple-ways-to-start-living-on-less-today">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/the-7-worst-financial-excuses-that-are-keeping-you-poor">The 7 Worst Financial Excuses That Are 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/10-signs-youre-a-closet-spendthrift">10 Signs You&#039;re a Closet Spendthrift</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/not-the-sort-of-person-who">Not the sort of person who ...</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/frugal-tip-do-not-spend-when-you-are-sad">Frugal Tip: Do Not Spend When You Are Sad</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/pay-attention">Pay attention</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living cutting costs saving simple living spending Wed, 18 Feb 2015 18:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1289850 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Worst Financial Excuses That Are Keeping You Poor http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-worst-financial-excuses-that-are-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-worst-financial-excuses-that-are-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-classroom-thinking-money-Dollarphotoclub_70014273.jpg" alt="woman classroom thinking" title="woman classroom thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm an expert at making excuses. At this very moment I can think of a dozen reasons to put off filing my tax return for another few weeks, procrastinate about seeing the dentist, or wait until Sunday to scale my mountain of dirty laundry. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-stages-of-procrastination-read-this-right-now?ref=seealso">The 7 Stages of Procrastination</a>)</p> <p>And while my personal excuse-making ends at my bank account, I know that for many, that's exactly where the excuses begin. If your financial life is languishing, it's probably buried under a pile of excuses. Here are seven of the worst.</p> <h2>1. I Don't Make Enough Money to Save</h2> <p>If everyone put off saving until they made more money, every piggy bank in the land would ring hollow. Start by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund">creating an emergency fund</a>. Forget the idea that you have to save a certain amount in order for it to matter. An easy $10 a week is a modest start, but it's a start. Increase your savings rate as your income grows and sock away annual bonuses or money earned from part-time work.</p> <h2>2. I'm Expecting a Large Inheritance</h2> <p>If you suspect you're in line for a large inheritance, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. But remember, it's not yours until it's yours. Besides being just a little creepy, banking on your beneficiary status to solve your money problems is a powerless stance. Your success not only depends on someone else's generosity, it depends on that third-party's financial situation staying exactly the same. What happens if your benefactor makes a bad investment? Bets it all on red in Vegas? Or decides at the last minute that the ASPCA should get every dime?</p> <h2>3. I'll Start Later</h2> <p>By this point, you've probably read all the startling statistics on the power of compounding interest. You already know that when it comes to saving, you should <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/greggfisher/2013/03/11/savings-start-early/">start early</a> and save often. Blah. Blah. Blah. So why are you putting it off? Do you thrive under pressure? Enjoy getting less for your efforts? Embrace the power of <em>now</em>. Start today.</p> <h2>4. I'm Just Too Deeply in Debt</h2> <p>High debt loads can be daunting, but giving up won't get you out. The first power move is to stop creating new debt by living within your means. Then, start paying down what you owe by using the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0">debt snowball method</a>. Give yourself a clear goal and specific timeline to be debt-free and &mdash; most importantly &mdash; don't get distracted or discouraged. Once your debt is history, direct that same laser-like focus on saving for the future.</p> <h2>5. Life's Too Short to Live Like a Miser</h2> <p>You're right; life is much too short. But the best way to make it seem entirely <em>too long</em> is to outlive your money. Sure, being frugal does require some discipline and sacrifice, but the perception that all savers are misers is a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frugal-myths-debunked">common myth</a>. For most of us, saving and investing just takes a reasonable level of commitment. A big part of that commitment means knowing the difference between a want and a need &mdash; and realizing we live in a society that's built an entire economy around confusing the two.</p> <h2>6. I'll Never Save Enough to Make a Difference</h2> <p>I get it. Saving can often feel like an uphill battle, especially when incomes are stagnant, prices are on the rise, and it takes nearly seven figures to retire with any sort of security. But like with any challenge, giving up before you begin is the surest path to failure. The curious thing about saving is this: Momentum builds once you start. The process gets easier as your nest egg gets bigger.</p> <h2>7. The Game Is Rigged Anyway</h2> <p>Without wading into deep political waters, it often seems that banking and finance regulations ebb and flow with the righteous indignation of the middle class. Financial crises spur tighter laws and boom times encourage more and more loosening. If it feels like the game is rigged at times, all the more reason to figure out exactly how the rigging works. But whatever the economic climate, there's no secret to saving; live below your means, pay yourself first, invest prudently, and try not to panic over normal market fluctuation.</p> <p>In good economic times and in bad, excuses slow us down and keep us from the constructive process of trying, stumbling, learning, and ultimately succeeding. This year, resolve to starve your excuse-making behavior and start feeding your financial future.</p> <p><em>What excuses keep you financially stuck? How have you motivated yourself to move beyond the excuses and start building wealth?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-worst-financial-excuses-that-are-keeping-you-poor">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/10-simple-ways-to-start-living-on-less-today">10 Simple Ways to Start Living on Less Today</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-signs-youre-a-closet-spendthrift">10 Signs You&#039;re a Closet Spendthrift</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/not-the-sort-of-person-who">Not the sort of person who ...</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/frugal-tip-do-not-spend-when-you-are-sad">Frugal Tip: Do Not Spend When You Are Sad</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/pay-attention">Pay attention</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living money excuses saving spending Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:07 +0000 Kentin Waits 1289847 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Signs You're a Closet Spendthrift http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-youre-a-closet-spendthrift <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-signs-youre-a-closet-spendthrift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-woman-shopping-bags-Dollarphotoclub_68829014.jpg" alt="happy woman shopping" title="happy woman shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the surface it may seem like you have everything under control financially &mdash; and perhaps you've convinced yourself that you have &mdash; but you may be a closet spendthrift and not even know it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money?ref=seealso">10 Mindless Ways You Spend Money</a>)</p> <p>How can you tell if you're subconsciously burning through cash faster than you should? Check out these 10 indicators, and sound off on other characteristics of closet spendthrifts below.</p> <h2>1. You Avoid Opening Bills</h2> <p>Opening mail is fun &mdash; when it's from somebody we like. But those somebodies never seem to include bill collectors.</p> <p>&quot;The credit card bills arrive, and you don't open them &mdash; because subconsciously, you don't want to see what you owe because you know, deep down, that you've spent too much,&quot; says April Masini, relationship expert at <a href="http://www.askapril.com">AskApril.com</a>.</p> <p>Is she describing you?</p> <p>Time to face the facts: If you avoid opening your bills because you're afraid of the number that will be staring back, you have a problem that needs to be addressed in more ways than one.</p> <h2>2. You're Selling Off Possessions Quite Frequently</h2> <p>I advocate selling items of value when you no longer have use for them or you need a quick influx of cash, but if you're constantly searching for things to sell or pawn so you can rob Peter to pay Paul, it's time to reign it in.</p> <p>You shouldn't go through life on the edge of overdraft because you're buying unnecessary things on a regular basis. Case in point: If the things you're selling are things you bought without any real intention or purpose, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.</p> <h2>3. You're Eating Most Meals Out</h2> <p>This is one of the most common indicators that someone is a closet spendthrift. Dining out is expensive on a rare basis, but it's ungodly how much money you're spending if takeout is your regular routine. It's easy to pull it off without feeling guilty because it's food and you have to eat &mdash; or whatever else you're convincing yourself to believe to justify the expense.</p> <p>Take Kris Ruby, for instance, who recently admitted that she <a href="http://nypost.com/2014/12/16/new-yorkers-addicted-to-delivery-food/">spends $11,000 a year on takeout</a>. Sure, you might have a high-paying New York City job, but seriously, $11,000 because you're lazy? That's about $8,000 more than a moderately frugal single person should <a href="http://nypost.com/2014/12/16/new-yorkers-addicted-to-delivery-food/">pay on home prepared food per year</a>. That situation is completely out of control &mdash; not to mention unhealthy &mdash; and somebody should tell her what's up. Completely frivolous for no good reason.</p> <h2>4. You're Constantly Transferring Money Between Accounts</h2> <p>If you're constantly transferring money from one account to another &mdash; like your savings to your checking &mdash; maybe you should take a few minutes to see the itemized list of purchases on your online account for a reality check. If you're bleeding cash from a coffee here and a snack there, or trying to afford what your friends are doing, it's time to take a good look at where your money is going. If you don't like what you see &mdash; and it's very likely you won't &mdash; take steps to cut back on some of your loose-wallet ways moving forward.</p> <h2>5. You Go Out When You Shouldn't to Avoid Looking Financially Strapped</h2> <p>We'd all like to do all the fun activities that our friends invite us to do, kick back at the bar, dine at the nicest restaurants, but that's not often the reality when we're working just to make ends meet. If you find yourself going out more often that you should &mdash; and specifically when you're financially strapped just to avoid looking like you're broke &mdash; you should start reevaluating your priorities. Fun is fleeting, just like your cash &mdash; but it's much wiser and more valuable to preserve the latter in the long run.</p> <h2>6. You Bounce Checks</h2> <p>Bouncing checks like rubber balls? Not only is that practice irresponsible but it's incredibly costly considering that you have to pay at least a $25 return fee, if not other fees.</p> <p>&quot;You're bouncing checks, and you avoid your finances because they're a black and white reminder that you're out of control with your spending,&quot; says Mansini of AskApril. &quot;When you have to look at your bank account balance, and all you see are numbers, how cute, or how awesome a purchase made you feel, isn't apparent.&quot;</p> <p>Monitor your account frequently &mdash; I check mine every morning &mdash; to ensure that you're not susceptible to an overdraft. Money was much easier to manage back when everything was logged in a checkbook, but you can still stay on top of your funds at a glance if you're not exactly financially minded (even though you should change that).</p> <h2>7. You Find It Difficult to Afford the Essentials a Few Days After Payday</h2> <p>When I was younger, I was a spendthrift. For someone who got paid only twice monthly, that's not a good combination. You see, the problem with being a spendthrift and getting paid every two weeks is that I spent twice the amount of money in half the amount of time. There were several days in a row where I had to go without something &mdash; like lunch &mdash; because I spent too much money at the bar. That's a terrible lifestyle that leads to debt &mdash; and maybe depression. Budget your money appropriately &mdash; perhaps take a certain amount of cash out for the week and when it's gone, it's gone &mdash; if you feel like you're in a similar situation.</p> <h2>8. You Avoid Answering Questions About Your Recent Purchases</h2> <p>When I was in college and my parents were giving me a bit of spending money for groceries and other necessities, they would always ask how I got the new clothes or shoes that I was wearing when they noticed. They knew how I got them, of course, but it always made me feel bad that I was now faced with the reality of wasting money &mdash; their money. If you find yourself embarrassed about your recent purchases &mdash; because of the price of the item of because you sacrificed something you needed for something you wanted &mdash; take action and cut back on the impulses so you don't have to be ashamed with how you're spending your money.</p> <h2>9. You're Frequently Asking Someone for Money &mdash; Like Your Parents</h2> <p>This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. If you're always asking someone for money &mdash; because you've spent all yours and you have nothing to show for it &mdash; it's time to grow up and get a better job or suck it up and learn to be an adult who can't always get what they want.</p> <h2>10. You Make Excuses to Buy Something &mdash; Anything, Really</h2> <p>This is an actual medical condition, so if you're shopping has gotten totally out of hand &mdash; like you're in major credit card debt because of it &mdash; it's time to seek professional help. You're not only a closet spendthrift, but there may be some other underlying psychological issues that are driving you to spend money. When you can't get through the day without spending a little something, you've got a problem that needs fixing &mdash; fast.</p> <p><em>Have you noticed other signs of a closet spendthrift? Please share them in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-youre-a-closet-spendthrift">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/the-7-worst-financial-excuses-that-are-keeping-you-poor">The 7 Worst Financial Excuses That Are 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/10-simple-ways-to-start-living-on-less-today">10 Simple Ways to Start Living on Less Today</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/not-the-sort-of-person-who">Not the sort of person who ...</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/frugal-tip-do-not-spend-when-you-are-sad">Frugal Tip: Do Not Spend When You Are Sad</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/pay-attention">Pay attention</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living saving spending wasting money Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1288493 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Buys That Will Be Cheaper in 2015 http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-pumping-gas-thumbs-up-Dollarphotoclub_59630807.jpg" alt="man pumping gas" title="man pumping gas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>2015 is shaping up to be a great year.</p> <p>While economists agree that the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/great-recession.asp">Great Recession was officially over back in 2009</a>, you may not have felt the benefits until recently. But thanks to a stronger dollar and lower commodity prices, several industries now have a cost advantage and are ready to pass on those savings to us consumers.</p> <p>Here are the eight things that will be cheaper in 2015.</p> <h2>1. Gasoline</h2> <p>As a resident of the notoriously expensive state of Hawaii, I couldn't be more ecstatic about this news! U.S. gasoline prices ended 2014 at their <a href="http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19471">lowest levels since May 2009</a>. And they might be about to drop even lower. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2015 the average price per gallon will be about $2.60 (the average in 2014 was about $2.71). Some states are expected to enjoy per gallon prices below the $2 mark. As of December 2014, some gas stations in Texas were selling <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/05/news/texas-gas-prices/">gas at $1.89 and $1.99 per gallon</a>.</p> <h2>2. Air Travel</h2> <p>The benefits of falling fuel prices are trickling down to other industries, among them the airline industry. Carrier companies are likely to <a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2015/01/12/will-airfares-drop-cheaper-oil/">cut the average flight's ticket price by 5% in 2015</a>. However, don't expect this price drop to happen right away. Airlines are experiencing healthy demand from consumers and are still tied up with fuel contracts at old prices. Due to this, economists suggest that it will take about six months for airfares to drop. Some analysts predict that flights leaving from <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/expedia-predict-cheaper-plane-tickets-in-2015-2014-12">Dallas, Washington, and Tampa</a> could experience the biggest drops from last year's prices (-11.2%, -6.7%, and -5.9% respectively).</p> <h2>3. Bacon</h2> <p>Bringing home the bacon just got easier: Experts expect <a href="http://restfinance.com/Restaurant-Finance-Across-America/September-2014/Food-Prices-Should-Get-Better-Except-For-Beef/">prices to fall 15% to 17% in 2015</a>. I know what you're thinking, &quot;How do I go about becoming a bacon expert?&quot; But let's keep on topic. Due to moderate corn prices, the pork and poultry markets will be able to lower the prices of several products, including cheese, chicken breasts &mdash; and yes, bacon.</p> <h2>4. Milk</h2> <p>There are two reasons why you can expect lower milk prices this 2015. First, <a href="http://www.agweb.com/article/how-russia-us-milk-ban-affects-markets-nate-birt/">Russia's ban on U.S. milk imports</a> is forcing producers to find other buyers. Keep in mind that milk is a perishable item, so this puts pressure on them to accept lower prices. Second, the lower price of corn, used in the feeding of cows, is boosting per-cow milk output to record levels. U.S. dairies are expected to reach production levels of <a href="http://www.agweb.com/article/wasde-more-milk-fewer-exports-lower-prices-in-2015-catherine-merlo/">212.8 billion pounds of milk</a> in 2015, a 6.7 billion pound increase from 2014 levels. This excess supply means lower milk prices for you.</p> <h2>5. Smart watches</h2> <ul> <li>2013 gave us the Samsung Galaxy Gear.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>2014 revealed to us the Apple Watch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>2015 will give us a bigger and cheaper selection of smart watches.</li> </ul> <p>While the Apple Watch looks very cool, its expected $349 price tag may turn off price-sensitive customers. That's why Chinese equipment manufacturers are racing to capture the wearables market by producing <a href="http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2848817">Android-based smart watches with retail prices as low as $30</a>. This aggressive pricing strategy is bound to drive down the price of existing <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/5/7490483/alcatel-onetouch-watch-hands-on-ces-2015">Android-based smart watches below $150</a>.</p> <h2>6. Cloud Storage</h2> <p>If you're currently paying for your cloud storage, you probably loved seeing <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/article/2486931/cloud-computing/amazon-and-microsoft-drop-cloud-storage-prices-by-up-to-50-.html">Microsoft and Amazon dropping their cloud storage prices by up to 50%</a>. In August 2014, Dropbox reduced the price of <a href="https://blog.dropbox.com/2014/08/introducing-more-powerful-dropbox-pro/">1TB storage to $9.99 per month</a>. Then later in October, <a href="https://blog.onedrive.com/office-365-onedrive-unlimited-storage/">Microsoft rolled out unlimited cloud storage to its Office 365 subscribers</a>.</p> <p>Cloud storage's race to zero, as in $0, is on. Take advantage of these falling prices, but make sure to keep your data safe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-critical-steps-to-protect-your-data-in-the-cloud?ref=seealso">10 Critical Steps to Protect Your Data in the Cloud</a>)</p> <h2>7. New Homes</h2> <p>Most analysts agree that <a href="http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2014/11/update-more-2015-housing-forecasts.html">new home sales will be above the 500,000 mark in 2015</a>. That means that builders need to come up with about 50,000 new homes from existing inventory from the Great Recession era. One opinion is that builders are going to <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/12/18/housing-outlook-2015-11-predictions-from-the-experts/2/">sell fewer expensive new homes</a> to be able to come up with that inventory. These new homes are often packaged with eased credit conditions for buyers with moderate credit scores. As the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2014/11/25/housing-price-gains-slow-for-9th-straight-month-says-spcase-shiller/">prices of homes are plateauing around the country</a> and new inventory becomes available, 2015 may be a good year to acquire a home.</p> <h2>8. Gold</h2> <p>What goes up, must come down. And gold is not an exception.</p> <p>Gold is often used as a commodity to hedge against rising prices. Given that there are so many industries set to enjoy cost breaks throughout 2015, there are fewer concerns about inflation, thus reducing demand for gold. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-23/cheaper-oil-putting-gold-out-of-job-as-an-inflation-hedge.html">Goldman Sachs forecasts gold prices to drop $1,050 by December 2015</a>, while SocGen expects a price of $950 in 2015's Q4.</p> <p>To put things in perspective, the price of gold peaked at $1,923.70 an ounce in 2011. If there was ever a good time to pick up gold, it would be 2015.</p> <p>So, the next time somebody tells you about the &quot;good ol' days,&quot; you have eight reasons to let them know that the good ol' days for consumers are here now.</p> <p><em>Which price drops are you looking forward to the most this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015">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-4"> <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/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy">Do These 8 Things to Profit From the Improving Economy</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/why-you-shouldnt-stress-too-much-about-spending-money">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Stress Too Much About Spending Money</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/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money">13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending 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/this-is-how-you-stop-online-impulse-spending">This Is How You Stop Online Impulse Spending</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/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Economy income prices spending Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:00:03 +0000 Damian Davila 1280355 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing You Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girls-friends-shopping-Dollarphotoclub_68908168.jpg" alt="girls friends shopping" title="girls friends shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our friends are some of the most important people in our lives. But have you ever considered the impact they have on your finances?</p> <p>Some friends can suck money from your wallet, even if they don't intend to. And because they're your friends, you may not even notice. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-neighbors-that-are-costing-you-money?ref=seealso">10 Types of Neighbors Who Are Costing You Money</a>)</p> <p>Consider whether yours fall into any of these categories of friends that cost you money.</p> <h2>1. The Leech</h2> <p>He's more than just cheap. He's a moocher. He's always asking to borrow money. He raids your fridge, and if you go out to eat, he always insists on paying just half the check &mdash; even if he ordered more. He wants you to spot him his share of the monthly rent and promises to pay you back &mdash; but you know he won't. He'll even &quot;borrow&quot; books and DVDs that you'll never see again. You need to draw a hard line on what you'll do for this friend. Otherwise, you'll both end up suffering financially.</p> <h2>2. The Big Spender</h2> <p>If you go to a baseball game together, they insist on getting tickets behind home plate instead of in the bleachers. When you suggest a weekend of camping, they push for a week of skiing in Aspen. Perhaps this friend is wealthy and has a good chunk of disposable income. Or, perhaps they just love to spend and hate to save. Either way, keeping up with their lifestyle is making you go broke. You like this friend because you enjoy his or her company, but you must politely find a way to spend time with them on more frugal terms.</p> <h2>3. The Bad Association</h2> <p>He's always getting in trouble, and you're often dragged in his wake. He's the guy who shows up with weed at parties, or gets into fights at clubs. You can try your best to be on the straight and narrow, but just being around him can put you at risk for legal trouble. And even if your criminal record stays clean, your social media profile might not. Think you're due for a raise at work? You better hope the boss doesn't see the drunken Instagram pic your friend tagged you in.</p> <h2>4. The Awful Entrepreneur</h2> <p>She always has a new idea for something that will change the world, and all she needs is some money to get it off the ground. Maybe it's a new mobile app to help you brush your teeth, or a new restaurant specializing in gourmet scrambled eggs. You admire her entrepreneurial spirit, but the truth is that she has neither the business sense nor the dedication to get rich from any of these schemes. It may be tempting to lend money to friends for their business ventures, but don't let your friendship skew your assessment of whether the investment makes good financial sense.</p> <h2>5. The Philanthropist</h2> <p>This month, he's running in a marathon to raise money for cancer research. Next month, he's seeking donations for a local homeless shelter. He's a generous soul &mdash; and that's great! But it's important that you don't feel pressured to donate every time he comes around. You must find a way to gently tell your friend that you can't pony up cash every time he's supporting something. Keep in mind that it's possible to support his cause without giving money. For instance, consider volunteering your time to the charity in question, instead.</p> <h2>6. The Celebrator</h2> <p>I had an old friend from college who would plan parties and outings for the most innocuous of reasons. While most of us grew older and let our birthdays pass with little fanfare, he was still planning annual trips to Las Vegas well into his 30s. His over-celebrating was often excessive, but the truth is that this is something many of us fall prey to. We celebrate the new job, the promotion, the graduation from pre-school. We reward ourselves with a dinner out just because &quot;we've had a tough week.&quot; Resist the urge to celebrate every single life event, and politely beg out of those outings to which you've been invited.</p> <h2>7. The Extravagant Gift Giver</h2> <p>It's Christmas Day and you bought gifts for all of the people on your list. But then a friend arrives with expensive items for you and your entire family. Now you're on the hook to reciprocate, even if you feel like you're not close enough with this person to be exchanging gifts every year. This is a tricky situation, as it hardly seems civil to complain about a friend's generosity. But there are polite ways to nudge the person away from giving gifts. If they still insist on giving, reciprocate by inviting them to dinner or finding a tasteful but inexpensive item.</p> <h2>8. The Spending Enabler</h2> <p>So you're on the fence about whether to buy the 45-inch flat screen TV or the 70-inch monster. On one shoulder is the little Frugal Angel, telling you to buy the smaller one, or even pass on buying altogether. One the other is your friend, telling you how much you deserve the behemoth. She may mean well, but she's always pushing you to spend more. &quot;Go for it,&quot; she'll say. &quot;You work hard. Don't be afraid to spoil yourself.&quot; Never listen to the Enabling Devil.</p> <h2>9. The Early Adopter</h2> <p>This is the guy who stands in line at the Apple Store every time a new phone is released. He's the first to get every new gadget or technology out there. Hanging out with this friend can make you feel pressured to keep up. But keep in mind that Early Adopters rarely get the best deals. Don't let your friend's love of the shiny new thing influence your own buying decisions.</p> <h2>10. The Gambler</h2> <p>With this friend, a casual game of poker always seems to turn into a scene from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6305268789/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=6305268789&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WAXMZ27ZVOTHQLAT">Rounders</a>. His &quot;friendly&quot; fantasy football league just offers another chance for big chunks of money to change hands. He's always betting on something, and all too often you find yourself opening up your wallet to join the fun. Resist the urge to bet big bucks on things every time you hang out with this friend. You'll be better off financially (and your blood pressure may improve as well.)</p> <p><em>Do you have any &quot;friends&quot; like these? How do you deal with friends that are costing you money?</em></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/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-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-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">10 Money-Saving New Year&#039;s Goals That You Can Actually Keep</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-nice-ways-to-tell-your-spendy-friends-youre-staying-on-budget">7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You&#039;re Staying on Budget</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/financial-tricks-to-master-for-a-happier-life">Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life</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/when-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-dodge-peer-pressure-to-spend">5 Ways to Dodge Peer Pressure to Spend</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle Personal Development borrowing friends gambling saving spending Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1278625 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Money-Saving New Year's Goals That You Can Actually Keep http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-thinking-piggy-bank-Dollarphotoclub_41216910.jpg" alt="woman thinking piggy bank" title="woman thinking piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Can you believe it's almost 2015? I certainly can't, but I'm already mulling over my resolutions list for the coming year. After the parties end, the champagne is served, and the ball drops, some of us have some major catching up to do financially. So, here are 10 money-saving goals to ring in the new year.</p> <h2>1. Start Cooking</h2> <p>Getting a hot meal on the dinner table is difficult during the week, and often we used to resort to ordering pizza or eating out, spending way over our food budget each month. Taking a few extra minutes to pack lunch at night can save $10 or more per day. Set a goal this year to cook more with the food you have on hand. Meal planning is the key here, so get out your favorite recipes and cookbooks and write a plan for the week. You can shave dollars off your grocery bill by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">learning which ingredients</a> give you more bang for your buck, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-eat-well-on-just-20-a-week-with-meal-plans?ref=seealso">How to Eat Well on Just $20 a Week</a>)</p> <h2>2. DIY Your Pantry</h2> <p>And if you're interested in learning to cook, consider extending the fun to your pantry. Making your own ingredients at home is both fun and frugal (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-grocery-items-you-should-make-at-home-and-5-to-buy">here's how</a>). You can take your cooking and baking skills to another level and also eat healthier foods when you control their ingredients. And without all the packaging and store markups, you'll be taking more than a few pennies off the cost.</p> <h2>3. Take a &quot;No New Clothing&quot; Challenge</h2> <p>I challenged myself to stop buying new clothes for an entire year back in 2010. It was hard, but in the end I got used to working with what I already own. It helps to have a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe">minimalist wardrobe</a> to begin with, and the rest is self control and avoiding fashion trends. You will definitely save some major bucks if you can curb your regular spending &mdash; and you don't have to eschew purchases altogether. Consider reducing your yearly clothing expense by ⅓ to start.</p> <h2>4. Track Your (Actual) Spending</h2> <p>Most of us have a budget, at least in theory &mdash; but few of us know precisely where the money goes. Start the year off right by recalculating your monthly totals and tracking your spending. Not only does this exercise help you be more mindful with your money, but it also allows you to see where you can cut and save. While you're at it, make sure there aren't any stray bills hitting your account (old subscriptions, unused gym memberships, etc.), and you might see savings right away. Use tools like Mint to track your progress. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money?ref=seealso">10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money</a>)</p> <h2>5. Organize Yourself</h2> <p>Getting my house (and my life) better organized is one of my personal goals for this year. And there are lots of areas of focus here. For example, by keeping better track of your mail, you'll have fewer unpaid bills and late fees. By cleaning your pantry and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-you-maximize-fridge-and-freezer-space">organizing your refrigerator</a>, you'll have less food spoilage and waste. Neatly folding and hanging clothes will allow you to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">wash them less often </a>and save money on both resources (electricity, water, etc.) and new clothing purchases. The list goes on.</p> <h2>6. Get Fit</h2> <p>Many gyms see a traffic surge of <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/01/this-is-why-you-dont-go-to-the-gym/251332/">up to 50%</a> in January, only to find a steep decline after those origination payments are made. Skip the pricey gym and workout at home. Jogging and walking are virtually free, so sign up for a 5K or join a neighborhood runner's club. And there are many other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">types of body weight routines</a> you can do &mdash; for free &mdash; right in the comfort of your living room. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-online-workout-videos-for-free-or-cheap?ref=seealso">7 Online Workout Videos for Free or Cheap</a>)</p> <h2>7. Lean Out TV</h2> <p>Along with getting more active and exercising regularly, you can also cancel your cable subscription. In fact, the average cable bill could hit a staggering <a href="http://time.com/money/2987833/comcast-cancel-ryan-block-time-warner-att-directv-cable-bill-save/">$123 per month</a> this year. Without hundreds of channels at your disposal, you might feel more inclined to get off the couch and get moving. You'll have more time for other areas of your life, like cooking and organizing. If you just have to watch, consider alternatives like Hulu and Netflix, which allow you to be more intentional with your time and conservative with your dollars.</p> <h2>8. Clip Coupons</h2> <p>I'm sure you've heard stories of people walking into the store and leaving with several carts full of stuff for $0. While stories like these sound extreme, learning to clip coupons can mean <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/couponing-hobby-or-lifestyle">an entire lifestyle</a> of savings. And if you play your cards right, you can indeed see some impressive rewards. Try paying it forward by sharing your loot &mdash; here are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-places-to-donate-extra-goods-from-couponing">13 places to donate extra goods from couponing</a>.</p> <h2>9. Simplify Your Routine</h2> <p>Women spend an estimated <a href="http://www.today.com/health/stop-obsessing-women-waste-2-weeks-year-their-appearance-today-2D12104866">55 minutes each day</a> on their looks (that calculates to around two weeks per year!). And not only that, but think of all the money spent on manicures, pedicures, haircuts, colors, and other spa treatments that pile up monthly. Men aren't immune either. You can greatly simplify your routine and use fewer chemical-laden soaps and creams by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-amazing-easy-diy-bath-and-body-products">making some of your own</a> bath and body products.</p> <h2>10. Go Debt Free</h2> <p>If you're able, try <a href="http://www.johnnymoneyseed.com/debt-free/guide-becoming-really-really-ridiculously-debt-free/">going debt free</a> this year &mdash; you may not erase all your debt in 12 months, but you'll make important progress and transform your money mindset. Start by listing all your debts, interest rates, and any other pertinent information. Set payoff goals that are measurable and attainable. Sink funds into those balances starting with the highest APRs and work your way down. Trade in or sell your high ticket items to help pay off debt in larger chunks. And stick with it because &mdash; seriously &mdash; being debt free is totally, completely awesome. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-false-assumptions-about-debt-free-living?ref=seealso">6 False Assumptions About Debt-Free Living</a>)</p> <p><em>What money-savings goals do you have for 2015?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-saving-new-years-goals-that-you-can-actually-keep">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-6"> <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/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money">10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing 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-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</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/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</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/7-nice-ways-to-tell-your-spendy-friends-youre-staying-on-budget">7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You&#039;re Staying on Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Personal Development cost cutting goals resolutions saving spending Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1272418 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-woman-calculating-bills-Dollarphotoclub_51139826.jpg" alt="happy woman calculating bills" title="happy woman calculating bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finance rules can serve as handy means for guiding your money behavior. But rules of thumb that don't fit your situation can be a waste of time &mdash; or worse, actually worsen your finances. Here are 15 personal finance rules that, depending upon your circumstances, you should consider breaking.</p> <h2>1. Before Investing or Saving for Retirement, Be Debt-Free</h2> <p>Although this is a generally sound rule, there are a few justifications for breaking it.</p> <p>First of all, personal finance isn't an all-or-nothing practice. Good financial planning involves balance and attentiveness to your unique situation. If your debt is low-interest, it might behoove you to pay it off more slowly in favor of saving money first (such as for retirement or major expenses). Remember: compound interest has immense value, so the more money you can invest earlier in life, the less money you'll have to invest overall. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-most-important-financial-lessons-people-learn-in-their-20s-did-you?ref=seealso">The 5 Most Important Financial Lessons People Learn in Their 20s</a>).</p> <p>Also, if your company matches 401(k) retirement plan contributions, it almost always pays to save for retirement, even if you're concurrently juggling debt. Though it can be tempting to forego 401(k) contributions when your paycheck is lean, remember that you're leaving money on the table and jeopardizing your future financial security if you do. Plus, some retirement plan contributions are tax deductible, so you can use your tax refund towards your debt.</p> <p>Lastly, if you wait until you're entirely out of debt, you may never start investing. For various reasons (none of which we recommend, of course), some people are practically never able to extricate themselves from the clutches of debt. Maybe your income is low and expenses too high, or perhaps you unexpectedly lost your job or had large, unexpected medical bills to contend with. If you're one of these people, then it's best to start setting aside a little money now and balance your cash outflows between debt payment and investing. I have a friend who is in her 60s with no savings whatsoever. Why? Because she always had debt to contend with, and spent a lifetime waiting until it was clear before saving money. Now, she's in trouble.</p> <h2>2. Pay off Your Mortgage Before Saving for Retirement</h2> <p>This builds on the above rule about eliminating debt before investing. I had some clients who were so intent on paying off their mortgage that they did it at the expense of everything else in their lives, including retirement savings and emergency funds. They thought if something went wrong and they needed money, they could borrow against their house (even in retirement). But when tough times hit, their house had declined in value and they couldn't borrow anywhere near the amount of money they needed.</p> <h2>3. Don't Borrow Money to Invest</h2> <p>Borrowing money to invest is known as leveraging, and is generally considered risky &mdash; if your investment declines in value, you've still got a full debt-load and a disproportionately low asset to show for it.</p> <p>However if the item/investment is tax-deductible, and/or loan is low-interest (which might also be tax deductible), such that the tax saved equals more than the interest paid on the loan, you can work this scenario to your benefit and use your refunds to pay off your debt more efficiently. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/borrowing-to-invest-helpful-or-hurtful?ref=seealso">Borrowing to Invest: Helpful or Hurtful?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Save 10% of Your Income</h2> <p>This is a somewhat arbitrary rule, since 10% may or may not be enough for you to reach your savings goals. Focus on the amount of money you need saved in the end and work backwards from there; you may need to break this rule if you've waited so long to start saving that 10% won't help you reach your goal, or if you need to save more money than 10% of your income will allow.</p> <h2>5. Go to University to Get a Good Job</h2> <p>Unless you're tracking for a career that specifically requires a university degree, you could save the six figure expenditure of a university education in favor of something more practical and less expensive, such as trade schools or alternative forms of education. Not all good jobs are borne of a university education. I didn't go to university (but I am indeed educated), and in some ways it <a href="http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2012/10/how-not-going-to-university-or-buying-a-house-saved-my-life/">saved my life</a>.</p> <h2>6. Don't Use Credit Cards</h2> <p>Using credit cards responsibly can be beneficial if you're collecting <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-travel-hacking-cartel-fly-around-the-world-for-almost-free">frequent flyer miles</a> or other credit card rewards that allow you to get extra value from charging expenses. The trick is to pay the entire balance off as soon as you receive your statement; that way you don't accrue interest and you thus avoid the credit card debt trap. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-debt-management?ref=seealso">Financial IQ Test: How Healthy is Your Debt Management?</a>)</p> <h2>7. Get the Biggest Mortgage the Bank Will Give You</h2> <p>What the bank will lend you and how much mortgage you can afford can be two very different things. The bank only takes your income and existing debts (and sometimes assets) into account when calculating the mortgage you can qualify for. What about your cash flow, expenditures, and the additional costs of home ownership, like maintenance, property tax, etc?</p> <p>Depending on the area you live, real estate might be easily affordable or prohibitively expensive. Don't let the bank lure you into a mortgage larger than you can truly afford, because ultimately they win if you can't make payments.</p> <h2>8. Tax Refunds Are Good</h2> <p>Tax refunds mean the government is holding onto your money (and earning interest on it) during the course of the year! I had a client who loved to get tax refunds so much that she deliberately overpaid her taxes each year through payroll just so she could get a refund, which she inevitably squandered since she saw it as &quot;found money.&quot;</p> <p>Consider selecting fewer exemptions on your tax forms at work. You won't get a fat tax refund in the end, but you'll have more money in your pocket now, and will be less likely to splurge than you would with the &quot;found money&quot; of a refund.</p> <h2>9. Build Credit by Carrying a Balance With Your Credit Card</h2> <p>This rule is just plain wrong. You build a good credit rating by using &mdash; and paying off &mdash; your credit card. You don't need to carry a balance.</p> <h2>10. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money</h2> <p>Unless you have disposable cash to spend, this rule reeks of high-risk business offers, gambling, and mail-order scams. Although sometimes a prudent investment (in a business or financial vehicle) can reap rewards, don't use this phrase as a rule of thumb for <em>your personal finances</em>.</p> <h2>11. A Budget Keeps Your Spending on Track</h2> <p>I wish it did, but unless you're unnaturally disciplined, it often it doesn't. Budgets are more often than not made of abstract categories with arbitrary amounts of money that don't account for things like irregular expenses, quarterly payments, and other elements.</p> <p>More important than a budget (and an essential first step to creating a workable budget) is keeping track of your expenses so you actually know what you spend. The longer you keep track of your expenses, the better you can understand and control your spending. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget?ref=seealso">Financial IQ Test: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a>)</p> <h2>12. Choose Index Funds for Passive Investing</h2> <p>Although index funds carry lower management fees than mutual funds, this is for a reason: They are not actively managed. Although active management doesn't guarantee higher returns, it can help with asset allocation, re-balancing, and other investment activities you may not wish to undertake yourself.</p> <p>When choosing investments, instead first focus on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/asset-allocation-for-all-markets">asset allocation</a> (which is the biggest factor affecting your returns &mdash; not investment picking as you might suspect), then choose a basket of diversified investments that satisfy your asset allocation plan. (For more information on mutual funds and index funds, see: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mutual-funds-for-wise-bloggers?ref=seealso">Mutual Funds for Wise Bloggers</a>).</p> <h2>13. You Need to Have a lot of Money to Invest</h2> <p>How do you think people who have a lot of money got it (if they weren't born into it)? They saved &mdash; and invested! Don't belittle your own finances by thinking you don't deserve to invest or don't deserve the help of a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-you-need-to-fire-your-financial-planner">financial planner</a> because you don't have money. You have start somewhere, and you can start investing with as little as $25/month.</p> <h2>14. Your Emergency Fund Should Be Six Months' Expenses</h2> <p>While this is an apt rule of thumb, depending on your situation it might not be suitable. Evaluate your expenses and what would need to be paid if you found yourself in an emergency situation; you may find you need more or less, depending on various factors, such as the quality of your insurance, level of regular cash outlays, and so forth.</p> <h2>15. Leasing a Car Is Bad Value</h2> <p>The general school of thought is that leasing a car costs more (after all is said and done) than buying one outright. Depending on your situation however, this might not be true. For example, if you can deduct the car as a business expense, leasing could reduce your income and increase your cash flow more effectively than deducting the capital costs of buying a car. Also, if your business is new and cash flow is tight, leasing might get you into a necessary set of wheels for a lower monthly expenditure than buying.</p> <p><em>Have you ever broken a personal finance rule in a way that served you well? Please share in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">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-7"> <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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</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/book-review-spend-til-the-end">Book review: Spend &#039;til The End</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/the-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever">The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</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/if-youre-doing-these-5-things-your-saving-efforts-are-for-nothing">If You&#039;re Doing These 5 Things, Your Saving Efforts Are for Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting financial rules investing money rules saving spending Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:06 +0000 Nora Dunn 1269092 at http://www.wisebread.com Do These 8 Things to Profit From the Improving Economy http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-buying-home-178728490-small.jpg" alt="couple buying home" title="couple buying home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After several years of sluggish growth, it appears that the economy is getting better. Unemployment has dropped. The stock market has been setting record highs. But are you poised to take full advantage of the rebound? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-rising-interest-rates-can-help-your-wallet?ref=seealso">8 Ways Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Wallet</a>)</p> <p>Here are eight ways to position yourself for the best result once the economy kicks into high gear.</p> <h2>1. Pay Off Debt</h2> <p>If the economy is getting better and you find yourself earning more, getting rid of debt should be your first priority. The last thing you want is to miss out on an economic boom because you're handcuffed by loans and credit card bills, so pay that stuff off. And do it fast, because a good economy often comes with higher interest rates. So if you have debt, it's best to rid yourself of it before it gets pricier to pay down later.</p> <h2>2. Spend Less</h2> <p>The flipside of higher interest rates is that you'll be making more on any money you have in your bank account. So there's an incentive to save now. What's more, you may be earning more in general during strong economic times, so you have the double whammy of stashing more money into those saving and retirement accounts, plus a higher return.</p> <h2>3. Pump Those Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>There's never a truly bad time to begin investing, especially if you have a long savings window. So get started now, before stock prices get too out of hand. Consider upping your 401(k) contribution. And if you have an IRA, you have until April 15 to make contributions that count toward 2014's tax bill.</p> <h2>4. Lock In Whatever Prices You Can</h2> <p>A good economy often comes with some inflation. So it might make sense to explore ways to secure long-term price stability on items or services you use frequently. Locking in a price on a cable or mobile phone bill might make sense, and you may even be able to lock in prices on electricity and other utilities.</p> <h2>5. Build Up Your Emergency Fund</h2> <p>If you are fortunate enough to have some extra money come your way, consider using it to build up your savings to protect yourself. Opinions vary on how much liquid cash you should have socked away, but at least three months of salary is a good rule of thumb.</p> <h2>6. Consider Buying That House</h2> <p>If interest rates do go up, mortgages could get pricier. So it may be wise to try and purchase a home now while rates are still historically low. If you've been on the fence about when to buy, now may be the time.</p> <h2>7. Ask for That Raise</h2> <p>When the economy was slow, employers were loath to give out pay raises. &quot;Times are tough, we've got to tighten belts,&quot; was the common response. Now, with things improving, it's harder for your boss to make the argument that you're not worth a bump in pay. If your organization has done well financially and you feel you've played a role in that, go ahead and ask for that increase.</p> <h2>8. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile</h2> <p>If things are getting better, employers may starting looking for new hires. Take advantage of the situation by updating your online presence and doing what's necessary to look good to recruiters. If you stopped working during the downturn, maybe its time to get back into the workforce. If you hate your job, maybe now is when you find a better one. And if you like your job, it never hurts to build up your network and see what else is out there.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for a better economy? How do you plan to profit from it?</em></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/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy">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-8"> <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-reasons-why-the-us-economy-is-kicking-the-worlds-butt">9 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Kicking the World&#039;s Butt</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/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015">8 Buys That Will Be Cheaper in 2015</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/peak-debt">Peak Debt</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/why-inflation">Why Inflation?</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/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Financial News debt Economy employment growth income spending Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:10 +0000 Tim Lemke 1264105 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-buying-water-bottles-159204373-small.jpg" alt="woman buying bottled water" title="woman buying bottled water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever heard the term &quot;conscious spending&quot;? The idea revolves around being mindful with your dollars. Instead of treating your life as a restrictive budgeting experience, you have a handle on where your money is going and an awareness as to the value (monetary and emotional, etc.) you're getting from your purchases. The thing is, too many of us are spending zombies. We don't think about it; we just spend it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-never-succumb-to-impulse-spending-again?ref=seealso">How to Never Succumb to Impulse Spending Again</a>)</p> <p>Here are some sneaky ways you (and I) are spending money.</p> <h2>1. Bottled Beverages</h2> <p>Beverages are a huge money waster for my husband. He enjoys coffee, craft beer, smoothies, and even bottled water. I added up how much we spent on drinks one month and the total was a staggering $100. Needless to say, we've learned to love our tap.</p> <h2>2. Magazine Subscriptions</h2> <p>Here's my vice. I love magazines, but I rarely find the time to read them with everything going on in our lives. The other problem I've had with subscriptions is that some of them have automatically renewed without me realizing it. Though the expense might not be great, it's still dollars out of my pocket.</p> <h2>3. Supplements</h2> <p>Between protein powder, extra vitamins, and all other types of supplements, you might be spending a pretty penny on health-related items. Thing is, not all claims have been proven, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multivitamins-arent-as-good-as-you-think-eat-these-real-foods-instead">multivitamins might not be as good for you as you think</a>. Eating a whole foods diet can often give the same benefit with less financial backlash.</p> <h2>4. Entertainment</h2> <p>No, I'm not going to tell you to become a friendless hermit to save money. However, many of us blow cash every weekend on movies, concerts, and other events when there are plenty of cheap or free things to do. All it takes is a look at the local calendar and some imagination. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend?ref=seealso">47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>5. Energy</h2> <p>We all want to stay warm in the winter chill or cool in the summer heat, but many of us could use an energy audit. Cracks in windows, gaps in doors, and old thermostats could literally be sucking the change from your bank account. To start, try these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">seven ways to lower your winter energy costs</a> &mdash; you could save hundreds of dollars this way.</p> <h2>6. Online Shopping</h2> <p>If you've stored your credit card information on your favorite online shop, you could be getting more than you bargained for, quite literally. All those emails and social media messages broadcasting &quot;big deals&quot; might send you flying over all too often to buy things you may or may not need &mdash; and it often takes just one click. Online shopping certainly has its merits, but make it harder by entering your pay information by hand, giving yourself a few extra minutes to consider your purchases.</p> <h2>7. Clothing</h2> <p>Closely related to online shopping is clothing itself. While it's fun to keep up with the latest style trends, it can add up quickly. Soon you have a closet of clothes you wear infrequently. I used to spend hundreds on clothes each year, and nothing was getting good use. Now? I've switched to a more minimalist wardrobe, and I look smart while spending in a savvy way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe?ref=seealso">8 Essentials for Your Capsule Wardrobe</a>)</p> <h2>8. Food</h2> <p>We all have had that moment at the grocery checkout when the total has made our jaws drop. And, generally speaking, many of us are spending far too much money on food and restaurants. There are some opportunities for improvement, though. Shopping at discount grocers like Aldi can help. So can creating a solid meal plan and buying only the ingredients you need, which can also save your food from spoiling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list?ref=seealso">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Grocery List</a>)</p> <h2>9. Grocery Add-Ons</h2> <p>It's true &mdash; those impulse items continue to get us almost every time. Resist the urge to add candy, gum, and even cigarettes to your order in the checkout line. Skip those lottery tickets that usually yield very little in return. Other add-ons include anything and everything store managers choose to stock by the register. Put your blinders on, if necessary, because every little bit helps.</p> <h2>10. ATM Fees</h2> <p>Sure, it might not seem like a lot in the moment when you need cash. But &mdash; over time &mdash; those <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/09/29/ap-survey-atm-checking-account-overdraft-fees-surge/16392783/">$4 ATM fees</a> will suck you dry. To avoid them, try to think ahead for when you'll need paper money. Then, always aim for a fee-free ATM (usually the bank where you hold a checking account) or actually going to your bank to get out the dollars you need.</p> <p><em>Any other mindless spends I've overlooked? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-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-9"> <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/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today">13 Dumb Little Purchases You Need to Stop Making Today</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/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</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/making-every-penny-count-with-a-zero-based-budget">Making Every Penny Count With A Zero-Based 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-to-have-an-above-average-life-for-below-average-prices">How to Have an Above-Average Life for Below-Average Prices</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-never-succumb-to-impulse-spending-again">How to Never Succumb to Impulse Spending Again</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting mindless spending spending wasteful spending Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:00:08 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1260488 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways Your Credit Card Benefits Will Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-your-credit-card-benefits-will-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-your-credit-card-benefits-will-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-credit-card-shopping-505623027-small.jpg" alt="woman credit card shopping" title="woman credit card shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the words of Anna from Frozen, &quot;Wait! What?&quot; Credit cards can actually save you money? Yes, they can if you know how to use them correctly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso">13 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About</a>)</p> <p>Here are seven ways your credit card can save you money.</p> <h2>1. Travel Benefits</h2> <p>You know how little travel expenses add up and how much can go wrong in the course of travel. When you book your trip and while you travel, your credit card can do a lot of heavy lifting to make sure you get the most out of your travel dollars. Some cards carry airport lounge and destination lounge benefits. For example, while I was visiting Disney World, my credit card gave me access to a lounge at Epcot that was well-stocked with drinks, snacks, pumping air-conditioning, and comfortable seating that saved me money and made my 95-degree day at Epcot much more enjoyable.</p> <p>Other travel benefits many cards offer include free checked baggage, priority boarding, zero foreign transactions fees, travel and luggage protection, and more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>2. Purchasing Benefits</h2> <p>Ever buy an item and accidentally break it shortly thereafter? Many cards provide <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-credit-card-will-save-you-money-while-holiday-shopping">purchase protection</a> that will reimburse the cost of a broken or stolen item. They may also have return protection, so if a retailer rejects a return I attempt to make, my card issuer will refund the purchase price directly to my card. Of course, there's also the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer">extended warranty benefit</a>, which doubles the manufacturer warranty. There are restrictions and limitations, of course, but I've found these benefits to be extremely generous and they've saved me hundreds of dollars a year.</p> <h2>3. Rewards Programs</h2> <p>If you regularly shop at a specific retailer or in a particular category, it's worth investigating cards that offer rewards for those purchases. Whether it's a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/store-credit-cards-that-dont-suck">store-branded credit card</a> or cards that offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-gas-rewards-credit-cards">extra rewards for gas</a>, you might find that you can rack up savings without doing anything extra besides swiping the right card at checkout. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <h2>4. Fraud Protection</h2> <p>Unfortunately not all the purchases we make live up to their hype. Even the smartest shoppers can occasionally get stuck with a lemon or be a victim of this type of fraud. For example, when I left D.C. for Virginia to go to business school, I hired movers. When they had moved all of my stuff out of my apartment, they threatened to leave it all in the middle of the street unless I authorized an additional $300 charge that wasn't in the contract. I immediately phoned my card issuer's customer service. The service agent advised me to give them my card number and then dispute the charge. I followed the agent's instructions and my credit card fought the moving company on my behalf. The charge was completely refunded to my card.</p> <h2>5. Cash Back Benefits</h2> <p>Many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">cash back rewards programs</a> have a tiered system. For example, some offer double or triple points for spending in categories such as groceries or gas. If a lot of your spending occurs in these categories, these cash back programs are an excellent value for you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-rewards-credit-cards-really-work?ref=seealso">How Rewards Cards Really Work</a>)</p> <h2>6. Tax Time Organization</h2> <p>No one enjoys sorting receipts during tax time, especially business owners and freelancers. To make it easy on myself, I put as much business spend as possible on a credit card. At the end of the year, I get an itemized annual statement that I turn over to my accountant who does my tax return. My year-end statement also gives me a lot of information that shows me an annual view of my spend by purchase category. I use this information to figure out areas where I can cut spending the following year.</p> <h2>7. Special Offer Benefits</h2> <p>Credit card companies occasionally have special offers just for cardmembers. This could include presale tickets for special events like theater and concert tickets, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-discover-it-card-attractive-cash-back-awards-for-shoppers">shopping bonuses or discounts at specific retailers</a>, and members only sales and coupons. Sometimes these are ongoing benefits on the card and sometimes they're limited time offers. You will typically receive an email blast or a notification in your monthly statement so make sure to stay alert to those so you don't miss these opportunities.</p> <p>Credit cards get a bad rap by many consumer advocates. If used wisely, they can protect you and your budget. Have your credit card benefits ever saved you money? Please share your stories in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Does your credit card save you money? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-your-credit-card-benefits-will-save-you-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-10"> <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/frugal-tip-do-not-spend-when-you-are-sad">Frugal Tip: Do Not Spend When You Are Sad</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/50-ways-to-save-money-on-clothing">50 Ways to Update Your Wardrobe for Cheap</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/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</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/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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-26000-in-5-years-or-less">How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit card benefits saving shopping spending Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:09 +0000 Christa Avampato 1260295 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware of These 5 Signs You're Becoming Less Frugal http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-5-signs-youre-becoming-less-frugal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-of-these-5-signs-youre-becoming-less-frugal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-jean-shopping-177832511-small.jpg" alt="woman jean shopping" title="woman jean shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There comes a point in every careful spender's life when they've become so darn good at this whole frugality thing that they no longer need to track their finances so strictly. It's not that they've earned the right to splurge, but rather they've earned themselves a little leeway in those shoestring spending habits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money?ref=seealso">47 Simple Ways to Waste Money</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our round-up of the sure-fire signs that you've mastered the trade of frugal living &mdash; and won the right to let loose.</p> <h2>1. You Pass Up on Couponing</h2> <p>It used to be that you'd dine out only with coupons in hand. But lately you've been choosing restaurants by choice rather than special offer. Because where's the joy in a good deal if you're not getting what you want? You're still getting your bang for your buck by skipping the appetizers and ordering dishes that make for great leftovers, only now you're enjoying the added bonus of eating where and what you're in the mood for.</p> <p>Passing up on couponing isn't just a sign of becoming less frugal, it's also a sign of the times. No matter your financial situation, there's less reason to use coupons today more than ever. <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/02/28/why-americans-are-cutting-coupons-out-of-their-lives/">Coupons for restaurant meals and groceries have dropped off by 7%</a> in recent years, research shows. At the same time, there's been an increase in the number of coupons for items that consumers are less likely to need on a regular basis, like cough drops or wall paint. Not only that, but coupons are also becoming less generous, offering smaller discounts.</p> <h2>2. You've Revamped Your Budget</h2> <p>Your original penny-wise budget included the leanest figures ever. But after careful consideration, you've decided to up the ante and allow yourself a little breathing room. You know, for Sunday afternoon ice cream cones and such.</p> <p>&quot;<a href="http://yoprowealth.com/do-you-need-a-budget/">Living on a strict budget is not fun</a>,&quot; advises R. Joseph Ritter, Jr., president of Zacchaeus Financial Counseling. &quot;Trying to make it work for a long time is emotionally draining. Intentionally build a small expense in the budget for a weekend away, new gadget, or some other reward that doesn't kill the budget. Anticipating a trip or new purchase takes the drudgery out of budgeting.&quot;</p> <h2>3. You're Buying Berries Again</h2> <p>The $7 price tag used to faze you, but now you're recalculating the cost versus health benefits of a pint of blueberries.</p> <p>&quot;Unhealthy food is indeed often more accessible and cheaper than healthy alternatives,&quot; writes Nerd Fitness blogger Taylor. &quot;Unfortunately, it's these very foods that make us unhealthy and overweight, causing all sorts of incredibly expensive medical problems down the road.&quot;</p> <p>Instead of looking at the price per calorie (&quot;I got soo many french fries, what a great deal!&quot;), Taylor suggests we seek out foods with the best price per nutrient &mdash; <a href="http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/12/27/cheap-and-healthy-food/">the greatest amount of nutrients for the least amount of money</a>. And while blueberries are usually expensive, they're one of the world's greatest natural antioxidants with countless health and body benefits. When you start realizing that healthy eating is an important investment in your future, you know you're on the right track to building a wiser budget.</p> <h2>4. You're Spending More on Things You'll Get a Lot of Use From</h2> <p>You've learned that sometimes, it's best to pay up. A good mattress, a quality pair of jeans &mdash; these are things worth spending a little extra on because you want them to last.</p> <p>&quot;Consider usage time,&quot; writes reporter Regina Lewis in a story for USA TODAY. &quot;The average American sleeps roughly a third of their lifetime. That's eight-and-half hours a night, or more than 3,000 hours a year. From that perspective, a top-of-the line memory foam mattress for <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/07/13/money-quick-tips-when-to-spend-more/2513593/">$2,000 to $3,000, seems like money well spent</a>.</p> <p>&quot;A similar case can be made for not skimping on smartphones. The average American now checks their phone 150 times a day &mdash; about once every six minutes. On a cost-per-usage basis, they're a relative steal.&quot;</p> <h2>5. You're No Longer Averse to Splitting the Bill &mdash; Even If Your Order Cost Less</h2> <p>You've realized that the people in your life are worth more than the $7 you'll save if you get separate checks at dinner. Sometimes it's easier &mdash; and more socially appealing &mdash; to split the bill down the middle, even when it means shelling out the few extra bucks.</p> <p>&quot;Life isn't necessarily about even exchanges, so it's not always going to work out to the penny,&quot; said Seattle etiquette consultant Mary Mitchell. &quot;But I think what's important is the intent of it. People who are that stingy are probably <a href="http://seattletimes.com/html/foodwine/2003847096_billsplitting22.html">stingy with their spirit</a> as well.&quot;</p> <p><em>Are you losing your frugal edge? What are the signs?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-5-signs-youre-becoming-less-frugal">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-11"> <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/3-things-that-always-always-go-over-budget">3 Things That Always, Always Go Over-Budget</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/raise-your-standard-of-living-by-focusing-your-spending">Raise your standard of living by focusing your spending</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/use-only-what-you-need">Use only what you need</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/emergency-belt-tightening">Emergency belt-tightening</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/it-takes-a-frugal-spouse-to-make-a-frugal-home">It takes a frugal spouse to make a frugal home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living budget frugality spending spendthrift Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:10 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1257594 at http://www.wisebread.com The 9 People in Your Life Who Are Keeping You Poor http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-man-family-118427363-small.jpg" alt="happy man family" title="happy man family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You don't always need any help making dumb financial choices&hellip; but these nine people might be inadvertently rooting you on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor?ref=seealso">Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Your Spouse</h2> <p>There are many ways your spouse can hurt your finances, even if she has good spending habits. For example, your spouse has no credit history because she got a full-ride scholarship to college and paid cash for her car. When you jointly apply for a home mortgage, you might be rejected for the loan or charged a higher interest rate for a joint loan due to her lack of credit history, even if your own credit is spectacular.</p> <p>The shopaholic wife driving a couple into poverty is a tired and stupid trope. In fact, hardworking spouses are often the accidental cause of financial mayhem. If a couple with kids is paying more in taxes because their double income is putting them into a higher tax bracket, they should do the math to see if it's financially more profitable for one spouse to be the stay-at-home parent. Fair warning: discovering that you're worth more to the family budget as a dependent on your husband's tax return than as a respected professional is an ego-crushing experience for wives who love their work but make less money than their husbands.</p> <p>Regardless of who stays home with the kids, it's worth running the numbers to see if a double income actually makes financial sense. My friends Katie and Marc discovered a few years ago that they were spending the equivalent of Marc's entire salary on childcare, gasoline, and other related work costs. Marc, who made less than Katie, decided to quit his job and stay home with the kids. With Katie as the sole breadwinner, they fell into a lower tax bracket, no longer needed the help of a nanny, saved on gas money, and put less wear and tear on Marc's car. As a full-time worker outside of the home, Marc was only adding $2000 a year to the family's savings. As a stay at home dad, Marc adds $17,000 to the family's budget.</p> <h2>2. Your Kid</h2> <p>Based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/tools/CRC_Calculator/default.aspx">cost to raise a child born in 2013</a> to the age of 18 is just over $245,000. Depending on your income and where you live, this number could be higher or lower, but the fact remains: having a child is the single most costly thing that most people will do in their entire lives.</p> <p>Although the high cost of having children is common knowledge to just about everyone, according to the <a href="http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html">Guttmacher Institute</a>, 51% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Although many accidental parents are happy with their unintended offspring, what this statistic says is that over 50% of American families are just winging it with their finances, and that's kind of crazy. Would these same people accidentally buy a house for $245,000?</p> <p>Okay, okay. Comparing the pleasure of parenthood to the pleasure of homeownership is like comparing apples to oranges, but I'm hard pressed to think of another $245,000 investment that more than 6.6 million families would fall into without foresight each year.</p> <p>The best thing that parents can do to ensure the financial well-being of their family is to plan their parenthood. When you have children, how many children you have, and where you raise your children all have a direct impact on family finances.</p> <h2>3. Your Parents</h2> <p>While growing up with my parents' near pathological, Scrooge-like tight-waddery was no fun, I'm grateful as an adult to have parents who saved enough for retirement. Even though the financial downturn of 2007 knocked my parents' retirement fund down by 45%, they still have enough money to live comfortably for the next 25 years. Alas, my parents are the outliers in this scenario. Many of my friends are now faced with the financial double-whammy of supporting both their kids <em>and</em> their newly poor parents.</p> <p>What I find shocking is the number of young people forced into supporting their <a href="http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f35/financially-irresponsible-parents-borrowing-my-money-and-pissing-me-off-231738/">financially</a> <a href="http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/dealing-with-a-financially-irresponsible-parent/">irresponsible</a> <a href="http://eldercare.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1196030151/m/454101482">parents</a> who live extravagantly with no thought to how they will pay the bills once they leave the job market.</p> <p>Even if you hate your parents, in <a href="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/health/NOA/30states.pdf">30 states</a> there are filial responsibility laws on the books that your mom and dad can use to force you to pay for their basic life needs, so just as it's important to have frank discussions about money with your children, it's also important to discuss financial boundaries and expectations with your parents. Instead of enabling your parents' poor spending choices by bailing them out with your hard-earned cash, you should consider asking them to meet with a financial counselor. (You can get referrals to non-profit credit counseling agencies at the <a href="http://www.nfcc.org/">National Foundation for Credit Counseling</a>).</p> <h2>4. Your Cat (or Your Dog)</h2> <p>That FREE KITTENS sign is false advertisement. Although cheaper to own than dogs, cat ownership costs <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/business/8199165-420/dogs-vs-cats-both-cost-hundreds-even-thousands-a-year-to-own.html#.VGA6xlPF8_k">between $7,760 to $15,260 per lifetime</a>, (and even more if you married my soft-hearted husband, who spends more on <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/words-sound-terrible-cat-abscess-butt-comforter-cover/">pet</a> <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/pannonica-cat-baroness/">health care</a> than his own health care every year). As with human children, if you even think there's a chance you'll end up with a pet in the near future, do your research on the real costs of owning an animal. Even &quot;budget&quot; pets like turtles cost <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/turtle-survives-raccoon-mauling-double-amputationa-bittersweet-birthday-story/">way more</a> than you might think. Making our indoor/outdoor cats into indoor only cats was one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-30000-and-helped-the-earth-at-the-same-time">best things</a> I've done for the household budget and for the health of my kitties.</p> <h2>5. Your Cleaning Lady</h2> <p>Oh, I know. The day after my cleaning lady comes is my favorite day of the week, too. But do you have support staff because you work long hours or do you have to work extra hard to pay for the entourage that cleans your house, washes your clothes, manages your money, etc&hellip; Do the math. The convenience of household help may be your golden handcuffs. My job pays $20 an hour, which means I have to work three hours to afford my cleaning lady. For me, this is a fine trade. Not only do I hate to clean my house and love my work, I couldn't clean my house as well as my cleaning lady does in three hours. That said, I would have to work 24/7 to afford the pet-sitter, the gardener, and the dry cleaner that would give me the &quot;free time&quot;&hellip; to work extra hours.</p> <h2>6. Your Employer</h2> <p>I was loyal to my old boss for way too long. He underpaid me and I let this happen because he gave me plenty of autonomy and empowered me to be the best I could be at my job. I loved my work and basked in the adulation of others who were impressed by how much I'd made out of my position. Also, I was good at living on a budget, so my quality of life outside of work was good, too.</p> <p>My freedom at work cost me plenty. Had I been paid market value, I could still have lived on a budget and socked away the extra cash in my retirement fund. Don't be afraid to ask for a raise. When I left that company, my replacement negotiated a salary that was <em>twice</em> what I had been paid for the same job. He also loved the job, but his quality of life outside of work was considerably better than mine.</p> <p>Don't be me.</p> <h2>7. Your Real Estate Agent</h2> <p>Real estate brokers are legally obligated to give information to their sellers that will help them get the best price for their home. Alas, buyers often forget that they are not their broker's only clients. In my neighborhood, the real estate market is so hot that buyers have to get pre-approval from banks. Pre-approval tells agents that a buyer who is haggling for a $420,000 price can really afford $575,000. Obviously, this can really undercut a buyer's ability to negotiate, even with the most honest of brokers.</p> <p>To get around this conflict of interest, a lot of buyers hire buyer brokers, real estate agents who supposedly work only for the best interests of the buyer. Unfortunately, buyer brokers usually get the same 3% commission cut that any other broker gets when he or she gets involved in another agent's listing, so they might encourage you to pay a higher price or close a sale quickly, moves that will benefit everyone but you, the buyer.</p> <p>If you are new to an area and don't have friends or co-workers to recommend a good agent, the <a href="http://naeba.org/">National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents</a> is a good place to find a broker who can work independently from seller's agents.</p> <p>If you are selling your home, make sure that you find a seller who specializes in your area and is willing to work to get you the best deal. I bought my first house for its sky-high asking price, before the home even went on the market, an hour after I'd toured it. The sellers were excited by the quick and pricey sale for exactly two hours. The ink wasn't even dry on my accepted offer when friends of mine offered $6000 above the asking price, unaware that the house was already off the market. Who knows how much money the house would have sold for had the seller's agent put the house on the market. Definitely more than I'd bought it for.</p> <h2>8. Your Accountant</h2> <p>My accountant specializes in creative industries. She is an expert on what tax loopholes exist for video game designers, and what screenwriters should never write off unless they really want to be audited. When my husband sold the house he co-owned with his ex-wife, I hired my accountant to advise my husband on the best way to invest the money from the sale to avoid taxes. As a fan of the Big Picture, my accountant asked to look at his old tax returns. She discovered $8000 in tax write-offs from earlier years that his old accountant had missed.</p> <p>My accountant is on the expensive side, but she's worth the money. The year before I hired her, I went to a nationally known tax accounting chain for tax help and received exactly half the return I get with my pricey accountant. It literally pays to shop around for tax help.</p> <h2>9. Your Rich Friend</h2> <p>I credit two wealthy friends for pulling me into the middle class by giving me all their nice hand-me-downs. Thank God there are still people in my life who can afford to shop retail as a hobby. While there are obvious financial benefits to having rich friends who are happy raise your standard of living, just by cleaning their house, your rich friends can also make living on a budget that much harder.</p> <p>Many <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444032404578008322908926476?mod=rss_PJ_Main&amp;mg=reno64-wsj&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10000872396390444032404578008322908926476.html%3Fmod%3Drss_PJ_Main">people would rather struggle with credit card debt</a>, than admit that they can't afford something. Peer pressure keeps people poor. It's why &quot;Keeping Up With the Joneses&quot; is still a thing. Don't be the Joneses' neighbor, and avoid rich people who care that you don't know that &quot;summer&quot; and &quot;winter&quot; are verbs.</p> <p><em>Is there someone in your life who keeps you poor? Who is it? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor">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-12"> <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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</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/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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/financial-tricks-to-master-for-a-happier-life">Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life</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/i-am-doing-well-financially-now-what">I Am Doing Well Financially. Now What?</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-ways-staying-on-budget-can-be-fun-really">9 Ways Staying on Budget Can Be Fun (Really!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting debt lifestyle spending Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:00:09 +0000 Max Wong 1255272 at http://www.wisebread.com 16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month http://www.wisebread.com/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-calculating-bills-78716592-small.jpg" alt="man calculating bills" title="man calculating bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What would you do with an extra $100 in your pocket? Think of a good answer fast, because if you follow the below tips this month, that's exactly what you'll have.</p> <h2>Trim the Fat on Groceries</h2> <p>The average family of four spends between <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/01/grocery-costs-for-family/2104165/">$146 to $289 a week</a> on groceries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We spend around $75 per week for a family of three, and whenever I'm looking to save some money, I hit this area first because I know I can still eat well for less.</p> <h3>1. Plan Your Meals</h3> <p>Meal planning can help you make use of the ingredients you buy and eliminate food waste. Start by digging deep into those cabinets and freezer bins. Make a list of what you already have and then consult cookbooks and online recipes for simple meals for the week. From there, make a concise list of what you need and stick to the list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-budget-friendly-meals-everyone-should-know-how-to-make?ref=seealso">10 Budget-Friendly Meals Everyone Should Know How to Make</a>)</p> <h3>2. Shop at Discounters</h3> <p>Evaluate your store options and see if discount shopping is for you. We switched to shopping at Aldi one month and immediately saw a <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2014/03/grocery-budget-month-report.html">$100 reduction</a> in our food bill costs (around $25 savings each week on average). If you're single and smart about shopping, you could eat well on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-eat-well-on-just-20-a-week-with-meal-plans">just $20 this week</a>. Don't want to switch stores? Try adding these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 frugal items</a> to your organic grocery list or switching to generic/store brands.</p> <h3>3. Cook in Bulk</h3> <p>You can save both time and money with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend">assembly or bulk cooking</a>. This idea takes meal planning to the max, but if you play your cards right &mdash; you can spend one weekend shopping and cooking for the entire month and take advantage of bulk buys, coupon savings, and other store deals in the process.</p> <h2>Plan Your Entertainment Carefully</h2> <p>Is weekend spending your vice? We all like to have fun, but if you need to save money &mdash; the dinners out, movie dates, and other activities are things you can easy trim without losing too much quality of life. Here are some ideas for getting your kicks on the cheap.</p> <h3>4. Make It a &quot;Freekend&quot;</h3> <p>My family makes a habit of trying to include what we call Freekends or &mdash; free weekends &mdash; at least once a month. Seeing as we usually spend around $50, this can be a great help if we need to buckle down and save. And it's easier than you might think. Here are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-fun-free-ways-to-have-a-great-time-with-friends">50 fun, free ways to have fun with friends</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-for-free">20 ideas to entertain your kids for free</a>.</p> <h3>5. Find Cheaper Thrills</h3> <p>If you just have to go out, be smart about it. For example, AMC movie theaters offer reduced rate movies before <em>noon</em>. Sites like Groupon and <a href="http://www.restaurant.com/">Restaurant.com</a> help you find deals on things to do in your area. And never leave home without checking the social media sites of your favorite restaurants and store to see if they're running any sales or promotions.</p> <h3>6. Use Your Perks</h3> <p>We keep a binder of coupons, loyalty cards, gift certificates, and other money-saving entertainment stuff right by our back door. Before heading out on a Saturday afternoon, we consult the binder to see if we can modify our plans and save a little cash in the process.</p> <h2>More Money Saving Ideas for the Long Haul</h2> <p>For a longer term money-saving plan, the tips above juyts won't cut it. Get serious about spending less with these easy lifestyle changes.</p> <h3>7. Change How You Think About Energy</h3> <p>You likely won't see huge savings immediately, but changing the way you approach energy can put some money in your pockets. Turn off lights when you're not using them. Turn your thermostat down (which can save you up to <a href="http://news.discovery.com/earth/big-savings-by-degrees-120515.htm">$10 per degree</a> each day). Investigate your utility services to see if you can switch to off-peak hours usage at a lower cost. And if you're able, shop around for more competitively priced energy providers.</p> <h3>8. Cut Out Pricey Services</h3> <p>Trim the fat on services, like landline phones and cable, that you rarely use. My family relies on our cell phone plan for communication, eliminating duplication. We also switched to Netflix and Hulu (which total less than $20 a month) versus our old $100 cable bill.</p> <h3>9. Go Cash Only for a Month</h3> <p>If you have a hard time tracking the money going out of your bank account while using cards, switch to cash for a month and see if it helps you. For some, the physical act of paying with dollar bills helps with savings. I'm one of these people, and if you're not convinced, here are six reasons why <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-6-reasons-why-using-cash-only-rocks">using cash-only</a> rocks.</p> <h3>10. Stash Your Change</h3> <p>While you're at it, make a habit of putting all change and dollar bills into a jar when you get home, then see how much you have at the end of the month. Many banks also offer programs that do this same thing. So, if something cost you $25.15, the $0.85 would automatically transfer into your savings account.</p> <h3>11. Use a Cash Back Card</h3> <p>You don't need to switch your entire routine, however. Using cards can actually be in your favor, just try to find one that gives you cash-back rewards for your shopping. Here are the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">5 best cash-back credit cards</a> you can apply for today.</p> <h3>12. Brown Bag It</h3> <p>Skip your morning coffee and pack your lunch to cut down on food costs that pile over your grocery bill. You can buy a whole bag of coffee for the week that costs less than $5 versus spending almost that much on a single cup per day.</p> <h3>13. Quit Your Gym</h3> <p>Is your $75 gym membership earning its keep? We cut ours years ago, and I'm in the best shape of my life. Try exercises like running and body weight workouts that require no equipment. Here are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-online-workout-videos-for-free-or-cheap">7 online workout channels</a> you can get for free or little money. And these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">at-home exercises</a> are just as good as going to the gym, but they'll cost you nothing.</p> <h3>14. Spa Yourself</h3> <p>I rarely go to the salon for manicures, pedicures, or other spa services. I dye my own hair, too. Plus, my hairdresser offers discounts on Tuesdays &mdash; just $15 for a haircut, which is a $15 savings over the usual price.</p> <h3>15. Fast</h3> <p>Challenge yourself to a <a href="http://frugalbeautiful.com/blog/fiscal-fast-aka-30-day-nospend-challenge/">fiscal fast</a>. You can choose to stop spending money for any length of time, but start with just one week and work up to a month. Then stick to buying only essentials like food, medicine, and bills. This tip is great in a pinch!</p> <h3>16. Pay Attention to Your Money</h3> <p>Last, but not least: Examine your bank account to see exactly where your money is going. Perhaps you have a monthly subscription you forgot about. Or maybe, like me, you realized that your bank is charging you $5 each month for an account you no longer use. Every little bit counts, so take charge of your money.</p> <p><em>Need an extra $100 next month? How are you going to save to get it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">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-13"> <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/making-every-penny-count-with-a-zero-based-budget">Making Every Penny Count With A Zero-Based Budget</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-dumb-little-budgeting-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-today">10 Dumb Little Budgeting Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-nice-ways-to-tell-your-spendy-friends-youre-staying-on-budget">7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You&#039;re Staying on 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/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</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/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money">13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cutting back expenses saving scrimping spending Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1253729 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Signs You're Suffering From Lifestyle Inflation http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-bills-stressed-76662978-small_0.jpg" alt="woman bill stressed" title="woman bill stressed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our tendency is, for the most part, to live right up to the ceiling of what our income will allow. This <em>lifestyle inflation</em> becomes a problem when our expenditures begin to exceed the amount of money we bring in, thereby causing us problems managing our personal finances.</p> <p>What's worse &mdash; many people who are engaging in lifestyle inflation don't even realize it, because they've spent so much time getting accustomed to living that way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-not-be-a-debt-slave?ref=seealso">How to Not Be a Debt Slave</a>)</p> <p>So how can you recognize and identify this potentially disastrous habit? Here are nine practical signs to look out for.</p> <h2>1. Excessive Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Though it's a common practice for many of us to use our credit card and pay it off on time (there's value in reaping those rewards points if you're a disciplined user), excessive credit card debt that you can't pay off will begin to accrue interest. Over time it'll cost you far more than the initial bill in interest and late charges. When a rolling credit card payment becomes a normal part of your budget, it's a sure sign that you need to scale back and spend less in order to pay off your debt. Start setting aside chunks of cash specifically allotted to chip away at this debt as quickly as possible.</p> <h2>2. Avoiding Basic Money Management Tasks</h2> <p>There is, of course, common procrastination when it comes to doing your budget or checking account balances. I'm not talking about that. Instead, I'm referring to the act of intentionally avoiding any tasks related to managing your own money. Generally this happens when you know that the picture you see is going to be bleak, and it's much easier to just avoid it instead and hope for the best. Get back on track by scheduling a certain time of week or month &mdash; I find that Sunday afternoons work best for me &mdash; to check in on your finances and determine what you need to reel in for the week ahead.</p> <h2>3. A Lack of Discretionary Income</h2> <p>&quot;Mo' money, mo problems&quot; as they say, and this one is typical of those who suddenly start earning more than they were previously, followed closely by spending more. It's also a telltale sign that the budget needs to be tightened up to provide some breathing room and more mileage out of your paycheck.</p> <h2>4. Your Income Is Spent Before It's Earned</h2> <p>Another term for this is &quot;living paycheck to paycheck.&quot; In this scenario, your expenses are so crippling that you have to wait for your paycheck to show up before you actually pay for them. Once that happens, it's a revolving door where you're always behind and constantly trying to play catch up. The obvious solution here is to cut back where you can, but also to take a serious look at your cash in and cash out and decide whether serious changes need to be made &mdash; like downsizing to a smaller apartment, buying a less expensive car, etc.</p> <h2>5. People With Similar Incomes Don't Spend as Much as You</h2> <p>There are a lot of extenuating circumstances that can cause two people in the same economic tier to live lives that look really different &mdash; like if one is single and the other is a parent of two. Outside of those circumstances, however, you should generally see similarities between your lifestyle and that of your peers who make what you make. If there's a disconnect, it might indicate that you're living beyond your means.</p> <p>If you and your colleagues earn about the same salaries and one of you is taking lavish vacations and indulging in other expenses that don't seem feasible across the board, there's likely a problem &mdash; and if it's your problem, it's time to settle down.</p> <h2>6. Impulse Buying and the &quot;Shopping Rush&quot;</h2> <p>Everybody loves to get new stuff. The allure and mystique of new things (regardless of our age) is always strong, even if it wears off after a short time. But if you feel yourself craving that feeling and the rush that comes along with making a new purchase, it's an indication that shopping has become a habit that has become detrimental to your finances &mdash; and perhaps other areas of your life. Usually this is an issue that can be quelled by self-discipline, but if you feel it's out of your control you can seek professional help.</p> <h2>7. You're Bored at Home</h2> <p>Increased buying can be a vicious cycle, leading to boredom, which leads to even more dangerous spending habits. Do you find yourself restless at home? Do you often go online or out to a shopping center to buy something that you don't need just to have something to do? I'm guilty of this myself at times, which is why I try to plan activities and adventures with friends for times when I know that I'll otherwise be at home without much else productive on my plate. Staying busy curbs my desire to blindly shop for things I don't need, and I get to fill my weekends doing things that feel like I spent money even if I didn't.</p> <h2>8. You Don't Look for Deals</h2> <p>Sometimes an inflated lifestyle is just a matter of failing to be thrifty (or, in my opinion, just being plain lazy). I know plenty of people who are spending way more money than they need to spend simply because they pay full price for everything when there are savings literally at their fingertips. I can guarantee you that I save thousands and thousands of dollars every year because I won't purchase a single thing without a coupon or a discount (if I can help it).</p> <h2>9. You Don't Feel the Need to Save Money</h2> <p>Perhaps the most telling sign that you're overspending and living above your means is that you've completely written off the idea of saving money. You assume that it's unnecessary or perhaps impossible to do. The truth is, neither of those things are accurate.</p> <p>If you make even a modest amount of money, you can contribute something to your savings account. This is a good place to start if you've come to the realization that you're living an inflated lifestyle. Once you cut back expenses, set up an automatic bank draft from checking into savings and start with a small, weekly amount. Even just $20 is a great start. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your bright financial future.</p> <p><em>Do you have other signs of lifestyle inflation that you'd like to add? Please share in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation">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-14"> <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-warning-signs-that-you-need-to-stop-using-your-credit-cards">6 Warning Signs That You Need to Stop Using Your 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/how-to-get-all-of-the-benefits-of-your-credit-cards-and-none-of-the-costs">How to Get All of the Benefits of Your Credit Cards — and None of the Costs</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/a-champion-of-savings-over-spending">A champion of savings over spending</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/recession-journal-part-i-fast-money-in-the-09">Recession Journal Part I: &#039;Fast&#039; Money in the &#039;09</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living credit debt lifestyle inflation spending Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1253727 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/employee-fired-iStock_000007255442Small.jpg" alt="employee fired" title="employee fired" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was laid off from my job recently, I had to quickly learn how to survive. I must do everything I can to save money while I search for work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-first-5-things-you-must-do-after-getting-laid-off?ref=seealso">The First 5 Things You Must Do After Getting Laid Off</a>)</p> <p>If you are in a similar position, you probably feel as if you are scraping by and that saving money is nearly impossible. But it isn't hopeless. Here are 10 ways you can save money and make some extra cash while you search for a full-time job.</p> <h2>1. Take Advantage of Local Resources</h2> <p>Even if you are not receiving unemployment, there are organizations that can help you with getting your basic needs met, including food and housing. The United Way and The Alliance for Information and Referral Services (AIRS) have created an easy way to find these resources in your area. You can dial 211 in most areas, or go to the <a href="http://211us.org/">2-1-1 website</a> to learn more about what resources might be available to you. By taking advantage of social services, you can save a lot of money on the essentials.</p> <h2>2. Use Alternate Transportation</h2> <p>We all know that gas can be a major expense, especially if you rely solely on your car for transportation. Try not to drive unless it's absolutely necessary. Public transportation is much cheaper than driving, and buying monthly passes is often a better deal than a one-time fare. Check with your local unemployment office to see if your state offers free or discounted passes for public transportation in your area for unemployed people and low-income families.</p> <p>You might also find local programs that offer cheap, alternate modes of transportation. For instance, here in Burlington, Vermont, you can purchase a bike for as low as $30 through the non-profit program, <a href="http://www.localmotion.org/programs/bikerecycle/">Bike Recycle Vermont</a>. Or you can get discounted tune-ups and bike accessories through the program. If walking, biking, or public transportation are not an option, some gas stations may offer discounts on groceries at local grocery stores when you spend a certain amount on gas, so you can at least save on food if you must drive.</p> <h2>3. Quit Unhealthy and Expensive Habits</h2> <p>A friend of mine also recently lost her job, and then she started smoking as a way to cope with the loss. Aside from the obvious health risks, smoking is an incredibly expensive habit. She often pays as much as $10 to $12 a pack! Alcohol is another nonessential that can take a huge chunk of your budget and a toll on your health. Keep in mind that recreational drugs and alcohol are also depressants that will make you feel worse about your situation. Even if you don't drink or smoke, there are probably other unnecessary purchases that you could cut out for the time being.</p> <h2>4. Eat Your Meals at Home</h2> <p>In addition to cutting out items that are not part of your basic diet, there are plenty of ways to save on the groceries you do need. First, avoid going out to dinner or grabbing fast food for your meals. Fast food joints might be cheap, but in the long run, eating out all the time can be more expensive than making food at home. Don't forget that soup kitchens offer free hot meals once a day, and you can find the locations through your local food shelf. Many food shelf organizations also offer recipes if you are picking up groceries, or you don't feel like you know how to cook very well. Also check with the unemployment office to see if you qualify for food stamps.</p> <h2>5. Find Ways to Save on Groceries</h2> <p>Resisting the urge to dine out and taking advantage of the food shelf are only part of saving on the overall cost of food. There are plenty of ways to save money when you go to the grocery store. Buy in bulk whenever possible, and take advantage of discounted items and coupons. One caveat: never purchase a sale item unless it is something that you buy regularly. You may end up spending more overall. Most co-ops offer a basic discount for members, and a larger discount if you volunteer a certain number of hours per week. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-feed-yourself-for-50-a-week-or-less?ref=seealso">How to Feed Yourself on $50 a Week or Less</a>)</p> <p>Joining a local <a href="http://www.localharvest.org/csa/">CSA</a> can save a lot of money on produce, and some CSAs offer other staples, such as eggs, meat, and dairy. Ask a friend to join with you and split the cost and the food if you can't afford the membership. The CSA weekly pickups usually include too much food for one person to eat in a week anyway.</p> <h2>6. Create a Realistic Spending Plan</h2> <p>Everyone hates to budget, but it is an absolute necessity if you want to manage your spending. Because the word &quot;budget&quot; implies that you are limiting yourself, one trick is to call it a &quot;spending plan.&quot; Even though it is more difficult to create a spending plan if you don't have a regular income, it is much easier to save when you know how much you are spending. You can easily find templates for a basic spending plan online, and <a href="http://www.saveandinvest.org/militarycenter/militaryfinancialtoolkits/makingendsmeet/P124805">SaveAndInvest.org</a> has some great advice on how to get started when creating a spending plan.</p> <p>The key is to be realistic about how much you spend each month and ensure that you are covering every category. This includes purchases you may not have thought about, such as entertainment (you have to treat yourself every once in a while), cat food, emergency fund, etc. Once you do find a job again, stick to your spending plan, and put some money into a savings account each month for an emergency fund. Then if you do lose another job, you won't be as stressed about finances.</p> <h2>7. Join a Support Group</h2> <p><a href="http://www.debtorsanonymous.org/">Debtors Anonymous</a> is a great resource for people who have lost a job. Being unemployed for a long period of time can easily lead to crippling debt. The group meetings are based on the same 12 steps as AA and other 12-step programs. You may find that you already have issues with debting, and the group provides support when trying to break old habits, such as overspending or maxing out credit cards. <a href="http://www.underearnersanonymous.org/">Underearners Anonymous</a> is a similar program, and often people find that they consistently accept jobs under their skill level and salary needs, which can easily lead to debting. These groups may not meet as often in your area as other 12-step groups, but if you go to the website to search for a local group, you should be able to find phone meetings as well.</p> <h2>8. Negotiate Reduced Rent or Mortgage Payments</h2> <p>Before I started receiving unemployment (keep in mind there is a waiting period, so apply as soon as you get laid off), I was unable to pay my rent in full at the beginning of the month. I decided to talk to my landlord about splitting my rent in two payments. She was very understanding and said she would be willing to work with me as long as I communicated my needs to her. You'll find that as long as you are honest about your situation, most people are willing to work with you, especially if you have been a good tenant and always pay your rent on time. If you own a house, talk with a loan officer about refinancing. You may be able to get a lower interest rate and lower your mortgage payments.</p> <p>If you have student loans, you can get them deferred while you are out of work, or at least put them in temporary forbearance. For credit cards, make sure you are at least paying the minimum each month. It can be tempting to want to continue paying off debt with your normal payments, but you will risk getting further into debt if you can't realistically make those payments.</p> <h2>9. Don't Be Afraid to Accept Money</h2> <p>One of the key rules of Debtors Anonymous is not to start a new debt, which includes loans from friends and family. However, if a friend or family member offers you a monetary gift, it is okay to accept it, as long as you have a good relationship with that person. By the same token, avoid using loans to pay off other loans, even if the new loan has a lower interest rate. It may save a little money in the short term, but it can create debting habits that are hard to break.</p> <h2>10. Earn Extra Cash</h2> <p>This last tip has kept my head above water for the past few months. Even before I lost my job, I was a regular house and pet sitter for friends. While we had bartered for this service in the past, I had to ask them to start paying me after I lost my job. Again, people are very understanding if you are upfront with them.</p> <p>Find out what the going rate is in your area, and don't be afraid to ask for what you need. I've also been paid for doing yardwork, cleaning houses, babysitting, freelance writing, editing, and helping friends with websites. There are plenty of opportunities to make a some fast cash while you are out of work. Use social media and online forums to offer your services. Be clear about how much you want to get paid but also try to be a little flexible if the pay is still reasonable for the amount of work you are doing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/earn-extra-income-with-these-15-creative-side-gigs?ref=seealso">Earn Extra Income With These 15 Creative Side Gigs</a>)</p> <p>While I wish I had read <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming">You're Fired! 20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a> before I lost my job, I have found ways to make ends meet and minimize the stress so far. Just keep in mind that you are not alone, and there are plenty of resources and support groups to help you out during this difficult time.</p> <p><em>Have you ever endured a long period of unemployment? How did you reduce your spending?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-watson">Ashley Watson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">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-15"> <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/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</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/making-every-penny-count-with-a-zero-based-budget">Making Every Penny Count With A Zero-Based Budget</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/10-dumb-little-budgeting-mistakes-you-need-to-stop-making-today">10 Dumb Little Budgeting Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-nice-ways-to-tell-your-spendy-friends-youre-staying-on-budget">7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You&#039;re Staying on 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/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money">13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Budgeting saving spending unemployment Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:00:06 +0000 Ashley Watson 1245575 at http://www.wisebread.com