Budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4804/all en-US 9 Ways Restaurant Menus Are Designed to Make You Spend More http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-restaurant-menus-are-designed-to-make-you-spend-more <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-restaurant-menus-are-designed-to-make-you-spend-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-505943526.jpg" alt="Learning ways restaurant menus are designed to make you spend" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is no arguing the fact that dining out on a regular basis can bust any budget. But if you understand restaurant menus, and how they're designed to trick you into opening your wallets wide, you can dine wisely and save money. Here are nine sneaky restaurant menu tactics along with some smart ways to fight back. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Overpriced Restaurant Items That Waste Your Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. First Item on Menu Trick</h2> <p>Typically the first item in each meal category is the restaurant's &quot;<a href="http://restaurantengine.com/better-restaurant-menu/" target="_blank">anchor item</a>,&quot; which is where they make their biggest profit. This could be pasta, seafood, salad, or more a generic category like &quot;Entrees&quot; or &quot;Appetizers.&quot; Because the first item listed typically gets ordered more often than any other item in the category, it's going to usually be one of these anchor items. Buyer beware. Make sure to look through the entire list before you decide on what to order.</p> <h2>2. Menu &quot;Boxes&quot; Everywhere</h2> <p>Restaurants like to put meal categories in fancy boxes in different spots on their menus. It could be their steak dishes or maybe seafood dishes, but the one thing they have in common is they grab your attention and tend to make you more price insensitive. They want these boxes to grab your attention because typically their profit margin on these meals is the highest. To fight back, you'll want to ignore the boxes, avoid temptation, and stick to the meals in your budget.</p> <h2>3. Pricing Ending with .99 or .95</h2> <p>This is the old retail trick of having the price end just below a round number. Our eyes and brain are trained to read from left to right so the first number in the price is what we use to determine the overall value. A burrito selling for $7.95 just looks cheaper than one selling for $8.00. To fight back, just round the number up in your head, then decide if the price is reasonable.</p> <h2>4. Fancy Words</h2> <p>Restaurant menus are riddled with fancy words like &quot;juicy,&quot; &quot;creamy,&quot; &quot;deep smoky flavor,&quot; and the like. They are designed and put on the menu for only one reason: to create hunger in the person ordering. It's like Pavlov's dogs, you hear the word juicy or tender and you start salivating immediately. By being aware of what restaurants are trying to do, you can gloss over the fancy words designed to create hunger pangs and order the meal you originally intended.</p> <h2>5. &quot;Chef Specials&quot;</h2> <p>&quot;Chef Specials&quot; are typically anything but. Instead, they're often meals that make the restaurant the most money or include ingredients the restaurant is trying to get rid of. The meal descriptions are usually full of fancy words designed to make you order them without much thought. They typically have their own special section on the menu with special fonts and graphics designed to catch your attention. The next time you see &quot;Chef Specials&quot; when dining out, don't fall for the trap. Instead, only order them if you were planning on it when you walked in the door.</p> <h2>6. No Dollar Signs</h2> <p>According to a <a href="http://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/chrpubs/169/" target="_blank">Cornell study</a>, diners tend to spend more at restaurants that don't use dollar signs on their menus. Because of this, high-end restaurants will often leave the dollar sign off the menu completely. Their thought process is that diners will be less likely to think about their own financial situation if the menu doesn't have dollar signs plastered all over it.</p> <p>Also, expensive restaurants will only use whole numbers for prices. For example, it could be a 29 or it could be a 14, in either case they want to remove the idea of real money from the situation. Thus you won't see any decimals, cents, or dollar signs on the menu. Be sure to consider what your meal total will be in &quot;real&quot; dollars before you place an order.</p> <h2>7. Associate a Meal With a Brand</h2> <p>Whether it's the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/dining/23menus.html" target="_blank">Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce at TGIF's</a>, or Doritos taco shells at Taco Bell, tying a brand-name to a meal (referred to as &quot;co-branding&quot;) often gives restaurants the green light to charge you more. Don't fall for the mind game and instead look for cheaper alternatives on the menu that are almost identical.</p> <h2>8. Top Right Menu Trick</h2> <p>According to William Poundstone, author of <a href="http://amzn.to/2mgGzmc" target="_blank">Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)</a>, diners tend to look at the top right corner of the menu first. This might seem a bit counterintuitive as we read from left to right, but Poundstone says this is where you'll most often find the restaurant's most profitable items. Thus, many restaurants will make this menu real estate stand out by using larger font, eye-catching boxes, and clever wording.</p> <h2>9. Vague Sizing</h2> <p>Many restaurants offer a half sandwich, or a half salad. Have you ever wondered just how big a &quot;half&quot; order is and which one you should order? Most restaurants price their full salad or sandwich so it appears to be a better deal. But the truth of the matter is most half salads and sandwiches are way over half as big as a &quot;full&quot; and are often the better value as you'll probably have no waste. Be sure to ask how big a half order is before ordering as it'll often be the way to go unless you're really hungry and can finish the larger &quot;full&quot; portion. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Ways Restaurants Trick You Into Spending More</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-restaurant-menus-are-designed-to-make-you-spend-more">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">How Water Can Save You $977 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bridging-the-gap-from-dining-out-to-eating-in">Bridging The Gap From Dining Out To Eating In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-the-takeout-meal-cycle-and-save">How to Stop the Takeout Meal Cycle and Save</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Food and Drink dining out eating out restaurant budget restaurant menu restaurants saving money on food Takeout takeout menu Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:30:37 +0000 Kyle James 1897586 at http://www.wisebread.com Flashback Friday: 23 Mental Tricks That'll Help You Save Money http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-23-mental-tricks-thatll-help-you-save-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flashback-friday-23-mental-tricks-thatll-help-you-save-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_serious_thinking_536686446.jpg" alt="Woman learning mental tricks to save money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It turns out that the whole &quot;mind over matter&quot; thing also applies to money. Your ability to save money can be instantly destroyed without the right mental tricks to keep you on track. Everywhere we turn, we are encouraged to spend, so in order to combat those urges, you need to trick your own brain into withstanding that pull. Here's how to do it.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/cash-76661814.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-savings-tricks-you-havent-tried-yet?ref=fbf">5 Savings Tricks You Haven't Tried Yet</a> &mdash; Hiding money from yourself and taping a goal to your credit card are just a couple brilliant ways to trick yourself into spending less money on things you don't need.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-trick-yourself-into-better-credit-card-behavior?ref=fbf">How to Trick Yourself Into Better Credit Card Behavior</a> &mdash; Reckless credit card behavior is responsible for so many people's struggles with saving money. Once you can reasonably manage that, you'll be well on your way to saving more moola.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/kid_money_maker_532666075.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mental-habits-that-make-the-rich-richer?ref=fbf">5 Mental Habits That Make the Rich Richer</a> &mdash; If a goal of yours is to become filthy rich, you might as well learn from how the rich are currently managing their money. These mental tricks keep them financially cozy, and could lead you there as well.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mental-biases-that-are-keeping-you-poor?ref=fbf">5 Mental Biases That Are Keeping You Poor</a> &mdash; Before you can fix a problem, you need to recognize that you have a problem to begin with. Once you learn what's holding you back (like these mental biases) you can learn to think differently.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/iStock-525488514.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-thing-that-will-help-you-actually-save-money?ref=fbf">The One Thing That Will Help You Actually Save Money</a> &mdash; It's all about positive encouragement. But it's so much more than leaving yourself notes with smiley faces on them when you skip your morning latte. Using this tool, you'll love yourself and your bank account so much more.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-master-your-debt-think-like-a-maze-runner?ref=fbf">Want to Master Your Debt? Think Like a Maze Runner</a> &mdash; In order to wrangle that debt and get better at saving money, sometimes you need to think like a character in a post-apocalyptic novel. There's always a way out, even when it comes to spending less and saving more.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-23-mental-tricks-thatll-help-you-save-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-44-sneaky-shopping-traps-to-avoid">Flashback Friday: 44 Sneaky Shopping Traps to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-72-brilliant-ways-to-stretch-20">Flashback Friday: 72 Brilliant Ways to Stretch $20</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-49-smartest-amazon-hacks-that-will-save-you-big">Flashback Friday: 49 Smartest Amazon Hacks That Will Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-76-best-life-lessons-you-should-learn-by-30">Flashback Friday: The 76 Best Life Lessons You Should Learn by 30</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-shop-with-purpose-and-save-more-money">How to Shop With Purpose — And Save More Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping fbf flashback friday mental tricks saving money shopping habits Spending Money Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:30:30 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1898301 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-502733146.jpg" alt="Woman freezing near her heater" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You never know what might happen when the snow starts to fall. Everyone should have a three- to six-month emergency fund for unexpected expenses, like when four feet of snow caves your roof in &mdash; God forbid, of course. While you can't control life's curveballs, you can prepare and perhaps <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-5-hidden-costs-of-winter?ref=internal" target="_blank">avoid big winter expenses</a>. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Broken Heating System</h2> <p>Cranking up the heat helps maintain a comfortable temperature in the home, but extreme cold can push a heating system to the max, causing it to quit on you at the worst time.</p> <p>A basic service call to diagnose a problem can cost upward of $100 &mdash; mine was $95 earlier this winter when my system wasn't working &mdash; and this doesn't include the cost to fix any broken components. (Luckily mine didn't require anything out of the ordinary. I got away with just the $95.) If your system is older and needs replacing, however, you'll have to shell out thousands of dollars for a new one.</p> <p>There's no way to predict when a heating system will break, but getting a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty?ref=internal" target="_blank">home warranty</a> can help you deal with this unexpected cost. These plans &mdash; which cost about $400 to $500 a year &mdash; are like an insurance plan for your home's major systems. If your appliances &mdash; water heater, plumbing, electrical, heating, and AC system &mdash; need a repair, give your warranty company a call and they'll send a technician within their network to fix the problem. You just pay a flat $50 to $75 out-of-pocket service fee. If the technician can't fix the heating system, your warranty company pays the replacement cost.</p> <p>There are limitations, so make sure you understand how your plan works. For example, your warranty company may only replace the unit if you can show a record of annual tuneups. As such, it's important to stay on top of things so you don't restrict yourself when it comes time to take advantage of the warranty.</p> <h2>2. High Gas Bills</h2> <p>Maintaining a warm, cozy home in the winter often requires turning up the heat. But while this keeps your home nice and toasty, high gas bills can wreak havoc on your budget. Fortunately, there are ways to stay warm without draining your bank account.</p> <p>Use space heaters in rooms where you spend the majority of your time. These smaller appliances use less energy and you'll save money compared to setting your thermostat at a higher temperature. Another option is a programmable thermostat, which lets you keep your thermostat at a lower temperature during the day when nobody is home. Mine also has a mobile app that allows me to turn the heat on and off and adjust the temperature from my phone; very convenient if I've forgotten to turn off the heat after I leave the house.</p> <p>Additionally, call your gas company to see if you're eligible for a budget plan. If so, the utility company looks at your average gas bill over a six- or 12-month period, and based on what you've paid in the past, the company comes up with a flat monthly payment. This makes it easier to budget. You know what you'll pay from month-to-month and there are no surprises.</p> <h2>3. Get a Winter Auto Tuneup</h2> <p>Cold temperatures can damage your car and result in costly automotive repairs in the winter. Battery problems, starter issues, and leaks are common problems. To minimize winter car troubles, schedule a winter tuneup or inspection before you face any of these issues. Your mechanic may recommend replacing a battery that's more than four years old, replacing worn tires, as well as repairing any maintenance issue that could be made worse by consistently cold weather, resulting in an even bigger repair bill.</p> <h2>4. Burst Pipes</h2> <p>Cold temperatures also can cause frozen pipes, which can burst resulting in an expensive plumbing bill. The good news is that most homeowner insurance policies cover the cost to repair damaged pipes. But even if you're covered, you'll still need to cover the cost of your deductible, which can be $500 to $1000.</p> <p>Obviously, it is better to avoid a burst pipe in the first place. To do this, drip your faucets during extreme cold weather. A slight drip keeps fluid moving through your pipes and helps prevent freezing. Also, insulate pipes in unheated areas and keep the temperature in your home at a reasonable temp to ensure your pipes stay warm. You also may be able to turn some of them off completely, like outdoor lines, which I do for spigots and my outdoor shower.</p> <h2>5. Leaky Roof</h2> <p>Snowy weather is an opportunity to enjoy outdoor winter activities with your family, but heavy precipitation can cause big problems if left on your roof for too long. The weight of heavy snow and ice increases the likelihood of your roof caving in. Plus, melting snow and ice can reveal hidden roof problems and cause a water leak in your home. Your homeowner's insurance policy may cover the cost of a roof caving in, but you're on your own if snow causes a major leak. Have your roof inspected and replace it if necessary. If you can't afford to replace the entire roof, patch worn areas, and <em>carefully</em> shovel snow off your roof to avoid damage.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-winter-expenses-that-could-freeze-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Here&#039;s How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget">How to Help Your Kid Build Their First Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-dinner-no-meal-planning-required">8 Ways to Save on Dinner — No Meal Planning Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home broken heater burst pipes gas bill heating expenses saving money seasonal bills winter budget winter expenses Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:00:13 +0000 Mikey Rox 1897584 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Signs You're Not Frugal — You're Cheap! http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-not-frugal-youre-cheap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-signs-youre-not-frugal-youre-cheap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-639054796.jpg" alt="Woman learning she&#039;s not frugal – she&#039;s cheap" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We here at Wise Bread are big fans of the frugal life. When it comes to cooking our own food, getting the best mobile plan, or waiting for a sale to buy a big-ticket item, we're your people.</p> <p>But frugality can go too far. How far is that, exactly? Here are some ideas that you can use to measure whether your frugality has been taken to an extreme and you've turned into a total cheapskate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-save-money-that-go-too-far?ref=seealso" target="_blank">13 Ways to Save Money That Go Too Far</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Are Miserable</h2> <p>Being frugal is about being wise, and it almost always comes with specific goals. Maybe you want to be frugal to save money, or to help the environment, or to live in a countercultural way. Whatever your reasons, they should be powerful enough for you that they make the effort you put into frugal living worthwhile. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t?ref=seealso" target="_blank">25 Products You Think You Need But Really Don't</a>)</p> <p>But frugal living is not about feeling deprived and miserable. If you're feeling down about what you can and cannot spend money on, try to figure out what, exactly, is making you feel that way. If the item is something you can afford and it will truly add to your happiness, figure out how to add it into your budget.</p> <h2>2. Not Spending Is Making You Lonely</h2> <p>It can be healthy to give up social activities that cost a lot of money. Going out to happy hour several times a week, going on shopping sprees with your friends, or taking expensive vacations are all things that frugal people often cut out of their lives and their budgets when they want to stop spending. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-friends-who-are-costing-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Types of Friends Who Are Costing You Money</a>)</p> <p>The thing is, you have to replace those activities with something else social, or your frugality can cause you to end up feeling lonely and isolated. Sure, there are often less expensive ways to spend time with your friends but, very often, spending time with people means spending at least a little bit of money.</p> <p>If you're finding yourself lonely and you think frugality might be the culprit, try setting up an inexpensive coffee date with a friend, or suggest an afternoon at a local park instead of an afternoon at the mall. And if all else fails, just spend some money. It is better to be less frugal but also less lonely than it is to save all your money but only spend time with yourself.</p> <h2>3. You Are Unhealthy</h2> <p>You know you're taking your frugal habits too far when you engage in unhealthy practices just to save money. This can include everything from regularly eating food that is past its expiration date to skipping doctors appointments and checkups because you don't want to spend. When you're putting your health and your future at risk in the name of saving a buck, you need to loosen those purse strings.</p> <h2>4. Saving a Little Takes a Lot of Your Time</h2> <p>Sure, you might be able to save a bit more if you get a quote from another insurance agent or clip all those coupons, but all of that also takes time. Since you probably have more that you want to do than just live frugally, you have to take your time into consideration when you're deciding whether a frugal choice is right for you or if it just turns you into a cheapskate.</p> <p>Things like couponing can save you quite a bit of money, but organizing them and determining when to use them and how to combine them can also take a huge chunk of time. Unless you really like that work or you have some pressing need to save, your energy might be better spent elsewhere.</p> <p>If you're not sure, calculate the value of your time. For instance, if you spend eight hours clipping coupons and you save only $40, your time was worth $5 an hour. If that's not enough for you, spend your time doing something else, instead.</p> <h2>5. Your Home Is Filled With Clutter</h2> <p>Sometimes, frugality can lead to feeling a lot of guilt about getting rid of anything, even things that don't work or should just be tossed. It can also lead to buying a lot of items that are on sale. Sometimes, these things are reasonable. But if you find that you never throw things away or your old things are taking over your space, it's probably time to dial back those behaviors before you become a pack rat.</p> <h2>6. You Never Spend Your Fun Money</h2> <p>Most of us have what my husband and I call &quot;fun money.&quot; That's the money that we allocate each month toward our own personal spending. We do this so that we can buy the things that keep those feelings of deprivation far away. But if you're never spending your fun money, you might have taken frugality too far.</p> <p>We all need some fun in our lives and, in our culture, that often requires spending money. If you're not spending your fun money, examine how happy you are and how much fun you're having. Have you cut that out of your life simply because you don't want to spend? Remind yourself that being frugal doesn't mean you don't take care of yourself, and let yourself spend some of the money you've set aside for that purpose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-youre-not-frugal-youre-cheap">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wisdom-from-my-favorite-frugal-tv-character-julius-rock">Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-i-still-dont-have-a-cellphone-plan-yet">6 Reasons I Still Don&#039;t Have a Cell Phone Plan (yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mental-biases-that-are-keeping-you-poor">5 Mental Biases That Are Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy">The line between frugal and crazy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-reasons-to-make-do-with-less">The Many Reasons to Make Do with Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting budgeting habits cheap cheapskate frugal frugal habits frugality shopping habits Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:30:32 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1897583 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-507263686.jpg" alt="Woman learning how a spending ban can help and hurt her" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're struggling to get your finances in order, a spending ban can be a great way to get back on track. A spending ban is a period anywhere from one week to one year wherein you refrain from all spending, other than for necessities.</p> <p>A spending ban might sound a little extreme, but it is a good way to get back in touch with your financial discipline and find contentment with what you already have. But, spending bans can have some unexpected pitfalls if you're not careful. Here's how to create a successful spending ban and avoid the potential traps you might face.</p> <h2>Know Your Own Spending Ban Rules</h2> <p>Before you start, you need to make sure you define several different aspects of the ban so that you are prepared for the possible complications.</p> <h3>1. Decide How Long the Ban Will Be</h3> <p>There have been several bloggers and journalists who have described their yearlong, no-spending adventures, but the average person should plan on a shorter length of time to start. It would be very easy to burn out on a too-ambitious spending ban, so it makes more sense to start small. Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post recommends a <a href="http://www.michellesingletary.com/21-day-financial-fast.html" target="_blank">21-day financial fast</a>. This is a good length of time, since it is long enough to make a serious difference in your habits and your finances, but it is not so long that you feel overwhelmed.</p> <h3>2. Define &quot;Necessity&quot;<strong> </strong></h3> <p>One of the toughest parts of your spending ban is determining what constitutes as a necessity. You know that you will be refraining from unnecessary spending, and that you will of course be able to purchase needed things like food and medicine. But it can be very easy to decide that since lunch out with your coworkers is a food purchase, it counts as a necessity. So, decide ahead of time what you truly need, and what you can live without during the ban. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t?ref=seealso" target="_blank">25 Products You Think You Need But Really Don't</a>)</p> <h3>3. Plan Ahead</h3> <p>Take the time to think about what kinds of things you will face during your spending ban that you would normally spend money on. For instance, if you know that your child is invited to a birthday party during your spending ban, you can figure out ahead of time how you can bring a gift without spending money. You might be able to regift a gently used toy or book, or make a gift. Thinking through these issues ahead of time will make it easier to avoid a purchase of convenience.</p> <h3>4. Know Where the Extra Money Will Go</h3> <p>When you start your spending ban, you should have a goal in mind for the money you are saving through the ban. Rather than just allowing it to sit in your account, where you might spend it after the ban is over, send the money to your savings account, your debt, your retirement account, or your children's college fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-places-to-stash-your-money-besides-a-savings-account?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Places to Stash Your Savings Besides a Bank Account</a>)</p> <h2>How a Spending Ban Will Help Your Bottom Line</h2> <p>The ultimate goal of a spending ban is to help you determine the difference between your wants and your needs. It can be very easy to get into the habit of regarding anything that makes your life a little easier or more comfortable as a need, but that is not necessarily the case. You are much better able to correctly identify your needs if you are pausing all unnecessary spending.</p> <p>In addition, the spending ban will help you learn to make do with what you have, when you might usually buy your way out of a dilemma or problem. For instance, if you have to go to a special event during the spending ban, then you will have to find something that will work within your closet, rather than buy a new outfit.</p> <p>Finally, spending bans are great for helping you recognize how much you already have in your life. If you regularly buy DVDs for instance, the spending ban can help you revisit the favorite movies you already own, rather than buy new ones that you will only watch a couple of times. Taking the time to enjoy what you already have is both a great way to save money and a path to contentment.</p> <h2>Spending Ban Pitfalls to Avoid</h2> <p>Though a successful spending ban can help you save money, it can backfire on you if you are not careful.</p> <p>In particular, some people find that a spending ban encourages them to overspend, rather than helping them change their habits. Such overspending might take the form of a &quot;last hurrah&quot; spending spree before the start of the ban. Alternatively, you might be tempted to go on a shopping binge after the end of your spending ban to celebrate.</p> <p>In either case, you are defeating the purpose of your spending ban. If you feel tempted to overspend before (or after) you start you spending ban, focus on why you are committing to this ban. Keeping your motivation front and center in your mind can be a powerful tool to help you combat the urge to overspend.</p> <p>The other major pitfall to be aware of is how your spending ban may affect your relationships. If you have friends or family members who are spenders, it can feel awkward to bow out of expensive events or deal with their discomfort at your ban. The best way to handle this is to have alternative activities to suggest when you have to turn down dinner or movie invitations. Being clear and honest with your friends about what you're doing and why can also help to smooth over any discomfort with your spending ban. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-people-in-your-life-who-are-keeping-you-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 9 People in Your Life Keeping You Poor</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-improve-your-finances-using-social-media">How to Improve Your Finances Using Social Media</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting expenses extra money financial fast necessities needs saving money shopping spending ban wants Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:31:31 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1892126 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Help Your Kid Build Their First Budget http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-185090450.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Teenagers need guidance to build their first budget. But with sporting events, extracurriculars, and homework to worry about, it can be easy for parents to let budgeting skills fall through the cracks. And if you were never taught how to budget by your own parents, you might not know how to teach your children this skill.</p> <p>Helping your teenage child create a budget does not have to be overwhelming or time consuming. The important thing is to be proactive and consistent as you teach your teen how to handle money in the real world.</p> <h2>Offer a Monthly Allowance<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Providing a monthly allowance will help your child recognize the importance of long-term money planning. If they blow the entire month's worth of allowance in the first weekend, they'll learn an important lesson in delaying gratification. The most important thing you can do is be consistent about paying the allowance each month, and refuse to bail your child out of a problem if they use up their money before the month is over.</p> <p>If your teenager also decides to take a job, consider that a supplement to their allowance, rather than a substitute. Just as you would hate to see your initiative at work penalized by a reduction in pay, your child would hate to see their allowance docked just because they're showing initiative in getting a job.</p> <h2>Require Them to Take Over Some Necessary Spending</h2> <p>Many parents allow their teens to use their allowance and salary as pocket money. While there's nothing wrong with letting your kid have fun money, a big part of budgeting is making sure you have enough money to cover fixed bills. You can help your teenager learn to do this by asking them to take over a necessary bill.</p> <p>For example, you could ask them to cover a portion of the family cell phone plan, or their portion of the automobile insurance. Learning to pay these bills on time will give your teen an important first taste of what it will be like to pay their own way as an adult.</p> <h2>Create Targeted Savings Accounts<strong> </strong></h2> <p>It's likely that your child has some big goals for the future, whether that's going to a private college or buying a car. You can show them that they can achieve these financial goals through targeted savings accounts.</p> <p>Many banks allow you to create several targeted accounts, each with its own nickname. You can help your teen set up a few of these targeted savings accounts and encourage them to transfer some of their allowance or salary into the accounts when they get paid. They'll learn the importance of paying themselves first, and that consistent savings adds up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-savings-faster-with-a-multiple-account-strategy?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Build Savings Faster With a Multiple Account Strategy</a>)</p> <h2>Help Them Track Their Spending</h2> <p>Financial tracking is a necessary part of creating a healthy budget. They should know where their money is going each month, and whether those expenses were worthwhile. If they discover they're spending a good portion of their allowance on going to the movies, introduce options to them, like discounted movie passes or skipping the popcorn, soda, and snacks while there. Remind them to spend their money consciously.</p> <h2>Have Regular Budget Meetings</h2> <p>Plan on checking in at least once every two or three months to see how their finances are faring. They should get into the habit of reviewing how they've spent their money and whether those expenditures align with their goals. This will set your teen up to regularly review their budget on their own, and one day have regular budget meetings with their spouse.</p> <h2>Teach Your Children Well</h2> <p>Budgeting is the cornerstone of financial health, but knowing how to budget is hardly intuitive. Spending can easily become automatic and savings be pushed to the back burner. By getting your teen used to reviewing their finances and planning for their future, you're creating a powerful habit that will guide them wisely for the rest of their lives.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-16"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-new-toys-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use New Toys to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unexpected-ways-stay-at-home-parents-save-big">7 Unexpected Ways Stay-at-Home Parents Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-tips-for-having-a-baby-without-going-broke">24 Tips for Having a Baby Without Going Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-frugal-living-skills-i-wish-my-parents-would-have-taught-me">8 Frugal Living Skills I Wish My Parents Would Have Taught Me</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Family allowances budget meetings family kids saving money savings accounts teenagers tracking spending Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1889843 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Save on Dinner — No Meal Planning Required http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-dinner-no-meal-planning-required <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-save-on-dinner-no-meal-planning-required" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-500927193.jpg" alt="Man saving on dinner with no meal planning required" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you find yourself barraged with advice about the money-saving power of meal planning, but lack the ability to stick with it? You're not alone. By the time Wednesday rolls around, you may not be feeling energetic enough to whip up that recipe that is on the menu board. Instead, there is the temptation of takeout. But that's where we blow the food budget, folks. It's really hard to stay on track if you give up on cooking. Instead, try these eight cost-cutting meal ideas and tricks to give yourself an &quot;out&quot; if you need to veer off the meal-planning track.</p> <h2>1. Have Breakfast for Dinner</h2> <p>Rough day? Throw on your sweats and fry some eggs. Kids, just as much as adults, love the comfort factor of <em>brinner</em>. They'll be happy with pancakes and bacon, but if you need a little more adult fare, whip up an omelet to serve with crusty French bread. Pair with a glass of white wine. Enjoy!</p> <h2>2. Get Weekly Meals in a Box</h2> <p><a href="https://www.blueapron.com/" target="_blank">Blue Apron</a>, <a href="http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-2822544-11292017-1439826671000" target="_blank">Hello Fresh</a>, <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-12605037-1465591711000" target="_blank">Home Chef</a> and <a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-11891629-1439420197000" target="_blank">Plated</a> are a few of the new meal-prep services. If making it through the week on your own meal-planning power is proving to be too much, try the treat of having a few meals a week delivered. It will be a healthier option than fast food, cheaper than ordering in from a local restaurant, and there is an element of fun involved in unpacking those boxes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-meal-prep-subscription-boxes-worth-it?ref=seealso">Are Meal Subscription Boxes Worth It?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Join a Meal Planning Service</h2> <p>Some enjoy finding fun meals to try on Pinterest or in magazines, but for others, that isn't a fun pursuit. Solution? Try a meal-planning site. There are free ones, like <a href="http://mealplannerpro.com/recipe-search-engine" target="_blank">mealplannerpro.com</a> or <a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/eatingwell_menu_planner" target="_blank">eatingwell.com</a>, as well a low-cost ones ($4.95 a month) like <a href="https://5dollarmealplan.com/join-today-v2/?ap_id=wisebread" target="_blank">5dollarmealplan.com</a>, which will even make your grocery list for you.</p> <h2>4. Check Your Grocer's Freezer</h2> <p>Last night, thanks to Safeway's excellent frozen food section, I whipped up a very passable Chinese dinner for four for just $14.88. That's hard to beat! The days of Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes are long gone, as today's frozen foods are very good and easy to reheat.</p> <h2>5. Cook Once, Eat Twice</h2> <p>Tonight I'm making a pot roast. The leftover meat will go into a stroganoff on Wednesday, and the rest of the meat and potatoes into a hash on Friday. Those second and third meals are much easier to make, too. Try picking up a rotisserie chicken for one night, and use the extra chicken to make chicken tacos, and maybe make chicken soup toward the end of the week.</p> <h2>6. Create Your Own &quot;Fast&quot; Food</h2> <p>Do your kids want hamburgers or pizza? Make some frozen turkey burgers. Pizza is fun for kids to make, and it's really easy now with ready-made crusts (Pillsbury has a whole-wheat artisan crust that is pretty good). Let the kids add their favorite toppings, toss a salad, and save the cost of going out.</p> <h2>7. Stock Your Pantry</h2> <p>Keep some good staples on hand in your pantry and freezer, and dinner will go together quickly. With spaghetti, bacon, peas, cheese, and cream, you can whip up a fast carbonara. Canned beans, veggies, and tomatoes can become an instant vegetarian chili.</p> <h2>8. Invest in Quality Appliances</h2> <p>Maybe it's time to try using a <a href="http://amzn.to/2l7dLMg" target="_blank">slow cooker</a> or a <a href="http://amzn.to/2kbvGnw" target="_blank">pressure cooker</a>. With a slow cooker, you can toss everything in before you go to work, and come home to a piping hot, delicious meal. I only recently purchased a pressure cooker, and now can make chili, spaghetti, or even ribs in less than 30 minutes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-instant-pot-recipes-that-will-save-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Instant Pot Recipes That Will Save You Money</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-dinner-no-meal-planning-required">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-save-on-groceries-in-a-pinch">5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries in a Pinch</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-instant-pot-recipes-that-will-save-you-money">12 Instant Pot Recipes That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-saving-hacks-for-those-who-hate-cooking">8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-15-road-trip-snacks-make-it-all-about-the-journey">These 15 Road Trip Snacks Make It All About the Journey</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Food and Drink affordable meals budget dinners cheap meals dinner ideas dinners family dinner meal planning saving money Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:00:07 +0000 Marla Walters 1888424 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Mental Biases That Are Keeping You Poor http://www.wisebread.com/5-mental-biases-that-are-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-mental-biases-that-are-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-523154492.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our brains are not naturally wired to make the kinds of decisions that lead to long-term financial stability and wealth. That's because most of us fall victim to systematic errors in logical thinking known as cognitive biases. Our brains have trouble recognizing when we are about to make a logical error, and it's only in hindsight that we realize we have screwed up.</p> <p>Fortunately, once you are aware of your cognitive biases, it is easier to combat their influence. Here are five cognitive biases that are working to keep you poor, and ways you can bypass their effect on your behavior.</p> <h2>1. Anchoring</h2> <p>Determining an appropriate price for a purchase could be exhausting, if you were to do research on how much every single vendor is charging for the same item. To save ourselves from such effort, our brains take a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-your-brain-tricks-you-into-spending?ref=internal" target="_blank">shortcut known as anchoring</a>. The anchor is a price point that gives you an idea of how much something should cost.</p> <p>For instance, let's say you are interested in hiring a personal trainer. The first trainer you call charges $60 for 30-minute sessions. The second trainer you call charges $70 for 30-minute sessions. Clearly the first trainer is the better financial choice, right?</p> <p>Actually, based on the information you have, you have to ask yourself if that is really the case. With further research, you might find that both of the trainers you called are overcharging since the majority of trainers in your area charge $30 per 30-minute session. Since you do not have an anchor point in your mind when you start researching personal trainers, you assume that $60 is a reasonable price &mdash; making $70 too high a price to pay &mdash; even if neither of those amounts have anything to do with what most customers are paying.</p> <p>Anchor points are very difficult to ignore, because it can be tough for you to remember that the anchor price you are thinking of does not necessarily reflect how much something should cost.</p> <h3>How to Combat Anchoring</h3> <p>One way to circumvent the problem of anchoring is to create your own anchor to redefine the amount of money you would otherwise spend. Take the time to start looking at financial transactions in terms of the hours you spend to get them, rather than the dollars.</p> <p>This suggestion comes from the book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143115766/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0143115766&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">Your Money or Your Life</a>. In this book, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez point out that time is literally money, since you trade your time away in order to earn money. And while money is fungible (that is, replaceable), your time is finite, precious, and gone once it's spent.</p> <p>We may feel like we deserve the latest gadget &mdash; but remembering just how much of our lives we would have to give up for it can help us remember to only spend on the things that truly reflect our goals.</p> <h2>2. The Availability Heuristic</h2> <p>The availability heuristic is a kind of memory shortcut that helps you determine how likely something is. Your brain assumes that things you can easily recall are more probable than things that are hazier.</p> <p>For instance, you are probably much more nervous when you board an airplane than you are when you get in the car, despite the fact that there are 100-plus car fatalities <em>daily</em> in America, while air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation. But since every plane crash makes both national and international news, and there is generally nothing more than local coverage of car crashes, it seems to our brains that plane crashes are more likely.</p> <p>When it comes to our finances, the availability heuristic leads us to believe that winning the lottery, winning big in Vegas, or making a killing on the stock market are all more likely than they are. Since we can remember the names and stories of individuals who have gotten rich in these ways &mdash; and we don't remember the stories of people quietly amassing a small fortune through savings and frugal living &mdash; we think our own chances are better in risky financial situations.</p> <h3>How to Combat the Availability Heuristic</h3> <p>To combat this cognitive bias, you need to recognize when there is an emotional component to your decision. Does your choice reflect any kind of statistical probability, or does it simply feel as if the outcome you are hoping for (or alternatively, trying to avoid) is the likeliest one?</p> <p>It is also helpful to spend time educating yourself on financial statistics to help you understand when your reaction is irrational.</p> <h2>3. Hedonic Adaptation</h2> <p>Hedonic adaptation describes the phenomenon wherein we get used to the things we have. Think of the pleasure and pride you felt upon first purchasing your car. I'm guessing your delight in your new vehicle faded before the new car smell had completely dissipated. This happens because our brains are wired to get used to things fairly quickly.</p> <p>This means that no purchase will permanently satisfy us, and if we're not careful, we're likely to keep reaching for another thing to buy that will offer momentary pleasure or satisfaction. But it is only a matter of time before the new purchase also becomes old news, spurring another purchase to keep the pleasure going.</p> <p>This cognitive bias also helps explain why it is so easy for you to become just as financially stressed after a major pay raise or other financial increase as you were at the lower level. When the things that were rare treats when you were earning less become a standard part of your life, you enjoy them less, but you are also less willing to give them up.</p> <h3>How to Combat Hedonic Adaptation</h3> <p><a href="http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good" target="_blank">Regularly expressing gratitude</a> for the things in your life can help you feel both more optimistic and happier, according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. That increased happiness can help end the constant search for pleasure through purchasing.</p> <p>According to Emmons, a gratitude journal, wherein you regularly record things for which you are grateful, can help you improve your mood, as well as your physical and social well-being, and help you recognize the abundance that is already in your life.</p> <h2>4. Hyperbolic Discounting</h2> <p>Let's say I offered you $100 right now, or $110 in 10 days. Which would you prefer? If you're like most people, you'll take the Benjamin today, even though a relatively short wait would earn you 10% more. It is human nature to prefer something to happen immediately, rather than wait patiently for a larger reward later.</p> <p>This preference for instant gratification is a cognitive bias known as hyperbolic discounting. Our brains &quot;discount&quot; something that will happen in the future as less important than something that is happening in the here-and-now. It's the reason why you can decide on January 1 that you want to pay off your credit card debt in the new year, and find yourself charging $200 worth of new video games less than a month later. The debt payoff is so far away, and the video games are tempting you right now.</p> <p>Hyperbolic discounting causes us to push today's consequences into the future. We decide that avoiding the consequence today means that the consequence is not our problem, even though it will be when the time comes. This is actually the very basis of credit card business practices.</p> <h3>How to Combat Hyperbolic Discounting</h3> <p>The effect of hyperbolic discounting diminishes as you place decisions in the future. For instance, if I were to ask you if you wanted $100 on February 4, 2018 or $110 on Valentine's Day of that year, you'd probably be happy to wait. Since you are waiting until the following year anyway, it's easier to decide to wait the additional 10 days for the extra 10%.</p> <p>To combat the effects of hyperbolic discounting, imagine your current dilemma as if it will happen in the future. Doing this can help you to see the issue more rationally and help you come to the decision that your future self will be glad you made.</p> <h2>5. The Restraint Bias</h2> <p>Most people tend to overestimate their own impulse control. This is why your decision to stop getting takeout instead of cooking at home is derailed when you drive past your favorite burger joint. You have overestimated your ability to be virtuous in the face of temptation. The restraint bias is often the culprit when you can't maintain your New Year's resolutions.</p> <p>When you were making the resolution, you were certain that you could restrain yourself around temptations. You forgot that you will be just as flawed and human in the future as you have been in the past.</p> <h3>How to Combat the Restraint Bias</h3> <p>This may sound overly simplistic, but the easiest way to combat restraint bias is to avoid tempting situations. Instead of believing that you <em>should</em> be able to drive past In-N-Out without stopping for a Double Double Animal Style burger, you can simply take a different route home that won't lead you past the temptation. This takes the issue of restraint out of your hands when you are most tempted.</p> <h2>Don't Let Your Brain Destroy Your Finances</h2> <p>Cognitive biases are a fact of life, but they don't have to destroy your financial security. Understanding the ways that your brain leads you astray is the first step in avoiding your most money-wasting errors in logic.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mental-biases-that-are-keeping-you-poor">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-sloth-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Sloth Is Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-gluttony-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Gluttony Is Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-shop-with-purpose-and-save-more-money">How to Shop With Purpose — And Save More Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Here&#039;s How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting budgeting habits cognitive biases keeping you poor mental biases mental quirks poor shopping habits Wed, 08 Feb 2017 10:30:25 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1888336 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-599767404.jpg" alt="Woman learning to budget her money without a budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The basics of creating and maintaining a budget are deceptively simple: Determine how much of your money comes and goes each month. Easy peasy, right?</p> <p>Wrong. If you don't have the time, inclination, or skills necessary to keep careful track of your finances, the &quot;simple&quot; tasks that make up budgeting are anything but easy.</p> <p>But money management is a necessary part of financial health, whether or not you commit to creating and following a traditional budget. Thankfully, there are several options available to the budget-averse who need to get a handle on their finances. Here are three ways to manage your money &mdash; no budgeting required.</p> <h2>1. Have Your Paycheck Deposited Into Savings, Not Checking</h2> <p>Instead of having your entire paycheck deposited into your checking account, have it sent to savings. Once a month, transfer the amount you need for expenses and bills into your checking account. You'll automatically spend less than you earn and save money every month without having to draft up an actual budget.</p> <p>If you correctly calculated your monthly expenses, the money should last until the next transfer. If you are running short before the end of the month, you can decide to move more money from your savings account, or go on a financial fast (that is, make no purchases until the next month begins). If you find that you're constantly adding a second transfer near the end of the month to make ends meet, it's time to evaluate your expenses. Find the sweet spot that allows you to cover your expenses without dipping multiple times into your savings.</p> <h2>2. Follow the 50/20/30 Rule<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with her daughter Amelia Warren-Tyagi, introduced the 50/20/30 budgeting rule in their book <a href="http://amzn.to/2koYERZ" target="_blank">All Your Worth</a>. This proportional budget recommends that you divide your income into three buckets:</p> <ul> <li>50% should go toward essential expenditures like rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, child care, and the like.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>20% of your income should go toward savings and/or financial goals, such as retirement savings, a down payment for a house, or your child's 529 college account.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>30% of your income should go toward your &quot;lifestyle&quot; expenses &mdash; i.e., the unnecessary purchases you make because you want them. These expenses include things like travel, entertainment, dining out, luxury items, etc.</li> </ul> <p>You can easily follow the 50/20/30 rule without having to specifically follow a budget. Create targeted accounts for each of your spending categories. When you receive your paycheck, have 20% of your income automatically transferred into a savings account or investment account, and have another 30% automatically transferred into a separate checking account. When you make a nonessential purchase, use the debit card associated with your 30% checking account, so that you can never be in the position where you've accidentally spent your rent money on a weekend to Vegas.</p> <p>Finally, the 50% that remains in your primary checking account should cover your essential spending &mdash; although it's always a good idea to maintain an emergency fund just in case. (The 20% transfer into a savings account can help you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund?ref=internal" target="_blank">create an emergency fund</a> in the first few months of adopting this system.)</p> <h2>3. Let an App Do the Work for You</h2> <p>If you know that thinking about money will always be the last item on your to-do list, then you are a good candidate for an automatic savings or budgeting app. These three apps allow you to productively ignore your money.</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://digit.co/" target="_blank">Digit</a> is a free program that syncs with your accounts in order to analyze your cash flow. About twice a week, the program will determine an amount of money (between $5 and $50) that is safe to transfer out of your checking account and into an FDIC-insured Digit deposit account. This is a safe way to save money without ever having to think about it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.levelmoney.com/">Level Money</a> syncs with your bank account, calculating how much money will be available in your account after accounting for upcoming bills, recent purchases, and the savings goals you have created in the app. With those calculations, Level then gives you an estimated amount that is safe for you to spend that day, that week, and that month. Like Digit, Level Money is free.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.getpennies.com" target="_blank">Pennies</a> is an iPhone app that requires a little more hands-on approach. If you don't mind some more direct involvement in your budgeting, this one is worth a try. Pennies asks you to set a budget amount for various types of spending, such as monthly fun money, weekly food spending, monthly transportation costs, etc. You will enter in the start date, the length of the budget term, and the amount available to spend, and you will need to enter each purchase you make into the app. Pennies then shows you how much money and time is left in each budget. Pennies costs $2.99 in the App Store, and has no other fees.</li> </ul> <h2>Money Management Doesn't Have to Hurt</h2> <p>Just because you've never held onto receipts or willingly opened an Excel spreadsheet does not mean you can't have a good handle on your money. Consistency is the key to good money management, so finding a system that works for you is the most important part of keeping track of your finances.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Here&#039;s How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-apps-that-make-budgeting-fun-no-really">7 Apps That Make Budgeting Fun — No Really!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-apps-for-busy-working-parents">The 5 Best Apps for Busy Working Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-personal-finance-skill-you-must-master-before-all-the-others">The One Personal Finance Skill You Must Master Before All the Others</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-sneaky-ways-you-cheat-on-your-budget">6 Sneaky Ways You Cheat on Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting 50/20/30 rule apps expenses income money management not budgeting paycheck saving money tools Mon, 06 Feb 2017 11:00:10 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1885693 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_smile_518885222.jpg" alt="Woman with good money habits staying out of debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Staying on the straight and narrow, especially when it comes to your finances, can feel like a struggle. Recreational activities, impulse buys, monthly bills, and unexpected expenses lurk around every corner, and if you're not careful, you can slide into debt without really trying.</p> <p>If you practice good money habits as a general life philosophy, however, you're giving yourself the best chance of staying in the black consistently &mdash; and perhaps even making those coveted savings gains. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Create a Budget Based on Life Goals &mdash; Not Numbers</h2> <p>Every article you read about how to improve your personal finances includes creating and maintaining a budget. That's because actively keeping track of what's coming and going helps you manage your money more responsibly than simply throwing caution (and cash) to the wind. But your budget is only serving a single purpose when it's strictly rooted in numbers opposed to relating to your personal activity and short- and long-term goals &mdash; like an upcoming vacation or contributions to your retirement fund, for instance.</p> <p>As such, instead of living your life around your budget, you'll find much more satisfaction in building your budget around your life. By planning ahead for expenses, even frivolous things, you can identify the areas where your budget is lacking and (hopefully) close those holes by either amending your plans to accommodate your cash flow or increasing your income to afford the things that make you happy.</p> <p>I recommend the latter, of course &mdash; because you only live once.</p> <h2>2. Charge Only What You Can Afford to Pay Off Every Month</h2> <p>Let's get something straight here: Credit is not as dastardly an institution as you've been led to believe. Yes, there are credit cards with astronomical APRs. And, yes, there are credit cards with ridiculous late fees. But at the end of the day, you're responsible for reading the fine print (you know it's there!), and nobody is forcing your hand in accepting an offer.</p> <p>Still, credit is attractive because it allows us the freedom to have more than we can afford. But whose problem is that when you can't pay the bill? All yours. Avoid this downward spiral by making your credit card payments top priority each cycle.</p> <p>&quot;Credit cards are not evil, but they can make a mess of your finances if used unwisely,&quot; says savings expert Kendal Perez. &quot;Ultimately, you should only charge what you can afford to pay off every month. Using your credit card to pay bills is a smart strategy since you have to pay these expenses anyway, and using credit means accruing points, rewards, or travel miles to offset future expenses.&quot;</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">12 Habits of Responsible Credit Card Users</a></p> <h2>3. Look for Savings on Everything You Buy</h2> <p>I personally save many thousands of dollars every year by being a smart shopper, because there are few things I buy for which I don't have a coupon or discount. From dining out to going to the movies to the clothes I wear to the gas I put in my vehicle &mdash; everything comes with savings.</p> <p>It's not hard to get into this habit, either. I save by using loyalty cards, clipping coupons, redeeming cash back deals, signing up for promotional emails, waiting for items I want to go on sale, shopping clearance sections, and buying secondhand, among a myriad of other strategies. It's like a game for me, and I hardly ever spend money on something for which there are no savings; I look for a cheaper alternative instead. It's a major reason why I always have enough money in the bank to cover my bills, plus add to savings while still doing the things I like to do every month.</p> <h2>4. Buy Groceries Based on What's on Sale and in Season</h2> <p>Groceries are one of the biggest spending categories for Americans, next to mortgages and insurance. Instead of buying what you're craving, buy groceries based on what's in season and what's on sale. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <p>&quot;This will require some meal planning, but you can craft similar meals based on what's on sale each week,&quot; explains Perez. &quot;Use a tool like Flipp.com to easily compare grocery sales and deals between stores in your area, and consider looking for grocery coupons for items on your list through CouponSherpa.com.&quot;</p> <p>Another trick I use to cut my grocery bill is to shop the clearance section. Most supermarkets have these sections with drastically reduced prices on damaged or about-to-expire food that's still perfectly good if you get to it in time. Ask your grocer where these items are located in your store.</p> <h2>5. Organize Your Bill Payments to Avoid Lateness</h2> <p>As soon as a bill arrives, I grab my checkbook (yep, I'm old school), write out the check, and prepare the envelope. On the back of the envelope I write the dollar amount that's inside as an at-a-glance reminder, and I organize the bill on my desk according to when it's due. Then I stagger the mailings &mdash; sending each payment out about five days before it's due &mdash; to ensure that I can reconcile all the bills with my bank account.</p> <p>Consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos offers more tips on how to avoid late payments.</p> <p>&quot;Open all mail &mdash; including bills &mdash; upon receipt, deposit all checks and cash immediately, and set up a system for payment that works for you and that you'll use consistently,&quot; he says. &quot;This might be automatic online payments, a spreadsheet, a reminder on your cell phone, or a list on the refrigerator.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Map Out Your Long-Term Financial Goals</h2> <p>The only way you'll get ahead in your finances is if you know where you're going. Take a look at what's coming up in terms of required expenses and also think about some of the things you'd like to do with your money. Do you want to go back to school, on vacation, or purchase a new car or home? Set these milestones as goals and calculate what it'll take financially to reach them, then start saving in increments along an established timeline.</p> <h2>7. Review Your Finances on a Regular Basis</h2> <p>Reviewing your finances on a &quot;regular basis&quot; is a relative term, but I typically suggest once a month. There's value in doing it more often, however &mdash; like once to twice a week &mdash; according to personal finance expert Larry Jacobson.</p> <p>&quot;You need to set regular intervals to stay on the right path,&quot; he says. &quot;That way, you can course correct, if necessary, before it's too late.&quot;</p> <p>When reviewing your finances, be sure to cover all your bases. Browse your credit score for any errors, review bank and credit card statements for inconsistencies, and make sure all checks have posted. It's also a good idea to call your service providers once a year to inquire about better deals, like cheaper mobile phone or cable plans.</p> <h2>8. Treat Savings Like One of Your Monthly Bills</h2> <p>Instead of regarding contributions to your savings as a chore, start considering it a requirement, says Gallegos. Treat your savings deposits like a monthly bill; find that extra money somewhere in your budget (a reasonable amount that you can handle) and tuck it away as if you'll be penalized if you don't. You may have to make a sacrifice somewhere else, like in your &quot;fun&quot; fund, but, well, that's life.</p> <h2>9. Learn to Live Below Your Means</h2> <p>If you're one of those people who responds well to logic, here's a pro tip on staying debt free: Live below your means.</p> <p>&quot;Know exactly what you have to spend each month &mdash; and spend less,&quot; says Gallegos. &quot;Living beneath your means goes further than living within your means. It means taking responsibility and choosing where your money goes instead of being influenced by whims, advertising, habits, or peer pressure.&quot;</p> <p>If this is a tactic you'd like to try, you'll need to re-evaluate your budget entirely. Find items you can reduce or eliminate altogether to free up funds, like subscriptions and memberships that you aren't using to their full potential, cutting back on dining out, and reducing your monthly fuel bill by carpooling with a coworker or using public transportation more often.</p> <h2>10. Switch to a Cash-Only System</h2> <p>Here's another piece of practical advice that leads your wallet away from debt: Only pay for things in cash.</p> <p>&quot;You can't go into debt if you don't borrow,&quot; says Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency.</p> <p>I recognize, of course, that that's easier said than done, so Sullivan offers a couple more strategies for holding yourself cash-accountable.</p> <p>&quot;Save with direct deposit at out of town banks,&quot; he says. &quot;You don't want your savings available on a whim; Internet banks are a good choice. And don't sign up for overdraft protection. That's agreeing in advance to spending more than you have and paying for the privilege.&quot;</p> <h2>11. Make More Money</h2> <p>One of my own personal money manifestos is to always have at least two sources of income. I'm self-employed, and I consider my media business my main source of income, but I supplement that with several side gigs, like renting out rooms in my homes on Airbnb, watching other people's pets through DogVacay, and driving for Lyft and Uber. That's three extra sources of income right there, but I'm always eager to find more ways to make money.</p> <p>I feel personally satisfied when all my bills are paid on time, money is consistently going to my savings account, and I'm cash-positive enough to enjoy life the way I want to. If you can't seem to get ahead, use your resources and carve out time to make more money. You'll achieve your financial goals and alleviate the burden of debt faster, and that can only lead to good things.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-dirty-is-your-money-really">How Dirty Is Your Money, Really?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bought-milk-todays-the-deadline-to-claim-your-settlement-money">Bought Milk? Today&#039;s the Deadline to Claim Your Settlement Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting bills cash extra income groceries live below your means money goals payments sales side jobs Tue, 24 Jan 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1870058 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-597659170.jpg" alt="your kids will love these books about money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Chances are, you want your child to be financially wise, but every time you start to talk about money management or smart spending, your kid conveniently tunes out. Fun books are the perfect way to get your children thinking about money.</p> <p>You don't necessarily need to force your kids to read heavy economic books. Instead, allow them to enjoy and be inspired by these books about saving, giving, and starting businesses.</p> <h2>1. <em>The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2i7aviQ" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense</a> helps teach kids about allowance management. The book has tear-out checks so that kids can practice writing their own. While most of the population uses <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison" target="_blank">debit cards and credit cards</a>, writing checks is still something that should be learned.</p> <h2>2.<em> The Berenstain Bears' Money Trouble</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1dwBl" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Money Trouble</a> features the same lovable bears as they start several businesses to earn money. Starting a business isn't easy, even when it's just a lemonade stand. This book goes through those initial obstacles in a fun way.</p> <h2>3. <em>The Berenstain Bears' Piggy Bank Blessings</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1fFwW" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Piggy Bank Blessings</a> has an overall religious tone, quoting verses, but the story follows the bears as they save money for a surprise birthday present for their mom. My four-year-old enjoys this one, and I enjoy that the book shows the main characters thinking of others.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-best-sites-to-help-your-kids-learn-about-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Best Sites to Help Your Kids Learn About Money</a></p> <h2>4. <em>If You Made a Million</em> by David M. Schwartz</h2> <p>Kids throw around &quot;million&quot; without really knowing what it represents. <a href="http://amzn.to/2iw7QSV" target="_blank">If You Made a Million</a> helps children ages seven and older understand the complexity of big numbers in a fun way. While the book was published over two decades ago, it remains a classic, having won the ALA Notable Book and a Reading Rainbow Feature Selection.</p> <h2>5. <em>Prices! Prices! Prices!: Why They Go Up and Down</em> by David Adler</h2> <p>The well-loved author of the Cam Jansen series, David Adler, also happens to be a former math teacher. His book,<a href="http://amzn.to/2iAlvqd" target="_blank"> Prices! Prices! Prices!: Why They Go Up and Down</a> has such fun illustrations and tackles the concepts of supply and demand.</p> <h2>6. <em>Amelia Bedelia Means Business</em> by Herman Parish</h2> <p>Amelia Bedelia is a lovable and quirky character who takes everything literally. There have been many times I have laughed out loud while reading the original Amelia Bedelia series to my daughter, especially when she is told to &quot;dress the turkey&quot; and makes a little suit for the turkey dinner.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2iAnk6j" target="_blank">Amelia Bedelia Means Business</a> is not written by the original author, but the story still follows the same theme. This one follows a young Amelia Bedelia as she tries to make money, even getting in trouble with the local police.</p> <h2>7. <em>American Girl Library: A Smart Girl's Guide: Money</em> by Nancy Holyoke and Sarah Hunt</h2> <p>American Girl non-fiction titles are both engaging and useful for young girls. <a href="http://amzn.to/2hMVXnq" target="_blank">A Smart Girl's Guide: Money</a> is written in an engaging, magazine-type format. Topics covered are smart shopping tips, making money, and investing. The book includes fun graphics and easy-to-use quizzes.</p> <h2>8. <em>The</em> <em>Babysitter's Club Series</em> by Ann Martin</h2> <p>There might not be any set money lessons in the <a href="http://amzn.to/2iAhDW9" target="_blank">Babysitter's Club Series</a>, but I remember clearly that it helped spark an entrepreneurial spirit in me during my tween years. The idea that a group of teen girls start their own babysitting club had me planning and thinking about doing that myself. While I never started a babysitting club, I still have that entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed me to creatively earn money without a 9-to-5 position. The book series has been redone as a graphic novel, so it will appeal to today's generations.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frugal-living-skills-you-should-be-teaching-your-children?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Frugal Living Skills You Should Be Teaching Your Children</a></p> <h2>9. <em>Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock</em> by Sheila Bair</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1rmUr" target="_blank">Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock</a> follows twins whose grandpa offers them a 10-week savings plan. Every dollar they save will be matched. One twin saves his money and has over $500 after 10 weeks, while the other twin spends the money foolishly. Tons of great money lessons in here.</p> <h2>10. <em>Isabel's Car Wash</em> by Sheila Bair</h2> <p>From the same author as the title above,<a href="http://amzn.to/2j1rvqX" target="_blank"> Isabel's Car Wash</a> is about a girl who wanted a doll that cost $10. She decides to start a car washing business, but first needs money for supplies. The book follows her adventure of starting a small business so that she can buy her doll.</p> <p>There are so many wonderful books out there that teach kids important money skills. Look for books that teach children the money basics in a fun way, and also look for books that features the main character acting as an entrepreneur.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget">How to Help Your Kid Build Their First Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-new-toys-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use New Toys to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-tips-for-having-a-baby-without-going-broke">24 Tips for Having a Baby Without Going Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time">These 5 Money-Saving Hacks Are a Huge Waste of Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Entertainment Family budgeting family kids money parenting saving money Spending Money teenagers tweens Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1869549 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Build Your Best Travel Budget http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_scooter_travel_518707448.jpg" alt="Couple learning how to build the best travel budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people live for trip planning, while others would rather get it done quickly and just enjoy their vacation. Whichever camp you fall into, creating a comprehensive travel budget is a crucial part of the planning process and will help ensure that you have the best trip possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-youre-paying-too-much-for-when-you-travel-and-how-to-pay-less?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">10 Things You're Paying Too Much for When You Travel (And How to Pay Less)</a>)</p> <p>Instead of worrying about money while you're away, a travel budget can help you to enjoy, relax, and live in the moment, knowing that you're not going to come back to a pile of debt. By planning out your finances before you leave, you may even realize you have a little money to spare for a fun activity or excursion while you're away.</p> <p>Planning a travel budget can present a challenge, however, especially if it's your first time visiting somewhere. Here are a few ways to make your perfect travel budget a little easier.</p> <h2>1. How Much Will My Trip Cost?</h2> <p>This is the most basic and yet important question you will have to ask when planning your travel budget. There are several factors you need to consider.</p> <p>In broad brush strokes, you'll want to think about two main components: the cost of things at your destination, and your travel style. Is it vital you stay in five-star resorts to enjoy your destination, or could you be just as happy in more modest accommodations? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-travel-expenses-you-forgot-to-budget-for?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">9 Travel Expenses You Forgot to Budget For</a>)</p> <h2>2. Define Your Travel Style</h2> <p>Travel takes many shapes and forms, from luxury trips with five-star accommodations to roughing it on a backpacker's budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-in-a-5-star-hotel-for-less-than-the-cost-of-a-motel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Say in a 5-Star Hotel for Less Than the Cost of a Motel</a>)</p> <p>While making your travel budget, it's a good idea to decide where you want to indulge and where you're okay doing with less. For example, maybe you're happy to stay in budget accommodations to make sure you have enough money for an expensive, once-in-a-lifetime activity. By making this a conscious decision, you can enjoy your splurges while knowing that you're making financially sound decisions that you can afford.</p> <h2>3. Consider Costs at Your Destination</h2> <p>The cost of travel can vary greatly in different countries, or even in different regions of the country where you live. For instance, you're going to need to plan a much bigger budget for a trip to New York City than for upstate New York. Websites such as PriceOfTravel.com and BudgetYourTrip.com can give you ballpark figures for travel costs in various destinations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-resources?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">40 Most Useful Travel websites That Can Save You a Fortune</a>)</p> <p>You'll need to factor in the price of transportation to the destination and on the ground while you're there, plus accommodations, activities, and food. Be sure to check if you've earned any free travel through airline, hotel or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card rewards programs</a>. That could significantly reduce your trip costs. Credit card perks such as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-car-rental-insurance-really-cover-on-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">free rental car insurance</a> can also help leave more breathing room in your budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-get-free-travel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Easy Ways to Get Free Travel</a>)</p> <p>Generally speaking, the Internet can be useful in figuring out approximate costs at your destination. However, keep in mind that larger booking sites may only list more expensive hotels and tours. Smaller mom and pop type businesses won't necessarily be included. Check out reputable travel blogs, online forums, and guidebooks for accurate information on less expensive, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-secrets-to-eating-great-food-for-cheap-while-traveling?ref=internal" target="_blank">off-the-beaten-path options</a>.</p> <p>Just make sure to look at when your resources were published and try to get the most up-to-date information. Prices can change quickly, and using outdated information in your budget could set you up for a nasty surprise when you get to your destination. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sneaky-vacation-costs-that-add-up-quickly?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">10 Sneaky Vacation Costs That Add Up Quickly</a>)</p> <h3>Known Expenses</h3> <p>With this research, you'll find you can figure out most of your big expenses in advance.</p> <p>If you're booking your accommodations ahead of time, it will be easier to factor into your budget since you will have an exact amount before you leave home. If you're going to book things as you go, you'll have to use your research to estimate what you will spend per night on average.</p> <p>Some expenses go hand-in-hand. For instance, knowing whether your accommodations will have a kitchen can help you better estimate your food budget: Will you be going out for every meal, or cooking some of the time? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-14-best-ways-to-cut-food-costs-while-traveling?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Ways to Cut Food Costs While Traveling</a>)</p> <p>Consider, too, whether you want to set aside some money for souvenirs and gifts, and be sure to factor in these expenses as well.</p> <h3>Unknown Expenses</h3> <p>You will also want to budget some money for unexpected expenses, which could include a health emergency while you're traveling or just the ability to splurge on something you hadn't necessarily planned on.</p> <p>Assign an amount that feels comfortable to you and include this extra padding on your travel budget so that you avoid coming up short.</p> <p>Trip planning doesn't just involve an itinerary and wish list of activities and sights. Creating a comprehensive travel budget will help you get excited for an awesome trip, while giving you the confidence that your travel is financially sound.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-build-your-best-travel-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%20to%20Build%20Your%20Best%20Travel%20Budget.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Build%20Your%20Best%20Travel%20Budget" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Build%20Your%20Best%20Travel%20Budget.jpg" alt="How to Build Your Best Travel Budget" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips">How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-expert-tips-for-redeeming-miles-for-free-travel">12 Expert Tips for Redeeming Miles for Free Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-spring-break-budget-busters-to-avoid">11 Spring Break Budget Busters to Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-budget-for-summer-vacation">7 Easy Ways to Budget for Summer Vacation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Here&#039;s How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Travel accommodations Airfare expenses hotels miles rewards saving money travel costs trip planning Mon, 02 Jan 2017 10:30:24 +0000 Nick Wharton 1864426 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 Reasons to Look Forward to 2017 http://www.wisebread.com/17-reasons-to-look-forward-to-2017 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-reasons-to-look-forward-to-2017" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-594485114.jpg" alt="reasons to look forward to 2017" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As I often do before I write anything, I asked my Facebook friends some of their suggestions on the topic at hand. I should've known better this time. Because when I posed the question, &quot;What are some of your reasons to look forward to 2017?&quot; I received responses like, &quot;The apocalypse&quot; and &quot;Trump's impeachment.&quot;</p> <p>I digress.</p> <p>Rest assured, however, that I didn't take their advice. Instead, I'm including only positive entries, devoid of partisan politics, because that's what we all need right now &mdash; hope, happiness, and the pursuit of anything that isn't 2016. Yep, it was a terrible year by most accounts, but it's almost out of here. So let's rejoice and look to the future. Here are some awesome things to get excited about in 2017. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a>)</p> <h2>1. It's Not an Election Year!</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but I was tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump around March. Of course, the vitriol surrounding the election didn't get much better as the months passed &mdash; or even after Trump was elected. In fact, it seemed to get worse. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though, that people on social media have expunged all the frustration sufficiently over the past two months, and are now committed to concentrating on more important things next year. If not, I think I'll have to hit the block button.</p> <h2>2. Lots of New Movies and Music</h2> <p>Each New Year brings 12 months of new-release movies and music. What are you looking forward to this year? Personally, I'm ramped up about AMC Theatres' Best Picture Showcase in February, a two-day event that I've attended the past several years to watch all of the Oscar-nominated films back to back before the Oscars. I purposefully avoid any film that has Oscar buzz so I can enjoy the fest in its entirety. I highly recommend checking it out. Looking ahead, I'm lining up for sure-to-be blockbuster films like <em>The LEGO Batman Movie</em>, <em>Alien: Covenant</em>, and <em>Baywatch</em>, along with some of the sleeper hits that will inevitably go viral. As for music, I'm preparing my iTunes for album releases by Tinie Tempah, Fergie, Iggy Azalea, Major Lazer, and more.</p> <h2>3. Paying Down Your Debt</h2> <p>Have you been <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">paying your debt down</a> consistently to a more manageable amount in 2016? Make this the year that you completely obliterate it. If you've been putting it off, attack it aggressively to unburden yourself. You'll be thankful you did. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Debt</a>)</p> <h2>4. More Affordable Taxes</h2> <p><a href="http://fortune.com/2016/12/12/donald-trump-tax-plan-charts/" target="_blank">President-Elect Trump's tax plan</a> gives most Americans a break on what they're currently paying, according to Fortune. His simplified tax code turns seven brackets into three and raises the threshold at which workers begin to pay income tax. In addition, many married couples will see their taxes reduced substantially. Something to look forward to if the new tax code falls in your favor.</p> <h2>5. The Release of the 10th Anniversary iPhone</h2> <p>Can you believe it's been nearly a decade since the iPhone single-handedly revolutionized the way we use mobile devices? For its 10th anniversary, expect a big reveal and, likely, a completely new design. Rumored features include a glass body, edge-to-edge OLED display with an integrated Touch ID fingerprint sensor, plus a game changer or two, like wireless charging.</p> <h2>6. Summertime</h2> <p>I live by the beach, and my favorite season is summer. I love everything about it &mdash; exercising outside, walking the boardwalk, visiting amusement parks, grilling in the backyard. I'm getting excited just thinking about it! Have you started thinking of your summer plans yet? If you plan to travel, winter is a great time to score deals on future getaways.</p> <h2>7. The World Expo</h2> <p>After taking a couple years off, <a href="https://expo2017astana.com/en/" target="_blank">World Expo 2017</a> will commence on June 10 in Astana, Kazakhstan, with the theme &quot;Energy of the Future.&quot; Thus far, 101 countries are participating.</p> <h2>8. A Total Solar Eclipse</h2> <p>A total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, Aug. 21. It will be the first solar eclipse visible from the United States since July 11, 1991, which was seen only from part of Hawaii. The longest duration of the eclipse will be two minutes 41.6 seconds, with the best viewing in Carbondale, Illinois. Just don't look directly at it, okay?</p> <h2>9. Your Vacation</h2> <p>Do you have a vacay on the books? Start planning where you'll stay and all the fun activities you want to do. It takes me hours and hours of planning to create an amazing vacation. I'm big on activities to create memories, and I like to compare prices and search for discounts to get the best deals. Happy hunting!</p> <h2>10. Making at Least One New Friend</h2> <p>I make several new friends a year &mdash; I actually set it as a goal &mdash; because I like to keep my social life active and interesting. Broaden your horizons by joining a social sports group, signing up for fitness classes, taking an art or music lesson, or becoming a member of a group that interests you.</p> <h2>11. Learning Something New</h2> <p>I'm sure you'll learn plenty of new things this year, but you have to make a conscious effort to learn anything important, like a new skill or a more efficient way to do something that takes up time or money. Decide what you want to learn and make it happen.</p> <h2>12. The First Human Head Transplant</h2> <p>Despite how you may feel about it, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/world/asia/china-body-transplant.html" target="_blank">first human head transplant</a> will likely be performed this year. Italian neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero and Chinese surgeon Dr. Xiaoping Ren are expected to remove the head of a Russian man named Valery Spiridonov who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman Disease, and reattach it to a donor body. The procedure is dogged by controversy, but if it's a success, it will go down in history as the most important medical advancement thus far.</p> <h2>13. <em>Stranger Things</em> Season 2 Is Coming</h2> <p>If you were a fan of the Duffer Brothers' love-letter supernatural series to the 1980s, you'll be happy to know that a nine-episode second season of <em>Stranger Things</em> will be released on Netflix in 2017. The new narrative will take place about a year after the first season's events and will explore the &quot;bigger mythology&quot; of Will's disappearance.</p> <h2>14. Carving Out More &quot;Me&quot; Time</h2> <p>Seriously, give yourself a break. See more movies by yourself, take a nap every once in awhile, go grab a cup of coffee, and read a book or magazine in the café. Just love yourself more often. You deserve it.</p> <h2>15. Adding a New Revenue Source to Your Income</h2> <p>I live by the philosophy that you should always have two sources of income. I truly believe it's the only way you'll get ahead in life, especially if you like to do things like go out to dinner or on vacation. In addition to a full-time career, I supplement my income by watching other people's pets via DogVacay, renting out my homes on Airbnb, and driving people around town with Lyft and Uber. There are many, many ways that are not limited to my suggestions that you can put more money in the bank this year.</p> <h2>16. Finding Joy</h2> <p>We live in a world of negativity, it seems. Everywhere we turn, it's bad news. But that's perhaps because we're actually looking for the bad news, like on social media where all people seem to do is complain about things they can't change and otherwise lament their lives. Shun that mentality this year and find joy for yourself. Maybe that means taking a social media hiatus, but do whatever you've got to do. There's still happiness left in the world, if you know where to look.</p> <h2>17. Committing to a Healthy and Productive Lifestyle</h2> <p>Go to bed early and wake up earlier. Stay on track with your fitness. Drink water and eat healthy. Do these three things for yourself and I promise you that so many other things will start to fall into place. Just stick to it and you'll see the results. I promise.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-reasons-to-look-forward-to-2017">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-76-new-years-resolutions-thatll-make-2017-your-year">Flashback Friday: 76 New Year&#039;s Resolutions That&#039;ll Make 2017 Your Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-87-frugal-ways-to-make-winter-less-miserable">Flashback Friday: 87 Frugal Ways to Make Winter Less Miserable</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-that-really-pay-off">15 Easy to Keep New Year&#039;s Resolutions That Really Pay Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-81-best-tips-for-saving-big-at-the-grocery-store">Flashback Friday: The 81 Best Tips for Saving Big at the Grocery Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting 2016 2017 fitness Health new year new you New Year's New Year's Eve new year's resolutions Fri, 30 Dec 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Mikey Rox 1865096 at http://www.wisebread.com These 5 Money-Saving Hacks Are a Huge Waste of Time http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_stressed_time_485081278.jpg" alt="Woman learning money hacks are a waste of time" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the many reasons you read Wise Bread articles is to live large on a small budget. That means deals, strategies, and money-saving hacks. However, although most money-saving hacks are well worth your time, some are red herrings. They appear to be great ways to save, but in reality, they can end up costing you a lot of time and trouble for very little reward. Here are five you should avoid. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-time-is-worth-more-than-money?ref=seealso">8 Reasons Time Is Worth More Than Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Changing Your Own Oil</h2> <p>No doubt many people are shouting, &quot;Hey, that is totally worth it!&quot; at the screen right now, but let's look at the time, effort, and costs involved and see what kind of saving you're looking at. First of all, you have to purchase the initial equipment. This is a one-off expense, but you're looking at a good jack with jack stands, a drain pan, a filter wrench, a good flashlight, and maybe a creeper, a set of gloves, and coveralls.</p> <p>Depending on the quality of those items, you're looking at a minimum of $300. Then, you have the parts you need for every oil change: the oil, and the filter. Again, quality here can dictate cost. You can pay anywhere from $4-$60 for a filter, depending on the make and model of your car. But let's just say $5 for a filter. Oil is also a variable, depending on your climate, your car, and your budget. You can go for regular, blend, or full synthetic. You'll need at least four quarts, and even if you get the cheapest regular oil, you're in the hole for about $20. So there you have it &mdash; $25 for materials.</p> <p>Then there's your time. Mechanics with access to pneumatic tools and lifts can easily get under the car and do this in 15 minutes. You probably don't have those though. You'll spend around 30 minutes changing the oil, or longer if it's your first time. You also need to purchase a container for the old oil, and dispose of it safely. Consider all of that, and then look around for deals in your area. Many garages will offer oil changes at a loss, so that they can inspect your car, and find problems that they can work on for a profit. You can get an oil change for $20 or less, most of the time with a synthetic blend oil, plus a top off your fluids. Just don't take it to the dealership, where an oil change can set you back $50 or more.</p> <h2>2. Making Your Own Detergents, Soaps, and Cleaning Supplies</h2> <p>You will often hear people (frugal experts especially), talking about the great value of making cleaning supplies. But before you dive into this process, take a look at the basic costs involved, and the time it takes to make them. Most of the time, you will have to buy ingredients that cost as much as, or even more than, the actual cleaning products themselves.</p> <p>These days, stores like Target and Walmart carry store-brand products that are so cheap it boggles the mind. And empty squeeze bottles can actually cost more than cleaning products that come in squeeze bottles! So while it may be fun to turn your kitchen or garage into a chemistry lab, purchasing bora, baking soda, lemons, bleaches, lye, essential oils, aloe vera gel, clay, oatmeal, and all the tools needed to make your own products, just remember you're not saving much money. When you can pick up laundry detergent for a few bucks, and window cleaner for 99 cents, you are literally spending a lot of time for a few cents.</p> <h2>3. Cutting Coupons</h2> <p>When you see these shows about people who clip coupons and get two carts full of groceries for under $10, you might think cutting coupons is an excellent use of your time. This, in most cases, is not actually true. Professional &quot;couponers&quot; go to great lengths to get these deals, and usually fill their garages and basements with hundreds of bottles and cans that they may never use. It's a lengthy investment. For the average shopper, cutting coupons involves sitting at the kitchen table with a pair of scissors and a pile of circulars, spending a good 30-60 minutes looking for deals that apply. It's 25 cents off here, and 30 cents off there.</p> <p>Then, when it comes time to shop, many of us simply forget to use them, or they sit at home in a drawer waiting to expire. When you do see deals that are great, they're for products you usually don't buy, so you're actually spending money to save money. If you spend an hour cutting coupons and save $7, congratulations&hellip; you're earning less than minimum wage.</p> <h2>4. Searching Endlessly for a Slightly Better Deal</h2> <p>The Internet, deal apps, and a plethora of other price comparison tools have turned us all into deal hounds. However, we can often get sucked into the trap of refusing to buy something until we get the absolute best deal we possibly can. We go to Amazon, then eBay, then do a bunch of searches looking for promo codes and special offers. In fact, many websites experience something called &quot;cart abandonment&quot; because they have a box for a promo code or discount. When we see that, we start the long, drawn out search for coupons and codes that are often only sent out to former customers in an email blast. Sites like RetailMeNot have certainly helped, but even then, we can waste hours trying code after code, eventually hitting pay dirt with that $2 off coupon.</p> <p>Was it worth it? We may feel like it, but in reality, so many stores price-match and offer competitive values. In the end, we could have just bought the deal we found in the first five minutes. Don't accept the first price you see, but after five minutes, when you notice the lowest prices aren't changing, it's time to throw in the towel.</p> <h2>5. Driving Miles to Save a Few Bucks</h2> <p>We're all guilty of this. Some people swear by apps that promise to find them the cheapest gas in the state, and then drive miles to save 10 cents a gallon. Other people will drive halfway across town to save 50% on the price of a toy or game, which saves them $5&ndash;$10, but costs them gas, mileage, and their time. What's even more bizarre is that often, people look at the percentages involved in deals, not the money. The same person who drives across town to save $10 on a game costing $20 will not bother doing the same on a TV that costs $1000 versus $990. Keep in mind that $10 is $10, regardless of the original purchase price. But all that aside, really consider how far you're driving, and the money you're spending, to see if it's really worth it.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-lessons-to-take-from-the-great-depression">9 Money Lessons to Take From the Great Depression</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-when-youre-rich-dream-buys-that-arent-that-great">5 &quot;When You&#039;re Rich&quot; Dream Buys That Aren&#039;t That Great</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting budgeting frugal living money hacks saving money Spending Money time management waste of time Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:01:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1863675 at http://www.wisebread.com My 2016 Budget Challenge: Reduce Debt or Save for an Emergency? http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-reduce-debt-or-save-for-an-emergency <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/my-2016-budget-challenge-reduce-debt-or-save-for-an-emergency" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-491311400.jpg" alt="should max reduce her debt or build an emergency fund?" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's Note: This is another episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 this year. Read the whole series </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em>.]</em></p> <p>Uh oh. Mr. Spendypants' contract is up. We anticipated that he might be out of work in mid-October and have been putting money into an emergency fund all year long for just this occurrence. The situation is not completely dire, as his company has paying work until March 2017. We have a very minor reprieve.</p> <p><em>Very</em> minor.</p> <p>As luck would have it I am also under-employed. I got furloughed this week by not one, but two jobs until a date that has yet to be named in 2017. Ugh. Really? I guess it's not just me who is strapped for cash at the end of the year.</p> <p>The big conversation Mr. Spendypants and I have been having all week is this: Should we continue to put money toward the $31,000 Budget Challenge, or should we put that extra money into our emergency fund in the event that Mr. Spendypants is unemployed come March and I am still under-employed?</p> <h2>The Argument Against Staying the Course</h2> <p>Who knows what impact the new administration will have on the economy? We currently have slightly over $13,000 in our emergency fund, enough to live off of for four months. But what if the job market tanks and we can't find jobs for six months or a year? Putting all our money into the emergency fund is obviously the less risky move.</p> <h2>The Argument for Staying the Course</h2> <p>Mr. Spendypants is really good at his job in video games. He's had his choice of companies to work for in the past. Also, the video game industry is fairly recession-proof because games provide cheap entertainment for the out-of-work masses. We do trust that with his talent and his 20 years of connections in the industry that he has a 90% chance of quickly finding another paying job, perhaps even before his current job ends in March.</p> <p>Naturally, the real financial wildcard in this situation is me, Mr. Spendypants' deadbeat wife. If Mr. Spendypants can't find full-time work quickly, will I be able to get a job that pays me enough to cover 100% of our bills? Probably not.</p> <p>That said, if push came to shove, we could definitely cover the mortgage with my current collection of little jobs. I will just have to freelance that much harder, with no weekends or evenings off. And, even if Mr. Spendypants couldn't find a full-time gig, he could also rustle up some part-time freelance work to cover the rest. The worst case scenario: He goes on unemployment and we have to stop putting money in our retirement fund every month.</p> <p>Also, if we continue to aggressively attack our $31,000 debt instead of putting all the extra money into the emergency fund for the next two months, we're potentially saving money in the long run on interest. Our debt load won't be so bad if we find ourselves in a financial pinch four months from now. It's much easier to weather a financial downturn, be it personal or global, if you have a small nut to cover.</p> <h2>How to Hedge Our Bet</h2> <p>After a lot of discussion and number crunching, we have decided to stay the course and continue to put money toward both the emergency fund and the $31,000 budget challenge.</p> <p>This is the riskier choice. To hedge our bet, we've decided to sell off anything in the house we don't totally love to make some extra money. This is a win-win situation for both of us. I get the hated clutter out of my house, and Mr. Spendypants gets more peace of mind.</p> <p>Initially, Mr. Spendypants wasn't sure that we could make enough money selling used housewares to keep us afloat. Unlike me, he hasn't sold a lot of stuff online. When a copy of Kuon, an old video game that I had listed on eBay for $199, was snapped up in under an hour, he was convinced.</p> <p>Although I would love to systematically go through our house Mari Kondo-style, Mr. Spendypants doesn't want to have to look at a giant stack of merchandise in the middle of the living room. As a compromise, we're going to do a series of mini-purges where we only pull the things that we can sell that week into a common area for sorting and packing. Since I will be the one managing our online inventory and sales, this means a lot more hunting and packing for me, but I'm not going to argue about it. I have been trying to get Mr. Spendypants to downsize since we moved into Dinky Manor eight years ago. If a little financial panic is what it takes for him to get rid of belongings that have gone unused for years, I'll take it.</p> <h2>Progress So Far</h2> <p>I had the death flu for most of October. One of the suckiest things about the gig economy is that there are no sick days for people who work from home. If I don't do work, I don't make any money. Because I was sick in bed through the middle of the month, I only made $324 creating a database for my real estate agent and $199 selling Kuon on eBay. I am now, also, two weeks behind on all my work, which is kind of a nightmare. The only positive thing about getting the flu is that I was too sick to go shopping for anything, even food, so we didn't actually spend any money.</p> <p>While I was suffering at home, Mr. Spendypants was suffering at work. His schedule was so crazy, that his bosses ordered dinners in to incentivize him to work late. Between the long hours and the catered meals, he was too busy to go shopping for anything, even food, so he managed to sock away $1,101 from his paycheck.</p> <p><strong>Goal:</strong> $31,000</p> <p><strong>Amount Raised:</strong> $25,219.17</p> <p><strong>Amount Spent:</strong> $12,853.66</p> <p><strong>Amount Left to Go:</strong> $18,634.49</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-reduce-debt-or-save-for-an-emergency">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-three-lessons-about-saving-one-husband-learned-in-a-year">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Three Lessons About Saving One Husband Learned in a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-does-taking-a-regular-day-job-mean-giving-up">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Does Taking a Regular Day Job Mean Giving Up?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-what-to-do-with-a-totaled-car">My 2016 Budget Challenge: What to Do With a Totaled Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Everything Breaks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-turn-your-spouse-into-a-money-saver">My 2016 Budget Challenge: How to Turn Your Spouse Into a Money Saver</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting budget challenge clutter emergency funds employment freelancing max wongs budget saving money selling online Fri, 23 Dec 2016 10:30:31 +0000 Max Wong 1860472 at http://www.wisebread.com