goals http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3301/all en-US The Key to Debt Reduction May Be a Simple Picture http://www.wisebread.com/the-key-to-debt-reduction-may-be-a-simple-picture <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-key-to-debt-reduction-may-be-a-simple-picture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_art_drawing_92715063.jpg" alt="Woman using simple picture to reduce debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you do a quick Google search for &quot;debt art,&quot; you'll be either confused or underwhelmed. It's likely you'll find articles on artists accumulating or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-debt-collectors-dont-want-you-to-know" target="_blank">dealing with debt</a>. But, there is another type of debt art that you need to know about. Not only can it help you pay off debt more quickly, or reach a financial goal, but it can brighten up your environment with something that represents a real personal success story.</p> <h2>First Thing's First &mdash; What Is Debt Art?</h2> <p>Quite simply, debt art is a piece of art that helps you reach a financial goal in a creative way. Whatever the goal is, be it eliminating credit card debt, a student loan, saving for a vacation, or paying back taxes, debt art removes the hard-edged numbers and spreadsheets and instead lets you visualize, and track, your progress.</p> <h2>How to Create Debt Art</h2> <p>It may sound corny, but the only limit to debt art is your imagination. Of course, people with more artistic flair can really go to town on it, but all you really need to do is find a fun way to track your progress. It's also good to have the debt art in a prime location in your home or office, so that you are reminded daily of your development.</p> <p>The simplest solution is a series of squares that you color in. Each square can represent a set amount that you are putting towards your goal &mdash; say, $50 per square. You want to save $1,000 for a vacation, so you create 20 squares that need to be colored in. As you save each $50, you color in a square. When every square is filled in, congratulations! Debt art has helped you reach your goal.</p> <p>Of course, that's not very interesting. Some people have taken debt art to much more creative extremes. Take, for example, Amy Jones. On her blog, <a href="http://mapyourprogress.com/blog/how-i-paid-off-more-than-26000-in-debt-by-coloring-this-in/">Map Your Progress</a>, she outlines a truly wonderful piece of art that helped her reduce her debts by $26,000!</p> <p>The art was not difficult to create. As you can see, it's a series of swirls, arranged in a kind of floral pattern. At first, the lack of color on the poster looks overwhelming. The goal, to have every $100 swirl filled in, looks like an impossible task.</p> <p>However, slowly but surely, Amy colored in those swirls. The sense of achievement, and the visual indication of reaching a goal, was powerful enough to keep her going. &quot;Coloring in those swirls month after month helped me feel like I was doing something, &quot;she said. &quot;It helped me see that I was making progress toward my goal of zeroing out my credit cards.&quot;</p> <h2>Why Debt Art Works So Well</h2> <p>It's all about breaking down something insurmountable into something very achievable. If you look at a debt like $5,000, it can seem incredibly overwhelming. So much so, that it's easier to forget it, ignore it, or hope it goes away.</p> <p>But, when you split up that $5,000 into more manageable chunks, it suddenly doesn't feel as tough. Instead of $5,000, you're looking at a picture of 200 circles, each one representing $25. How easy is it to color in one of those $25 circles? One leads to two, and three, and before you know it, you've made a $200 dent in that debt.</p> <p>The ability to track progress based on these much more achievable goals means that it's easy to see and make progress quickly. The great thing is, you can customize it to something you believe will work for you. If $25 chunks are too big, try $10, or even $5. You might like the feeling of coloring in several $5 chunks in one day, or week, over one $50 chunk. But as you see the black and white canvas become a rainbow of colors, you are spurred on to achieve your financial goal.</p> <h2>Ideas for Your Own Debt Art</h2> <p>You don't have to have artistic abilities or flair to create something that will be both fun to look at, and easy to track. Here are some ideas to get you started:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Bricks in a Wall</strong> &mdash; You can print out a simple brick pattern from a Google search, and then use it to create a building or tower. Each brick can represent a specific sum of money.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Legos</strong> &mdash; Here, you don't need to draw anything. And you can approach this piece of debt art in two ways. Either build something up, or knock it down. Each Lego brick can represent a sum of money, and you can either add to a tower, or remove a brick (perhaps revealing something behind it&hellip;an image of something you're saving for is one fun example).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Circles</strong> &mdash; Draw a series of circles until you have covered the page. You could have different sized circles for different amounts (big circles = $50, small circles = $20). When all the circles are filled in, you have reached your goal.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Coloring Books</strong> &mdash; If you really feel put off by the idea of creating your own art, why not find a coloring page from a book and have it enlarged? These <a href="http://amzn.to/29IGiYh">adult coloring books</a> are all the rage right now. Find a pattern that easily translates to something that can be used to track finances, and print it out poster-sized.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Ask the Kids </strong>&mdash; Kids of all ages love creating and coloring. If you want something that you can have as a keepsake after, ask the kids to draw something that you can fill in every week. Maybe they will draw a bunch of happy faces, cats, trucks, or fruit. They can help you color it in, too, giving you something that has meaning beyond the monetary success story.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Use Amy's Debt Art Maps</strong> &mdash; Amy has some available for <a href="http://mapyourprogress.com/fancy-prints/">purchase at her site</a>. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you used art to motivate you to reach a goal?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-key-to-debt-reduction-may-be-a-simple-picture">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/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</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-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-allocate-your-cash-when-you-are-broke">How to Allocate Your Cash When You Are Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-dont-ever-stop">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Don&#039;t Ever Stop</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-day-debt-reduction-plan-add-it-up">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Add It Up</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management coloring creativity debt art drawing goals saving money Tue, 12 Jul 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1749902 at http://www.wisebread.com 5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Add It Up http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-add-it-up <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-add-it-up" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_bills_calculator_64784797.jpg" alt="Man adding up his debt during debt reduction plan" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>[Editor's Note: This is part two of our five-part series on debt reduction. To read more, see the rest of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/5-day-debt-reduction-plan">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>.]</p> <p>Excuses and bad habits might have stopped you from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-stop-waiting-for-tomorrow?ref=5dayplan">achieving financial success</a> in the past, but now that you're ready to tackle debt like a boss, it's time to get down to business. Paying off debt is hard work. In fact, it's probably one of the hardest financial challenges you'll take on, aside from actually making the money you'll need to pay it off. Considering that then, you won't get far without provisions in place.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-toward-financial-independence?ref=5dayplan">5 Steps Toward Financial Independence</a></p> <p>To get to the finish line &mdash; or even come close to it &mdash; you'll need a certain amount of courage to attack your debt head on. It's a frightening prospect, for sure, and maybe you've tricked yourself into believing your debt problem isn't that bad. While this mindset might help you sleep better at night, it doesn't reduce balances. So before you can move forward in this process, you have to add up what you owe. Chances are, the final number will be a scary one.</p> <h2>1. Decide Which Debts to Include in Your Payoff Plan</h2> <p>Some people come up with a plan to pay off <em>all </em>of their debt, including student loans, auto loans, and mortgages, whereas others focus on unsecured debts like credit cards and personal loans. All debt isn't created equal. We're focusing this plan on credit card debt which can have more of a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score?ref=5dayplan">negative impact on credit scores</a> and usually comes with higher, often much higher, interest rates.</p> <h2>2. Take a Few Minutes to Gather Your Statements</h2> <p>Since you're adding up what you owe, create a simple spreadsheet to record this information. It's important to get everything down. Some people have no idea of how much they owe. They might have an estimated number in their head, but it's not until they see their debt on paper that they're able to grasp the severity of a situation &mdash; and subsequently reach for a solution (or a drink).</p> <h2>3. Next, List All Your Debts</h2> <p>Include detailed information about your debt, such as your current balances for each account, minimum monthly payments, and interest rates.</p> <p>Your spreadsheet might look something like this:</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/Screen%20Shot%202016-06-06%20at%201.56.13%20PM.png" width="605" height="299" alt="" /></p> <p>After writing down your debts, calculate the total balance and total minimum payment due. You'll see how much you owe down to the cent, as well as how much you're currently paying in minimum payments each month.</p> <h2>The Cost of Minimum Payments</h2> <p>Debt elimination works best when you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-1-rule-and-other-ways-to-make-goals-manageable?ref=5dayplan">set attainable goals</a> for yourself. I've harped on this practice in plenty of my Wise Bread posts before and I can't stress the importance of goal setting enough. It isn't enough to know your numbers; you need a plan that allows you to pay down balances sooner rather than later, or else you could carry debt for decades and pay thousands of dollars in interest. You also need to do it in a reasonable way so you'll stay on track.</p> <p>At $10,000, your total minimum payments due is $200 (credit cards usually charge between 1%-3% of the balance due as their monthly minimum payment). The following month, your minimum payment due will be lower, because your balance is (slightly) lower. But if you follow this course and only make the minimum due each month, it will take you <strong>50 years</strong> to pay that off, along with paying over $28,000 in interest. I'm sure you don't want to hold on to that debt for decades, nor pay tens of thousands in interest.</p> <p>If however, you kept your monthly payments at $200, you'd be debt free in eight years, and the interest you'd have paid would be $8,916. See the difference?</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=5dayplan&amp;utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=5dayplan">Stop Paying Credit Card Interest with a Balance Transfer</a></p> <h2>Set Achievable Goals</h2> <p>Understandably, you want the balance gone within the next few weeks or months. But you have to be realistic. Unless you strike gold or get a windfall (or start being really <em>really</em> nice to the old rich person down the street), you probably won't be able to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt in three months. But you definitely can punch those numbers and get out of debt in less than eight years.</p> <p>See Also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=5dayplan&amp;utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso2&amp;utm_campaign=5dayplan">Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a></p> <p>Let's say that you are able to find an extra $300 a month in your budget to steer toward debt reduction, bringing your total debt payment to $500 per month (your current minimum due plus $300). Without interest to pay, you'd knock this down in just 20 months! Unfortunately, you actually do have to pay interest until your debt is cleared.</p> <p>The average interest rate on your $10,000 is a whopping 17.88%. (Ouch!) That means it'll actually take you two years and almost $2,000 in interest, (still a huge improvement over the eight years and almost $9,000 in interest if you just paid $200 per month).</p> <p>Every little bit you can add to your monthly debt reduction budget helps. For example, if you can increase your monthly payment by just another $50, your debt is gone in 22 months, and you'll have paid $1,600 in interest.</p> <p>The key to remember is that small amounts really do add up over time. The more of those small amounts you can find and put to work for you, the faster you will be able to eliminate your credit card balances. You won't get out of debt without making some sacrifices, however. Which leads us to the next step in this series: How to search for unnecessary costs and destroy these to improve your cashflow and free up more of your money to retire debt.</p> <h2>Debt Management Resources</h2> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-debt-in-10-minutes-a-week?ref=5dayplan">How to Manage Your Debt in 10 Minutes a Week</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-debt-management-questions-youre-too-embarrassed-to-ask?ref=5dayplan">5 Debt Management Questions You're Too Embarrassed to Ask</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-free-debt-management-tools?ref=5dayplan">6 Free Debt Management Tools</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-your-debt-isnt-diminishing?ref=5dayplan">12 Reasons Your Debt Isn't Diminishing</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-debt-reduction-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=5dayplan">8 Debt Reduction Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt?ref=5dayplan">Should You Use Peer-to-Peer Lending to Pay Down Credit Card Debt?</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them?ref=5dayplan">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks &mdash; And How to Beat Them</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-steps-to-eliminating-your-debt-painlessly?ref=5dayplan">6 Steps to Eliminating Your Debt Painlessly</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-organizations-that-really-can-help-you-with-your-debt?ref=5dayplan">8 Organizations That REALLY Can Help You With Your Debt</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-sell-your-home-to-pay-down-debt?ref=5dayplan">Should You Sell Your Home to Pay Down Debt?</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taming-your-debt-aggressive-repayment-strategies?ref=5dayplan">Taming Your Debt: Aggressive Repayment Strategies</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies?ref=5dayplan">7 Best Credit Card Debt Elimination Strategies</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Have you recently chipped away at a decent amount of debt? How did you do it? What tactics did you employ? I'd love to hear from you 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/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-add-it-up">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/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-search-and-destroy">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Search and Destroy</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-much-should-you-spend-on-a-new-car">How Much Should You Spend on a New Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-dont-ever-stop">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Don&#039;t Ever Stop</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/8-dark-side-motivations-to-start-saving">8 Dark-Side Motivations to Start Saving</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management 5 day debt reduction plan goals interest rates loans minimum payment payoff plans Tue, 07 Jun 2016 10:31:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1725700 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Fitness Gadgets Actually Worth the Money http://www.wisebread.com/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-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_fitness_gadget_000072593793.jpg" alt="Woman finding fitness gadgets worth the money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's no secret that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fitness-resolutions-how-much-will-your-new-exercise-routine-cost">some exercise routines are costly</a>, and without complete commitment, the benefits might be minimal. You could spend a fortune on a gym membership and personal trainers, but certain small, clever fitness investments can do the same (or more) for a much lower cost.</p> <p>Here are a few fitness tech gadgets that really pay off.</p> <h2>Fitness Trackers</h2> <p>Fitness trackers have been hot for a couple of years now, and they are certainly a smart way for those of use with a sedentary lifestyle to gently increase exercise and improve overall wellness. As a bonus, they're cheaper than a gym membership and can help you incorporate more movement in your real life, rather than trying to make huge &mdash; and ultimately unsustainable &mdash; lifestyle changes.</p> <p>If you're in the market for a fitness tracker, <a href="http://amzn.to/1OVibDq">Fitbit Blaze</a> could be the thing for you. At around $200, it is more expensive than bracelet style trackers, but makes up for that in both form and function.</p> <p>Aside from the aesthetics (this is a watch design), the tracker includes all you would expect &mdash; step count, activity and sleep trackers, and so on &mdash; and more. The gadget has a heart rate monitor built in and even allows you to monitor your calls and texts on the go. The main bonus is the ability to access workouts on your device, which might make this a worthwhile investment if it means you can drop that costly gym subscription.</p> <h2>Smart Shorts</h2> <p><a href="http://www.lumobodytech.com/lumo-run/">Lumo products</a> are perfect for runners seeking to improve performance. The tracker clips onto your clothing, or can be inserted into a specially designed pocket in Lumo's own range of smart apparel, and measures your running style like no other. This gadget is more like having your own running coach in your pocket than an average fitness tracker, providing lab-standard biometric data all the way through your training. Get details about your stride pattern, bounce, and cadence, which can then be converted by the app into drills and exercises for improvement.</p> <p>Use the sensor with headphones to get live, on-the-go coaching based on the measurements being taken, or simply download the data after your run for some analysis and action planning. Even better, the gear is available for preorder at a discount, starting from under $80 for the tracker and clip.</p> <h2>Fitness, Diet, and Goal Tracking Apps</h2> <p>The world of apps and gadgets has exploded in recent years. The theory goes that by monitoring as much as you can, you have a better opportunity to understand and ultimately improve your health and wellness. Over time you build a data set which allows you to see the progress, either through getting more active, eating better, improving metrics like your weight or heart rate, or cutting back on bad habits.</p> <p>If you go out running or cycling regularly, try <a href="https://www.strava.com">Strava</a>, which is designed to track and share your training, and can help you share your progress by linking to your social media accounts. For an all round support system covering nutrition, stress, sleep and exercise, try <a href="https://www.noom.com">Noom</a>, a smart app that allows you to track your progress and receive expert advice.</p> <p>Finally, if you're in the UK, check out <a href="https://sweatco.in/int">Sweatcoin</a>, the app that makes your exercise pay you. Track your steps and swap them for &quot;sweatcoins&quot; you can cash in for real rewards. Going global soon, so get ready!</p> <h2>Digital Coaching</h2> <p>Digital coaching is a great halfway house if you want some human input into your training but can't afford the time or money for a personal trainer. Apps such as <a href="https://www.coach.me/">coach.me</a> are designed to allow you to track your progress against a goal, and enlist the support of a remote trainer.</p> <p>If the midriff is looking a little wobbly, and the prospect of summer on the beach is sending a shiver up your spine, then don't be tempted to throw money at the problem. Instead, do a bit of research into the tech products and services that can help you get in shape without breaking the bank. The range on offer is developing every day, leaving very little room for excuses when it is time to bust out that bikini.</p> <p><em>What fitness tech products are working for you? Tell us 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/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-work-out-when-its-hot-outside">5 Ways to Work Out When It&#039;s Hot Outside</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/13-easy-ways-to-save-on-your-gym-membership">13 Easy Ways to Save on Your Gym Membership</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-clever-ways-to-improve-your-home-gym">10 Clever Ways to Improve Your Home Gym</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/12-cheap-home-workout-hacks-for-people-with-no-equipment-and-no-room">12 Cheap Home Workout Hacks for People With No Equipment and No Room</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-reasons-youre-bad-at-exercising">14 Reasons You&#039;re Bad at Exercising</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Technology apps dieting exercise fitbit fitness goals trackers working out Fri, 03 Jun 2016 09:00:12 +0000 Claire Millard 1721734 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Signs You Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_frown_broke_000026428663.jpg" alt="Man learning signs he&#039;s not saving enough for retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you concerned that you aren't saving enough for retirement? Well, you're not alone. In fact, more than one third of Americans haven't started investing for retirement yet. About 75% of Americans over the age of 40 are also behind on their retirement savings, so it's time to break the statistic. We've come up with some common warning signs that you may not be saving enough and need to increase what you're investing.</p> <h2>1. You Don't Have Specific Goals in Mind</h2> <p>First, you need to figure out what the minimum is that you'll need to retire. This will allow you to properly plan your retirement and ensure you are meeting your benchmark goals. Work on determining a target retirement age and goal amount so that you can develop a savings plan on your own or with a skilled professional.</p> <p>It's also important that you know what you'll get from Social Security so that you can plan what you need to save above that. Lastly, work on an estimated monthly financial plan so that you have some idea what you'll be spending on monthly bills and debt payments.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Know How Much to Save</h2> <p>Most professionals recommend saving at least 10% of your gross salary, if you've been saving since your 20s. However, if you don't start saving until your 30s, Schwab recommends upping that contribution to 15%&ndash;25%. If you start in your 40s or later, you would want to save 35% of your income, which is a rather hefty amount. This is all thanks to the power of compounding interest, so it's never too early to start saving.</p> <h2>3. You Aren't Matching Your Employer's Contribution</h2> <p>If your employer is matching your 401K contribution, that is basically free money invested in your future. That's why it's crucial to at least match your employer's contribution, so that they can help you prepare for your retirement as much as possible.</p> <h2>4. You've Borrowed From Your 401K</h2> <p>Borrowing against your 401K is never a good idea. It may help in the short-run, but in the long-run, it can affect your savings goals and financial health during retirement. You would also need to save more aggressively going forward just to catch up with your original savings goals.</p> <h2>5. You Aren't Prioritizing Your Future</h2> <p>One of the first things you should always think about is building savings for yourself so you have the money you need in case of an emergency or unexpected expense. Short of that savings account, you shouldn't be prioritizing anything over your retirement savings. Your retirement and your future should be your first priority, even over your children's education, because nobody will be saving for your retirement except for you.</p> <h2>6. You're Only Investing in a 401K</h2> <p>Contributing to a 401K is a great start to your retirement savings, but it usually isn't enough. Your best bet is to diversify your portfolio, investing in both a 401K and an IRA or Roth IRA. This will ensure you are well prepared for your golden years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-retirement-account-is-right-for-you?ref=seealso">Which Retirement Account Is Right for You?</a>)</p> <h2>7. You Aren't Accounting for Inflation</h2> <p>On average, inflation rates linger around 3%, which means that your expenses will double in less than 25 years. You will need to account for this, as it's one of the biggest retirement planning mistakes anyone makes.</p> <h2>8. You Haven't Sought Advice</h2> <p>You may not necessarily need a financial planner, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek advice on your retirement portfolio from time to time. For instance, have you diversified properly? Are you investing in the right types of investment products? Have you adjusted your portfolio to match the appropriate level of risk and reward for your age range and lifestyle? These are some of the many questions you need to ask yourself (and/or a professional) to ensure you are saving and planning correctly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-need-a-financial-planner?ref=seealso">Do You Need a Financial Planner?</a>)</p> <h2>9. You Haven't Started Saving Yet</h2> <p>The sooner you start investing in your future, the more you'll have by retirement, thanks to compound interest. This also means that the sooner you start saving, the less you'll need to save every month to have enough in your retirement years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses?ref=seealso">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</a>)</p> <h2>10. You're Worried About Retirement</h2> <p>Possibly the most obvious sign that you aren't saving enough is that you feel very nervous about retirement. If you don't think you're saving enough, then you probably aren't.</p> <p><em>Do you know of other signs that a person isn't saving enough for retirement? Please share your thoughts 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/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">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/4-moves-that-guarantee-a-great-retirement">4 Moves That Guarantee a Great Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-youre-sabotaging-your-nest-egg">6 Warning Signs You&#039;re Sabotaging Your Nest Egg</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/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</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/one-smart-thing-you-can-do-for-your-retirement-today">One Smart Thing You Can Do for Your Retirement 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/401k-or-ira-you-need-both">401K or IRA? You Need Both</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k compound interest goals golden years IRA nest egg not saving enough Thu, 02 Jun 2016 10:30:03 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1721735 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Moves to Make in Your First Month of Debt Repayment http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-to-make-in-your-first-month-of-debt-repayment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-moves-to-make-in-your-first-month-of-debt-repayment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_career_confidence_000051439618.jpg" alt="Woman making moves in the first money of debt repayment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So, it's time, is it? Time to get serious about paying off your debt?</p> <p>Congratulations!</p> <p>If you've made the decision to begin repaying your debt instead of generating more, that is huge! Repaying debt can feel so daunting that people avoid it, making minimum payments until their dying day. But facing your problems is always better than running away from them, and, in deciding to do that, you have taken a giant step forward.</p> <p>Still, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're just starting to repay debt. If you're not sure where to start, here are some thoughts for you.</p> <h2>1. Stop Overspending</h2> <p>It might seem obvious, but this is the very first step to take when you want to begin digging yourself out of a financial hole. Stop making more debt!</p> <p>Start by analyzing where you're spending. Is all of your spending necessary? Are there areas &mdash; like eating out, buying clothes, or going to happy hour &mdash; where you're spending a lot more than you thought you were? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-saving-more-with-this-one-simple-tool?ref=seealso">Start Saving With This One Simple Tool</a>)</p> <p>Looking at this takes some courage, as it can be hard to actually see just how much money you're putting towards things that don't matter. However, the only way out is through, at least in this case, and once you know where you're spending too much, it's easier to make better choices.</p> <p>All of this assumes that you are not overspending simply because you don't have enough money. If that is the case, then your first step is to figure out how to make more or lower your expenses. There are always options, but they will differ depending on your situation. The point is, you won't know where to start cutting until you know where you stand with spending.</p> <h2>2. Add It Up</h2> <p>When you have a spending plan in place, add up all of your debt. List each debt source, including total amount owed, monthly minimum payment, and interest rate.</p> <p>This step tends to stop people in their tracks. However, it's essential to know the total amount of damage before you can take steps toward eliminating it. And, sometimes, seeing exactly how much you owe, all in one place, is just what you need to feel motivated to make significant changes in your life.</p> <h2>3. Prioritize Your Debt</h2> <p>There are a lot of different ways to decide which debt to focus on first. Obviously, you need to make at least minimum payments on all of your accounts. But after that, you need to decide which debt will receive higher payments until it's paid off. Then, you can move on to a different account.</p> <p>Some people swear by Dave Ramsey's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you">debt snowball method</a>. Others say that you should focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first, and still others think you should choose the one that causes you the most stress for your primary repayment efforts. Honestly, and especially when you're just getting started, the most important thing is that you choose a method that appeals to you and that motivates you to keep moving forward with your debt repayment.</p> <h2>4. Set Repayment Goals</h2> <p>Look realistically at your finances, at how you're planning to change your spending patterns, and decide when you think you can pay off your first debt. Set that date as a goal. Circle it in all of your calendars. Set an alarm for it on your phone. Do whatever you have to do to get that date in your head.</p> <p>Having a goal will help you feel motivated, and it will also give you some sense of progress as you move forward. For instance, if you decide it will probably take you six months to pay off your first debt, you'll know after three months that you're about halfway there. That can be satisfying in and of itself.</p> <p>Set these goals knowing that you can always change them. If your financial situation changes, you can always change your goal, too, moving it forward or backward as circumstances dictate.</p> <h2>5. Generate More Income</h2> <p>If you want to pay off your debt as quickly as possible, think about ways to generate more income. This will not only make your repayment move faster, but it will make it so the process isn't just about cutting back all the time, which can feel demotivating after a while.</p> <p>For some people, making more money is as easy as working overtime. Others have to be more creative. Think about taking on freelance projects, turning a hobby into an entrepreneurial enterprise, or selling things that you find around your house on eBay or Craigslist. Depending on your skill set and how much time you have, the possibilities are truly endless. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-make-money-outside-your-day-job?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Make Money Outside Your Day Job</a>)</p> <h2>6. Reward Yourself</h2> <p>It's important that you realize just how significant of a choice you've made to reduce debt. You can mark a time as important by celebrating it. Just do this in a way that doesn't mean spending a lot of money. Buy the special coffee, learn a new recipe, or treat yourself to an extra dessert. Sure, these things cost a little bit, but they aren't a shopping spree at the mall.</p> <p>Make sure you build rewards into your whole system. You can buy yourself a coffee every time you pay X amount off, or reward yourself with something small every month that you follow through with your budget. It's important to stay motivated and to reprogram your brain to actually enjoy this repayment process.</p> <p>Plan a big reward for the day when your debt is all paid off. Maybe that's the day you can start saving for your dream vacation, or maybe you can talk a friend into taking you out for the evening. Plan a big party at your house, spend a weekend in the mountains, or do whatever it is that feels right. Knowing this is coming will help keep up your motivation through the hard days.</p> <p><em>What is your experience of debt repayment? How did you start on that journey?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-moves-to-make-in-your-first-month-of-debt-repayment">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-key-to-debt-reduction-may-be-a-simple-picture">The Key to Debt Reduction May Be a Simple Picture</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks — And How to Beat Them</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/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt">Should You Use Peer-to-Peer Lending to Pay Down Credit Card 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/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</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/getting-your-money-back-without-losing-your-friendship">Getting Your Money Back Without Losing Your Friendship</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management goals money habits overspending repayment reward yourself Mon, 04 Apr 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1682375 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Restart Your Resolutions This Spring http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000076065413_Large.jpg" alt="restarting her resolution in spring" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sure, I resolved to &quot;be better about flossing&quot; and &quot;do more crunches&quot; in my list of resolutions for 2016. I even spoke my resolutions aloud in my work wellness group to reinforce ethem. And then, upon re-reading them, I wondered how long those goals would last. A little research told me that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them.</p> <p>As it turns out, maybe New Year's just isn't the best time to make resolutions. Maybe we should all be waiting until the snow melts and the flowers start to bloom. Isn't that a better setting to tap into your motivated self anyway? Here are five ways to restart your resolutions this spring, so you actually achieve them.</p> <h2>1. Remember That Goals Can Be Made Anytime</h2> <p>We like to make resolutions in January, because it's the traditional time to do so, and that &quot;new year, fresh start&quot; feeling is palpable and contagious. By breaking free of that January tradition, you might be able to actually achieve success. According to StatisticBrain, the top <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/">New Year's Resolutions in 2015</a> were:</p> <ul> <li>Lose weight</li> <li>Spend less, save more</li> <li>Enjoy life to the fullest</li> <li>Stay fit and healthy</li> <li>Learn something exciting</li> <li>Quit smoking</li> <li>Help others</li> <li>Fall in love</li> <li>Spend more time with family</li> </ul> <p>Sure, it's easy to hop on the scale January 1 and resolve to move more and consume less, but when the days are short and your energy is at an all-time low, it can be tough to get motivated. Why not start that new fitness chapter of your life once the snow melts and when being outdoors is actually bearable?</p> <p>And for &quot;spend less, save more,&quot; wouldn't reviewing your financial goals <em>after </em>your taxes are done make more sense? That's a very natural time to review what you've done, and see where you need to work harder. April, then, could be a month to <em>begin</em> setting financial goals.</p> <p>Many of these resolutions can be implemented at any point during the year. There is nothing magical about starting them in January.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Exercise Because You Want to, Not Because You Have To</h2> <p>A soon-to-be-published Duke University study found that <a href="http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/news_events/news-releases/jordan-etkin-tracking/">measurement of exercise</a> &quot;Has these pernicious effects. Enjoyable activities can become almost like a job, by forcing out the outcomes of things that used to be fun,&quot; said Professor Etkin, of the results.</p> <p>I'm guilty of that. I like to write tasks down, and then cross them off. In doing those crunches, I'm not focusing on whether I'm doing them well, and using good form. I'm just counting them. I see a lot of this on Twitter, in tweets about how far a person has walked, or the amount of exercise performed. Instead, find something that's actually enjoyable, and it will feel less like a chore and more like a treat. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-yoga-can-teach-you-about-money?ref=seealso">5 Things Yoga Can Teach You About Money</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get Focused on Being Frugal</h2> <p>What do many of us do in January? We pay, or begin to pay, our credit card bills. Christmas was merry, but the Macy's bill isn't. And yet, what do we do? Join gyms. Buy exercise equipment. We pile debt upon debt in the name of self-improvement. And then tax season hits and we're back to suffering through another financial stress period.</p> <p>Once Tax Day passes, look at springtime as a fresh start for your finances. Banish the urge to buy a new spring wardrobe and focused on becoming more frugally-minded instead.</p> <h2>4. Use Winter as a Recovery Period</h2> <p>After the delightful fun vibe of the holiday season, we put away our decorations and gear up for the new year. Many of us have put off big work projects until the holidays are over, since it's frustrating trying to coordinate meetings or meet deadlines at the end of the year. So, work in the winter becomes one long day after another. If you have resolved to go to the gym before or after work, that's just one more thing you need to get done each day. If you are already stressed about bills, work, family pressures, or other areas of your life, this is the wrong time to try to &quot;better yourself.&quot;</p> <p>What's best is to get your life in a calmer place, first. Think of winter as a recovery time for every aspect of your life, and use the dewy beauty of spring for rejuvenation and goal achievement.</p> <h2>5. Go Slow and Steady Toward Your Goals</h2> <p>Would you like to make a lot of self-improvements? First, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Next, try making a list. Pick the <em>one </em>thing on that list that is the most important to you. Make sure it's realistic. When you feel you are ready to try to achieve this goal (meaning not stressed out about other parts of your life), give it a while. If, after a month or two, you are sticking with it, <em>then</em> add another. Be like the tortoise, and you'll get there way before the hare.</p> <p><em>Will you restart your resolutions this spring? Let us know 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/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring">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/checking-in-with-old-goals-for-the-new-year">Checking in With Old Goals for the New Year</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/solve-problems-study-and-brainstorm-using-mind-maps">Solve Problems, Study, and Brainstorm using Mind Maps</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/spice-up-the-conversation-by-skipping-what-do-you-do">Spice Up the Conversation by Skipping &quot;What Do You Do?&quot;</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-money-goals-all-30-somethings-should-have">10 Money Goals All 30-Somethings Should Have</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/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Lifestyle focus goals new year's resolutions resolutions spring Fri, 22 Jan 2016 12:00:04 +0000 Marla Walters 1642418 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Financial Decisions You'll Never Regret http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000058476892.jpg" alt="Woman making financial decisions she&#039;ll never regret" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new year is here. And even if you've already broken the resolutions you made at the end of the holiday season, it's never too late to make new ones, especially when it comes to your finances.</p> <p>Here are eight financial decisions you can make now that you'll never regret. Make the moves on this list soon, and you'll dramatically increase your odds of a happy financial future.</p> <h2>1. Save More for Retirement</h2> <p>How much money will you need each year to enjoy a happy and healthy retirement? That depends on what you want to do after you leave the working world. You'll need more money if you plan to travel the world, and less if you envision days spent reading, binge-watching TV, and playing with your grandchildren.</p> <p>A survey released last April by the Employee Benefits Research Institute suggests that more workers understand they'll need large amounts of money to enjoy their retirement years. The survey found that more than one in 10 workers think they'll need to save at least $1.5 million for their retirements. That's a lot of money. One way to reach such a lofty goal? Put away as much as you can each year now, even if your retirement days seem far away.</p> <p>You'll never regret your decision to maximize your contributions to your 401K plan or your annual deposits to an IRA. Start boosting those savings today.</p> <h2>2. Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>What happens if your furnace conks out today? What if your car's transmission needs to be replaced? If you're like too many people, you'll put the cost of replacing these items on your credit card, building your debt.</p> <p>The better option is to draw from an emergency fund of cash that you have already saved, usually in a savings account. Financial experts recommend that you build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of your daily living expenses. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-emergency-fund-myths-you-should-stop-believing">6 Emergency Fund Myths You Should Stop Believing</a>)</p> <p>This might seem daunting. But if you deposit what you can each month &mdash; even if it is as small as $100 &mdash; that emergency fund will steadily grow.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Your Credit Cards</h2> <p>Carrying a balance on your credit cards each month is a terrible financial decision. That's because cards come with such high interest rates &mdash; sometimes 18% or more. This makes your monthly debt grow by too much, even if you don't add any new purchases to your cards.</p> <p>Don't just make the minimum monthly payment on your cards. If you do this, it will take far too long to pay off your credit card debt. Say you have a credit card with a balance of $5,000 and an interest rate of 18.9%. If your minimum monthly payment is 4% of your outstanding balance, it will take you more than 11 years to eliminate this debt, even if you don't make any new purchases with this card.</p> <p>The better move is to always pay more than the monthly minimum. And don't buy items with your cards that you can't afford to pay off at the end of every month.</p> <h2>4. Pay Your Bills on Time Every Month</h2> <p>A single missed payment &mdash; on credit cards, mortgage loans, auto loans, and other debts &mdash; can drop your three-digit FICO credit score by 100 points. That missed payment will also stay on your credit report for seven years.</p> <p>Decide today to never make a late payment again. Having a low credit score makes it difficult to qualify for loans or credit. When you do qualify for these loans, you'll be faced with high interest rates.</p> <h2>5. Buy a Home That You Can Actually Afford</h2> <p>It's tempting when home shopping to stretch your budget to get into a bigger, more expensive home. But buying a home that's out of your budget, even by a bit, can be a big financial mistake. Those monthly mortgage payments can quickly become a burden.</p> <p>Instead, buy a home that you can comfortably afford, even if it's not your dream residence. Mortgage experts recommend that your total monthly housing expenses, including your estimated new mortgage payment, be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. Follow this guideline if you don't want to feel the strain each time your monthly mortgage payment comes due.</p> <h2>6. Track Your Spending</h2> <p>You might be surprised by how much you spend each month on take-out lunches or morning coffee runs. But if you create a spending book and track those expenses, it might help you make lifestyle changes that can add up to big savings each year.</p> <p>A spending book is just a notebook in which you record all your daily purchases for a set period of time, usually anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once you're done tracking your expenses, add them up. This gives you an idea where you are overspending. (You can also use automated tracking at free sites like Mint.com.) If you're spending too much on those morning coffees, for instance, you might decide to limit your time at Starbucks to twice a week instead of five times.</p> <h2>7. Create a Household Budget</h2> <p>You might shudder at the thought of drafting a budget for your household. But you can't get control of your finances if you first don't know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your home each month. Fortunately, creating a budget isn't difficult.</p> <p>First, write down the income you receive each month. Then write down those monthly expenses that never change, everything from your mortgage payment to your auto payment to your student loans. Then, write down those payments you make each month that fluctuate a bit. This would include your utility bills, credit card bills, and transportation costs to and from work. Estimate these. Finally, include estimated amounts for monthly groceries, entertainment, and eating out.</p> <p>Once you have these figures, you can determine how much money you should have left at the end of the month. Armed with this information, you can figure how much money you can save, invest for retirement, or put away for a child's college education.</p> <h2>8. Save First, Then Buy It</h2> <p>You want that new computer or that high-end flat-screen TV. It's tempting to simply use your credit cards, but the better move is to save up for that big-ticket non-necessity, and only buy it when you can pay for it with cash.</p> <p>This takes patience, of course. It might take you several months to save up for that new TV. But you'll enjoy your new electronic treat more if you don't have to dread next month's credit card bill.</p> <p><em>What financial decisions have you never regretted?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">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/the-7-most-important-financial-moments-of-your-life">The 7 Most Important Financial Moments of Your Life</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/9-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-your-credit-cards-are-paid-off">9 Money Moves to Make the Moment Your Credit Cards Are Paid Off</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/saving-money-is-easy-if-you-set-the-right-goals">Saving Money Is Easy If You Set the Right Goals</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency funds goals Paying Off Debt resolutions retirement saving money Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1634855 at http://www.wisebread.com You Can Too: 7 Amazing Things People Have Accomplished in Under a Year http://www.wisebread.com/you-can-too-7-amazing-things-people-have-accomplished-in-under-a-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-can-too-7-amazing-things-people-have-accomplished-in-under-a-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_map_000041834602_0.jpg" alt="man accomplished goals within a year and traveling with map" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are days when I feel incredibly productive, and others when I do not even get off the couch. Can you relate? On those couch days, I enjoy marveling at the accomplishments of others.</p> <p>Imagine what you could achieve by stringing together a few of those productive days&hellip;or even 365 of them! Here are a few incredible, inspiring, productive things your fellow humans have done in a year. Let the motivation begin!</p> <h2>1. Stroll the Continent</h2> <p>There are a number of people who have either run or <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_walked_across_the_United_States">walked across the United States</a> in less than a year's time. Many embark on such an adventure to raise awareness of certain medical or social causes. Take Louis Michael Figueroa, for example. He was only 16 when he ran from New Brunswick, NJ to San Francisco, CA as a promise to a friend who was dying of bone cancer. Figueroa became the youngest person to make the trek &mdash; in just 60 days. It makes that recommended <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-walk-more">10,000 steps a day</a> seem like not such a big deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-adventurous-things-you-should-do-before-you-die?ref=seealso">7 Simple Ways to Get Motivated for Your Workout</a>)</p> <h2>2. Sail the World</h2> <p>Here's another distance feat: Francis Joyon <a href="http://www.worldrecordacademy.com/sports/fastest_round_the_world_sailing_world_record_set_by_Francis_Joyon_80127.htm">sailed around the world</a> solo in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, and six seconds back in 2008. To put that in perspective, he made that wicked fast time journeying nearly 21,600 nautical miles. In less than two months. Alone at sea. Whoa.</p> <h2>3. Pay Off Debt</h2> <p>I am majorly inspired by the story of Jackie (<a href="http://thepaleomama.com/2013/08/how-we-paid-off-more-than-27000-of-debt-in-6-months-and-still-ate-paleo/">The Paleo Mama</a>) and her husband. The duo were able to pay off more than $27,000 in debt over the course of just six months using the Ramsey Method and some smart planning. Along with taking a hard look at their budget and bills, the family made some big modifications to their lifestyle as a whole, including selling one of their cars, buying most things second hand, canceling cable and expensive smart phones, and using a cash system for most purchases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-inspiring-people-who-each-paid-off-over-100000-in-debt?ref=seealso">5 Inspiring People Who Each Paid Off Over $100,000 in Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. Raise Millions</h2> <p>We've all heard of crowdsourced fundraising campaigns, and some are certainly more successful than others. Take the GoFundMe campaign for <a href="https://medium.com/@vonwong/my-video-raised-2-million-in-less-than-a-year-heres-how-you-can-do-it-too-46c0ed26b6fe">Eliza O'Neill</a>, a beautiful four-year-old girl with a degenerative brain disease called Sanfilippo syndrome. The amazing story, as told by photographer/videographer Benjamin Von Wong, raised more than $2 million in less than a year. This money will all go toward a clinical trial to find a cure.</p> <h2>5. Plant a Forest</h2> <p>In September 2010, a Pakistani soldier named Muhammed Yousuf Jamil <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/culture/pakistani-soldier-plants-20101-trees-in-one-day-sets-new-world-record.html">planted 20,101 trees</a> in just 18 hours and 40 minutes. As you can imagine, this accomplishment set a new world record in the Guinness book. For those of you curious about the math, that's a whopping 18 trees per minute. The previous record? An impressive 15,170 trees, held by Canadian Ken Chaplin back in 2001.</p> <h2>6. Lose All Fear</h2> <p>I first heard the term &quot;rejection therapy&quot; a few months ago on <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/16/377239011/by-making-a-game-out-of-rejection-a-man-conquers-fear">Invisibilia</a>, but concept has stuck with me. <a href="http://fearbuster.com">Jia Jiang</a> claims he completely broke through his fears of rejection through requesting crazy things from strangers for 100 days straight &mdash; so, less than a year. He is now featured on everything from Ted Talks to The Huffington Post to Forbes for this unusual, effective method of self-rehabilitation.</p> <h2>7. Read Books</h2> <p>Many of us set some reading goals for the new year, but I've never heard one quite like Nina Sankovitch's. She <a href="http://www.readallday.org/blog/tolstoy-and-the-purple-chair/">read a book per day</a> for an entire year after her oldest sister died of cancer in 2005. That's 365 books by 365 different authors in 365 days. Sankovitch chronicled this chapter in her life by writing a memoir called &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061999857/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0061999857&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WNMAEHTFW46MELLC">Tolstoy and the Purple Chair</a>.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Please share your favorite inspiring story &mdash; maybe it stars you!</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/you-can-too-7-amazing-things-people-have-accomplished-in-under-a-year">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/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</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/but-i-dont-want-to-secrets-to-self-motivation">But I Don&#039;t Want To! Secrets to Self-Motivation</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-places-to-go-for-inspiration">10 Places to Go for Inspiration</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-more-eureka-shower-moments">How to Have More Eureka! Shower Moments</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/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development Productivity goal setting goals inspiration persistence Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1358025 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Stress-Free Ways to Stay Productive on Vacation http://www.wisebread.com/7-stress-free-ways-to-stay-productive-on-vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-stress-free-ways-to-stay-productive-on-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000023308689_Large.jpg" alt="man pool suit" title="man pool suit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation is a time to relax and let loose &mdash; and you've earned every minute of it. But while it's healthy to slow down every once in a while to enjoy some of life's finer things, taking a much-needed break doesn't give you full credence to be lazy (unless that's what you want, of course; hey, it's your vacation). Fact is, you can still have fun &mdash; and stay productive &mdash; with bit of concerted effort. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Tie Up Loose Ends Before Vacation Commences</h2> <p>There's nothing worse than having an open-ended project hanging over your head that you wished you'd have finished before your vacation started. Whatever the reason you didn't complete it &mdash; maybe you were rushed, maybe you just didn't feel like bothering with it &mdash; your lack of follow-through will nag you for the duration of your holiday, and that's no way to spend what should be an otherwise fun time. Do yourself a favor and be a trooper &mdash; work through the night if you have to &mdash; to check these tasks off your list so there's one less thing to worry about when it's time to kick your feet up. You'll likely find that with this burden lifted, you'll be more motivated to work leisurely on something else at your own pace &mdash; if you'd like.</p> <h2>2. Schedule Small Tasks to Accomplish in Short Bursts</h2> <p>Instead of scheduling large, daunting tasks to complete over vacation &mdash; let's use cleaning the house as a blanket goal &mdash; try fitting in smaller, more manageable projects into your schedule. For instance, if you have free time one afternoon, tackle cleaning your pantry; the next day clear out your medicine cabinet. By working in short bursts to accomplish small tasks, you'll avoid becoming overwhelmed but still enjoy the feeling of staying somewhat productive.</p> <h2>3. Engage in Activities That Stimulate Your Brain</h2> <p>Studies show that playing games, eating certain foods, and exercising can&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-games/games-make-you-think">boost your brainpower</a>, the result of which is a conduit for productivity. If you're feeling a bit sluggish on vacation &mdash; like you just want to binge-watch every available season of House of Cards on Netflix instead of getting something worthwhile done &mdash; play a videogame,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/best-foods-your-brain?s=5">have a piece of chocolate</a> (legit!), or go for a walk to help get you shake off the lazies and spend your time more wisely.</p> <h2>4. Reflect on Positive Things You've Accomplished Recently</h2> <p>When my business is lagging, or I haven't accomplished anything of which I can be proud lately, I like to reflect on some of the positive things that I've done in the recent past to help me remember why I do what I do. If you're in a similar rut on vacation, think back to one of your rockstar moments to help provide a boost of motivation to get moving.</p> <h2>5. Schedule Time to Exercise</h2> <p>There's a direct correlation between&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-pozen/exercise-productivity_b_2005463.html">exercise and productivity</a>, so it's not a bad idea to schedule time to work out even when you're on vacation. I know, I know &mdash; who wants to break a sweat when there are free-flowing frozen margaritas at the pool bar? Very few of us. But I can tell you from experience that when I drag myself to the treadmill and commit to at least 20 minutes of non-stop exercise, my day is immediately much better. I feel healthier, my confidence gets a boost, and I walk away with more energy to do more than just tip a glass back (even though it's not completely off the schedule).</p> <h2>6. Limit Your Food and Drink Indulgences</h2> <p>Speaking of the sweet nectar of delicious drinks that seem to be omnipresent when you're on vacation, it's important to not overdo it. We all know what happens when we drink too much &mdash; we get a one-way ticket to Hangover City that sucks the fun right out of our getaway &mdash; but overeating also can be a detriment to your productivity. Indulging too much can make us feel nauseous, tired, and bloated &mdash; which ultimately will ruin our mood and kill our motivation.</p> <h2>7. Sleep In &mdash; But Not Too Long</h2> <p>Getting a good night's rest is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/physical-side-effects-oversleeping">critical to staying productive</a> &mdash; and having the stamina to keep going &mdash; and there's no better time than vacation to catch a few extra Zs. But, mind you, there's a fine line between sleeping in and oversleeping. You want to get enough sleep that you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day opposed to rising lethargic and down in the dumps. A good way to handle this is to let yourself sleep one more hour than your normal schedule allows. That's a reasonable amount of time to get in a few more winks without wasting your vacation.</p> <p><em>How do you stay productive on vacation? Let us know 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/7-stress-free-ways-to-stay-productive-on-vacation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-theft-while-traveling">7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Theft While Traveling</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/heres-how-brexit-could-affect-your-travel-plans">Here&#039;s How Brexit Could Affect Your Travel Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-airlines-with-the-best-customer-service">5 Airlines With the Best Customer Service</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-things-to-leave-behind-during-your-midsummer-trip">10 Things to Leave Behind During Your Midsummer Trip</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-6-best-vacation-deal-websites">The 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Travel energy goals vacation Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1279974 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: What Are Your Goals for 2015? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-are-your-goals-for-2015 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-what-are-your-goals-for-2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl-cafe-thinking-winter-Dollarphotoclub_68642749.jpg" alt="girl cafe winter" title="girl cafe winter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-are-your-goals-for-2015#comment-764433">Kim</a>, Lynda, and Elena for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>The new year is a time of fresh beginnings and hope for a better year. Many people like to set goals and resolutions at each new year, but it can be difficult to keep it up if you don't have a clear plan and the determination to follow through.</p> <p><strong>What are your goals for 2015?</strong> What steps will you take to achieve these goals? What is your favorite tip for achieving a New Year's resolution or goal?</p> <p>Tell us about your goals for 2015 and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For Extra Entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a id="rcwidget_13lyjnw2" data-template="" data-theme="classic" data-raflid="79857dfa163" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa163/" class="rcptr">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, January 12th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after January 12th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us about your goals for 2015 and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-are-your-goals-for-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-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/ask-the-readers-should-kids-get-paid-for-doing-chores">Ask The Readers: Should Kids Get Paid For Doing Chores?</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/ask-the-readers-are-checks-a-thing-of-the-past-chance-to-win-20">Ask the Readers: Are Checks a Thing of the Past? (Chance to win $20!)</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/ask-the-readers-i-used-to-but-now-i">Ask the Readers: I used to __, but now I __ to save 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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</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/ask-the-readers-share-your-favorite-frugal-holiday-tradition">Ask the Readers: Share Your Favorite Frugal Holiday Tradition</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers goals Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:00:10 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1273735 at http://www.wisebread.com 31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-morning-coffee-Dollarphotoclub_73432160.jpg" alt="woman coffee morning" title="woman coffee morning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've got two ways you can play January. One is to sit around on your butt and lament the winter weather; the other is to suck it up, stay active, and get yourself in gear for the rest of the year. You don't need much to accomplish the former, but here are 31 ideas to help you get started on the latter. Your fresh start won't know what hit it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fight-the-post-holiday-blues-20-cheap-ways-to-make-january-special?ref=seealso">20 Cheap Ways to Make January Special</a>)</p> <h2>1. Enjoy the Day Off</h2> <p>It's the first day of the year, and you probably need some downtime after last night's celebration. Feel free to take it. Relax, watch TV, order a pizza. Savor this lazy (but productive in the sense that it's helping you recuperate) day, because you've got 30 days of productivity ahead of you.</p> <h2>2. Hit the Tail-End of the After-Holiday Sales</h2> <p>One of my favorite post-holiday activities is to hit up the after-celebration sales to stock up on decorations and other useful items (think scissors, tape, wrapping papers, bags, and more) that by this date will probably be anywhere from 75% to 90% off the regular price. Pickings will be slim, but you're saving 25% to 40% more than you would have if you went the first few days after Christmas. When you're shopping, remember to think outside the holidays, too. Some of the discounted items are useful year round. Keep that in mind when you're in retail renegade mode.</p> <h2>3. Write Thank-You Notes for Holiday Gifts</h2> <p>Personally, I think a verbal thank-you suffices when you exchange gifts in person, but if you've received a gift in the mail this season, take a few minutes to write a quick note of thanks via postcard or e-mail. The former is a more thoughtful gesture, of course, but I'm never offended by an e-mail thanks. Something is better than nothing, and I'd rather the sender save paper and his or her stamp.</p> <h2>4. Edit Your Social Media Profiles</h2> <p>I recently did a purge of all the photos on my Facebook page that I didn't like, untagged myself from photos I didn't like on other people's pages, and I whittled down my friends list a bit by removing a few folks that I've never heard of before in my life.</p> <h2>5. Take Down Your Holiday Decorations</h2> <p>Did you know that January 5th is widely considered to be the day when holiday decorations should come down? It's all based on the 12 days of Christmas (it's not just a song, y'all), which is steeped in a&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas">long history of religious tradition</a>.</p> <h2>6. Organize the Basement/Attic/Garage</h2> <p>While you're moving your holiday boxes back into their respective storage places, take the time to organize the rest of the space. Pace yourself though. If you have all three of these areas &mdash; basement, attic, garage &mdash; there's no harm in spreading the work out over a few days to a week.</p> <h2>7. Clean Out Your Closet</h2> <p>You probably received more than a few new pieces of clothing over the holidays (either as gifts from someone you love, or as presents to yourself; I'm very guilty of the latter), so to ensure that your closet doesn't start spilling out from the seams, take stock of what you like and wear, and then collect all the unwanted items to sell. I unload a lot of my old clothing at my twice-yearly yard sales, but donating the clothes to the needy is another option.</p> <h2>8. Raid Your Pantry for Expired Food</h2> <p>Non-perishables perish, believe it or not, and I'm willing to bet that there are items in your pantry that are no longer safe (or delicious enough) to eat. Take an hour or so to empty it, examine the labels, and toss out whatever has expired. Also take a good look at what's close to its expiration date so you can make a conscious effort to use it to avoid wasting any more money.</p> <h2>9. Defrost and Clean Freezer and Fridge</h2> <p>This is one of my least favorite chores, but there's something about a clean fridge and freezer that satisfies me inside. This also is a great opportunity to toss out any expired foods and/or anything you know you're probably not going to eat.</p> <h2>10. Tidy up Your Medicine Cabinet</h2> <p>Just like food, medications have expiration dates. Go through your medicine cabinet and remove all expired items, toss out anything that only exists to take up space, and re-organize what's left so it's easily accessed.</p> <h2>11. Give the House a Deep Clean</h2> <p>Now that you've tackled some of the more time-consuming small areas of your home that require specialized attention, it's time to do the dreaded deep clean. This often means getting down on your hands and knees to scrubs toilets, and floors and baseboards, and on ladders to clean ceiling fans and blinds &mdash; but you can do it. Besides, it's freezing outside; would you rather be cleaning the gutters?</p> <h2>12. Rearrange Your Furniture</h2> <p>Besides giving your living space a fresh feel, there are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-creativity-cure/201404/rearranging-the-furniture-makes-me-feel-better-2">bonafide psychological benefits</a>&nbsp;to rearranging your furniture. Move a chair here; put a lamp there. You might be surprised at how much this simple fix can improve your mood &mdash; which might be a much-needed pick-me-up this time of year.</p> <h2>13. Check in With Your Boss/Work Team</h2> <p>With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you may not have had an ideal opportunity to get down to actual business with your boss and co-workers. The beginning of the year is perfect for reconvening after a period of relaxation to talk about where everybody's at work-wise and plan ahead.</p> <h2>14. Update Your Pet's Health Info</h2> <p>Check in on your pet's health status by revisiting your files to make sure all vaccines and tags are up-to-date. If your pet hasn't been to the vet in a while, schedule a routine check-up.</p> <h2>15. Schedule a Physical</h2> <p>After your furbabies receive a clean bill of health, it's time to get yours. Make an appointment with your doctor to make sure everything is in working order. Use this time to discuss with him or her any issues you've been having and any prescriptions you need refilled.</p> <h2>16. Tune-up Your Vehicle</h2> <p>Hopefully your car is already winterized &mdash; you don't want to cause damage to your vehicle by facilitating avoidable issues that can arise from neglecting it &mdash; but you still need to get an oil change from time to time (check your owner's manual!). It's probably that time again.</p> <h2>17. Update Your DVR</h2> <p>At the beginning of the fall TV season, I create season passes for all the new shows I want to watch. By now, however, I've either lost interest in a few of them or they've been canceled. I know I'm not alone. Take 10 minutes to delete unwanted shows from your queue and cancel the season passes in which you're no longer interested.</p> <h2>18. Plan a Date With Your Partner</h2> <p>You don't want to get so wrapped up in being productive this month that you forget about your significant other. Plan a date for you two to spend several quality hours together enjoying each other's company and catching up with one another's lives.</p> <h2>19. Create a List of Goals for the Year</h2> <p>Having the intentions to work toward positive goals and actually planning for them are two completely different things. Exchange more talk for more doing this year by creating a list of goals that you'd like to achieve along with an outline of your plan to achieve them.</p> <h2>20. Learn Something New</h2> <p>You can learn the darndest things with the flick of a finger these days. Skip the cute cat videos on YouTube and search for something useful that'll leave you with a new skill after watching it.</p> <h2>21. Make a Two-Week Meal Calendar With Recipes</h2> <p>I've talked about this tip in several posts, and I keep bringing it up because it's truly changed the way I eat. Instead of blindly going grocery shopping, buying food, and then deciding what I'll make with it after I get home, I've reversed the process. Now I plan ahead of time what I'll make for dinner by adding two weeks' worth of recipes to a calendar and create a shopping list of ingredients based on those recipes (and nothing more!), so I can eat healthy meals on a regular basis. Having this structure in place has cut down on the amount of food waste in my house as well as the number of pizzas ordered because I can't decide what to make for dinner. I've also dropped 15 pounds (exercise helped, too), which I hope will give you more incentive to give this a try.</p> <h2>22. Clip Coupons for Your Next Shopping Trip</h2> <p>Before you head to the supermarket with your very healthy shopping list, clip those coupons. I round up coupons from circulars, past shopping trips, online resources, and apps to ensure that I'm maximizing my food savings as much as I can.</p> <h2>23. List for Sale Your Unwanted Items of Value</h2> <p>If you're feeling the pinch in January (because who isn't?), a great way to make some extra cash is to go through your home (while you're cleaning if you want to kill two birds with one stone) and round up all those odds and ends that you no longer need or want. If any of these items have value (electronics, accessories, appliances, etc.), decide how you'll sell them. Craigslist is a great place for larger items, while Amazon and eBay are ideal for smaller, lightweight pieces.</p> <h2>24. Deliver Remaining Unwanted Items to Donation Centers</h2> <p>After you've determined what you can sell, send all the other unwanted clutter to the donation center so that it can live a second life as someone else's.</p> <h2>25. Scan Old Photos Into the Computer</h2> <p>Unless you were born after 2007, you likely have albums and boxes and drawers full of actual paper pictures &mdash; and you're probably wondering what the heck you're going to do with them. One option is to scan the photos onto the computer so you can keep them in a file or in the cloud for forever safekeeping. You can do this daunting task manually (it's the cheapest way), or you can send your photos away to a company (of which there are plenty) that will do this for you.</p> <h2>26. Consolidate and Clean up Computer Files</h2> <p>Adding so many large photo files to your computer is going to eat up a lot of space, so you've got to make up for that somehow. Take this opportunity to delete unwanted files, consolidate stragglers, and otherwise organize your computer in a more concise, easy-to-access manner.</p> <h2>27. De-Clutter Your Office/Desk</h2> <p>Clean your desk the same way you cleaned your computer &mdash; decide, discard, dust. Seriously, you don't need all that nonsense that you keep year in and year out.</p> <h2>28. Set up a Dentist Appointment</h2> <p>You only get one set of teeth. Take care of them.</p> <h2>29. Establish a Fitness Plan</h2> <p>Six months ago I decided to get my health in check after years of a leading a sedentary lifestyle that severely damaged my self-confidence. I established a goal weight, created an exercise plan to help achieve it, and completely revamped my diet. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't very delicious &mdash; at first. Now that it's part of my normal routine, I've learned how to live healthy and love it. I feel and look better than I have in many years (since high school actually), and if I can do it, then so can you.</p> <h2>30. Reevaluate Your Debt and Establish a Plan of Action</h2> <p>Unless you're going into the New Year completely debt free, now is the time to take a good, long look at your finances and make a solid plan to improve your situation. One of my friends recently told me that she always makes this a part of her New Year's to-dos.</p> <p>&quot;We look at what we saved last year, areas we need to improve on, any debts we need to knock out this year, and big expenses we might need to plan for also,&quot; she says. &quot;By no means is this the only time we talk about finances, but it prepares us mentally for what we want to accomplish.&quot;</p> <h2>31. Prepare Your Tax Materials</h2> <p>Nobody wants to do this. Ever. But I've found that by getting this out of the way sooner rather than later, I stress a whole lot less in a shorter amount of time. In fact, if you wrap it all up by mid-February, you could have your refund (if you get one; my fingers are crossed for you) before the federal tax-filing deadline even arrives. Spring vacation, anyone?</p> <p><em>Do you have other ways to stay productive in the first month of the year so that the rest of it can run smoothly? Let us know 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/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">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/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/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/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</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/12-proactive-things-you-can-do-right-now">12 Proactive Things You Can Do Right Now</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/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development goals january New Year resolutions to-do Thu, 01 Jan 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1275494 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-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/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/8-things-your-boomer-parents-could-afford-that-you-cant">8 Things Your Boomer Parents Could Afford That You Can&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</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 Successful New Year's Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours? http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new-years-resolutions-notes-Dollarphotoclub_73113952.jpg" alt="new years resolutions notes" title="new years resolutions notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>About <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/">45% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions</a>, little wishes with wings sent out into the universe on high hopes that they'll come true. Yet only 8% of all resolutions are successful before the year's end, and more than half of them are forfeited within six weeks.</p> <p>It's a grim forecast, but don't be dissuaded. Research shows that we're more apt to achieve our goals and aspirations if we set out to do so on the first of the year. Chalk it up to the &quot;fresh start effect&quot; &mdash; <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2204126">that little boost of willpower our psyche lends us</a> when we attempt something new or difficult on a clean slate. Timing isn't everything, but when it comes to achieving our goals, it's truly half the battle. So just by timing your resolution with the new year you're giving yourself an instant leg-up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-effective-times-for-setting-a-new-goal">The 4 Most Effective Times for Setting a New Goal</a>)</p> <p>But how do you ensure that your New Year's Resolution lands among the successful 8%?</p> <p>Here's the scientifically-backed secret.</p> <h2>The Secret Is Focus</h2> <p>What all successful resolutions have in common is that they are focused, singular goals (not a long laundry list) equipped with a step-by-step plan of execution. (Hope is not a plan, as the saying goes.)</p> <p>Here's why this formula works.</p> <p>Most resolutions (eat healthier, exercise more, make better financial decisions, call Mom once a week, etc.) require that a person <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/hea/29/4/374/">break one habit and replace it</a> with a healthier or more desirable one. In order to adopt a new habit, it's crucial to have a game plan outlining exactly how this new, desired behavior will be integrated into daily life. And <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201212/why-new-years-resolutions-fail">it must include small steps</a> that will eventually lead you to reach your end goal.</p> <p>So when you sit down to brainstorm your resolution, remember to settle on just one goal, and make is specific. Examples of specific, singular goals include quit smoking (versus adopt a healthier lifestyle), host a monthly family dinner (versus spend more time with family), join and become active in an online dating community (versus fall in love), and build a $5,000 financial safety net (versus spend less, save more).</p> <h2>Next Comes the Plan</h2> <p>Once you've hacked any semblance of vagueness out of your resolution, it's time to map out your plan of attack &mdash; complete with benchmarks, timetables, and rewards.</p> <p>If your resolution is to lose 40 pounds, decide exactly what exercises you'll do, where and when you'll do them, and what behaviors you'll nix in their stead. For example, you might decide that you'll go snowshoeing around the park for 45 minutes three times a week with a podcast in your ears rather than watch your usual morning television news show from the couch. And don't forget to reward yourself with a new purchase or fun weekend outing for each month of 100% success. Even the smallest of rewards goes a long way to motivate a difficult change in behavior.</p> <p><em>What are your resolutions this year? How will to stick with them? Please motivate us to complete ours in comments!</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/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet">25 Bite-Sized Money Resolutions to Make 2015 Your Biggest Year Yet</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right</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/you-can-too-7-amazing-things-people-have-accomplished-in-under-a-year">You Can Too: 7 Amazing Things People Have Accomplished in Under a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development goal setting goals new years resolutions Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1270662 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying-new-car-Dollarphotoclub_53578392_0.jpg" alt="couple buying new car" title="couple buying new car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With 2015 just around the corner, it's time to plan ahead to set yourself up for success in the New Year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-you-need-to-make-before-the-end-of-the-year?ref=seealso">10 Money Moves You Need to Make Before the End of the Year</a>)</p> <p>However, not all money resolutions are good ones. Some of them might become an obstacle towards your financial wellbeing and, even worse, undo any benefits that you accumulate throughout the year.</p> <p>Let's start the New Year with a bang by avoiding these four bad money resolutions.</p> <h2>1. Buying a Brand New Car</h2> <p>New year, new you. So, by extension &mdash; new year, new car, right? Not so fast.</p> <p>From a purely financial perspective, a new car is always a bad idea because a car loses over 10% of its value in the first year due to depreciation. A car is not an investment because it virtually always loses money due to maintenance, insurance, and registration costs. According to Edmunds.com, a $25,000 new automobile purchase generates an estimated total cost of $33,604.</p> <p>It's true that the average interest rate on a 60-month new car loan is now lower than in the last five years, but that's not the full picture. As more Americans are taking out car loans, the prices of cars are increasing. This means that the <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/031914/americans-are-borrowing-more-buy-cars-should-they-be.asp">average car loan principal is getting larger and larger.</a></p> <p>By purchasing a car that is over a year old, you avoid the 10% depreciation hit and the higher tax and insurance costs. It's a good idea to buy used cars from a dealership that you trust and that offers a comprehensive warranty. Remember that <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0055-buying-used-car#warranties">not all automobile warranties are equal</a>.</p> <p>Also, consider buying a car only when you can pay cash for it. Assuming a loan balance of $20,000 and a car loan rate of 5%, you would pay $1,000 in interest in the first year. That money would be better used towards paying down other debts. However, If you are in dire need of a reliable vehicle and need to take out a car loan, then limit your monthly car payment to <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-to-buy-a-car.html">20% of your monthly income after taxes</a>.</p> <h2>2. Withholding (Too Much) Taxes</h2> <p>Here's the scenario: When you file your taxes at the very last minute in April, you suddenly realize that you owe Uncle Sam a lot more than you expected. You promise yourself this won't ever happen again, so you update your W-4 form with your employer to withhold more than last year. The problem is that now you withhold way more than it's actually necessary. In fact, every year, <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/03/18/why-were-so-irrational-when-it-comes-to-tax-refunds/">75% of Americans withhold too much tax</a>.</p> <p>It's a good idea to withhold a <em>little bit</em> extra in order to avoid owing taxes on April 15th. But the average tax refund in 2013 was over $2,800, meaning that &quot;little bit extra&quot; was probably too much. The IRS isn't a bank and it won't pay you interest for your taxes. You're better off withholding the right amount of taxes and putting the extra in an interest-bearing savings account.</p> <p>Updating your W-4 takes very little time. Before filling it out, figure out <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator">how much you need to withhold in federal taxes</a> based on your income and set your W-4 accordingly.</p> <h2>3. Saving &quot;More&quot;</h2> <p>In theory, this sounds great. In reality, you're setting yourself for failure by not defining any specifics. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-new-years-resolutions-will-fail?ref=seealso">Why Your New Year's Resolutions Will Fail</a>)</p> <ul> <li>How much is exactly &quot;more&quot;? $100? $1,000? $5,000?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What is your time frame? Summer? Your birthday? Christmas?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Do your other resolutions prevent you from saving? If you're planning to join a gym and bike to the office, are you going to have money leftover?<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are you cutting back on other expenses? If so, which ones?</li> </ul> <p>The concept of &quot;go big or go home&quot; doesn't apply to saving. If you want to improve your chances of saving this year, you need to be as specific as possible.</p> <ul> <li>Establish your reason to save. For example, &quot;I'm saving for a mortgage down payment&quot; or &quot;I'm saving to replace my desktop computer.&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Specify a dollar amount. Unless you have that number, you won't be able to know if you have reached your objective.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Calculate how much you need to put away per week or per month to achieve your target number.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a separate account, such as a savings account, every week or month to force yourself to save.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take advantage of mechanisms to block the access to your stash until the deadline. For example, if you're saving to buy Christmas gifts with cash, you could use a Christmas savings account (also known as a &quot;Christmas Club&quot; at some credit unions).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Determine what activities and expenses you need to cut back. Remember that the savings money has to come from somewhere!</li> </ul> <h2>4. Borrowing From Your Retirement Accounts</h2> <p>More and more Americans are treating their retirement accounts as revolving lines of credit.</p> <p>There are several statistics that show why borrowing from your retirement account is a bad idea:</p> <ul> <li>As many as <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168824/fewer-rely-401-retirement-pre-recession.aspx">48% of non-retirees</a> are planning to use retirement saving accounts as a major source of income during retirement;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Yet, Americans took about <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-06/early-tap-of-401-k-replaces-homes-as-american-piggy-bank.html">$57 billion from retirement funds</a> before they were supposed to;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Even worse, every year Americans default on <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/17/retirement/401k-loan-defaults/">about $37 billion on 401(k) loans</a>;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Unpaid balances become part of your taxable income and receive an additional 10% tax penalty from the IRS.</li> </ul> <p>This partly explains why <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/shocking-number-of-americans-have-no-retirement-savings/">more than one-third of al</a>l<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/shocking-number-of-americans-have-no-retirement-savings/"> working-age adults have no retirement savings</a>. There are very few times when it makes sense to borrow from your retirement account. If you find yourself borrowing from retirement accounts, you need to resolve to kick this habit next year. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-when-you-should-borrow-from-your-retirement-account?ref=seealso">This is When You Should Borrow From Your Retirement Account</a>)</p> <p>Let's start 2015 on the right foot!</p> <p><em>What are some other bad money resolutions to skip next year? 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/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">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/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</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/21-ways-to-make-a-big-financial-change">21 Ways to Make a Big Financial Change</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/31-productive-things-to-do-in-january-to-start-the-new-year-off-right">31 Productive Things to Do in January to Start the New Year Off Right</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/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Personal Development goals money goals resolutions Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:00:16 +0000 Damian Davila 1270229 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things Millennials Do Later Than Previous Generations Did http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-millennials-do-later-than-previous-generations-did <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-millennials-do-later-than-previous-generations-did" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young-couple-buying-home-153215091-small.jpg" alt="young couple buying home" title="young couple buying home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For millennials &mdash; young adults ages 18 to 33 &mdash; life unfolds a bit more slowly than it did for previous generations. Blame it on their entrepreneurial spirit or the Great Recession, but either way millennials have been hitting life's landmarks &mdash; marriage, mortgages, babies &mdash; at a rate that's startlingly delayed from the timetables followed by every generation before them. (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>Read on for our roundup of the things millennials are putting off &mdash; and social scientists' best guesses as to why.</p> <h2>1. Buying a Home</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.trulia.com/trends/2014/09/millennials-leaving-nest/">homeownership rate among young adults ages 18 to 34 dropped</a> this year to a new low of 13%, according to U.S. Census Data. Meanwhile, nearly a third of young adults in this age bracket are living at home with their parents. And instead of buying or renting, those who do leave Mom and Dad's basement are more often bunking with friends or siblings. Experts say the hurting job market and high lending rates are among the top culprits of this shortage in home sales.</p> <h2>2. Saying &quot;I Do&quot;</h2> <p>More than <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/20/news/economy/millennials-marriage/">30% of millennial women are on track to remain unmarried</a> by their 40th birthday, according to Urban Institute research. That's double the rate of unwed 40-year-old women from Gen X. The reasons are societal. Where marriage used to mark the start of adult life, today's millennials typically embark on that journey as single college students. Increasingly millennials have come to believe they can coexist with a partner and raise a family without the vows and white gown. College educated millennials, however, are more likely to marry than those without higher degrees.</p> <h2>3. Making Babies</h2> <p>Millennial women are putting off motherhood at higher rates than any previous generation, and experts say it's largely because they're focusing on getting their financial footing before even thinking about building a family. In fact, <a href="http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/22/lower-u-s-birth-rate-here-to-stay-millennials-putting-off-motherhood/">the birth rate among women 20 to 24 is at an all-time low</a>, according to Brookings Institution research. Women in particular are making more time for career and education before becoming pregnant. For each year motherhood is put off, career earnings increase by 9%, according to an economics expert from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.</p> <h2>4. Building Loyalty to a Company</h2> <p><a href="http://www.payscale.com/gen-y-at-work">Millennials change jobs every two years</a>, more than twice as often as the generation before them. In fact, studies show that 78% of twenty-somethings not only want to swap jobs, they're looking to change careers&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 22.1000003814697px;">altogether</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">. What they're on the hunt for is fulfilling assignments, opportunities to enrich their skill set, and, above all, greater flexibility.</span></p> <h2>5. Buying a Car</h2> <p>&quot;Unlike baby boomers and Generation X, it's from the internet that millennials derive their sense of freedom, not from owning cars,&quot; writes Bloomberg View contributor Leonid Bershidsky. And we've got numbers to back it up: Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/the-cheapest-generation/309060/">bought just 27% of all new vehicles</a> sold in America in 2010, down from a peak of 38% in 1985, The Atlantic reports. Instead, Bershidsky writes, millennials are more interested in smartphone apps that can connect them to carsharing services, public transportation offerings, and maps that direct them to the nearest and best sushi spot.</p> <p><em>What are you waiting for? 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/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-millennials-do-later-than-previous-generations-did">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-personal-finance-milestones-every-20-and-30-year-old-should-hit">7 Personal Finance Milestones Every 20 and 30 Year Old Should Hit</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/successful-men-carry-these-7-things-around-with-them-do-you">Successful Men Carry These 7 Things Around With Them — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-successful-millennials-do">7 Things Successful Millennials Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-frugal-shouldnt-be-a-dirty-word">4 Reasons &#039;Frugal&#039; Shouldn&#039;t be a Dirty Word</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-restart-your-resolutions-this-spring">5 Ways to Restart Your Resolutions This Spring</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle goals milestones millennials success waiting Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1246353 at http://www.wisebread.com