Budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4804/all en-US Why I Love Using Skype to Keep in Touch With Family and Coworkers http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-love-using-skype-to-keep-in-touch-with-family-and-coworkers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-i-love-using-skype-to-keep-in-touch-with-family-and-coworkers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/editorial-review-of-skype-6.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Skype has been a daily part of my life and the life of my family for over four years. I depend on Skype every day for my professional life, and my family counts on it to keep in touch with relatives in Canada, Europe, and the Philippines.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a Wise Bread reader, you&rsquo;re probably already savvy enough to be using Skype to make free Skype-to-Skype calls. But I would like to introduce you to <a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_review_greggo">Skype Credit</a>, which allows you to call landlines and mobiles in the U.S. and across the globe at extremely low rates.</p> <h2>Why I Love Skype Credit for Personal Use</h2> <p>I emigrated from the Philippines to Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, and most of my extended family are scattered across the globe. Before discovering Skype Credit, my frugal parents had to be very careful about how much time (and money) they spent on international calls. But these days, my parents and I use <a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_review_greggo">Skype Credit</a> to call family members in Canada, Europe, and in the Philippines on a regular basis. Skype Credit&rsquo;s per-minute rates for calling internationally are much cheaper than other options, allowing us to never think twice about calling up our relatives.</p> <p>For example, my mom uses Skype Credit to talk to her aunt in Toronto frequently. My grand-aunt is the oldest living relative in our family, and she serves as an important connection between my mom and the previous generation of our family. Thanks to Skype Credit, my mom and grand-aunt now talk a couple of times a week on the phone. (Although, to my chagrin, they usually use these calls to discuss my love life.)</p> <h2>Why Skype Is Essential for My Small Business</h2> <p>Since Wise Bread is a virtual company (we all work from home), Skype is an invaluable tool in my day-to-day work. Our team is spread throughout the world: LA, New York, Italy, New Zealand, Manila, and more. Being able to communicate with my team at any time of the day, whether they&rsquo;re in the U.S., Europe, or Asia, has been invaluable. It&rsquo;s hard to imagine how we could have built this company 10 years ago, before the advent of Skype Chat, Skype&rsquo;s iPhone and Android apps, and Skype Credit for cheap calls to my teammates on the other side of the world.</p> <p>Here are some of the reasons I love using Skype for our day-to-day business operations.</p> <h3>1. Skype Is Available on All Devices</h3> <p>I love that Skype is available on computers (<a href="http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/">Skype download</a>) and on tablets and phones (<a href="http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-iphone/">iPhone</a>, <a href="http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-android/">Android</a> apps). Whether I&rsquo;m sitting at my desk on my laptop, watching TV with my tablet next to me, or gardening in the backyard and only have my smartphone, I&rsquo;m always available on Skype. That means I&rsquo;m in constant contact with the team, clients, and partners outside the company.</p> <h3>2. Skype Chat</h3> <p>Skype Chat is the virtual water cooler that keeps the Wise Bread team united, even though we&rsquo;re physically thousands of miles from each other. Our company Skype Chat windows are filled with work stuff, as well as gossip and pop culture discussions. This daily chatter is what keeps the team on the same page for work, but it&rsquo;s also what bonds us together. If we didn&rsquo;t have Skype Chat, we wouldn&rsquo;t have the team morale and cohesiveness that&rsquo;s necessary for keeping a virtual company alive.</p> <p>Furthermore, Skype Chat allows me to stay in constant contact with people outside the company. For example, I regularly chat with other finance bloggers like Jeff Rose (<a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/">Good Financial Cents</a>), Jim Wang (<a href="http://microblogger.com/">Microblogger</a>), Steve Chou (<a href="http://mywifequitherjob.com/">My Wife Quit Her Job</a>), Phil Taylor (<a href="http://finconexpo.com/">FinCon</a> and <a href="http://ptmoney.com/">PTMoney</a>), and others. Skype allows us to stay in touch regularly, and I can say that it has helped me develop both professional and personal relationships with these bloggers. I wouldn&rsquo;t be able to call these people &ldquo;friends&rdquo; now if it wasn&rsquo;t for the candid chats we've had on Skype over the years.</p> <p>If I had to sum up the business benefits of having Skype Chat with other bloggers, I would say that we&rsquo;ve landed hundreds of thousands of dollars&rsquo; worth of deals and media opportunities because of the contacts and referrals made through friendships developed over Skype.</p> <h3>3. Skype Number</h3> <p><a href="http://www.skype.com/en/features/online-number/">Skype Number</a> gives me an actual number (eg., 310-961-XXXX) for five bucks a month. I can forward calls made to this number to any laptop, mobile, or tablet.</p> <p>I put this phone number on my business card, and that way, I&rsquo;m reachable by clients and partners, regardless of whether I&rsquo;m at my computer, doing yard work, or on vacation in Europe. They think I&rsquo;m sitting in my Los Angeles office, when really, I&rsquo;m wandering the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Really, it&rsquo;s impossible to be a location-independent small business owner without a Skype Number.</p> <h3>4. Skype Credit</h3> <p><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_review_greggo">Skype Credit</a> has been critical to Wise Bread&rsquo;s success. Since Wise Bread deals with both U.S. and international partners (clients and other websites), being able to call anyone in the world for low per-minute rates has really helped our business.</p> <p>For example, while on a family vacation in Scandinavia last year, we had a problem with the Wise Bread server. I needed to talk to my partners in LA and to my hosting company&rsquo;s admins in New Zealand. If I had made the call using my cell phone provider&rsquo;s roaming rates, I would have paid $2-3 <i>per minute </i>for the privilege. But instead, I called people in LA and New Zealand using the Skype app on my phone, which saved me a lot of money.</p> <h3>5. The Call Quality Is Superb</h3> <p>Finally, Skype&rsquo;s call quality is amazing. I almost forgot to mention this because it&rsquo;s been so reliable.</p> <p>I have done media interviews using Skype, and they were better than if I had made the call using my cell phone or landline service. Listen to <a href="http://microblogger.com/mbp2-greg-go-wise-bread/">this interview I recorded using Skype</a> and hear for yourself.</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h2>Downsides of Skype</h2> <p>I really like Skype, and I think it&rsquo;s absolutely critical to my business. But I do want to point out a couple of drawbacks.</p> <h3>1. It Requires Decent Internet Connection</h3> <p>Skype works best when you have a decent internet connection. From what I&rsquo;ve seen, Skype works well with almost any basic cable/DSL/data packages. Unsure whether Skype will work well with your internet connection? Fortunately, you can try out the free version of Skype before you buy Skype Credit, so you know before you spend any money whether Skype works for you.</p> <h3>2. Does Not Call 911</h3> <p>You cannot use Skype to call 911. However, this is not much of a problem, since when you&rsquo;re at home you can easily use your landline to call 911, and according to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/16/technology/old-cell-phones-can-still-call-911.html">New York Times</a>, you can make 911 calls from &ldquo;any wireless phone &mdash; even one that no longer has a phone number or service contract.&rdquo; (This is why <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5894480/repurpose-an-old-cellphone-as-an-emergency-phone-for-your-car-other-strategic-locations/all">Lifehacker&rsquo;s tip</a> of keeping a couple of old cell phones around for emergency purposes is a great idea.)</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to imagine how my business and personal life was without Skype five years ago. The tool has been essential to both my day-to-day interactions with business teammates and partners, and to keeping in contact with relatives overseas. I&rsquo;m grateful that Skype has helped me, my employees, and my family to stay in contact.</p> <p>I highly recommend that you check out <a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_review_greggo">Skype Credit</a> and see for yourself.</p> <p><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_review_greggo"><i>Skype Credit</i></a> <i>has provided me with compensation for my time and efforts on this article. I was a happy Skype customer well before they became a Wise Bread sponsor. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.</i><i><br /> </i></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-love-using-skype-to-keep-in-touch-with-family-and-coworkers" class="sharethis-link" title="Why I Love Using Skype to Keep in Touch With Family and Coworkers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Productivity Technology Skype Credit Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:12:29 +0000 Greg Go 1134741 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Great Money Lessons I Learned From My Immigrant Parents http://www.wisebread.com/5-great-money-lessons-i-learned-from-my-immigrant-parents <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-great-money-lessons-i-learned-from-my-immigrant-parents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/immigrant-parents-title-pho.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_5_great_money_lessons"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>My parents immigrated to the US, separately, in 1980 and &rsquo;81. They met, married, and started a family while they were still trying to navigate the unfamiliar waters of a brand new country.</p> <p>Their immigrant experience is an integral part of who they are &mdash; and because they raised me, it&rsquo;s a big part of who I am, too. I&rsquo;ve learned many valuable lessons from them, including a few that involve spending and saving.</p> <h2>Forget the Joneses. Spend on what&rsquo;s meaningful to you.</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/immigrant-parents-1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As a child, I envied my friends and classmates who, after a break from school, talked excitedly about their summer trips or Christmas loot. With no similar stories to share, I felt left out. I wondered, &ldquo;Why can&rsquo;t my family do that, too?&rdquo; I eventually realized that my parents weren&rsquo;t fundamentally opposed to fun; they simply had different priorities.</p> <p>Instead of lavish vacations, we took short day trips to San Diego or Disneyland when out-of-town friends and family came to visit. Instead of gifts for a holiday we didn&rsquo;t actually celebrate, the kiddos received cash to spend (or save!) as we liked for a holiday we <i>did</i> celebrate &mdash; Chinese New Year. And those memories of spending time with loved ones, no matter what we were doing or where, are among those I treasure most today because of what they meant to my family.</p> <h2>It takes a village &mdash; and sometimes the village lives under one roof.</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/immigrant-parents-2.jpg" /></p> <p>For about eight years soon after immigrating, my parents lived with my dad&rsquo;s siblings&rsquo; families and my paternal grandmother in a two-bedroom home. At the point of highest occupancy, there were three families (13 people!) sharing the house. It was a tight fit, but the benefits outweighed the lack of space and privacy. Household expenses were spread across the families, everyone had a hand in childcare, and (for better or worse!) there was always someone to talk to.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s no denying that a multi-family, intergenerational household can be difficult to live with, and it will undoubtedly cause strife in some families. But if the families involved don&rsquo;t have any strong objections to each other, it&rsquo;s an excellent way for everyone to save money on housing, utilities, groceries, and childcare. The families in my first childhood home eventually moved out, but we couldn&rsquo;t have done so without living together &mdash; and saving together &mdash; first.</p> <h2>Always look for a bargain. They&rsquo;re out there!</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/immigrant-parents-3.jpg" /></p> <p>When my parents were growing up, haggling was a part of their day-to-day life. From rice to fabric to rare and wonderful iced treats, they made sure to find that sweet spot in a purchase where they and the merchant both came away happy. For my parents, there&rsquo;s <i>always</i> some wriggle room on a price tag.</p> <p>Haggling isn&rsquo;t as common in the US &mdash; although it never hurts to try, especially in Chinatown or other markets where you&rsquo;re dealing directly with a vendor. But there&rsquo;s another term for it &mdash; negotiation &mdash; that works just as well when you want lower credit card rates or insurance premiums, or free delivery at your local furniture store. When there isn&rsquo;t someone you can speak to, watch for sales, deals, and coupons. And if you can&rsquo;t find a bargain for the exact product or service you want, look for more affordable alternatives, like Netflix or Hulu for your TV/movie fix. The bargains are out there &mdash; you just have to look for them!</p> <h2>Cultivate your network, for your sake and theirs.</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/immigrant-parents-4.jpg" /></p> <p>Every night, my dad takes a few minutes to call a friend or a distant relative, just to chat. They&rsquo;ll talk about what they&rsquo;ve been up to, mutual acquaintances, the good ol&rsquo; days, and new karaoke technologies on the market. This is how my dad stays connected to his roots, as these are often old neighbors and family from China.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s a great thing, too, because his connections have helped us save countless hours and dollars over the years.</p> <p>My dad knows a good deal about general mechanical things and my mom is the most resourceful person I know, but when a professional (or semi-professional) is required, there&rsquo;s sure to be someone in my parents&rsquo; extensive network that can help. We&rsquo;ve gotten free car repairs, discounted tax accounting, home renovation advice, and we regularly exchange home-grown produce with various aunties. Of course, my parents are always happy to offer up their own services, as well.</p> <p>It takes work to maintain relationships, but a little TLC goes a long way. Staying in touch with your friends and family doesn&rsquo;t have to cost a fortune. That is why I like the idea of <a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_5_great_money_lessons">Skype Credit</a>, which allows you to call mobiles and landlines in the U.S. or across the world at extremely low rates. That&rsquo;s something my frugal parents can definitely appreciate.</p> <div style="text-align:center;" class="ggnoads" id="kamidarticle"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0" style="width:300px; height:250px;"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h2>Do it yourself &mdash; then pass it on.</h2> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/immigrant-parents-5.jpg" /></p> <p>Have I mentioned that my mother is the most resourceful person I know? Because she is. She&rsquo;s had to be, raising three kids on a shoestring budget. But this isn&rsquo;t something she developed on her own &mdash; in fact, the most resourceful person <i>she</i> knew was her own mother. They didn&rsquo;t have many of the conveniences we enjoy now, so they needed to be creative to make life easier &mdash; and more affordable.</p> <p>My grandmother could take a beat-up bucket that their neighbor has thrown out and turn it into a functional work of art. Every article of fabric and thread in the home &mdash; from clothes to curtains to a covering for their treasured radio&mdash;she sewed herself. My mom saw the magic that my grandmother worked with her hands, and sought to do the same. And while I&rsquo;m not as much of a DIY whiz as the women before me, I love making things from scratch and finding cool new ways to use old cast-offs.</p> <p>With raw materials often costing less than the finished product, every project you can do yourself translates to savings in your household budget. (Caveat: Some DIY projects can end up costing you more if you don&rsquo;t know what you&rsquo;re doing, so make sure it&rsquo;s something you can handle! Otherwise, call on your network for help. See above.) If the passion for DIY &mdash; or even just the know-how for specific projects &mdash; is something you can pass on to your kids, other family, or even friends&hellip;all the better, all around!</p> <p>The great thing about living with my parents (yes, I still do!) is that I learn something new from them every day. Of course, I like to think that they learn from me, as well. I&rsquo;ve already taught my dad how to send e-mail; pretty soon, my parents will be ready to tackle DVD remote controls!</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_5_great_money_lessons"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i><i><br /> </i></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-great-money-lessons-i-learned-from-my-immigrant-parents" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Great Money Lessons I Learned From My Immigrant Parents" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Lifestyle Skype Credit Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:47 +0000 Amy Lu 1134739 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Bizarre Ways to Stay on Budget (That Actually Work) http://www.wisebread.com/7-bizarre-ways-to-stay-on-budget-that-actually-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-bizarre-ways-to-stay-on-budget-that-actually-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/argument-155249744.jpg" alt="argument" title="argument" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Budgets fail for a number of reasons, but the most common one is that we simply do not follow through. Everyone's optimistic and driven during the initial planning stages, but actually putting the plan into action often decreases enthusiasm and motivation. If the traditional ways of staying on budget aren't working, you may have to resort to more drastic measures. Here are a few tips that are so crazy, they just might work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat?ref=seealso">Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes</a>)</p> <h2>1. Argue With Yourself</h2> <p>Sometimes it seems like there's a whole 'nother person in your head telling you to do the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do. She's the one who tells you, &quot;It's only a one-time expenditure,&quot; or &quot;You've been doing good so far, surely there's no harm in a tiny splurge at the mall.&quot; It all sounds reasonable, but it's also dead wrong.</p> <p>One of the best ways to combat the little devil on your shoulder is to <a href="http://ideas.time.com/2012/05/23/talking-to-yourself-not-so-crazy-after-all/">talk to yourself</a>. It helps to refer to yourself by name or by saying, &quot;You.&quot; Remind her that you have goals you're trying to reach and catching that Super Nintendo complete with 50 games going for $100 on eBay is not a good enough reason to slack off on debt payments.</p> <h2>2. Gamify It</h2> <p>It may be hard to find the inherent fun in budgeting, but, if you make your budgeting endeavors into an actual game, you may find it easier to stay the course. Tools such as <a href="https://habitrpg.com/static/front">HabitRPG</a> and <a href="http://www.rexbox.co.uk/epicwin/">Epic Win</a> provide a comprehensive gaming adventure, complete with experience points, gold, and a multiplayer function. Just like in a real game, you level up when you achieve goals and take damage when you fall short. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-play-video-games?ref=seealso">Cheap Ways to Play Video Games</a>)</p> <h2>3. Lock It Up</h2> <p>If you're having trouble resisting the siren song of the credit cards in your wallet, you may need to rely on more than just your will power to stay on budget. A timed lock box such as the<a href="http://www.thekitchensafe.com/"> Kitchen Safe</a> can help you can stop unnecessary spending by sealing your cards away for up to 10 days. The Kitchen Safe is made of clear plastic, so you'll need to wrap up the cards or cover the numbers with a piece of masking tape to make sure you don't cheat.</p> <h2>4. Put Your Money in Someone Else's Hands</h2> <p>Much like the tip above, sometimes you just need to put a barrier between you and your money. Take the amount of cash you've budgeted for the week's lattes, fast food lunches, and other frivolities out of the ATM, then give your card to someone else (whom you trust!) for safekeeping. If you run out of money before the end of the week, not only will you need to ask for your card back, you'll have to tell the person why you ran out of money and what you'll be using the unbudgeted amount for. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-yourself-accountable?ref=seealso">Ways to Make Yourself Accountable</a>)</p> <h2>5. Freeze It</h2> <p>The idea of putting your credit cards in a block of ice to stop yourself from using them is an oldie, but a goodie. Fill a container halfway with water and freeze it overnight. The next day, place your cards on top of the ice and fill the container up the rest of the way, leaving a half inch or so at the top for the ice to expand. Put it back in the freezer for another night and, voila! Your cards are completely encased in ice. Using this two-part method ensures the cards they don't just sink to the bottom where you can read the numbers through the ice. If you do choose to simply drop your cards in, wrap them with opaque plastic or cover the numbers with tape. Remember, the bigger the container the more hassle it will be to melt the ice.</p> <p>In the same vein, you can bury your card in a large pot of dirt or even drop them down a hole in your backyard and plant a garden over top. Anything you can do to make retrieving your cards a giant pain in the butt will help you think twice about whether you really need to spend the money in the first place.</p> <h2>6. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is</h2> <p>You may be more inclined to keep up your budgeting efforts if you have some hard money on the line. Websites such as <a href="http://www.stickk.com/">Stickk</a> and <a href="https://www.beeminder.com/">Beeminder</a> work on the principle that the threat of losing money can be a positive motivator. You don't actually have to provide any money upfront, but if you fail to make progress on a goal, say putting a portion of your paycheck into your savings account every week, you'll have to pay up.</p> <p>Beeminder keeps the money, but Stickk gives you the option of choosing the beneficiary of your forfeited funds. The default option is to send the money to one of the charities Stickk supports, although you can't know which one. The other option is to give it to someone you know, such as a friend or family member. You can even choose to surrender your money to an organization you oppose, providing you an extra bit of motivation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-surprisingly-simple-ways-to-motivate-yourself?ref=seealso">Surprisingly Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>7. Have a Snack</h2> <p>The decisions you make when you're hungry can be heavily <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20424042">affected by starvation instincts</a>, which make you more likely to choose an option that has an immediate reward than one you have to wait for. This not only means you'll probably choose to hit the drive thru instead of sticking to that budget-friendly home cooking plan, you'll also be more likely to disregard the importance of saving money for your family reunion next summer over going on a bender at Macy's semi-annual sale.</p> <p>So if you find yourself craving a new pair of shoes or the latest electronic gadget, have a small snack and reconsider.</p> <p><em>Do you have a weird way of maintaining your budget? Share with us in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-bizarre-ways-to-stay-on-budget-that-actually-work" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Bizarre Ways to Stay on Budget (That Actually Work)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lauren-treadwell">Lauren Treadwell</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting General Tips budgets gamify life hacks Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:24:18 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 1135244 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Easy Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/travel-1848428-small.jpg" alt="vacation" title="vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="177" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've worked hard over the years, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor. For that matter, the vacation of a lifetime might top your list of things to do. But after doing the math, a dream vacation can seem impossible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-vacation-destinations-that-stretch-your-dollar?ref=seealso">Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar</a>)</p> <p>However, don't immediately push the thought aside. You might not be the richest person in the world, but if you adjust your spending and make a few sacrifices, a dream vacation might be doable.</p> <p>Here are 15 easy ways to save for your dream vacation.</p> <h2>1. Set Goals</h2> <p>Before you start saving, determine how much you need for your vacation, and when you want to travel. This way, you know how much to save on a monthly basis. For example, if you need $4,000 and you plan to travel in 18 months, you'll need to save at least $222 a month.</p> <h2>2. Set up a Separate Vacation Account</h2> <p>Open an online high-yield savings account that's specifically for vacation funds. This account is separate from your emergency cash reserves and your retirement funds. Since online savings accounts offer better rates, you're able to maximize your growth and hit your target goal sooner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso">5 Great Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <h2>3. Make Weekly Contributions</h2> <p>To reach your savings goal faster, commit to weekly contributions. Some people only contribute to their vacation fund on a monthly basis. This can work. However, once-a-month contributions result in larger one-time deposits. Weekly contributions, on the other hand, are smaller and more manageable.</p> <h2>4. Cook Meals at Home</h2> <p>It might be easier and faster to pick up dinner during the week, but you might spend more than necessary for food. For this to work you have to actually <em>bank the savings</em>. That means, figure out what you actually save by cooking at home each week, and then deposit that in your special savings account.</p> <h2>5. Look for Free Entertainment</h2> <p>Saving up for a dream vacation doesn't mean you have to sacrifice a good time. However, you need to choose your entertainment and recreation carefully. Check your local newspaper or go online and look for free ways to have fun. You can also have fun by simply getting together with friends and going to the park or each other's homes for game night. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-free-things-to-do-in-any-city-you-visit?ref=seealso">Free Things to Do in Any City</a>)</p> <h2>6. Take Your Own Lunch and Coffee to Work</h2> <p>I know, the weekdays are crazy and between getting yourself and the kids ready, there's often little time to make a lunch or brew your own coffee. However, if you spend $5 a day on lunch or coffee, that's $25 a week or $100 a month. That's nearly $1,200 a year that can go towards your vacation fund.</p> <h2>7. Save Your Work Bonuses</h2> <p>If your boss gives Christmas bonuses or other bonuses during the year, rather than spend this money on electronics or clothes, deposit all or a percentage of this free money into your vacation fund.</p> <h2>8. Keep Your Tax Refund</h2> <p>Likewise, it might be tempting to spend your tax refund on fun stuff. But if you haven't been on a vacation in several years, free money from the government can jumpstart your dream vacation fund, helping you get to your destination sooner.</p> <h2>9. Rack Up Cash Back</h2> <p>Apply for a credit card that features a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">cash-back rewards program</a>. Use your credit card for everyday purchases, such as groceries, gas, and even utility bills. The more you use your credit card, the more cash you earn. Redeem for gift cards or a check, which you can use toward your vacation. Of course, always pay off your credit card each month to avoid debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-beginners-guide-to-miles-and-points?ref=seealso">Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points</a>)</p> <h2>10. Sell Your Old Junk</h2> <p>Surely, there's plenty of stuff lying around your house that you don't need. It's faster and easier to throw these items away or donate them to charity. But if you're looking for a simple way to save for your dream vacation, sell these items and put the proceeds toward your vacation fund.</p> <h2>11. Start a Change Jar</h2> <p>Each day when you arrive home, go through your pocket or purse and toss spare change into a jar. This might seem like an insignificant move, but coins add up quickly. During the course of a year, you could easily save hundreds in change alone, which might cover some of your hotel, entertainment, or food costs while on vacation.</p> <h2>12. Shop at Thrift Stores</h2> <p>Even if you stop shopping to save for a dream vacation, chances are that you'll need some clothing during the year. Instead of heading to the mall or another retail store, shop at the thrift store. You might find exactly what you need for less.</p> <h2>13. Evaluate Monthly Services</h2> <p>Take a look at your expenses and evaluate where your money goes. Where can you cut back? The less you spend each month, the more you can put toward your vacation savings account. For example, could you eliminate cable or a telephone service? Could you get rid of your gym membership or stop your housekeeping services? Cut them and bank the savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-ripped-off-by-one-of-these-8-unnecessary-services?ref=seealso">8 Services You Don't Need to Pay For</a>)</p> <h2>14. Hold Off on Large Purchases</h2> <p>Technology is always improving and new car designs come out every few years. It's tempting to keep up with the latest and greatest. However, acquiring the next best thing can delay your dream vacation plans. Not that you shouldn't upgrade some aspects of your life. But if you're serious about taking a dream vacation, this should be your main focus.</p> <h2>15. Get a Part-Time Job</h2> <p>You might not jump for joy at the idea of working a second job. But if your income doesn't afford the opportunity to save for a dream vacation, working part-time a few hours each week, or asking your boss for overtime work, might provide the funds you need. If you can make an extra $500 a month &mdash; or $125 a week &mdash; that's an extra $6,000 a year.</p> <p><em>Do you have other ideas on how to save for a dream vacation? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Easy Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Travel saving saving strategies vacation Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:48:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 1135082 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 3 Budgeting Apps You Need to Know About http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-477483519.jpg" alt="smartphone" title="smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gone are the days when balancing a budget required pages of spreadsheets, a pencil, a calculator (and a large eraser), and a great deal of patience. Thanks to technology, budgets can be managed easily on your tablet or phone with minimal work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat?ref=seealso">Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes</a>)</p> <p>There are lots of budget apps available to try. Many cost nothing, most cost just a few dollars, and some can cost $50 or more. Below are three of the best budgeting apps available for both Android and iOs devices.</p> <h2>Mint</h2> <p>If you are looking for an app that has been around for awhile and has had time to get all the kinks out, then <a href="https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/">Mint</a> is the one for you. It has been available since 2007 and is now owned by Intuit. It's totally free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money?ref=seealso">8 Cool Mint Tools</a>)</p> <p>Mint is initially set up on a computer through their website. You will connect your bank, credit, and investment accounts there. Mint will then give you a three-month comprehensive view of your spending. It will sort spending into categories and suggest a budget for you. You will have the ability to make changes to the budget for places that you want to decrease spending and increase saving. Mint also offers advice on where you can save or improve your budget. (Here is where you will find ads that help pay for the service.)</p> <p>The mobile app, which have been voted Best Finance App in the 1st Annual App Awards and TIME Magazine's 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011, allows you to view your finances in real-time, make changes to information, and monitor your spending from your smartphone. The app is password protected, so if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can feel comfortable that no one can access your financial information.</p> <h2>You Need A Budget</h2> <p>Another product that has been around for a while is <a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com/features">You Need A Budget (YNAB)</a>. It costs you $60, unless you're a college student, in which case it's free. This cost will give you the desktop version of YNAB, the mobile app, and all updates for the current version of the software. Unfortunately, if the app goes into a new version (for example, YNAB 5.0), you will need to pay the $60 again. YNAB does offer a 34-day trial period to try out their software.</p> <p>YNAB has proven to be very user-friendly and helpful with managing budgets. It also educates users on four basic but essential principles. These principles are the foundation to how YNAB works. Users are taught to assign a place for every dollar, save for unexpected expenses, deal with mistakes without stress, and live on last month's income. With these principles, a budget is easy to create and allows you to know exactly how much money you have to spend. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/evolve-your-money-management-beyond-the-budget?ref=seealso">Money Management Beyond the Budget</a>)</p> <p>The mobile app lets you to sync to your desktop software through the cloud, giving you easy access to your budget. You can enter transactions while you are on-the-go as well to keep your budget current.</p> <p>Note that YNAB does not automatically sync with your bank, credit, and investment accounts. Users have to enter transactions manually or import from their accounts. YNAB's developers insist that <a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/article/will-ynab-ever-directly-connect-to-my-bank-and-download-my-transactions">manual transaction entry encourages</a> users to have a closer understanding of where their money goes. It's also a good option if you're concerned about sharing your account sign-ins and passwords with an app.</p> <h2>Level Money</h2> <p>Want to know how much money you have to spend each month after all your bills are paid for so you can plan for extras? <a href="https://levelmoney.com/">Level Money</a> will do that for you. This free app connects to your accounts, and based off the previous month's income and spending, will tell you how much money you have to spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When a transaction is updated into the system, Level Money will adjust your available amount accordingly.</p> <p>Level is great for anyone who finds themselves short on money at the end of the month due to unnecessary spending. It's easy-to-use, offers many different ways to view your money through graphs, pie charts, and graphics, and has a great, sleek look. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">Sites and Apps That Help Track Your Spending</a>)</p> <h2>Also Worth Mentioning...</h2> <p>There is one more app that looks promising but is too new and, as of yet, does not have many reviews. <a href="https://budgetease.com/what-it-does/">Budget Ease</a> is one app that appears to be easy-to-use and effective at maintaining a budget on your mobile device. It is based on the envelope system, which categorizes all your money into envelopes.</p> <p>One great aspect of Budget Ease is the ability to send a text to their system every time you spend money. You simply type in the name of the envelope, the amount you spent, and the store, and Budget Ease will text you back with your current balance. For example, if you spent $35 for gas at Shell, you would text &quot;Gas $35 Shell.&quot; A moment later you will receive a reply telling you how much you have left in that envelope. This is a great way to keep track of your spending when you don't have access to Wi-Fi to use the app.</p> <p>Budget Ease does have a monthly fee which ranges from about $5.50 a month to $7.</p> <p>Whether you are struggling to pay off debt, trying to save for the future, or just want to know where your money goes each month, a budget is essential. These apps will help you keep your budget in place and allow you to improve your financial situation.</p> <p><em>Do you use a budgeting app? Has it helped you stay on budget?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about" class="sharethis-link" title="The Only 3 Budgeting Apps You Need to Know About" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting General Tips apps budget tools budgeting financial apps Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:36:39 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1135030 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Unnecessary Household Expenses You Can Cut Today http://www.wisebread.com/7-unnecessary-household-expenses-you-can-cut-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-unnecessary-household-expenses-you-can-cut-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/skype-happy-family-skipping.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="125" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_7_unnecessary_household_expenses"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>When cutting spending, household expenses are a great place to start. We tend to spend money on the same things month in, month out, all year &mdash; so when we change to a cheaper service provider or eliminate a service altogether, we only have to think about it once but the savings go on and on. Here are the seven most unnecessary household expenses you can get rid of today.</p> <h3>1. Cable TV</h3> <p>Unless addicted to live sporting events, even the most voracious viewer can be satisfied without paying a costly cable bill nowadays. Use a Blu-ray player with an Internet connection, a Roku or another appliance to tap into programming delivered free via the Internet from network websites, or pay a fraction of the cost of cable for Netflix, Hulu Plus, or an Amazon Prime membership, which includes streaming video.</p> <p>You can also try a high-powered antenna to see what you can get over the airwaves &mdash; you might be surprised by the volume and variety of programming available.</p> <p>Even sports fans can get some of their fix with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-sports-without-cable-tv">new sport-specific services</a> that cost much less than a year of cable.</p> <h3>2. Most Cleaning Products and Toiletries</h3> <p>There may be only two household products in the world that truly live up to the hype: baking soda and vinegar. They can clean counters, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">they can unclog drains</a>, they can make tubs and toilets sparkle, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesomeness-of-sodium-bicarbonate-27-uses-for-baking-soda">boost your laundry</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher">clean your dishwasher</a>, and they can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-shampoo-the-baking-soda-experiment">even clean your hair</a>. Because of these inexpensive miracle products, I&rsquo;ve avoided buying counter spray, bathroom cleaner, and shampoo for years now.</p> <h3>3. Late Fees</h3> <p>If you have the money to pay your bills, there is no reason to pay extra in the form of late fees. Reminder systems can be as simple as Google or Outlook calendar alerts for when it&rsquo;s time to pay. You can also set up free automatic bill paying on many checking accounts, or sign up for a more elaborate <a href="https://www.mint.com/">budgeting system such as Mint.com</a>, which also includes payment reminders.</p> <p>If you do make a late payment, you can often get out of paying the fee with a simple phone call. If the regular agent at your credit card company balks at waiving the fee, ask to be transferred to a retention specialist and threaten to cancel your account. If you have had an account in good standing for a few years, chances are they will not put your threat to the test.</p> <h3>4. Landscaping Services</h3> <p>There are a number of ways to minimize lawn care costs:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>you can do it yourself;</li> <li>you can minimize the amount of lawn you have by planting low-maintenance native plants; or</li> <li>you can plant low-maintenance varieties of grass.</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/lawns/fertilizing-lawns/">Leaving the clippings on the lawn</a> may reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizer, cutting your costs even more.</p> <div style="text-align:center;" class="ggnoads" id="kamidarticle"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0" style="width:300px; height:250px;"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>5. Phone Bills</h3> <p>You may already use Skype to make free video or voice calls from computer to computer. But did you know Skype also has great rates that allow you to call mobiles or home phones, domestically or internationally?</p> <p>Conveniently, you can pay for that service using&nbsp;<span><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_7_unnecessary_household_expenses" target="_blank">Skype Credit</a></span>, which you can buy in $10 or $25 increments. You just add credit to your account through the website or in the Skype app, and the credit is available whenever you want to call someone&rsquo;s phone. You can also use Skype Credit to have Skype calls forwarded to your mobile or home phone, to use Skype Wi-Fi hotspots, or to send SMS messages.</p> <h3>6. Subscriptions and Memberships</h3> <p>Take a survey of everything you subscribe to, from magazines and newspapers to online services, and every organization you pay to belong to, from gyms to professional organizations. You might be surprised to learn that you&rsquo;ve been paying for subscriptions that you stopped using years ago. If you are still using the product or service, ask yourself if the subscription is something you could replace for free, such as by checking out the same magazine from the library or reading articles online.</p> <h3>6. Extended Warranties, Service Plans, and Some Insurance</h3> <p>Most of the add-ons offered at the register or by <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/extended-warranties/buying-guide.htm">repair services are not worth the money</a>, according to Consumer Reports. And while homeowner&rsquo;s or renter&rsquo;s insurance and auto insurance are must-haves, it&rsquo;s usually <a href="http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=f7e87521-ac12-4f22-a461-41c40f03133d">not worthwhile to buy cell phone or identity theft insurance</a>.</p> <h3>7. Credit Monitoring Services</h3> <p>It is a good idea to keep an eye on your credit to prevent identity theft and other fraud, but unless you have reason to believe that your passwords or financial info have been compromised, you may not need to pay $10 or $20 a month for a high-end professional credit monitoring service. You can <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports">check your credit reports for free</a>, and you can also step up your vigilance about your cards and social security number to prevent fraud.</p> <p>If you have been a fraud victim, you can <a href="http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/">temporarily freeze your credit for free</a>, making it impossible for anyone to open a new credit account in your name without a PIN. If you haven&rsquo;t been a victim, you can freeze your credit for a small fee.</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_7_unnecessary_household_expenses"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unnecessary-household-expenses-you-can-cut-today" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Unnecessary Household Expenses You Can Cut Today " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Skype Credit Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:48:18 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1134075 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask @WiseBread a Question for Chance to Win a iPhone 5s or GS4 http://www.wisebread.com/ask-wisebread-a-question-for-chance-to-win-a-iphone-5s-or-gs4 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-wisebread-a-question-for-chance-to-win-a-iphone-5s-or-gs4" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fun-in-the-sun.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Wise Bread, Jeff Rose (certified financial planner and author of <a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/">Good Financial Cents</a>) and Cricket Wireless have teamed up to bring you a live Ask the Expert Event this Tuesday, March 25th!</p> <p>You can win awesome prizes by asking questions via Twitter and participate by watching the event live via <a href="#livestream">Youtube Stream below</a>.</p> <h2>Prizes for Twitter Users</h2> <p>Cricket Wireless is giving away:</p> <ol> <li>One GS4 or iPhone 5s, and one month of free cell service credit with Cricket Wireless.</li> <li>Two $20 Google Play gift cards.</li> </ol> <h2>How to Enter via Twitter</h2> <p>Entry is simple:</p> <p><strong>Step 1</strong>: Follow Cricket on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Cricketnation">@Cricketnation</a> (we need to be able to direct message you if you win).</p> <p><strong>Step 2</strong>: Ask us a personal finance or frugal living question via Twitter. To ask the question, please include @wisebread, @Cricketnation, and the hashtag #CricketTips. For example:</p> <blockquote> <p>@Wisebread @Cricketnation what is the best way to save $50 this month? #CricketTips</p> </blockquote> <p>Ask your question any time between now and 2:00 pm Pacific this Tuesday (March 25). Each question will be counted as one entry. One entry per person please.</p> <p><strong>Step 3</strong>: Cricket will be announcing the winners at the end of our live Ask the Experts event. You can watch the event live on the Youtube live stream below between 12:00 - 2:00 pm Pacific this Tuesday&nbsp;(March 25). If you can't watch the video stream live, no worries, we'll post the full video (as well as names of the winners) here on Wise Bread the day after the event.<a name="livestream"></a></p> <p><object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/qeTX5CLE3r4?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//www.youtube.com/v/qeTX5CLE3r4?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p>No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older legal resident of US&nbsp;to participate. Depending on volume of questions, we may not get to answer all questions submitted.</p> <h2>Information About the Live Event</h2> <p>Jeff Rose (<a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/">Good Financial Cents</a>), along with frugality and lifestyle bloggers Chelsea Day (<a href="http://www.somedayilllearn.com/">Someday I'll Learn</a>) and Nicole (<a href="http://funthusiast.com/">Funthusiast</a>), will be sharing their best frugal living advice at a Cricket Store in San Diego this Tuesday, March 25, noon - 2:00 pm PST. This event will also be streamed live over Youtube.&nbsp;</p> <p>These experts will share their best tips on how to:</p> <ul> <li>Save $100 a month and what to do with that extra cash</li> <li>Travel on a budget</li> <li>Enjoy fun and affordable family activities<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></li> </ul> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> 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mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Century Gothic","sans-serif";} </style> <![endif]--></p> <p>&hellip;all while having your trusted Cricket cell phone by your side to help you along the way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-wisebread-a-question-for-chance-to-win-a-iphone-5s-or-gs4" class="sharethis-link" title="Ask @WiseBread a Question for Chance to Win a iPhone 5s or GS4" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Technology Travel Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:10:59 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1132709 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways Your Friends Can Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-friends-can-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-your-friends-can-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-saving-money-at-bbq.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use </em><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_articles_11_ways_to_save_money"><em>Skype Credit</em></a><em> to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</em></p> <p>Sometimes it can feel like your friends are sabotaging your finances. Between heading to restaurants for dinner, buying gifts for birthdays or weddings, or participating in pricey activities, having friends can be expensive! But friends don&rsquo;t have to cost you money &mdash; in fact, they can actually <i>save</i> you money.</p> <p>Not sure how you can use your friendships to increase your savings? Here are 10 ways your friends can help you spend less!</p> <h3>1. Bulk Buys</h3> <p>Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying smaller amounts, but if you happen to live alone, buying in bulk can be difficult. You might even waste money if you buy perishable items you can&rsquo;t finish before they go bad. The next time you head to Costco or Sam&rsquo;s Club, take a few friends with you and load up on items you all would normally buy at the supermarket. Then, divvy up your goods, and split the cost so you all can save some money.</p> <h3>2. Group Rates</h3> <p>When you are traveling or attending events, you can often pay less by going together. The next time you feel like taking a trip, grab a few of your closest friends, and look into group rates with airlines or hotels. This will save you money, and it will enable you all to make memories you will laugh about for years to come. You can also use this technique for attending many sporting events.</p> <h3>3. Potlucks</h3> <p>Throwing a party is always cheaper when everyone pitches in. The next time you host a get-together, have every friend bring something to contribute &mdash; an appetizer, side dish, salad, drink, entrée, or dessert. Heck, someone can even offer to bring cups and plates!</p> <h3>4. Saving Buddy</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s always more fun to work towards a goal when you have someone to motivate you and celebrate your victories with, so if you have a friend who is as financially conscientious as you are, make a pact with him or her to save money! Set weekly or monthly saving goals for you both to work towards, and share progress with your friend. You can hold each other accountable to achieving your goals and (frugally) celebrate your wins together.</p> <h3>5. Fitness</h3> <p>If you have a friend who also likes keeping in shape, set up exercise dates. You can go hiking or running, or even host in-your-home yoga sessions. This will enable you to ditch your gym membership and save money while still leading an active, healthy lifestyle with a friend who can hold you accountable to a workout schedule.</p> <div style="text-align:center;" class="ggnoads" id="kamidarticle"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0" style="width:300px; height:250px;"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>6. Swap Stuff</h3> <p>Are you going on a trip to the mountains and need a scarf? There&rsquo;s probably no reason for you to go buy one &mdash; borrow instead! The next time you are about to head to the store to buy something, check with your friends to see if they have what you are looking for first and if they would be willing to let you borrow it. Just make sure you&rsquo;re willing to make swaps with them when they need something you have!</p> <h3>7. Service Exchange</h3> <p>Does your friend want a night out with his significant other but doesn&rsquo;t want to pay for a babysitter? Or are you going out of town but don&rsquo;t have anyone to take care of your dog while you are away? Offer to take care of your friend&rsquo;s kids in exchange for him watching your dog while you are out of town. By offering to exchange &ldquo;sitting services,&rdquo; you can both save.</p> <h3>8. Free Expertise</h3> <p>Almost all of us have a friend who is amazing at DIY projects, be it painting, repairing a leaky faucet, or changing a car&rsquo;s oil. Instead of hiring a professional to do something you know one of your friends is capable of, ask your friend for his or her help and repay him or her with a bottle of wine or dinner as a thank you. Just be willing to offer your expert assistance on tasks your friends need help with too!</p> <h3>9. Frugal Entertainment</h3> <p>Movies, concerts, and sporting events are great, but they can be expensive. Having a low-key coffee date can provide you with just as much (and sometimes more) entertainment than catching a movie or going to an event. Your friends will inevitably have something interesting going on in their lives, so a simple conversation with them can sometimes give you the entertainment fix you may be craving.</p> <h3>10. Virtual Friend Dates</h3> <p>If you want to get together with a friend but don&rsquo;t have the time or money to travel at the moment, try a virtual friend date using Skype. You can do a free Skype video call with your friend and have a virtual coffee date. Another fun activity is to do a Skype voice chat with your friend while watching your favorite TV shows together. For example, on Sunday nights I call up my friend to watch the ABC TV show <i>Revenge</i>&nbsp;with me. We turn on the TV at the same time, call each other on Skype, and resume to gasp at all the diabolical plot twists together. With&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_articles_11_ways_to_save_money" target="_blank">Skype&rsquo;s Pay As You Go</a>&nbsp;rates, you can call anyone&rsquo;s landline or mobile phone in the US for pennies per minute and a small connection fee (and of course, if they have Skype too, it is completely free). This can save you money on expensive movie tickets or an overpriced latte at your local coffee shop &mdash; plus you can hang out in your PJs!</p> <h3>11. Good Health</h3> <p><a href="http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/good-friends-are-good-for-you">Studies show</a> that having friends can help you de-stress, retain good health, and even recover faster after a major event like cancer or a heart attack. Not only does that mean you&rsquo;re potentially saving lots of dollars on health care, but you&rsquo;re also probably a lot happier too!</p> <p>Have any other ideas as to how your friends can save you money? Share them with us in the comments section!</p> <p><em>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use </em><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_articles_11_ways_to_save_money"><em>Skype Credit</em></a><em> to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-your-friends-can-save-you-money" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Ways Your Friends Can Save You Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Entertainment General Tips Skype Credit Thu, 20 Mar 2014 13:45:50 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1131424 at http://www.wisebread.com The Simple Way to Save Enough Money for Your Dream Goals http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/motorcycle-178365042.jpg" alt="motorcycle" title="motorcycle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My husband is a bit of a gear-head. In addition to our two practical commuter cars, he is the proud owner of a 1976 BMW 2002 (which is euphemistically known as a &quot;project car&quot;) and a vintage 1975 Honda 400 motorcycle (which does run). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/guide-to-buying-a-used-car-without-going-crazy?ref=seealso">Guide to Buying a Used Car</a>)</p> <p>Despite the fact that we have more vehicles than space to house them, my husband recently told me that he would love to buy a newer, larger, and more comfortable motorcycle so that he could take a big cross-country trip with his friends.</p> <p>He sounded awfully wistful talking about that potential trip &mdash; so I suggested that we start putting money aside now so that he'd have the $6,000 to $8,000 he'd need for a new bike in about three years. Then, he could plan on taking his big motorcycle trip with friends for his 40th birthday in the summer of 2017.</p> <p>It used to be that our plans for such big expenses would begin and end with the wistful conversation about &quot;wouldn't it be nice?&quot; But these days, my husband and I have figured out a way to plan for big future expenses without feeling deprived now. Here's what we do &mdash; and why it works. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-money-is-easy-if-you-set-the-right-goals?ref=seealso">Saving Is Easy With the Right Goals</a>)</p> <h2>1. Have a Specific Savings Account for Each Big Expense</h2> <p>The first thing I did to start making my husband's new motorcycle dream a reality was open a savings account for it &mdash; which I nicknamed &quot;His Midlife Crisis.&quot;</p> <p>My husband and I have both a traditional checking and savings account with our local brick-and-mortar bank, and over a dozen (linked) savings accounts with online bank Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso">Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <p>That may sound like overkill, but each and every one of those online savings accounts has a specific purpose. For instance, in addition to the new motorcycle fund, we have an emergency fund, a vacation fund, a new furniture fund, a new car fund, etc. By opening a new motorcycle savings account, we have already motivated ourselves to save for it. That savings account is a tangible indicator to ourselves that we are serious about saving up the money.</p> <p>In addition, having each of our targeted savings accounts specifically named for each goal we're trying to reach means we are not tempted to dip into an account for anything other than the goal. If we simply had a large savings account with all of the money co-mingling, it would be easy to take money away for other purposes, since it's not specifically tied to something we want. Our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mental-accounting-why-you-blow-your-tax-refund-but-not-your-raise">mental accounting</a> might allow us to &quot;borrow&quot; from an unspecified savings account without a second thought, but it hurts to think about stealing money from the future motorcycle.</p> <p>According to Jennifer Saranow Schultz of The New York Times, &quot;the basic idea [of targeted savings accounts is to] create separate physical and mental accounts for each pot of money, making it <a href="http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/multiple-savings-accounts-multiple-goals/">less likely you'll tap into the funds before</a> you've achieved the set goal.&quot;</p> <p>Having separate, targeted accounts for each one of our future goals means that we are always working toward those goals. It's a lot tougher to forget to save for a goal if you have a specific account named for it.</p> <p>Of course, it's not enough to have a targeted savings account. You also have to figure out how to put money in it.</p> <h2>2. Make Your Savings Goal SMART</h2> <p>One of the reasons why grand plans fail &mdash; from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tips-for-making-resolutions-stick-in-the-new-year">New Year's Resolutions</a> to saving for a down payment for a house &mdash; is because of a lack of specificity. You might know that you want to own a house one day, but you don't know how much house you can afford or when &quot;one day&quot; might be. You might spend time dreaming of what your house will look like, but you never actually crunch numbers to figure out how and when to make that dream house a reality. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-steps-to-achieving-all-your-goals?ref=seealso">How to Achieve All your Goals</a>)</p> <p>If you really want to save up for a big expense, you will have to commit to creating a <a href="http://sbinformation.about.com/od/businessmanagemen1/a/businessgoals.htm">SMART goal</a> &mdash; one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.</p> <p>In our case, the specific goal is for my husband to purchase a motorcycle within the next three years. While he doesn't know exactly which bike he wants, he has a good sense of what types of motorcycles he likes and finds comfortable to ride and what kind of price range is reasonable. This &quot;research&quot; comes from him spending a great deal of time on gear-head websites and talking motorcycles with friends &mdash; which hardly felt like research for him.</p> <p>Since we know about how much money we'd need to have set aside ($6,000 to $8,000), we can regularly measure our progress as we save up.</p> <p>Our goal is both attainable and realistic because we are on the same page for it. Both my husband and I are agreed on setting the money aside and know that we are giving up other uses of that money &mdash; but that we are not endangering our budget or attempting to save for something that we can't realistically afford. (For instance, while we might be able to swing the purchase of a pony and fulfill one of my girlhood dreams, there is no way we could afford said pony's upkeep.)</p> <p>Finally, we decided on an end-date of his 40th birthday so that we have something in the not-too-distant future to be working towards.</p> <p>In particular, we know that we have to each put aside $75 every month in order to have enough saved for both the motorcycle and the costs of the trip as of June 2017.</p> <h2>3. Automate</h2> <p>Once we had set up the savings account, figured out each portion of our SMART goal, and crunched our numbers, it was time to do the real work of saving up: actually parting with the money every month.</p> <p>But in fact, because we live in the age of automation, this can actually be the most painless part of the entire process. As soon as you know how much money you need to put aside each month, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your targeted savings account. That will keep the decision of putting money aside out of your hands &mdash; since most of us can't be trusted to make the long-term decisions we want when short-term temptations are staring us in the face. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments?ref=seealso">Setting Up Automatic Payments</a>)</p> <h2>4. Find Extra Cash to Put Aside</h2> <p>Sometimes, however, you might crunch the numbers and realize that at your current budget, it will take you 40 years to save up for your big expense &mdash; at which point you might be a little too old to ride a motorcycle.</p> <p>You could find some ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-earn-extra-cash-when-money-is-tight">earn more money</a> or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-100-or-more-from-your-food-bill-without-even-trying">cut expenses elsewhere in your budget</a>. But my favorite method for increasing savings for big expenses is to stash any savings you see from making smart purchases. Basically, anytime you negotiate a lower rate with your cable company or pick up a pair of shoes for 25% off, you should bank the difference between the sale price and the full price.</p> <p>This is easier said than done. MP Dunleavy explains that &quot;making sure that <a href="http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/psychology-of-money-savings/">'mental savings' morphs into tangible cash in your account</a> is one area where your brain isn't your best financial friend.&quot; Just because you saved $100 on your car insurance doesn't mean that there's an extra $100 in your savings account. The money is entirely theoretical until you actually transfer it.</p> <p>So how do you spur yourself to make that transfer anytime you &quot;save&quot; money on a purchase or service? As soon as you get the lower price, immediately think about adding the &quot;savings&quot; into your targeted savings account. Once you have mentally added money to your goal account, you'll feel like it belongs there, making it easier to sit down and do the actual transfer at your first opportunity.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>If you follow this method of saving for big goals, you'll find that big future expenses are really just small monthly expenses that add up over time. Before you know it, you'll have enough money set aside to make your motorcycle wishes and new house dreams come true.</p> <p><em>How do you plan and save for big purchases? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals" class="sharethis-link" title="The Simple Way to Save Enough Money for Your Dream Goals" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting long term savings planning saving Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:09:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1130641 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spend Less on Everything in 2014 http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-less-on-everything-in-2014 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spend-less-on-everything-in-2014" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-452253103.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you make a resolution to spend less money and save more in 2014? You&#39;re not alone. According to research conducted at the University of Scranton and published in Journal of Clinical Psychology, this is the third most common New Year&#39;s resolution made by Americans. (The number one resolution is to lose weight followed by the resolution to get organized.)</p> <p>We live in a &quot;buy, buy, buy&quot; culture. Retailers and society pressure us into spending with &quot;deals that can&#39;t be missed,&quot; enticing loyalty programs, coupons galore, and plenty of glossy ads everywhere we turn, online and off. So how can we keep our resolution to save more and spend less when temptation is all around us? Here are five strategies that will help. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-financial-moves-you-must-make-in-2014?ref=seealso">Financial Moves You Should Make This Year</a>)</p> <h2>1. Become a DIY Ninja With Pinterest</h2> <p>As much pressure as there is to spend money, DIY has become a trendy way to live life. Pinterest is a perfect vehicle for ideas, inspiration, and instructions for DIY home decor, clothing, crafts, gifts, and everything in between. Plus, it also gives you the platform to brag about your own DIY skills, show off what you make, and share what you learn with others.</p> <h2>2. Make a List of What You Need &mdash; and Use It</h2> <p>In 2013, LivePerson ran an online survey of consumers in five major Western markets. Seventy-seven percent said that they indulged in impulse buying while in-store, and 50% said they impulse shop online. Attractive displays; in-store signage that screams price savings; and appealing lighting, music, and staff can cause you to indulge on items you never intended to buy before you set foot in a store. It&#39;s a battle to stay focused, and the best weapon is a list. Write it out before you get to the store, stick to it, and don&#39;t browse. Get what you need and get out.</p> <h2>3. Dine and Entertain at Home</h2> <p>Dining out is a fun way to socialize with friends and colleagues. It&#39;s also an expensive one. Because menu prices have to cover the cost of running the restaurant and preparing the food, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-restaurants-mark-up-food-2013-10">restaurants mark-up dishes as much as 300%</a>. Plus, you have to add tax and tip. One of the best ways to spend less and save more is to cook your main meals at home and then meet up with friends for a drink, dessert, coffee, a walk, a movie, etc. Better yet, have them over to your place and prepare the meal together. These items still carry a mark-up as well (except for the walk!) although the mark-up is a much smaller dollar amount than what you would spend on a full meal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learn-to-love-cooking-and-save-with-these-11-kitchen-tricks?ref=seealso">11 Kitchen Tricks to Make Cooking Fun</a>)</p> <h2>4. Keep Your Wardrobe Classic and Accessorize</h2> <p>Clothing is another item that carries a huge mark-up between what the item actually costs to manufacture and the retail price. And a sale isn&#39;t always a real sale. Many retailers inflate items to a ridiculous price and then offer huge sales to make it look like you&#39;re getting a bargain.</p> <p>The only way to fight this is to buy high quality items that last a long time, comparison shop, and keep your style classic. This way you can easily mix and match items to create new outfits, and you&#39;ll be able to wear these items longer than one season. An easy way to keep your look fresh is to have most of your clothing and shoes in neutral shades dressed up by colorful and punchy accessories. There&#39;s a hefty mark-up on accessories, too, although the actual dollar amount you spend on them is much less than most clothing items. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-greatest-frugal-fashion-makeover-ever-refresh-your-wardrobe-for-25-or-less?ref=seealso">Refresh Your Wardrobe for $25 or Less</a>)</p> <h2>5. Set and Review Weekly and Monthly Savings Goals</h2> <p>What gets measured gets done.</p> <p>If you want to spend less and save more, you need to measure and review what you spend and what you save. Set a goal every week and every month. The moment you get paid, put that money aside and record it. Then record everything you spend. Regularly reviewing your spending and saving will keep you motivated and on-track. Once you see your bills going down and your savings grow, you&#39;ll want to keep that happy glow that comes from setting a goal and meeting it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">10 Sites and Apps to Help You Stick to Your Budget</a>)</p> <p>Spending less and saving more are wonderful goals. It&#39;s totally achievable, although it&#39;s going to take some willpower, and you may need to change some heavily ingrained habits. You&#39;ll feel peer pressure and pressure from retailers who would love nothing more than to see you give up this New Year&#39;s Resolution. Don&#39;t let that stop you and keep your eye on the real prize &mdash; a savings account that helps you feel safe, secure, and confident no matter what life throws your way.</p> <p><em>How are you planning to spend less and save more this year?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-less-on-everything-in-2014" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Spend Less on Everything in 2014" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting budget saving spending Tue, 28 Jan 2014 10:48:09 +0000 Christa Avampato 1116898 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread & Cricket Wireless Team Up To Answer Your Financial Questions! http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-cricket-wireless-team-up-to-answer-your-financial-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-cricket-wireless-team-up-to-answer-your-financial-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-with-questions-605.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s a new year and time for a fresh start &ndash; including saving more, so you can do more all year round. But, sometimes we need a little help to get going on the right financial foot. That&rsquo;s why Cricket Wireless is excited to announce a new Q&amp;A series to help you do MORE of what you love in 2014: <strong>Ask the Cricket Experts!</strong></p> <p>Over the next several weeks, experts such as Wise Bread will be available to answer questions that&rsquo;ll help you reach your financial resolutions. <a href="https://www.mycricketsocial.com/halfismore/do-more-in-2014-ask-the-cricket-experts">Check here</a> every Wednesday for a new topic and ask questions on Facebook or on Twitter using the hashtag #CricketTips. Each Friday, Cricket will share the answers to the most popular fan questions on the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cricketwireless/app_458223460925213">Half is More hub</a>.</p> <h2>This Week&rsquo;s Topic: Setting Financial Goals</h2> <p>Join us as we kick off the first week by answering your questions on &ldquo;<strong>setting financial goals</strong>.&rdquo; Do you need help knowing where to start in setting your financial goals? Or which tools can help you track them? How about which resources to tap into? Wise Bread writers and editors are here to help!</p> <p>To submit your question, <strong>visit Cricket Wireless <a href="http://mycrk.it/1j7Lf9x">HERE</a></strong> or tweet using hashtag<strong> #CricketTips</strong> by midnight on Wednesday, January 15.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-cricket-wireless-team-up-to-answer-your-financial-questions" class="sharethis-link" title="Wise Bread &amp; Cricket Wireless Team Up To Answer Your Financial Questions!" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting Wed, 15 Jan 2014 20:30:16 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1111601 at http://www.wisebread.com Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes Flat http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calculator-149130158.jpg" alt="calculator" title="calculator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="162" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you have a budget?</p> <p>If not, you&#39;ve been meaning to get to it, right? According a survey conducted by Bankrate, <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/household-budget.aspx">40% of Americans don&#39;t keep a budget</a>. But if you&#39;re dreading getting the job done, maybe you shouldn&#39;t be. Budgeting isn&#39;t so bad, and it doesn&#39;t have to be about spreadsheets and calculations and highlighter pens. In fact, at the most practical level, budgeting is really simple. And it only takes five minutes to get started, plus another five or so minutes for each of the follow up steps to really build your budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">How to Build Your Budget in 5 Steps</a>)</p> <p>Ready? Here&#39;s how.</p> <h2>Step 1: Use Technology</h2> <p>It&#39;s 2013. Sadly, we don&#39;t have the flying cars and robotic housemaids I expected from this era, but life has gotten a lot better for budgeters. I&#39;m talking about all the software and websites and apps that do all the hard work of combing through your expenses. So, to get started with your budget, download an app like <a href="https://check.me/">Check</a> or<a href="https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/anywhere/"> Mint</a>. They&#39;ll connect to your financial accounts and allow you to see everything in one place. They can even categorize your expenses, remind you to pay bills, and track your savings goals. Staying on budget: Thank goodness there&#39;s an app for that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">Sites and Apps That Help You Track Your Spending</a>)</p> <h2>Step 2: Find Out What You Need and Remember the 50/20/30 Rule</h2> <p>The key point to making a budget is to ensure that you have the money you need to pay your bills and meet your basic expenses. Use your budgeting app to figure out how much all your bills &mdash; rent or mortgage, food, utilities, debt repayment, etc. &mdash; are costing you. You may be able to make some adjustments to reduce these costs. That&#39;s a smart move. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-everyday-expenses?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Save on Everyday Expenses</a>)</p> <p>But once you&#39;ve done that, you need to make sure you have that amount available &mdash; <em>in cash</em> &mdash; every single month. In theory, that&#39;s a simple solution, but it can be tricky in practice, especially for those who have a lot of debt to repay or who earn an inconsistent income. In fact, it can be difficult for just about anyone who doesn&#39;t keep track of the money that&#39;s coming in and where it&#39;s being spent.</p> <p>Many financial experts recommend the 50/20/30 rule for budgeting, where 50% of your income goes toward essential expenses, 20% goes to long-term financial goals, such as savings and debt repayment, and no more than 30% goes to discretionary expenses. That&#39;s a good guideline, but feel free to adjust the ratio to fit your needs and lifestyle.</p> <p>The key here isn&#39;t to fit your finances into some fancy chart, but to know what you&#39;re spending your money on and to use that awareness to redirect your spending in a way that&#39;ll help you meet your larger financial goals.</p> <h2>Step 3: Set Goals</h2> <p>Speaking of goals, if you don&#39;t have any for your money, chances are it&#39;ll disappear toward all the little things that tempt us every day &mdash; and that only provide short-term satisfaction. If you&#39;re like most people, however, you probably have some bigger aspirations, many of which tend to require big bucks. Whether it&#39;s traveling, having a family, buying a house or setting money aside for the future, it&#39;s important to continuously remind yourself of those goals and continue to contribute to them over the long term as part of your budget. Think big. It&#39;ll inspire you and give you something worth working (and saving) for. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-money-is-easy-if-you-set-the-right-goals?ref=seealso">Saving Is Easy With the Right Goals</a>)</p> <h2>Step 4: Look for Spending Sinkholes</h2> <p>Spending sinkholes &mdash; everyone has them. These are the quicksand expenses that pull you in and continue to drag down your budget. They also explain why it&#39;s possible to have a paycheck on Monday and be left with nothing but crumpled receipts and confusion by Friday.</p> <p>Maybe you&#39;re a sucker for coffee drinks or comic books or sparkly dog collars. For me it&#39;s the coffee, along with yoga pants and expensive treats from the farmers market. If I&#39;m not careful, a whole lot of money can disappear to these (seemingly little) luxuries. Fortunately, you don&#39;t have to cut them out altogether. Instead, use your budgeting app to set a spending cap that you can afford. That means you need to be able to pay for these things <em>with cash</em> and <em>after</em> you&#39;ve met your basic expenses. You can use the additional money you might have spent to pay down debt or contribute to savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-little-luxuries-that-go-a-long-way?ref=seealso">8 Small Luxuries That Go a Long Way</a>)</p> <h2>Step 5: Repeat</h2> <p>Every month is a little different. Perhaps you earn more, or spend more, or run into unexpected financial trouble. Or maybe your expenses or goals have changed. That&#39;s why it&#39;s important to spend five minutes recalibrating your five-minute budget on a regular basis. The key to budgeting isn&#39;t to make things super complicated and technical, but to become mindful and aware of where your money goes. That part of the equation really only takes five minutes, but it has to happen often in order for it to be effective. If it doesn&#39;t, you&#39;ll probably push the whole idea back under rug with all that other stuff you&#39;ve been meaning to do. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/actually-get-things-done-creating-a-reasonable-to-do-list?ref=seealso">Creating a Reasonable To-Do List</a>)</p> <p>If you have time to send a text message or compose an email, you have time to get started on budgeting your money. Making larger changes, such as boosting your savings account or paying down debt, can take years. Fortunately, you really can tackle these giants five minutes at a time. Or you can do nothing at all. Your choice.</p> <p>But do consider ditching the excuses. You&#39;ll be richer before you know it.</p> <p><em>What simple budgeting strategies do you use? Share them with me in the comments.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat" class="sharethis-link" title="Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes Flat" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting budgets saving spending Mon, 30 Dec 2013 11:24:56 +0000 Tara Struyk 1103080 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Ways to Come Out of Christmas With a Healthier Savings Account http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-come-out-of-christmas-with-a-healthier-savings-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-ways-to-come-out-of-christmas-with-a-healthier-savings-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-101703643.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&#39;re not careful, the holidays can leave you broke. What starts out as innocent purchasing can get out of hand quickly. You know how it goes. You start buying items on your list and before you know it, there&#39;s something for yourself in the cart. Then three more. Then you&#39;re moving cash from one account to another to cover the unexpected expenses. It&#39;s a vicious cycle, and it&#39;s hard to control when it&#39;s already out of hand. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-slow-down-and-actually-appreciate-the-holidays?ref=seealso">25 Ways to Slow Down During the Holidays</a>)</p> <p>This year, stop the cycle before it even starts. Make a plan to come out of the holidays with more money in your savings account then you have right now. Sounds like quite a feat, but it&#39;s completely possible. Here are 13 ways to do it.</p> <h2>1. Pick Up Seasonal Employment</h2> <p>This year retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day (some as early as 6 p.m.) &mdash; and many people who had to work weren&#39;t happy about it. They were upset that it was cutting into time with their family, a frustration with which I can sympathize, but what this means is that there&#39;s likely an abundance of seasonal positions available right now to ensure that year-round staff doesn&#39;t get burnt out during the holiday rush.</p> <p>By picking up a side job during the holidays, you can make some extra cash to offset what you&#39;ll pay for gifts, you can elect to send part of that part-time check to your savings account, and you might even help someone spend more time with their family if you&#39;re working instead of them. I don&#39;t see the downside to this situation yet &mdash; do you? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ways-to-make-money-over-the-holiday-break?ref=seealso">Ways to Earn Extra Cash Over the Holidays</a>)</p> <h2>2. Offer Budget Holiday Services in Your Area</h2> <p>Don&#39;t want to commit to seasonal employment at a retailer? There are still plenty of ways you can pad your pocket if you know how to market yourself.</p> <p>You can offer to run errands for people who may be disabled or don&#39;t have a car, shovel snow when the weather permits, hang holiday lights for neighbors, start a gift wrap service, sell holiday baked goods, or cater holiday parties. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg if you have marketable skills, a drive to get out there and make some dough, and have the knowledge and resources to find the right people who need your services. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-extra-income-online-today?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Make Extra Income Online</a>)</p> <h2>3. Make a List and Check It Twice</h2> <p>Start the holidays by making a list of the all the people for whom you want to buy a gift. Notice my choice of words here: &quot;For whom you <em>wan</em>t to buy a gift.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ultimate-gift-guide-thoughtful-ideas-for-every-list-and-every-budget?ref=seealso">The Ultimate Gift Guide for Every Budget</a>)</p> <p>If you&#39;re buying gifts for people because you feel obligated, you need to reconcile and change that situation; it&#39;s costing you more money than you want or need to spend. If you feel that putting an end to the obligatory gift buying will create an awkward situation, have a conversation in advance.</p> <p>For instance, if there&#39;s someone who always buys you a gift with whom you don&#39;t particularly want to exchange with this year, talk about it. A couple years ago when my brothers and cousin all had kids, I had to let them know that I no longer intended to buy the parents presents anymore, just the kids. It was becoming way too expensive for me to buy gifts for six kids and three couples. They understood, and I was able to save a little money while still making sure that my nephews got something good from Santa. All you have to do is speak up and be honest about what you can afford. Most people will understand, and, frankly, they&#39;ll probably be relieved that they don&#39;t have to get you anything this year either.</p> <h2>4. Set a Limit for Each Person on Your List</h2> <p>Every year my husband and I have a limit that we intend to spend on each other, and every year we exceed that limit. Not this year though. This year, we&#39;re drastically reducing the Christmas budget for each other &mdash; by more than half, in fact &mdash; in order to get a few other finances in order. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gift-giving-hacks-that-will-save-your-money-and-your-sanity?ref=seealso">Gift Giving Hacks to Save Your Money and Sanity</a>)</p> <p>I suggest you do the same. With your whittled-down list, assign an appropriate dollar amount next to each person&#39;s name. There are two benefits of doing this in advance:</p> <ol> <li>You&#39;ll know exactly how much you&#39;re spending this season (if you actually stick to the budget); and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>It&#39;s easier to shop for presents when you know how much you have to spend.</li> </ol> <p>It beats wandering around aimlessly looking for the right gift just to discover that you can&#39;t afford it when you find it.</p> <h2>5. Just Say No to Impulse Buys for Yourself</h2> <p>This is another area where I&#39;m guilty.</p> <p>When I&#39;m out Christmas shopping, it never fails that after I find a great gift for someone on my list I also find two great gifts for me. It&#39;s a very bad habit that can add up quickly. To help curb this potential problem, find another (cheaper) way to treat yourself while you&#39;re out shopping. Perhaps it&#39;s a bite to eat at the food court, a matinee movie, or a glass of wine at a nearby happy hour. By treating yourself to this inexpensive reward, you may be less likely to splurge on a bigger ticket item when those feelings that you &quot;deserve to do something nice for yourself&quot; start to surface. There&#39;s a whole lot less guilt afterward, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-simple-ways-to-stop-impulse-buying?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Stop Impulse Buying</a>)</p> <h2>6. Stockpile Coupons and Plan Shopping Around Sales</h2> <p>The snail-mail circulars and email coupons will start bombarding your inbox fast and furious this time of year, and it&#39;s best to keep them on hand just in case you need them. I keep every coupon that comes my way to maximize the holiday savings when it&#39;s time to go shopping. In addition to the coupons, I plan my shopping around sales (and pop-up sales), and I fortify my buying power with relevant savings apps (like <a href="http://cartwheel.target.com/">Target&#39;s Cartwheel</a>), asking for additional discounts at checkout (like student or military discounts), comparing certain stores&#39; price-match policies, and taking advantage of any rebates that may be available from post-purchase surveys and the like that are often found on receipts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-pay-more-guide-to-price-matching-and-cheat-sheet?ref=seealso">Guide to Price Matching</a>)</p> <h2>7. Shop in Person and Only Use Cash</h2> <p>The popularity of plastic has skyrocketed over the years because it&#39;s so convenient. The problem, however, is that because you&#39;re not actually seeing the physical money leave your hand, it&#39;s often hard to keep track of how much you&#39;ve spent on debit and credit cards, which can cause you to overspend without realizing it.</p> <p>This year, make a plan to only shop with cash and in real stores opposed to online, so you can avoid overspending on plastic. Take out exactly enough cash to cover the amount you&#39;ve elected to spend on those on your list &mdash; and when the money is gone, quit shopping. Of course, you&#39;ll have to be smarter about your purchases, and it may take you a little longer to find the perfect gift, but you can do it. When you&#39;re through, pat yourself on the back for all the money you just saved.</p> <h2>8. Use Credit and Debit Cards If It Makes Sense</h2> <p>Cash should be your primary method of payment when shopping this holiday season, but there are instances when buying gifts on your credit or debit card may make sense. For instance, I bank with Bank of America, and they have a program called BankAmeriDeals, which features cash back from participating retailers. By selecting these deals and shopping at these retailers (totally free; they&#39;re literally waiting for you right now), I qualify for 10% to 20% cash back &mdash; whatever the particular deal is from a particular retailer. That&#39;s a savings I wouldn&#39;t receive if I used cash, and a savvy move if I want to send more to my savings account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-the-holidays?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for the Holidays</a>)</p> <h2>9. Get Creative With Handmade Gifts</h2> <p>Not every gift you give has to be purchased. In fact, some of the most amazing gifts I&#39;ve ever received have cost very little and they were handmade by the giver. If your budget is particularly tight this year or your list is overwhelming, consider making handmade gifts of your own. The Internet is ripe with millions of ideas &mdash; just search and get to work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today?ref=seealso">20+ Gifts You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>10. Re-Gift When It&#39;s Appropriate</h2> <p>There are some people out there who have an ethical dilemma with re-gifting &mdash; but not this guy. Here&#39;s the thing: I would rather re-gift something that I received that I don&#39;t want or don&#39;t have any use for so that someone else can enjoy it. Sure beats letting it sit around collecting dust or going to the trash. It goes without saying that the financial benefit of this tactic is appealing, since I don&#39;t have to shell out for another gift when it&#39;s my turn to give, but I think that&#39;s also a win-win for everybody. I don&#39;t have to pay for a new gift, and the new recipient of the re-gifted gift gets something that they&#39;ll like &mdash; considering, of course, that I&#39;ve thought enough about the new recipient to make sure they&#39;ll like it, an important part of the re-gifting process. Take strides to ensure that the original gifter doesn&#39;t find out, either; no need to hurt someone&#39;s feelings unnecessarily. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide?ref=seealso">A Simple Guide to Regifting</a>)</p> <h2>11. Sell Whatever You Don&#39;t Want, Need, or Haven&#39;t Re-Gifted</h2> <p>Have gifts that you don&#39;t want, need, or couldn&#39;t re-gift? Use your online resources to sell the items and make fast cash.</p> <p>For still-in-the-box items with barcodes, I recommend Amazon, where you can pocket a fair amount of cash depending on the condition of the item and your willingness to undercut the competition. On the other hand, eBay is great for more obscure presents you might receive, like those retro Smurfs drinking glasses that your aunt picked up at the local antique mall. Trust me, there&#39;s somebody out there who wants even the most random things that you have. The point is, you have lots of options to unload your unwanted gifts that will make you money instead of take up space. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-deal-with-unwanted-gifts?ref=seealso">7 Ways to Offload Unwanted Gifts</a>)</p> <p>Another tip here is to take advantage of the buying season when you can. If you exchange presents with friends or family early in December and you receive a gift you don&#39;t like, figure out what you want to do with it right away. If you list the item online well before Christmas, you&#39;ll have a better chance of unloading it since people are still shopping; you may have a harder time after the holidays when we all tend to rein in the spending a bit.</p> <h2>12. If You Come in Under Budget, Send It Straight to Savings</h2> <p>Have money left over from your holiday budget? Send it straight to your savings account where you can put it out of sight and out of mind for safekeeping. Whatever you do, do not spend the surplus on you. Christmas is right around the corner; free gifts will be coming your way.</p> <h2>13. If You Receive Cash Gifts, Send Those to Savings, Too</h2> <p>There&#39;s nothing wrong with using the gift cards you received on yourself; they were given to you for that purpose, and we all deserve a little bit of luxury every now and again. If you receive cash, however, take it straight to the bank. Put it in your savings account so you can offset some of the gifts you had to buy this season. You likely won&#39;t break even, but you can at least sleep a little easier that you were as responsible at Christmastime as you could be while still managing to have a little fun. Happy holidays! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-ask-for-cash-this-christmas?ref=seealso">10 Reasons to Ask for Cash This Christmas</a>)</p> <p><em>Have even more tips on how to come out of Christmas with more in your savings account? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-come-out-of-christmas-with-a-healthier-savings-account" class="sharethis-link" title="13 Ways to Come Out of Christmas With a Healthier Savings Account" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting frugal Christmas gifts holiday saving seasonal jobs Fri, 06 Dec 2013 11:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1099004 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Practice Making Student Loan Payments http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-practice-making-student-loan-payments <p>Remember how scared you felt when you first got behind the wheel to drive a car? You were probably oozing with anxiety &mdash; it&#39;s a good thing you had a learner&#39;s permit and had to practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher before you could really drive on your own. &nbsp;</p> <p>In some ways, repaying student loans isn&rsquo;t much different &mdash; it might be intimidating, but after a little practice and guidance, it&#39;ll feel natural. That&#39;s why I&#39;m going to teach you how to make practice student loan payments. When you&#39;re still in your grace period, these fake &ldquo;payments&rdquo; to your savings account will help make paying off your loan second habit &mdash; and help you build some savings. Here&#39;s what to do.</p> <h2>Find Out the Date Your First Payment Is Due</h2> <p>Call your loan servicer or servicers and find out when your first payment is due. You can find contact information for your servicer(s) on the National Student Loan Data System. While you&rsquo;ve got your servicer on the phone, ask if you can get estimated payment amounts for different payment plans, including income-based repayment, standard 10-year repayment, and extended repayment.</p> <p>Not all loan servicers will be able to give you the exact amount of your first payment months ahead of schedule, but that shouldn&#39;t stop you from making practice payments. If you can&rsquo;t get estimates directly from your servicers, go to our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/additional-resources-for-students-and-new-grads#calculators">resources section</a> to find links to repayment calculators that will help you estimate your payment amounts on your own. Try several different variables. For example, if considering utilizing the Pay as You Earn option, enter your current income, and then recalculate the amount if you land a great new job.</p> <p>After you&rsquo;ve gotten estimates for different payment plans, pick one that you feel like is manageable with your budget.</p> <h2>Review Your Budget</h2> <p>Creating a budget is the first step to managing your finances when you&#39;re in repayment. If you currently track your expenses, great! You should have a good idea of how much you can afford for payments. If not, do you know much money you have left at the end of the month after you pay your bills? Do you have enough to pay any of the student loan payments your servicer calculated for you? If not, don&#39;t worry &mdash; we&#39;ll make room for your payment in the next step.</p> <h2>Make Room for Your Payment</h2> <p>If you&#39;re feeling cash-strapped, the good news is there&#39;s a lot you can do to change that. For instance, when I first moved to Manhattan, I&rsquo;d take long walks. Inevitably, with what seems like 50 restaurants per half block, I bought a lot of snacks along the way. After all, who doesn&rsquo;t want to buy pudding from a place so good that they survive by <em>only</em> making pudding? During my snack-filled walks, I managed to not lose an ounce from my body but hundreds from my bank account. So, I decided I needed to make a change &mdash; I moved to Brooklyn where there were less restaurants per block, and I lost 40 pounds while keeping my bank account intact.</p> <p>So ask yourself some similar questions. Could you eat out less? Are you buying too many groceries, and some of them are spoiling before you&#39;re able to eat them? Can you turn the lights off when you&rsquo;re not home? Find ways to cut your budget at least enough to afford the smallest payment calculated by your student loan servicer.</p> <p>If what&#39;s spoiling your budget isn&#39;t obvious, use free financial tools such manilla.com to compare what you think you&rsquo;re spending in different categories with what you are spending.</p> <h2>Transfer Your Practice Student Loan Payment to a Savings Account</h2> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve established which payment you can afford, start transferring this amount into a savings account on a monthly basis until your first payment is due. This is also a great way to start building a stash of emergency cash. If you have five months until you really have to start paying and are able to put away $200 per month, you&rsquo;ll accumulate $1,000 bucks.</p> <p>If you don&rsquo;t have a savings account, find out if your bank is offering a special for opening one. You might get an extra $25 to $50 courtesy of your bank. I got $50 from mine.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have more than one month before your payments have to start, you can also go back to step one, pick a different payment plan, and then practice that one the next month. So if during the first month of practice you realize you can afford $100 easily, try setting aside $200 the second month.</p> <h2>Adjust Payment Plans as Needed</h2> <p>You may decide to change your repayment plan in the future or simply add to your current payments to pay off your loan faster. Since federal student loans allow changes to repayment plans once per year, you should practice the new payment for at least two months before officially changing your plan. After all, you don&rsquo;t want to ask for a change and then find out you can&rsquo;t afford the payment. To practice when you&#39;re actually in repayment, transfer the difference between your current payment and the one into your savings account until you&rsquo;re ready to make the change.</p> <p>And if you experience a financial setback and need to change your plan, don&#39;t worry &mdash; even the most experienced drivers get lost every now and then, but they always get back on track.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This article is part of our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/newgrads">New Graduate Help Center</a> &mdash; a new Wise Bread section offering financial tips and life hacks to recent grads. This section is made possible by the support of Sallie Mae. Check out more great tips from this section:</p> <div class="newgrads-related"> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td class="related"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-about-your-federal-student-loans"><img class="related-image" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/student-letter-surprisex605.jpg" />Why You Shouldn't Panic About Your Federal Student Loans</a></td> <td class="related"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-you-must-know-about-repaying-your-private-student-loans"><img class="related-image" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/happy-student-reviewing-loa.jpg" />3 Things You Must Know About Repaying Your Private Student Loans</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="related"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-recent-grads-must-know-to-repay-federal-student-loans"><img class="related-image" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/young-people-long-journey.jpg" />What Recent Grads Must Know to Repay Federal Student Loans</a></td> <td class="related"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster"><img class="related-image" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/smiling_students_iStock_000013712513Small.jpg" />15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster</a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-practice-making-student-loan-payments" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-practicing-driving.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Developing a great payment habit may help you save thousands in the long run. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reyna-gobel">Reyna Gobel</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Education & Training Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:32:47 +0000 Reyna Gobel 1098709 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Shouldn't Panic About Your Federal Student Loans http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-about-your-federal-student-loans <p>Dear Not-Yet-In-Trouble Federal Student Loan Borrower,</p> <p>You might have heard that the Department of Education will be sending out letters to millions of student loans borrowers. The letters target borrowers whose grace periods are ending, as well as borrowers who exhibit signs of trouble that could lead to defaulting on their loans.&nbsp;If you haven&rsquo;t started repayment yet but are fretting about how you&rsquo;re going to possibly repay all that money &mdash; stop worrying.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m writing you this letter to not only give you important details about student loan repayment, but also to help you be aware of potential issues well before trouble starts.</p> <h2>I Defaulted &mdash; Here&rsquo;s How to Avoid My Mistakes</h2> <p>I defaulted on a federal student loan simply because I didn&rsquo;t know it existed. I had over a dozen student loans from different lenders; I forgot about one loan and went into default. It&rsquo;s easy to do, but it&rsquo;s also easy to avoid. Just log in to the <a href="http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/">National Student Loan Data System</a>. You&rsquo;ll see all your federal student loans on this site, along with contact information. Either arrange to pay each individually, or consolidate them into one loan. This is also a great time to get a free credit report &ndash; it can alert you to any problems you might have, like having missed a loan or bill payment.</p> <p>Then, know yourself. If you can&rsquo;t keep track of each individual loan, you really need to consolidate them into one loan to streamline payments (ask your loan servicer about consolidation options). Once consolidated, you can still choose a plan where payments are based on income, such as Pay as You Earn. And if you&rsquo;re interested in the public service loan forgiveness program, know that it&rsquo;s only available through loans originated by or consolidated with Federal Direct Loans.</p> <h2>Realize That Even With the Pay as You Earn Plan, You Might Have Payment Problems</h2> <p>The income-based Pay as You Earn repayment plan bases payments on your income and family size, but it doesn&rsquo;t fully consider your expenses if your circumstances change. For example, at some point, you may have to help support a sick parent or child. You could also have bought a home when your income was higher. After a pay cut, a majority of your income could go towards your mortgage.</p> <p>If you experience a financial setback, you have three options:</p> <ul> <li>Call your servicer and see if your Pay as You Earn payment amount can be adjusted. You have to supply your income annually, and you may have forgotten to do so this year, causing your payments to set based a higher income level.</li> <li>Ask for a deferment or forbearance, which are temporary payment breaks. Taking a break should only be done if the situation isn&rsquo;t permanent. Always take a deferment when possible over a forbearance when any of your student loans are subsidized. The government pays the interest on subsidized student loans during periods of deferment.</li> <li>If your income is lower because you took family leave for six months, you may not want to change your plan. However, for long-term pay cuts where your income-based repayment is too high for your budget, you should ask your servicer to also calculate payment options and see which payment option offers the lowest monthly payment.</li> </ul> <h2>Don&rsquo;t Feel Embarrassed If You Don&rsquo;t Know Something About Student Loans</h2> <p>I wrote two editions of a 240-page book on student loans, and I still don&rsquo;t know everything about them. I read articles and play with the student loan repayment calculators every day. There&rsquo;s always something new to learn. For instance, the public service loan forgiveness employer verification form wasn&rsquo;t created until after the first edition was released. Now, thanks to that form, you can find out if you qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program right away and register for it right after you start working <em>or</em> after you&rsquo;ve already started repayment &mdash; the choice is up to you. Never be afraid to ask your servicer questions about any of these programs.</p> <h2>Talk to Your Friends Who Are or Will Be in Repayment Soon</h2> <p>I&rsquo;m not the only person who has experience with and advice about student loans. Talking to your friends can help you figure out repayment options and possibly pick better ones based on their choices and experiences. Just remember, they might have different circumstances than you, such as income level, children, or other debt that impacted their choices. Therefore, you shouldn&rsquo;t copy their decisions. But you&rsquo;ll be more informed and learn questions to ask your servicer. Plus, they may have missed payments, recovered, and now have advice about that. Learn from others&rsquo; student loan mistakes and victories.</p> <h2>The Most Important Part of This Letter?</h2> <p>The help you get doesn&rsquo;t end here. You can tweet me anytime &mdash; <a href="https://twitter.com/ReynaGobel">@ReynaGobel</a> &mdash; and ask questions. My articles will be posted here every week. You can ask me questions in my <a href="http://www.collegeweeklive.com/">CollegeWeekLive</a> web chats or get more helpful advice in my book <a href="http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/CliffsNotes-Graduation-Debt/9780544319165"><em>CliffsNotes Graduation Debt</em></a>.</p> <p>Finally, remember you never want to receive a &ldquo;dear troubled borrower&rdquo; letter. The second you think you might miss a payment, talk to your servicer about options for a payment break or new repayment plan. With federal student loans, that one call will likely save your credit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="newgrads-related"> <div class="newgrads-node-disclaimer"> This article is part of our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/newgrads">New Graduate Help Center</a> &mdash; a new Wise Bread section offering financial tips and life hacks to recent grads. This section is made possible by the support of Sallie Mae. Check out more great tips from this section: </div> <table boder="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td class="related" id="related-1"> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-recent-grads-must-know-to-repay-federal-student-loans"><img class="related-image" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/young-people-long-journey.jpg" /><span class="related-title">What Recent Grads Must Know to Repay Federal Student Loans</span><br /> </a></td> <td class="related" id="related-2"> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-you-must-know-about-repaying-your-private-student-loans"><img class="related-image" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/happy-student-reviewing-loa.jpg" /><span class="related-title">3 Things You Must Know About Repaying Your Private Student Loans</span><br /> </a></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="related" id="related-3"> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/additional-resources-for-students-and-new-grads"><img class="related-image" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/student-checking-out-online.jpg" /><span class="related-title">Resources for Students and New Grads</span><br /> </a></td> <td class="related" id="related-4"> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster"><img class="related-image" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/82x72/blog-images/smiling_students_iStock_000013712513Small.jpg" /><span class="related-title">15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster</span><br /> </a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-shouldnt-panic-about-your-federal-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/student-letter-surprisex605.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Follow these simple steps to avoid defaulting on your federal student loans. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reyna-gobel">Reyna Gobel</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Education & Training Fri, 08 Nov 2013 11:36:03 +0000 Reyna Gobel 1083924 at http://www.wisebread.com