Budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4804/all en-US 4 Mobile Phone Upgrades That Aren't Worth the Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-mobile-phone-upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-mobile-phone-upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl_phone_000039037532.jpg" alt="Girl realizing she has mobile phone plan she doesn&#039;t need" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The old adage says &quot;If you buy what you don't need, you'll need what you can't buy.&quot;</p> <p>When you have a mobile phone, you're already shelling out some serious coin every month. The average U.S. <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/6-reasons-your-phone-bill-keeps-rising/">monthly phone bill</a> ranges from $120 to $148. So, there's no need to pay for additional features you don't really need.</p> <p>Consider avoiding these four costly plan upgrades.</p> <h2>1. International Long Distance</h2> <p>Unless it's an absolute emergency, it just doesn't make sense to make international calls using your mobile phone's plan. For example, as an AT&amp;T subscriber, I would pay $2.19 per minute if I were to call to a landline in Ecuador, or $2.37 per minute if I were to call a wireless number.</p> <p>While paying $5 per line to upgrade to <a href="https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/international/long-distance.html?tab=1">AT&amp;T World Connect</a> lowers my calling rates to Ecuador ($0.35 per minute to landlines and $0.53 per minute to wireless), it is still not worthwhile. Without paying any additional fees, I can call any landline or mobile in Ecuador for $0.15 per minute, by signing up for a Skype subscription. I'd decrease my calling cost to landlines in Ecuador to as little as $0.075 per minute.</p> <p>You could also leverage smartphone apps, such as <a href="http://line.me/en/">Line</a>, <a href="http://www.tango.me">Tango</a>, or <a href="http://www.viber.com/en/">Viber</a>, that allow you to make international calls for free. Or, buy an international calling card with good rates for the country that you're trying to call. The point is that there are much more affordable options than upgrading for an international long distance feature.</p> <h2>2. Frequent Equipment Upgrades</h2> <p>T-Mobile Jump, AT&amp;T Next, and Verizon Edge offer variations of the same idea: Instead of committing to a single phone model for two years, you can upgrade to the latest model as soon as you want. No matter your phone carrier, if you have a frequent upgrade plan, you pay a monthly fee based on the full price of your selected phone (cost of service is separate).</p> <p>From a purely financial perspective, frequent equipment upgrade plans often aren't worth the money. For example, you could <a href="http://lifehacker.com/are-early-upgrade-plans-worth-it-1369868915#">save close to $650</a> by sticking to a two-year plan with AT&amp;T, instead of going with a frequent upgrade plan for two years. Similar savings scenarios happen with Verizon ($600) and T-Mobile ($340). (Note: Sprint retired its <a href="http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Learn_more_about_Sprint_One_Up/35e890a8-cbab-4cc4-99a7-91b0bc533e35?INTNAV=LP:Support:01102014:oneup&amp;ECID=vanity:oneup">One Up upgrade plan</a> on January 9, 2014). The premium that you pay for the &quot;convenience&quot; of having the latest model is too high and something that you don't really need.</p> <h2>3. International Data Plan</h2> <p>I get it, I really do.</p> <p>Just like many Millennial travelers, I believe that a trip isn't a trip without posting a few vacation pics for my friends to view. About 69% of Millennial travelers use some form of <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/travel/millennials-travel-survey-113198011097.html">social media during vacations</a>.</p> <p>Most service providers provide international data plans starting at 100MB. For example, <a href="http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/international/roaming.html">AT&amp;T's 120MB data plan</a> is $30, and <a href="http://www.verizonwireless.com/landingpages/global-roaming/">Verizon's 100MB data plan</a> is $25. The problem is that a 100MB allowance doesn't go very far. Consider how much data some common activities consume.</p> <ul> <li>Emailing a single high-resolution photo is 2MB to 5MB.</li> <li>Doing a 10-minute video call is about 24MB.</li> <li>Visiting 50 web pages equals about 10MB.</li> <li>Completing 30 social media posts with photos is roughly 10MB.</li> <li>Downloading 10 songs is 40MB.</li> </ul> <p>You could burn through 100MB of data in a single day. And that's assuming that you're keeping track of all of your data use. If you unintentionally left on the auto-push feature of your smartphone for all apps, you could easily burn through most of the data in just a couple of hours.</p> <p>Instead of buying an international data plan, take the following steps when traveling abroad (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-minimize-cell-phone-charges-when-you-travel-abroad?ref=seealso">How to Minimize Cell Phone Charges When Traveling Abroad</a>):</p> <ul> <li>Use the Wi-Fi from your hotel or from other reliable sources;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Plan ahead with smartphone map apps, such as <a href="http://www.ulmon.com">Ulmon Maps</a> and <a href="http://osmand.net">OsmAnd</a>, which can work without an Internet connection;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Keep your phone in airplane mode as much as possible to prevent data use;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prevent automatic upload of media.</li> </ul> <h2>4. Tethering</h2> <p>Sharing your data connection with all your other devices sounds like an awesome deal. However, the reality is that mobile tethering has several drawbacks:</p> <ul> <li>Most cellular carriers will require you to pay an additional fee or upgrade to a minimum MB plan to be able to tether through your device.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>There is no cellular carrier that will let you tether any device with an unlimited plan. You have to downgrade to a paid data plan, and figure out which one makes financial sense.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You have a data cap when tethering, often ranging from 2GB to 5GB. Depending on your data use, you may incur overages and their corresponding expensive fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Tethering is major drain to any mobile's battery life.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Many users report that their Internet connection freezes when the phone receives a text or call.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You're always trading off something when you're tethering. Tether via Wi-Fi, and your phone's battery drains quickly. Tether via USB, and only your computer can connect to the Internet. Tether via Bluetooth, and your connection gets very slow.</li> </ul> <p>This is why that tethering fee is something that you don't really need. Imagine if your home Internet provider would try to charge you for plugging an additional device to your home connection. You would probably tell your Internet company that they're crazy. If you really need a hotspot on the go for work purposes, you're better off investing in a mobile hotspot. That way you won't have to compromise for subpar service.</p> <p><em>What are some mobile plan upgrades that aren't worth the money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-mobile-phone-upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained">8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-reasons-you-need-to-cut-back-on-screen-time">10 Important Reasons You Need to Cut Back on Screen Time</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/cheap-smartphones-which-ones-are-worth-it">Cheap Smartphones: Which Ones Are Worth It?</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/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract</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/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more">Can a Robot Called Digit Really Help You Save More?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Technology data plans long distance mobile smartphones tethering upgrades Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1388408 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Budget Items You May be Forgetting http://www.wisebread.com/7-budget-items-you-may-be-forgetting <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-budget-items-you-may-be-forgetting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car_trouble_000046605260.jpg" alt="Woman stressed about car trouble she didn&#039;t budget for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By now, we should all be sticking to a solid budget &mdash; one which definitely includes a savings category. But, even the most financially sophisticated of us make little mistakes, often forgetting to budget for minor, miscellaneous, or unexpected expenses.</p> <p>Making this mistake can throw you off course and undermine efforts to create financial stability, a setback that can lead to frustration with the budgeting process. Avoid the drama by reviewing your budget and ensuring you're planning for these common, but often overlooked expenses.</p> <h2>1. Insurance Deductibles, Co-Pays, and Medical Supplies</h2> <p>No one expects to get sick, but we almost all ultimately do. So, why is this common expense so often not planned for? The money that is being budgeted for medical expenditures should include everything from deductibles and co-pays, to cough medicine and bandages. It should take into account common illnesses for each member of your family, including the family pet. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds?ref=seealso">8 Ways to Spend Your Last Minute FSA Funds</a>)</p> <h2>2. Taxes</h2> <p>There are one of two ways in which unexpected taxes might slip up and throw off your budgeting goals: unexpected taxes on extra income, and failing to find good use for tax refunds. Regular Wise Bread readers know how important it is to create extra income. The extra money you earn can help to pay off debt and boost your savings. But, we often forget to set aside taxes on the income. Tax refunds will gradually help you build a nice nest egg and should always be put into some sort of savings or retirement account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cant-pay-your-taxes-heres-what-to-do?ref=seealso">Can't Pay Your Taxes? Here's What to Do</a>)</p> <h2>3. Miscellaneous Travel Expenses</h2> <p>Travel, planned or unplanned, occurs all the time &mdash; whether it's to attend a friend's destination wedding, tackle your bucket list, network for business, or a vacation. Though it's inevitable, it's one of the most mismanaged expenses in a typical budget. It's easy to forget to factor in additional costs like visas, tips, ground transportation, food and beverage, duty free buys, in-flight amenities, resort fees, and long-distance calling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-travel-expenses-you-forgot-to-budget-for?ref=seealso">9 Travel Expenses You Forgot to Budget For</a>)</p> <h2>4. Home and Auto Repairs</h2> <p>Inevitably, machines will break down. And when they do, it disrupts our everyday lives. That's why we're willing to run out and replace them regardless of the expense. We will often finance the purchase because we failed to budget for it, and now it's an unexpected expense. So, factor in household and automobile maintenance and repairs into your budget and plan accordingly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-household-fixes-you-should-stop-paying-others-for?ref=seealso">5 Household Fixes You Should Stop Paying Others For</a>)</p> <h2>5. Networking</h2> <p>Everyone's agenda should include networking opportunities, because it aids in creating a healthier financial life. Set aside money to attend fundraisers, workshops, networking events, and paying membership fees and dues. This should include any contributions made to support causes you believe in, membership organizations, and annual conferences.</p> <h2>6. Adult Learning</h2> <p>Maintaining a focus on career development will also have significant financial rewards. Continued education is required for most professionals, but whether it's a requirement or not, we should be thinking about developing a competitive edge &mdash; as many of us simply will not take out the necessary time to work on acquiring new skill-sets. Do this while you're young and do it often. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-continue-your-education-without-going-back-to-school?ref=seealso">8 Cheap Ways to Continue Your Education Without Going Back to School</a>)</p> <h2>7. Dressing for Success</h2> <p>Dressing for success is equally important as networking and adult learning. This, of course, pertains to budgeting for new clothes, but your budget should also include money for regular grooming, shoe and jewelry repairs, dry cleaners, staying fit, and any routine that is imperative to your personal and financial health. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-should-always-rent-clothes-instead-of-buy?ref=seealso">6 Times You Should Always Rent Clothes Instead of Buying</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you avoid budget mishaps?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-budget-items-you-may-be-forgetting">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-spring-is-gonna-cost-you">10 Surprising Ways Spring Is Gonna Cost 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/ten-great-charities-that-deserve-your-dollars-this-year">Ten Great Charities that Deserve Your Dollars This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances">These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances</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/ponder-it-to-budget-or-not-to-budget">Ponder it: to budget or not to budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting expenses hidden costs repairs saving money taxes Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:00:07 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1381109 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Creative Ways to Save Money With Bulk Buying http://www.wisebread.com/6-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/farmers_market_000038571134.jpg" alt="Woman buying food in bulk at farmers market" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bulk-buying-basics-what-to-buy-how-to-store-and-money-saving-tips">buying in bulk</a>, warehouse clubs get all the publicity. But there's a lot of stuff they simply don't sell, or the amounts they do sell just aren't big enough. It's times like these when some out-of-the-box thinking on bulk buying comes in handy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-buy-in-bulk?ref=seealso">10 Things You Didn&rsquo;t Know You Could Buy in Bulk</a>)</p> <p>Below are some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-food-items-to-always-buy-in-bulk">bulk buying ideas</a> that you've probably never considered, but could end up saving you significant money.</p> <h2>1. Home Improvement Materials</h2> <p>If you're considering a significant home improvement project and want to tackle the work yourself, look into buying in bulk at the <a href="http://www.homedepot.com/c/Pro_VolumePricing"> Home Depot Pro Desk</a>. If you spend at least $2,500, you're eligible for exclusive savings and rewards when buying building supplies like lumber, masonry, nails, screws, and sheetrock.</p> <p>If you're doing landscape work at your house and the idea of hauling 25 bags of bark is overwhelming, consider buying landscaping materials in bulk from a local supplier. If you don't own a truck, borrow a friend's and haul things like bark, rock, and soil directly to your home and easily save 25% to 50%, depending on the material.</p> <h2>2. Online &quot;Subscribe &amp; Save&quot; Programs</h2> <p>It seems like every other person you see at Costco or Sam's Club pushes a cart around with a huge package of toilet paper or dog food hanging over the edge. While these are often good bulk buys, did you know that you can typically get the same products mailed directly to your home via online &quot;Subscribe &amp; Save&quot; programs? The two big players are <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/subscribe-and-save/details/?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JBPXV7KSAISOFU6R"> Amazon</a> and<a href="http://goto.target.com/c/27771/81938/2092?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.target.com%2Fc%2Ftarget-subscriptions-ways-to-shop%2F-%2FN-55b84"> Target</a>, and their pricing is surprisingly competitive. They both offer free membership, free delivery, and Amazon even offers 15% off if you have at least three items mailed to your home on a regular schedule.</p> <p>If you are a busy parent, and love the idea of having certain items sent to your doorstep on a regular schedule, you should definitely look into it. Some of the popular items include diapers, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dog food, shampoo, soap, and paper towels. The best part of both programs is the flexibility. If, for example, you have enough toilet paper to last six months, you can easily postpone future deliveries with no penalty.</p> <h2>3. Meat</h2> <p>If you have the freezer space, consider teaming up with friends or family and buying half a hog or a quarter of a steer.</p> <p>First, consider purchasing a 4-H project animal from your local county fair. You'll pay more than market price in most cases, but you'll be supporting local 4-H kids and end up with very high quality, antibiotic-free meat.</p> <p>Second, check out your local butcher shop for bulk meat buys. For example, my local butcher shop has a &quot;beef deal&quot; for five pounds of each of the following: round steak, chuck steak, 7-bone chuck roast, short ribs, and ground beef. Total price = $89.99 or $3.60/pound. If you have the freezer space, it's a great way to stock up and save.</p> <h2>4. Gift Cards</h2> <p>I have two kids who play youth sports year-round, and we are constantly buying coach gifts. Gift cards make awesome presents, especially when you buy in bulk from Costco. I recently bought five $10 Jamba Juice gift cards for only $30. So the next time you are hard up for a gift for a coach, teacher, or friend, swing by Costco and stock up on the cheap. Another cool thing about buying gift cards from Costco is they often feature <em>local </em>restaurants and businesses in addition to the usual chains.</p> <h2>5. Gas</h2> <p>For a $30 annual membership fee, <a href="http://www.mygallons.com/">MyGallons</a> will allow you to buy a large portion of gas at the current price. The service basically protects against a gas price increase over the coming months or years. You fill up at the station of your choice, and get a credit to your checking account or MyGallons debit card whenever you buy gas for more than your &quot;buy-in&quot; price. If gas prices go down, you can hold your gallons indefinitely until prices go up again, which they undoubtedly will. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-gas-rewards-credit-cards">Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Fruit and Veggies</h2> <p>If your family devours fruits and veggies like they are going out of style, you know just how expensive it can be to keep the fridge stocked. The absolute best way to stock up and save is by purchasing straight from the grower. Summer and fall are terrific times to hit up local farms, roadside stands, and farmer markets. I buy apples, apricots, peaches, and nectarines by the bushel basket from a local farm and typically negotiate a price 25%-40% cheaper than the grocery store.</p> <p>Also, ask local farmers if they have any &quot;seconds&quot; available to score a great deal on fruit and veggies that may not be perfectly shaped or colored, but still taste amazing. We are talking 50% off compared to the price of &quot;perfect&quot; varieties. By building a rapport with the farmer, they'll let you in on some great bulk buys.</p> <p><em>What is the most out-of-the-box bulk purchase you have ever made and how much did it save you?</em></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/6-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-places-to-get-coupons-online">The Best Places to Get Coupons Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-food-items-to-always-buy-in-bulk">13 Food Items to Always Buy in Bulk</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/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</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/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping building materials bulk Food gas groceries subscriber programs warehouse stores Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Kyle James 1370265 at http://www.wisebread.com Here's How Rich You'd Be if You Stopped Drinking Expensive Coffee http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking-expensive-coffee <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking-expensive-coffee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_coffee_000021560271.jpg" alt="Woman drinking expensive coffee and spending too much money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last week I was in Starbucks, and found they now have a list of enticing new lattes. One was <em>tiramisu</em>! Starbucks will be glad to know that the tiramisu latte did not disappoint. On taste, that is. The price tag for a tall tiramisu latte with coconut milk in my area is a staggering $5. That's right: <em>five dollars</em>. For what ultimately amounts to a small coffee with some flavors and milk substitute thrown in. Oh my.</p> <p>Fortunately for my pocketbook, I usually home brew. I have a very nice coffee maker that had an upfront cost the equivalent of 40 tall tiramisu lattes with coconut milk (after my 20% Bed Bath and Beyond coupon). Sure, it was expensive, but like I said; I'm a coffee lover, and the coffee it auto-grinds and brews is so delicious that I'm often disappointed when I'm out and have to buy from a coffee shop. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-brewing-12-ways-to-make-coffee-at-home?ref=seealso">12 Ways to Make Better Coffee at Home</a>)</p> <p>Before I get all annoying and tell you how much your five-dollar-a-day coffee habit is costing you, I want you to know that I'm not picking on Starbucks. You can run the same numbers by picking your favorite brew from Peet's or Caribou or Costa, or wherever you happen to frequent. Heck, skip the coffee analogy altogether and substitute cigarettes, a microbrew at your local hang-out, cable TV, or whatever daily vice you think is harmless to your pocketbook.</p> <p>What's most important is that, before you make even the smallest of financial decisions, you understand the big picture effect. Maybe you'll decide your daily latte is worth the long-term price. But, before you decide, you should understand the variables. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today?ref=seealso">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a>)</p> <h2>$5 a Day for 40 Years Could Buy a House (in Today's Dollars)</h2> <p>If you took $5 a day and put it in an 8% investment like a low-cost, well diversified index fund (I love Vanguard, if you're looking for one!) for 40 years, that daily foregone latte could compound to a staggering $510,600.40. Don't want to wait 40 years? The daily tiramisu latte habit adds up to $1,971 over a year, $11,563,07 over five, and $28,553.01 over 10. Just think about all the vacations you could take with that extra dough, or all the kids' college accounts you could fund, or all the debts you could pay off (and save yourself the interest payments!). The possibilities are endless. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-rich-youd-be-if-youd-saved-the-money-you-earned-in-high-school?ref=seealso">This is How Rich You'd Be if You'd Saved All the Money You Earned in High School</a>)</p> <h2>But I Don't Want to Give Up That Much Coffee</h2> <p>I love coffee, even the five dollar variety, even though I know how much it costs to my long-term bottom line.</p> <p>Drop just one froufrou cuppa from your weekly routine and you'll still see great investment results. Assume again you take that $5 per week and invest it in that low-cost index fund (which we'll assume returns 8% per year) and you'll earn $280.80 per year, $4,067.83 in 10, and $72,743.07 after 40 years. It's no McMansion in the burbs but $70k is still enough for a double wide in the country or a condo in the city. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less?ref=seealso">How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less</a>)</p> <h2>No, Really, I Just Can't Give up My Coffee</h2> <p>I get it. Really, I do. Sometimes a daily habit means more than what we have to gain by giving it up. So, in my last ditch effort to show you that little changes lead to big results, let's see how much you have to gain by giving up just one fancy coffee per month.</p> <p>In one year (assuming an 8% annual return): $64.80. In 10: $938.73. In 40: $16,786.86. Even giving up just one $5 coffee per month can make a sizable difference over time. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month?ref=seealso">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</a>)</p> <p>Just for fun, here's an expanded version of the numbers so you can choose your own timeframe and dollar savings.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/coffee%20savings%20chart%20-%20tweddale.jpg" width="605" height="389" alt="" /></p> <p>The next time you find yourself pulling a fiver out of your wallet for a seemingly inconsequential expense, I hope you'll think twice and consider the long-term cost of that impulse buy. Just plug the cost of that impulse buy into a <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/compound-savings-calculator-tool.aspx">compound savings calculator</a> and see how much you'll save &mdash; and earn. Over time, the decision could just fund your next home, vacation, or child's college tuition. Or, Howard Schultz's pocketbook. The choice is yours.</p> <p><em>What daily expense would you be willing to give up for a house in 40 years?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking-expensive-coffee">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less">How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less">11 Freedoms You Gain by Spending Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Investment coffee coffee drinkers compound interest money saving tips spending Tue, 07 Apr 2015 09:00:10 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1370567 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Have a Cheaper Easter http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-easter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-easter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/easter_eggs_000057340714.jpg" alt="mother and son having cheaper easter by painting eggs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Easter has never been a break-the-bank holiday, but you can easily go overboard. Keep your bunny budget in check with these tips to cut costs during this time-honored spring celebration.</p> <h2>1. Shop For Easter Gifts on Presidents' Day or Post-Valentine's Day</h2> <p>Easter baskets are filled with more than sweets, like small trinkets, toys, and clothing. In fact, one of my favorite Easter gifts as a kid was a kite, and when I'm making an Easter basket for my husband, I like to include a swimsuit for summer. To save on this and other items I put in the basket, I shop ahead for holidays like Easter during big sale events throughout the year, like Presidents' Day and after Valentine's Day. The former is a great way to score big savings on clothing items, while the latter yields copious amounts of deeply discounted candy.</p> <h2>2. Make the Easter Egg Hunt a Neighborhood Affair</h2> <p>What's better than an Easter egg hunt with your family? An Easter egg hunt with multiple families! Not only is this a good chance to spend quality time with your neighbors and catch up after a long winter spent hibernating, but it also provides all the neighborhood kids with ample space and goodies to search and find.</p> <p>To coordinate the effort, send out a free sign-up form from <a href="http://signupgenius.com">SignUpGenius</a> asking participating families to contribute one dozen eggs for each child, which is made cheaper by buying plastic eggs in bulk. Users can leaves comments on the sign-up form to let everyone know what goodies they'll put in their eggs to ensure a wide variety of treats.</p> <h2>3. Use Multi-Purpose Containers as Easter &quot;Baskets&quot;</h2> <p>If you and your family have traditional Easter baskets that you use from year-to-year, that's awesome &mdash; and your kids will cherish it (or at least the memory of it) forever. If you don't, consider using multi-use containers that cost you no money out of pocket, or that you can repurpose after Easter. You can use something lying around the house &mdash; perhaps one of your kids' beach pails. Or, do like I did and buy a container that I already needed for the house; a nice basket I picked up for my dogs' toys, which I'll use as my husband's Easter basket this year.</p> <h2>4. Limit the Candy in Festive Packaging</h2> <p>Seasonal items are corralled into one section of the store because it makes all the holiday things easy to find. It also makes it more difficult for you to compare prices with the same items that come in everyday packaging &mdash; a stealthy marketing tactic that's silently robbing you blind.</p> <p>When I recently walked down the Easter aisle at Target, I found lots of fun, pastel-colored goodies. Some of the prices were reasonable, but others were above and beyond a rip-off. The candies in plastic eggs, especially, have a high markup because of the price it costs the manufacturer for such festive packaging. They try to fool you with the $1 price tag &mdash; you think you're getting a great deal at just a buck &mdash; but don't be a sucker. Some of those packages have a mere handful of tiny candies inside the eggs whereas if you buy the regular-size bag of the same candy, you can get up to five times as much for around $2.50.</p> <p>That's not to say you shouldn't buy any candy in festive packaging &mdash; what's Easter without a few bunnies and chicks in the basket? But limit yourself and fill the rest with treats from the everyday candy aisle. Your kids totally don't care what color the foil wrapping is on their favorite chocolate.</p> <h2>5. Ditch the Plastic &quot;Grass&quot; for Recycled Paper</h2> <p>What happens to all that non-biodegradable plastic &quot;grass&quot; that fills the bottom of Easter baskets to make them look prettier? It ends up in the trash, where it will eventually make its way to its forever home at a landfill (once your kids dig out all the loose jellybeans hidden underneath it). Save the planet and your money by reversing the process. Take colorful paper &mdash; like weekly circulars &mdash; out of the recycling bin, cut into thin shreds, and fill the baskets with this decorative &quot;grass&quot; instead.</p> <h2>6. Shop the Big-Box Craft Stores for Discounts</h2> <p>Most of you probably head to Walmart or Target for Easter items like plastic eggs and decorations (kudos if they're on sale), while savvier shoppers reduce costs by sticking to dollar stores. I take an altogether different approach and purchase these seasonal items at craft stores that consistently have 40% to 50% off sales and similar coupons on a daily to weekly basis. A.C. Moore and Michaels, in particular, are well known for their deep discounts that you can readily find with a few flicks of the finger. You can only use one coupon per one regular-price item, so you may have to spread out the purchases. My gym is right next to A.C. Moore, so I pop into the store several times a week to get everything I need at a serious savings.</p> <p>If stopping by these stores multiple times to stock up isn't convenient for you, consider holding out until the last minute to get what you need.</p> <p>&quot;Typically, Easter egg packages at Hobby Lobby are $.88 or $.97, but during the last week before Easter they're an extra 40% off,&quot; says Melea Johnson, founder of Freebie2Deals.com. &quot;Buy enough so it's only a one-time purchase that will last for years.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Search for Free Easter Activities in Your Area</h2> <p>If you don't live in a neighbor where an all-hands Easter egg hunt or Easter-themed activity is feasible, your family can still get in on holiday fun at other local events &mdash; for free.</p> <p>&quot;Don't pay to attend a huge Easter egg hunt in your city,&quot; Johnson advises. &quot;There are plenty of places in your area that offer free Easter egg hunts throughout the weekend.&quot;</p> <p>Search the Internet or browse your local calendars, like your Chamber of Commerce or nearby churches.</p> <h2>8. Pass on PAAS, Consider Kool-Aid Instead</h2> <p>Paas Easter egg kits are somewhat of an American tradition &mdash; at least they were when I was a kid &mdash; but with so many other options these days, it's probably not important to your kids with which brand their eggs are dyed. If that's the case, get creative to save cash by swapping out the prepackaged kit for a homemade version made from your kids' favorite flavored drink packets.</p> <p>&quot;Use Kool-Aid to dye your Easter eggs; it's so much cheaper than purchasing a dye kit &mdash; and it smells fruity, not like vinegar,&quot; Johnson suggests. &quot;PAAS egg coloring kits start at $1.50ish. And each Kool-Aid packet costs around $.20, and store brands cost around $.12. You can pick and choose which colors you want to do and purchase a handful.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Take Advantage of &quot;Free Dinner&quot; Deals at Your Supermarket</h2> <p>I'm not sure if this is common in your neck of the woods, but several of the supermarkets around me offer a free ham for Easter if you meet a certain purchase criteria within a specified window of time, which is usually something like X amount of dollars spent each week for X many weeks.</p> <p>Mike Collins, owner of the personal finance blog WealthyTurtle, loves to take advantage of this annual promotion.</p> <p>&quot;My number one tip to have a cheaper Easter is to get your main course for free,&quot; he says. &quot;As a family of five we never have any problem reaching the minimum spending requirement, so we always get the meat for free and just have to pay for the sides.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Host a Potluck Dinner</h2> <p>While Mike Collins is paying for the sides, you can absolve yourself from all that jazz by hosting an Easter potluck. Pop your free ham into the oven to heat up (it's likely already cooked), and let your friends and family brings all the trimmings.</p> <p>&quot;One of the best ways to save on Easter is to have a potluck with family and friends. That way, you're not stuck with all of the costs, and usually your guests won't mind contributing by bringing a side dish, appetizer, or paper goods like plates and napkins,&quot; says CouponPal's Erin Konrad. &quot;Not having to pay for all of the food and beverages also allows you to spend money on things like decorations, supplies for an Easter egg hunt, or party favors (if kids will be attending).&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you know more ways to have a cheaper Easter? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-have-a-cheaper-easter">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/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide</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-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying">6 Creative Ways to Save Money With Bulk Buying</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/3-ways-to-save-hundreds-or-even-thousands-of-dollars-without-thinking">3 Ways to Save Hundreds (or Even Thousands) of Dollars Without Thinking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Budgeting baskets candy Easter Food Holidays Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1360788 at http://www.wisebread.com Can a Robot Called Digit Really Help You Save More? http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/momdaughter_saving_piggy_bank_000022124763.jpg" alt="Mom and daughter putting coins in a piggy bank " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The frugal living world is full of exhortations to save more for emergencies, to save for important purchases, to save for big life goals. Along with that comes lots and lots of advice about how to trim costs, earn more, and to budget and plan. Despite all of that, Americans still don't save as much as they should &mdash; <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/62-percent-americans-cant-cover-unexpected-expenses-bankrate-n281796">&nbsp;60% of us don't have enough set aside</a> for even <em>minor </em>emergencies like a car repair or an emergency visit to the dentist.</p> <p>So why don't we save when we know we should? Because even though it seems easy, saving money actually isn't that simple.</p> <h2>Digit Is Designed to Make Saving Easy</h2> <p><a href="https://digit.co/">Digit</a> is a free smartphone app that analyzes a connected checking account and makes periodic withdrawals to a separate, Digit-controlled savings account. The algorithm monitors spending and income habits to determine the size and frequency of the transfers. They are generally small ($15 to $20) and occur once or twice a week. Individual transfers are capped at $150.</p> <p>Most interaction with the service is via mobile text. Every morning Digit sends an account update with details about recent transactions and current balance. Users can send texts to issue commands and check balances, too. There's also a clean and simple website interface.</p> <h2>I've Saved $58.75 in Two Weeks With Digit</h2> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Peterson_Digit_Screenshot.jpeg" width="605" height="330" alt="" /></p> <p>After I got over some squeamishness about letting a mysterious algorithm connect to my checking account and begin transferring funds, I signed up through the website (it's easy, of course) and waited for Digit to do its thing. The first transfer, for $6.50, came about a week later. A handful of transfers have followed since (they seem to come in pairs, about a week apart), and I've amassed a tidy little nest egg of $58.75. When it reaches $100, I'll transfer it back to my checking account and from there into my savings account. Woo-hoo! An extra hundred bucks in my vacation fund.</p> <h2>What I Like About Digit</h2> <p>Here's why I'll probably keep my Digit account live even after I've written this review.</p> <h3>It's Easy</h3> <p>Setting up an automatic transfer between a checking account and a savings account is easy. Digit is easier, and works alongside my current transfers to help me find extra money to put aside for whatever. Signup is quick and painless. The interface is simple, clear, and direct. The list of commands is short and to the point.</p> <h3>It Sends Me Daily Text Updates</h3> <p>I try to check in with my banking and credit accounts every couple of days to see where my money's going and to keep an eye out for mistakes or erroneous charges. Unfortunately, sometimes life happens, and I may not check in for a couple of weeks. Digit sends me an update every morning with account balance and transaction details. It doesn't seem like much, but it goes a long way toward keeping money and personal finance &quot;top-of-mind.&quot; I'm thinking more about my money, and that's good.</p> <h3>Digit's Designers Are Thinking About Psychology</h3> <p>Digit doesn't ask me how much money I would like to save &mdash; it just does it, based on my financial habits. Compare that with an automatic transfer between accounts. The user has to make the decision to save, the decision to set up the accounts, and finally the decision on the amount of money to withhold. Each of those decisions are &quot;opt-in&quot; moments, which are surprisingly difficult to overcome. The last one is especially difficult because in addition to opt-in, we have to overcome &quot;loss aversion,&quot; which is what psychologists call our reluctance to give up what we have in order to gain something else. When you set up an automatic transfer between checking and savings, you have to decide how much to give up from spending now in order to gain some savings later. That's hard.</p> <p>Digit doesn't eliminate all the &quot;opt-in&quot; obstacles (you still have to click a link and sign up, after all), but it does help us get over loss aversion. Once you're in, you're saving.</p> <h2>What I Dislike About Digit</h2> <p>Digit does a lot of things right, but not everything.</p> <h3>Digit Interacts With My Checking Account</h3> <p>It felt really weird at first to let a third-party service transfer money out of my checking account &mdash; automatically. Digit's designers have recognized that this is a tall hurdle for some people. They insist the algorithm will never cause a user's checking account to become overdrawn, and they offer an overdraft guarantee, just in case. So far, nobody's had to take them up on it.</p> <h3>My Money With Digit Doesn't Earn Any Interest</h3> <p>Funds transferred and held in Digit's savings account do not earn interest. Of course, funds in my checking account and regular bank savings account earn only paltry interest, so maybe that's a wash. In any case, this is how Digit keeps the service free and pays themselves &mdash; they are capturing the interest instead of passing it to users.</p> <p>Also, transferring money out of my Digit savings account and back to my checking account takes about a day. (Meanwhile, transfers out of my PayPal account can take up to <em>five</em>.)</p> <h3>Digit's Psychology Can Work Against Me, Too</h3> <p>Speaking of getting my money out of Digit, the process is more like transferring funds between checking and savings accounts. It's all manual, with some &quot;opt-ins&quot; and a big &quot;loss aversion&quot; moment to overcome at the end. Automatic withdrawals back to my checking account &mdash; or even my savings account &mdash; based on preset goals met would be a nice feature. Maybe they'll add that in the future.</p> <h2>A Few More Details About Digit</h2> <p>If you're considering trying out Digit, you should know a few more things. (There's lots more at<a href="https://digit.co/about/faq"> Digit's FAQ</a>.)</p> <h3>Funds Are FDIC Insured up to $250k</h3> <p>Digit holds users' money at Wells Fargo or BofI Federal Bank, both of which are FDIC insured.</p> <h3>It Works With Most US Banks and Credit Unions</h3> <p>Digit is United States only currently, and while most major banks and credit unions are covered, not all are.</p> <h3>Passwords Are Anonymized and Secure</h3> <p>Digit claims they adhere to industry standards with respect to password and user data security.</p> <h2>Signing Up for Digit</h2> <p>If you'd like to signup for Digit, you can do so, <a href="https://digit.co/">right here</a>, in just a few moments. Once you've spent some time with it come back and share your experience in comments.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-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-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget">10 Free (or Almost!) Tools and Resources for Creating a New 2015 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/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances">These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances</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-mobile-phone-upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-money">4 Mobile Phone Upgrades That Aren&#039;t Worth the 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/the-nfls-5-most-frugal-players">The NFL&#039;s 5 Most Frugal Players</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-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained">8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Technology apps behavioral economics digit reviews saving Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:00:07 +0000 Lars Peterson 1345891 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Surprising Ways Spring Is Gonna Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-spring-is-gonna-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-surprising-ways-spring-is-gonna-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bike-commuter-city-hipster-iStock_000021384980Small.jpg" alt="bike commuter" title="bike commuter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you live in a colder part of the country, you probably can't wait for this winter to end. The New York City area, for example, has experienced its second-coldest February in history. But before the warmer months hit, it's important to understand how the change in seasons will impact your finances. While winter brings its own financial burdens, spring and summer can empty your pocketbook, as well.</p> <p>Here's how to stay within your budget as the temperatures warm up.</p> <h2>1. Go Green With Transportation</h2> <p>You'll probably drive more when it gets warmer, and may even take long road trips. You can expect gas prices to rise as demand increases and fuel companies switch from winter to summer fuel blends. Gas prices will remain low by recent standards, but it might help to consider walking or biking to work, or using public transit.</p> <h2>2. Register Early for Summer Camp</h2> <p>Summer can be a challenge for working parents, as the kids are out of school and need someone to look after them during the day.This means that many families explore summer camps and other activities. A week of summer camp will set you back an average of $304, according to the American Camp Association, with some for-profit camps costing more than $500 weekly. It helps to register in the winter to take advantage of early bird registration deals, and you may get a discount by signing up for multiple weeks at the same location. There may also be discounts for families with multiple children at the same camp.</p> <h2>3. Start Saving for New Family Additions</h2> <p>If you or your partner are not pregnant already, you can probably disregard this one. But statistics show that more children are born during the spring and summer months than other times of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that August is the <a href="http://www.livescience.com/32728-baby-month-is-almost-here-.html">top month for new babies</a>. New arrivals aren't cheap, and you can definitely expect to spend some money in the months leading up to the delivery. Now is the time to start banking as much cash as you can.</p> <h2>4. Travel Within Your Means</h2> <p>With an improving economy, the American Automobile Association expects more people to take trips this summer. According to American Express, an average <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/07/07/the-real-cost-of-summer-vacation-dont-get-buried-in-taxes/">vacation will set you back $1,145</a> per person, or $4,580 for a family of four. The good news is that gas prices are lower than in years past, and a strong dollar means that it's cheaper to travel overseas.</p> <h2>5. Budget Home Expenses</h2> <p>When it's cold and snowy outside, there's no lawn to mow (and you're probably postponing the construction of that backyard patio until the thaw). Warmer weather is when you whip out the lawnmower and make the call to that contractor. It's also when you might make any repairs necessitated by the snow, ice, and wind of winter. Various sources suggest that a homeowner will spend about 1% of their home's value on maintenance each year. Much of this expense will happen during the spring and summer, so be sure to budget accordingly. Consider saving a few bucks here and there by watering your lawn less and attempting landscaping projects yourself.</p> <h2>6. Be Patient With Investments</h2> <p>There's an old saying that investors should &quot;sell in May and stay away&quot; until October. This is not perfect advice, but there is evidence to suggest that the <a href="https://www.fidelity.com/learning-center/trading-investing/technical-analysis/sell-in-may-and-go-away">stock market's slowest months</a> are in the spring and summer. Since 1950, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has averaged negative returns during the months of May, June, August, and September. It has seen positive returns during all other months.</p> <h2>7. It's the Thought That Counts for Mom and Dad</h2> <p>Undoubtedly, people spend more money on gifts around Christmas than any other time of year. But the holidays of spring and summer can also add to your expenses. Americans were expected to spend $162.94 on Mother's Day in 2014 and $113.80 on Father's Day, according to the National Retail Federation. If you want to save money on these holidays, consider some thoughtful, but less expensive gift options, such as a great home-cooked meal.</p> <h2>8. Skip the Theater</h2> <p>The summer months are when Hollywood's <a href="http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2014">biggest blockbusters</a> hit the theaters, and many of us go, even if it's just to sit in an air conditioned environment for a while. Six of last year's top grossing movies at the box office were released during the spring and summer. Going to the movies is not cheap; the average cost of a movie ticket is $8.17, and many recent top films have extra charges for 3D or IMAX screenings. Want to save a few bucks? Get a Netflix account or go to RedBox and watch movies at home.</p> <h2>9. Don't Buy a Car</h2> <p>Generally speaking, the best time to buy a car is the end of the year when sellers are looking to meet their sales quotas. And you might get some good prices on older models in the fall when new models come in. Though you won't see as many deep discounts in the summer, you can still do okay at the end of months or quarters.</p> <h2>10. Take Advantage of the Real Estate Market</h2> <p>No one wants to move in the winter time, so there's more competition for homes during warmer months. This places upward pressure on home prices. In 2014, the <a href="http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/reports/2015/embargoes/ehs-02-23/ehs-01-2015-single-family-only-2015-02-23.pdf">median price for homes sold</a> in the U.S. between May and August was about $220,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's about $20,000 more than the median price of other months. On the positive side, this is good news if you are selling your home, and buyers are more likely to see a larger selection of homes for sale.</p> <p><em>What does spring do to your budget?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-spring-is-gonna-cost-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-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-budget-items-you-may-be-forgetting">7 Budget Items You May be Forgetting</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/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</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-wisebread-helped-me-get-45mpg-out-of-my-28mpg-car">How Wisebread helped me get 45mpg out of my 28mpg 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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste 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/suze-orman-tells-us-to-pay-only-the-minimum-on-credit-cards-wait-what">Suze Orman Tells Us To Pay ONLY The Minimum On Credit Cards. Wait, What?!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting General Tips gas prices saving money summer budgeting Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:00:08 +0000 Tim Lemke 1338574 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-hotel-worker-tray-room-food-iStock_000025670142_Small.jpg" alt="woman room service" title="woman room service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all need a roof over our heads and a place to sleep at night. Living with mom and dad is an obvious way to live rent-free, but you might prefer your privacy and independence. Fortunately, there are other tricks to score free rent that don't involve getting help from your folks. Here are five of them.</p> <h2>1. Work With an Accommodations Company</h2> <p>Contact hostels or private hotels and negotiate free rent in exchange for working for them on a part- or full-time basis. Some larger chains won't agree to this arrangement, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If a hotel or hostel has vacancies, or if it's understaffed and looking for ways to cut costs, the manager may consider your proposal. You can work in a variety of roles depending on your skill set, ranging from housekeeping to administrative tasks.</p> <h2>2. Home Share With an Elderly Person</h2> <p>Some elderly people live alone, and because of their age or health, they get behind on housework and home maintenance. If you have the skills and time, offer to home share with an elderly person on a temporary basis. In exchange for free rent, you agree to tasks such as cleaning, cooking, running errands, or handling repairs and maintenance. It's a win-win, since you provide your elderly roommate with companionship and assistance around the house, while you save money toward your financial goals. If I were actively seeking rent-free accommodation, this is totally a situation I'd pursue. I love elderly folks, and elderly folks love me. We'd watch our soaps, make fresh sandwiches for lunch, take afternoon naps, and get all gussied up for church bingo. Sounds like my idea of paradise.</p> <h2>3. Live in Your Van or RV</h2> <p>It might get a little cramped inside, but if you're serious about saving money for whatever reason, living in your van or RV for several months to a year (or longer) can really build your savings. This is especially true if you can park the vehicle on a friend or relative's property for free. Almost all RVs are equipped with small kitchens and bathrooms, so it's easier to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, if you live in a van, you'll need to borrow a friend or relative's kitchen or bathroom, unless you're planning to eat out for every meal or shower at the gym before work.</p> <h2>4. House-Sit for Free Rent</h2> <p>Some people are nervous about leaving their home and pets for days while out of town, so they ask a friend or relative to house-sit or check on the property. But what you may not realize is that some career house-sitters don't pay a dime for rent.</p> <p>&quot;House-sitting in return for a free retreat is growing in its popularity as more and more home and pet owners enjoy having the freedom to choose their sitter and having peace of mind that their fur family are kept in their own environment,&quot; says Rachel Martin, co-founder of <a href="http://trustedhousesitters.com">TrustedHousesitters.com</a>.</p> <p>You might not receive compensation for house-sitting, so you'll need an income source to cover other monthly expenses such as food, transportation, entertainment, and so on. However, it's a fair trade-off, considering you're able to stay in someone's home without paying rent or utilities.</p> <h2>5. Find a Job That Includes Accommodations</h2> <p>This is similar &mdash; but not identical &mdash; to my first suggestion. If you have the appropriate skills, look into employment opportunities that include free accommodations. You can work as a live-in nanny for a family who needs assistance caring for their children. Some boarding schools employ full-time resident advisors who live inside dormitories to supervise students. If you have experience in property management, some apartment complexes give employee rent discounts, and apartment managers can often even live in a unit for free. (Heck, I wouldn't mind being a modern day <a href="http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0025226/">Mr. Furley</a>.)</p> <p><em>Have you legitimately lived rent-free? What did you do? Tell us your story in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-try-to-reduce-your-rent">Should you try to reduce your rent?</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-really-afford-to-live-in-your-dream-city">Can You Really Afford to Live in Your Dream City?</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/real-estate-appraisals-ten-things-most-people-just-dont-understand-about-them">Real Estate Appraisals - Ten things most people just don&#039;t understand about them</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/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">Quiz: Am I Really Ready to Buy a Home?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Real Estate and Housing accommodations free rent housing recreational vehicle rent Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1338585 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Free (or Almost!) Tools and Resources for Creating a New 2015 Budget http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-home-budgeting-Dollarphotoclub_36161752.jpg" alt="woman home budgeting" title="woman home budgeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So your spending went a little haywire during the holidays. Now is the time to get back on track with a new budget for 2015.</p> <p>These days, it's easy to track spending and set up budgets, often without the need to log in to any complicated software program.</p> <p>For those looking to do a better job of tracking spending and keeping their financial goals within reach, these tools should help you as you head into the new year.</p> <h2>1. Mint</h2> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint</a> offers an array of tools to help with budgeting. It's possible to link all of your financial accounts, including your investments, and view them on a single platform. You can also track and categorize all transactions, and export your financial data to your TurboTax account at tax time. Best of all, you can set up an unlimited number of budgets and even establish goals to track. Mint is available online and on apps for smartphones and tablets.</p> <h2>2. Personal Capital</h2> <p>If you like Mint, you'll also like <a href="https://www.personalcapital.com/">Personal Capital</a>. Its budgeting tools are not quite as robust, but I find it's a little snappier than Mint. Personal Capital also offers financial advice and management for a fee.</p> <h2>3. Buxfer</h2> <p><a href="https://www.buxfer.com/">Buxfer</a> allows you to sync all of your accounts just like Mint and Personal Capital, but has an added feature that allows you to send money to friends and family online. It also helps you dole out shared expenses, like portions of rent or groceries, so it's perfect for young people with roommates.</p> <h2>4. BudgetPulse</h2> <p>This web-based application is a good option for those who prefer to not link all of their accounts. <a href="https://www.budgetpulse.com/">BudgetPulse</a> requires a little bit more work, because you have to enter all of your financial information manually, but it has a nice interface and some easy-to-adjust budgeting tools.</p> <h2>5. Level Money</h2> <p><a href="https://levelmoney.com/">Level Money</a> allows you to enter your income, expenses, and &quot;spendable cash&quot; and then offers a real-time picture of what you're buying and how much cash you have left. It's best feature is its simplicity.</p> <h2>6. GnuCash</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.gnucash.org/">GnuCash</a> personal and small business accounting program has many devotees because it's free and works on almost any computer platform, including Linux. Because it's based on the double-entry accounting system, it's very robust (and sometimes confusing for those unfamiliar with double entry). Still, with it you can track bank accounts, stocks, and other financial information, and get helpful charts. It's also possible to import from software programs such as Quicken.</p> <h2>7. Spendee</h2> <p>The first step to budgeting is learning where your money is going. And that's <a href="http://www.spendeeapp.com/">Spendee</a>'s strength. It's easy to enter transactions with just a few taps on the app (iPhone and Android), and the interface is about as clean as you can get. The budgeting tools aren't as robust as other apps, but you may find it's just perfect enough for tracking spending.</p> <h2>8. HomeBudget</h2> <p>A well-reviewed app for iOs, Android, and desktop platforms, <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/homebudget-with-sync/id306257910?mt=8">HomeBudget</a> is great for couples who want to manage budgets together. The app has a slick interface and offers a syncing capability that allows more than one user to track spending and income. The downside to this app is that it costs $4.99, but many find it worth it.</p> <h2>9. Paper Envelopes</h2> <p>Yes, just a handful of plain white envelopes will help you stay on the right financial path. Fill each envelope with a specific amount of cash for certain items. Once the envelope is empty, you can't spend any more on that item. It's a simple, but effective, way to reduce your dependency on credit cards and rein in your spending.</p> <h2>10. Microsoft Excel</h2> <p>This may seem a little outdated &mdash; and it's only free if you already have MS Office installed &mdash; but it can be effective. Microsoft's spreadsheet program offers a <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/simple-monthly-budget-TC103428920.aspx">simple monthly budget template</a> that allows you to compare monthly income and expenses. Sometimes simple is best.</p> <p>If truly free is your thing, you might try a <a href="https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=0AqSw5UvrxNaFdFRHNFlkbzEtR2xXNWJCS0JNRTZNdEE&amp;mode=public">similar template on Sheets</a>, google's free alternative to Excel.</p> <p><em>How do you track your budget?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-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-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-robot-called-digit-really-help-you-save-more">Can a Robot Called Digit Really Help You Save More?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-every-penny-count-with-a-zero-based-budget">Making Every Penny Count With A Zero-Based Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-shiny-new-things-without-the-guilt">Buying Shiny New Things Without The Guilt</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/fess-up-to-your-addictions-how-to-satisfy-them-on-a-frugal-budget">Fess Up to Your Addictions: How to Satisfy Them on a Frugal Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this">The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn&#039;t Money — It&#039;s This</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Android apps budgeting iPhone saving Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:00:06 +0000 Tim Lemke 1275173 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Bite-Sized Money Resolutions to Make 2015 Your Biggest Year Yet http://www.wisebread.com/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/dollar-bills-2015-Dollarphotoclub_67129525.jpg" alt="dollar bills 2015" title="dollar bills 2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's <em>that</em> time of year &mdash; when everyone's telling you that your New Year's resolutions can help you lose 50 pounds by beach season, revolutionize your career, and save enough to buy a Mercedes with cash by December. But despite our best intentions, almost none of us is going to become a brand-new person the moment 2015 dawns.</p> <p>However, we will have a little fresh start momentum on our side, so why not pick a handful of bite-sized financial resolutions from this party mix? If you pull them off by the end of January, you can always come back for seconds.</p> <h2>1. Don't Pay Any Late Fees</h2> <p>If you are prone to paying bills late, set up auto payments on all accounts, for at least the minimum payment due.</p> <h2>2. Read Your Credit Card Bill Every Month</h2> <p>You may be surprised at how many things you find &mdash; recurring billing for services you no longer use, missed refunds, overcharges, or, if you're unlucky, outright credit card fraud. At the very least, it's an opportunity to think about your spending for the past month and adjust your plans for future spending.</p> <h2>3. Start an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>If you don't have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. Set up a new savings account and auto transfer a regular amount from every paycheck. Even if it's only $10 a month, you'll be on your way to more peace of mind and a lower chance of running up credit card debt when emergencies happen.</p> <h2>4. Participate in Your Company's Retirement Plan</h2> <p>Especially if your company offers matching dollars, this is a one-time chore that will pay off for the rest of your life.</p> <h2>5. Negotiate With a Credit Card Company</h2> <p>When you see an annual fee hit your bill, or if you slip up and incur a late fee (or even if you just want a lower interest rate), pick up the phone and call your credit card customer service line. If you've held the card for a few years, and ask nicely, you may be surprised how easy it is to get your way.</p> <h2>6. Find a Credit Card With Better Perks</h2> <p>If you use credit responsibly, you might as well be getting something in exchange for all the fees you're earning for the company. Use a credit card comparison engine to find the best <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">cash-back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">miles</a>, or other benefit offers for you.</p> <h2>7. Cut Back on One Spending Category</h2> <p>When you read that credit card bill, take notice of any categories where your spending is large, and ask yourself if you could cut back on it. Restaurant lunches are low-hanging fruit for many people.</p> <h2>8. Start Using Coupons</h2> <p>You don't have to go all extreme couponing to benefit. You can start by browsing the coupon <a href="http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/coupon.php">database at Hot Coupon World</a> to find coupons for the items you regularly buy.</p> <h2>9. Sign Up for a Budgeting Website</h2> <p>My financial planner recommended <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint.com</a>, which pulls in info from your bank accounts and credit cards, so you only need look at the dashboard to see where your money went.</p> <h2>10. Find One Service Provider With Better Rates</h2> <p>Maybe you can switch cable or Internet providers, or try a different lawn care service, or start bringing your cat to a vet that doesn't have a fancy waiting room. Whatever it is, if it's a service you use more than once a year, the savings will add up once you switch.</p> <h2>11. Check Your Bank Account for Fees</h2> <p>You might notice a big one like an overdraft fee, but you might also miss smaller fees that banks sneak in. Some accounts start tacking on monthly fees if your balance falls below a certain threshold or if you have too many transactions per month. Take five minutes to review the last several months' statements online to make sure you're not getting nickel and dimed &mdash; and if you are, call your bank to see if there's a way to avoid future fees.</p> <h2>12. Stop Using Out-Of-Network ATMs</h2> <p>It may only be $2 or $3 here and there, but when you think about it, paying $2 to access $50 is forfeiting 4% of your money! Try to plan ahead for your cash needs, but if you find yourself without cash and far from your own bank, hit up a grocery store or drugstore and make a small purchase with your debit card, and then ask for cash back.</p> <h2>13. Stop Doing One Thing That's Not Worth the Time</h2> <p>Whether it's painting your own house or an extra evening job at a low pay rate, do a little cost/benefit analysis and figure out how much time you've been spending on that activity. Then ask yourself how much you enjoy or hate it. You may realize that you could be doing something else with that time that would save or earn more &mdash; or that it's better to set aside that time for a more rewarding non-financial activity.</p> <h2>14. Schedule Budget Meetings With Your Partner for the Rest of the Year</h2> <p>Pick up that stiff new 2015 calendar, and before it gets crowded with other appointments, ink in monthly, bimonthly, or semi-annual &quot;money dates,&quot; where you sit down without distractions to review your bank account balance, bills, financial goals, and spending habits. Having a time set aside to discuss money issues can prevent a lot of fights. If it sounds too boring, schedule a real date right after the money appointment so you have something to look forward to once you get your ducks in a row.</p> <h2>15. Audit Your Electricity Use</h2> <p>For less than $20, you can pick up an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009MDBU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00009MDBU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RU3V2OHCL3ZQPJTG">electricity monitor</a> to find out which of your appliances or devices is a power hog. Based on that info, you can change your habits or replace outdated appliances for extra savings.</p> <h2>16. Try Buying One Thing Second-Hand</h2> <p>If you have never considered Craigslist, garage sales, eBay, or thrift stores, give it a whirl this year. Great first second-hand purchases include: a Halloween costume, a pair of ice skates, a bread machine, or a bicycle. Why? All of these tend to be used once or infrequently before their owners don't want them any more.</p> <h2>17. Try a Price Comparison Engine</h2> <p>Next time you need to make a substantial purchase, research prices first on <a href="http://www.pricegrabber.com/">PriceGrabber</a>, <a href="http://www.pricewatch.com/">Pricewatch</a> or another resource before buying.</p> <h2>18. Sign Up for a Rebate Site</h2> <p><a href="http://www.ebates.com/">Ebates</a> or <a href="http://www.mrrebates.com/">Mr. Rebates</a> will not only get you cash back on online purchases, but they often provide coupon codes as well.</p> <h2>19. Cooperate With Friends Instead of Paying for Something</h2> <p>Whether it's trading child or pet care instead of paying a sitter, exchanging airport drop-offs to save cab fare, or borrowing and lending items that only get used occasionally, you can save a lot with a little help from your friends. You may have to offer first to get the ball rolling, but make it clear when you babysit or drive that you wouldn't mind getting the same favor in return.</p> <h2>20. Always Check the Daily Deal Sites Before You Go Out</h2> <p>Going to a museum, restaurant, or to the roller derby? Just a quick search of <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-10788528">Groupon</a> and <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-11429060">LivingSocial</a> might save you 50% of the cost.</p> <h2>21. Drive Less</h2> <p>Even with lower gas prices, you still have to pay for parking, tolls, and wear and tear on your vehicle every time you opt to drive somewhere. With ride-sharing services, public transit, and bike sharing programs, it pays to ask whether there is a cheaper way to get to your destination &mdash; and it will probably be friendlier to the planet as well.</p> <h2>22. Consider a Low-Cost Cell Phone Plan</h2> <p>If you want a high-end phone, a two-year contract at a high monthly rate is probably in the cards. But if you can live with a midrange smartphone &mdash; which by the way will use many of the same apps and texts and calls people just like an iPhone &mdash; consider paying cash up front and signing up for a low-cost provider such as Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile, or Boost.</p> <h2>23. Set Up Quarterly Tax Payments</h2> <p>If you owed last year, your future self will thank you if you set that up right now.</p> <h2>24. Give Mindfully</h2> <p>Don't just throw your charity money into the pot of whoever happens to be in front of the grocery store. Use <a href="http://www.guidestar.org/">GuideStar</a> or <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">Charity Navigator</a> to evaluate potential charities.</p> <h2>25. Make an Appointment With a Financial Advisor</h2> <p>No matter how old you are, a check-up with an advisor can help you make decisions that could have a big impact on your entire life. Fee-only planners charge by the hour and do not receive commissions for any investments they recommend.</p> <p><em>Have you succeeded in implementing any small financial resolutions? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-bite-sized-money-resolutions-to-make-2015-your-biggest-year-yet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</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/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <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/do-you-spend-more-with-cash-or-credit">Do You Spend More with Cash or Credit?</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/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things">Never Use Cash for These 11 Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/successful-new-years-resolutions-have-this-one-thing-in-common-does-yours">Successful New Year&#039;s Resolutions Have This One Thing in Common — Does Yours?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Credit Cards Personal Development Shopping money habits new years resolutions small changes Tue, 30 Dec 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1274765 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways Psychologists Say Saving Boosts Your Mental Health http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-psychologists-say-saving-boosts-your-mental-health <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-psychologists-say-saving-boosts-your-mental-health" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-woman-piggy-bank-Dollarphotoclub_73644280.jpg" alt="young woman piggy bank" title="young woman piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know that saving consistently can do wonders for our bank accounts, but what about our minds and our moods? As those dollars add up, how do our personalities change? Our outlooks on life? Our stress levels?</p> <p>If your personal savings plan is gaining momentum, I bet you've noticed some unexpected benefits in other areas of life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-factors-what-traits-do-most-savers-share?ref=seealso">What Traits Do Most Savers Share?</a>)</p> <p>Here are seven psychological benefits of saving regularly.</p> <h2>1. Discipline</h2> <p>A healthy bank balance doesn't happen by accident. We live in a virtual wonderland of consumer goods where every taste, inclination, or terrible idea can be indulged with a swipe or a click. Saving means swimming against the tide of stuff and having the discipline to say &quot;no&quot; more often than &quot;yes.&quot; And the wonderful thing is this: When we adopt effective <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-self-discipline-tricks-i-learned-from-the-marathon">self-discipline tricks</a>, the results can help us in nearly every part of life.</p> <h2>2. Peace of Mind</h2> <p>If being in debt or riding the edge of your budget has you stressed, then <a href="http://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/message/message.asp?p=Finance&amp;m=122">building a savings cushion</a> should bring you peace of mind, suggests Rutgers University. All savers may not be Zen masters, and there's a lot more to tranquility than a pile of cash, but establishing a healthy financial buffer sure doesn't hurt. Saving is a form of personal insurance and, after all, isn't peace of mind what insurance companies are selling?</p> <h2>3. Confidence</h2> <p>Successful saving builds confidence in at least two important ways. First, it reinforces the fact that you can really achieve something when you set your mind to it. And second, saving provides the capital to get things done when necessary. If that 1979 Bronco finally kicks it, you have the capital to buy a dependable replacement (or at least fund a healthy down payment). If your 30-year old furnace gives you the cold shoulder in the middle of a January blizzard, you don't have to kindle a campfire in the bathtub to stay warm. Isn't having the resources to act the ultimate confidence-builder? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-little-ways-to-feel-more-confident?ref=seealso">17 Little Ways to Feel More Confident</a>)</p> <h2>4. Assertiveness</h2> <p>Having a deeper and more authentic sense of confidence makes people more assertive. With the skills to save and the bank balance to prove it, you can channel healthy assertiveness when the occasion calls for it. Go after that promotion, ask that special someone out on a first date, or simply work toward your next set of personal goals with greater gusto.</p> <h2>5. Optimism</h2> <p>It's easy to be cynical when all your hard work barely floats you from one paycheck to the next. Research shows that saving <em>something</em> &mdash; no matter how small &mdash; can gradually build a sense of optimism. Watching a fledgling bank account grow helps us feel like we're working toward something greater and gives us the traction we need to find new ways to save more and save faster.</p> <h2>6. Compassion</h2> <p>Savers don't have a monopoly on compassion, of course, but saving can give us enough breathing room in our own financial lives to look around and see what others need. Saving regularly affords us the luxury of a clearer perspective &mdash; and that's often the seed of active compassion. It also gives rise to compassionate actions &mdash; such as having the means to donate to good causes or help others when they're in need.</p> <h2>7. Sense of Freedom</h2> <p>A high level of consumer debt is a lot like indentured servitude. Steep interest rates, late fees, the potential damage to credit (and all that can entail) can keep people toiling for years with very little to show for it. Being able to save regularly means you've at least tamed your debt enough to stash some cash &mdash; and cash is often an important part of being free. Spending less and saving more can help us embrace <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less">important freedoms</a> in our careers, our relationships, and where we choose to live. Without overstating it: If you feel cornered by any aspect of life, explore the transformative power of amassing some capital and then use it to launch yourself in a new direction.</p> <p>Sure, it might not be the cure for everything that ails you, but there are some very real psychological benefits to establishing and maintaining a savings routine. In fact, saving and frugality can be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/men-why-frugal-is-sexy">downright sexy</a>. So, as you watch that bank balance grow, consider what other parts of your life are blossoming too.</p> <p><em>Do you save regularly? How has it improved your frame of mind and your sense of self? Share your story below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-psychologists-say-saving-boosts-your-mental-health">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-nfls-5-most-frugal-players">The NFL&#039;s 5 Most Frugal Players</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-free-or-almost-tools-and-resources-for-creating-a-new-2015-budget">10 Free (or Almost!) Tools and Resources for Creating a New 2015 Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less">How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less</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-best-places-to-get-coupons-online">The Best Places to Get Coupons Online</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting confidence psychology saving security Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:00:10 +0000 Kentin Waits 1267802 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Reasons Why You Must Use Bill Reminders http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-why-you-must-use-bill-reminders <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-reasons-why-you-must-use-bill-reminders" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/past-due-bill-payment-122479255-small.jpg" alt="past due bill payment" title="past due bill payment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bills. They never seem to stop coming. And unless you have a perfect memory or someone on your payroll that manages them for you, it's difficult to keep track of all the due dates and make sure payments are made on time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a>)</p> <p>Bill reminders are a good solution for this, and offer other added benefits, too.</p> <h2>1. They're Free</h2> <p>Most service providers, banks, and online platforms like Mint.com and Google Now offer free bill reminders.</p> <h2>2. They're Your Very Own Virtual Money Manager</h2> <p>It's like having your own financial assistant &mdash; but one that practically never makes an error and doesn't cost a dime.</p> <h2>3. Setup Is Easy</h2> <p>A one-time setup means you can easily and efficiently get on track. And managing payees is as simple as logging into your account and adding, deleting, or editing payee information.</p> <h2>4. Alerts Protect Your Money</h2> <p>You can set alerts to let you know when an upcoming bill is due, using alert features that let you decide how and when you want to be notified. You can choose to receive email and/or text alerts. You can also opt to receive low balance and suspicious activity alerts.</p> <h2>5. They Help You Plan Ahead</h2> <p>By knowing you have an upcoming bill, you can make sure money is in your account. This helps you avoid service interruptions or point-of-sale embarrassments.</p> <h2>6. They Help You Avoid Overdraft Charges</h2> <p>NSF fees are annoying and a flat-out waste of your hard-earned money. Spare yourself the inconvenience of incurring them &mdash; and the potential trickle-down effect they can have on your pocketbook &mdash; even on the smallest of purchases.</p> <h2>7. They Help You Avoid Late Fees</h2> <p>There are times when we simply can't avoid paying late fees. Those times should be limited to the very rare occasions when you simply don't have the money to pay a bill. They should never be incurred just because you forgot to pay your bill on time.</p> <h2>8. Reminders and Autopay Do the Dull Work For You</h2> <p>Enjoy your weekend. Bill reminders with autopay free you from that dreaded one day a month where you sit sifting through bills and licking stamps.</p> <h2>9.They Help You Monitor Spending</h2> <p>You can use bill reminders to track your spending and stay within your budget. For example, your credit card payment should be steadily decreasing each month. If it isn't &mdash; or worse, if it goes up &mdash; you can catch and correct the issue.</p> <h2>10.They Help Organize Receipts</h2> <p>You will have a digital record of every bill payment made and will no longer have to hang onto paper receipts that clutter your office or desk. Tracing a bill payment is as easy as reviewing your account history and pinpointing dates.</p> <h2>11. Automation Is Good for Us</h2> <p>Our busy lifestyles demand so much of our time as it is. So why not embrace the advances in technology that are designed to make our lives easier? It's about building good money habits.</p> <p><em>Do you use billpay or other automated money management services? Tell us about your system in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-why-you-must-use-bill-reminders">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-ways-to-automate-your-finances">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less">11 Freedoms You Gain by Spending Less</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-one-young-entrepreneur-paid-off-40000-in-student-debt-by-age-24">How One Young Entrepreneur Paid Off $40,000 in Student Debt By Age 24</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting auto pay bill pay bill reminders Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:00:24 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1260496 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Mindless Ways You're Spending Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-buying-water-bottles-159204373-small.jpg" alt="woman buying bottled water" title="woman buying bottled water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever heard the term &quot;conscious spending&quot;? The idea revolves around being mindful with your dollars. Instead of treating your life as a restrictive budgeting experience, you have a handle on where your money is going and an awareness as to the value (monetary and emotional, etc.) you're getting from your purchases. The thing is, too many of us are spending zombies. We don't think about it; we just spend it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-never-succumb-to-impulse-spending-again?ref=seealso">How to Never Succumb to Impulse Spending Again</a>)</p> <p>Here are some sneaky ways you (and I) are spending money.</p> <h2>1. Bottled Beverages</h2> <p>Beverages are a huge money waster for my husband. He enjoys coffee, craft beer, smoothies, and even bottled water. I added up how much we spent on drinks one month and the total was a staggering $100. Needless to say, we've learned to love our tap.</p> <h2>2. Magazine Subscriptions</h2> <p>Here's my vice. I love magazines, but I rarely find the time to read them with everything going on in our lives. The other problem I've had with subscriptions is that some of them have automatically renewed without me realizing it. Though the expense might not be great, it's still dollars out of my pocket.</p> <h2>3. Supplements</h2> <p>Between protein powder, extra vitamins, and all other types of supplements, you might be spending a pretty penny on health-related items. Thing is, not all claims have been proven, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multivitamins-arent-as-good-as-you-think-eat-these-real-foods-instead">multivitamins might not be as good for you as you think</a>. Eating a whole foods diet can often give the same benefit with less financial backlash.</p> <h2>4. Entertainment</h2> <p>No, I'm not going to tell you to become a friendless hermit to save money. However, many of us blow cash every weekend on movies, concerts, and other events when there are plenty of cheap or free things to do. All it takes is a look at the local calendar and some imagination. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend?ref=seealso">47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>5. Energy</h2> <p>We all want to stay warm in the winter chill or cool in the summer heat, but many of us could use an energy audit. Cracks in windows, gaps in doors, and old thermostats could literally be sucking the change from your bank account. To start, try these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">seven ways to lower your winter energy costs</a> &mdash; you could save hundreds of dollars this way.</p> <h2>6. Online Shopping</h2> <p>If you've stored your credit card information on your favorite online shop, you could be getting more than you bargained for, quite literally. All those emails and social media messages broadcasting &quot;big deals&quot; might send you flying over all too often to buy things you may or may not need &mdash; and it often takes just one click. Online shopping certainly has its merits, but make it harder by entering your pay information by hand, giving yourself a few extra minutes to consider your purchases.</p> <h2>7. Clothing</h2> <p>Closely related to online shopping is clothing itself. While it's fun to keep up with the latest style trends, it can add up quickly. Soon you have a closet of clothes you wear infrequently. I used to spend hundreds on clothes each year, and nothing was getting good use. Now? I've switched to a more minimalist wardrobe, and I look smart while spending in a savvy way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe?ref=seealso">8 Essentials for Your Capsule Wardrobe</a>)</p> <h2>8. Food</h2> <p>We all have had that moment at the grocery checkout when the total has made our jaws drop. And, generally speaking, many of us are spending far too much money on food and restaurants. There are some opportunities for improvement, though. Shopping at discount grocers like Aldi can help. So can creating a solid meal plan and buying only the ingredients you need, which can also save your food from spoiling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list?ref=seealso">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Grocery List</a>)</p> <h2>9. Grocery Add-Ons</h2> <p>It's true &mdash; those impulse items continue to get us almost every time. Resist the urge to add candy, gum, and even cigarettes to your order in the checkout line. Skip those lottery tickets that usually yield very little in return. Other add-ons include anything and everything store managers choose to stock by the register. Put your blinders on, if necessary, because every little bit helps.</p> <h2>10. ATM Fees</h2> <p>Sure, it might not seem like a lot in the moment when you need cash. But &mdash; over time &mdash; those <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/09/29/ap-survey-atm-checking-account-overdraft-fees-surge/16392783/">$4 ATM fees</a> will suck you dry. To avoid them, try to think ahead for when you'll need paper money. Then, always aim for a fee-free ATM (usually the bank where you hold a checking account) or actually going to your bank to get out the dollars you need.</p> <p><em>Any other mindless spends I've overlooked? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mindless-ways-youre-spending-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today">13 Dumb Little Purchases You Need to Stop Making Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-rich-youd-be-if-you-stopped-drinking-expensive-coffee">Here&#039;s How Rich You&#039;d Be if You Stopped Drinking Expensive Coffee</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-ways-to-save-money-when-you-are-unemployed">10 Ways to Save Money When You Are Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-easy-ways-to-save-100-this-month">16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-freedoms-you-gain-by-spending-less">11 Freedoms You Gain by Spending Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting mindless spending spending wasteful spending Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:00:08 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1260488 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Automate Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-paying-bills-computer-519456677-small.jpg" alt="woman paying bills" title="woman paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No matter how hectic your schedule, it's important to keep your personal finances on track. Let them fall by the wayside, and you could face late fees or a damaged credit score. Automating your personal finances, however, is one easy way to simplify and maintain control of your money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-management-in-5-minutes-a-day?ref=seealso">Money Management in 5 Minutes a Day</a>)</p> <p>Consider these simple options for getting your finances on the right path and avoiding costly mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Let Your Online Purchases Pay Off Your Debt Automatically</h2> <p>Many of us enjoy the benefits of rewards credit cards that give us cash back or points for regular purchases. You can go one step further by enrolling in services such as <a href="http://www.upromise.com/welcome">Upromise</a> and <a href="https://shopperfund.com/">ShopperFund</a> which enable you to automatically pay off debt from cash back earned by shopping at participating retailers. Upromise lets you earn cash back to be automatically applied toward student loan debt, while services like ShopperFund let you pay off other types of debt.</p> <h2>2. Enroll in Your Employer's 401(k) Plan</h2> <p>Saving for retirement on your own takes discipline and dedication. Fortunately, you can automate much of your retirement investing by enrolling in your employer's 401(k) plan.You choose how much of your pre-tax paycheck to contribute (such as 2%, 3%, or up to the maximum percentage allowed by your employer), and the plan automatically deducts this percentage from your check and deposits the funds into your retirement account. And if the company offers a matching program, they'll match a percentage of your contributions, helping to grow your retirement funds at a faster rate. Since 401(k) contributions are taken directly out of your paycheck, you won't miss the money.</p> <h2>3. Set Up Automatic Transfers to Savings and Investment Accounts</h2> <p>If you have trouble remembering to feed your savings account, consider scheduling automatic transfers from checking into your personal savings account. You can decide what amount or fixed percentage of each paycheck to transfer from checking into savings each pay period. The same also applies for investment accounts; many online brokerages, such as <a href="http://www.sharebuilder.com/">Sharebuilder</a> also enable automatic funds transfers from checking accounts to fund regular purchases of stocks or mutual funds. It's a foolproof way to make sure you always pay yourself first.</p> <h2>4. Set Up Online Automatic Bill Pay</h2> <p>You can also automatically pay monthly bills, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, and credit card payments by selecting a monthly withdrawal date and allowing your providers to directly deduct from your checking account. Many providers offer extra benefits or discounts for auto-pay customers; student loan borrowers, for example, can often benefit from interest rate reductions. Online bill payment also helps organize your financial records, since any payments can be easily tracked in your web account.</p> <h2>5. Transfer Discretionary Funds to a Prepaid Debit Card</h2> <p>I got this idea from a friend about two years ago, and so far it's been an effortless way to manage our discretionary funds. It's basically a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">modern-day version of the envelope system</a>. But instead of separate envelopes for different spending categories, we use a prepaid debit card to hold funds set aside for groceries and entertainment. That way, we don't have to use our bank debit card so much throughout the month.</p> <p>Since we're committed to only spending what we deposit on the card, this method keeps our grocery and recreational budget on track. And one of the best features of some prepaid debit cards is the ability to set up automatic transfers from a bank account. Not all prepaid debit cards offer direct deposit or automatic transfers, so you'll need to research different cards.</p> <p><em>Do you have other easy ways that you automate your finances that you'd like to share? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">37 Savings Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-reasons-why-you-must-use-bill-reminders">11 Reasons Why You Must Use Bill Reminders</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-steps-to-a-blissful-matri-money">8 Steps to a Blissful Matri-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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-financial-moves-you-can-make-during-your-commute">10 Financial Moves You Can Make During Your Commute</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting automatic money management bill pay easy money management money management Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1257138 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother-daughter-gingerbread-house-173299436-small.jpg" alt="mother daughter gingerbread house" title="mother daughter gingerbread house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever feel like the holidays are getting out of control? Like that portly fellow in the red suit and beard is actually budget-busting bully? Maybe it's time for a midwinter revolution: the No-Spend Holiday. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-festive-frugal-ways-to-spruce-up-your-home-for-the-holidays?ref=seealso">6 Festive, Frugal Ways to Spruce Up Your Place for the Holidays</a>)</p> <p>Here are 12 ideas to make your holiday less about spending money on things and more about spending time with people.</p> <h2>1. Get Crafty</h2> <p>Holidays are the perfect excuse for even the most macho among us to string popcorn, geek out making custom Christmas cards, or delight in the finer points of gingerbread house construction. Instead of worrying about the &quot;stuff&quot; of the holidays, lose yourself in the joy of making things to exchange as gifts or keep as mementos. Involve the wee ones too with easy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-easy-holiday-crafts-for-kids">holiday craft ideas for kids</a>.</p> <h2>2. Make a &quot;Me Menu&quot;</h2> <p>Instead of a long holiday wish list, encourage each family member to create a favorite dinner menu. From appetizers to drinks and dessert, each person chooses their favorite meal and the rest of the family pitches in to pull it off exactly as planned. Rotate turns and tasks until everyone has enjoyed their gastronomic gift.</p> <h2>3. Play Outside</h2> <p>Baby, it's cold outside &mdash; but all that snow creates a veritable playground for the young at heart. Bundle up and have a good-natured snowball fight, window shop, or just flop down and make a snow angel. And what's even better than spending an hour outside? Coming inside and warming up with a hot toddy or a cup of hot chocolate.</p> <h2>4. &hellip;Or Inside</h2> <p>Not in the mood for outdoor adventure? Stay inside and play old-fashioned board games, charades, or Bingo. With the right amount of planning and PR, even simple activities can feel like major events.</p> <h2>5. Sculpt in Snow</h2> <p>Sure, the snowman is a classic, but get inventive this year. Build a snow dinosaur, a snow monster, a snow mermaid, or a snow castle. Get the whole family involved and see how you can make it bigger, more realistic, and more attention-grabbing for passersby.</p> <h2>6. Pick Classic Flicks</h2> <p>The list of classic holiday movies gets longer every year: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004TS0E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00004TS0E&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DUHLYTPQETU5NROF">Miracle on 34th Street</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VBIGCW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000VBIGCW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HBP25IYBMKE4LY7M">A Christmas Story</a>, and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/6305949980/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=6305949980&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NXGDA5YQDRQDKKLZ">The Nightmare Before Christmas</a> are just three off the top of my head. Stream them or borrow a few from your local library and devote an evening to silencing the smartphones, popping popcorn, and enjoying downtime together.</p> <h2>7. Unplug</h2> <p>And while we're on the topic of smartphones, maybe it's time to create a new tradition &mdash; The Unplugged Christmas. If every event is interrupted with buzzing and flashing and your holiday dinner table resembles a futuristic game of <em>Simon Says</em>, carve out a few electronics-free moments for adults and kids (over dinner, while opening gifts, for the first and last hour of each day, etc). It'll help everyone live in the moment and be less distracted by media and messages.</p> <h2>8. Volunteer</h2> <p>It really is better to give than to receive. Contribute your time and talents to a local charity this year and in return, enjoy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-unexpected-benefits-of-volunteering">a few unexpected benefits</a>, including a deeper awareness of all you have to be thankful for.</p> <h2>9. Get Thrifty</h2> <p>If a no-spend holiday just isn't realistic, how about a low-spend holiday? Instead of buying new, explore local second-hand shops and give <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-holiday-gifts-from-the-thrift-store">great thrifty gifts</a>!</p> <h2>10. Donate Your Time</h2> <p>Gifts don't have to be material. This year, offer to help someone with a task, a chore, or a goal. Maybe your mother-in-law would love to visit her childhood home but can't make the drive solo. Offer your chauffeur get specific about the when and the how. Shovel the sidewalk for an elderly neighbor, or surprise a young niece or nephew with an impromptu sledding adventure.</p> <h2>11. Revel in Your Achievements and Dreams</h2> <p>There's something entirely appropriate about taking time during the holidays to review our achievements and goals. Take turns with friends or family and remind each other of all your individual and collective triumphs. Promotions, good grades, saving, volunteering, learning a new skill, and decluttering all count. What do you want to do next year? What are the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-steps-to-achieving-all-your-goals">steps to achieving your goals</a> and how can everyone help?</p> <h2>12. Make Something Together</h2> <p>Holidays take a lot of preparation, so why not make them a family affair? Explore <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/keeping-santa-sane-budget-holiday-decorating">budget holiday decorating ideas</a>, prepare for guests by sprucing that spare bedroom, or break out the saw and sander and <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Giant-Jenga-Diy/">build a giant Jenga game</a>. Working together is a great way to teach new skills, build a sense of pride, and replace getting stuff with doing stuff.</p> <p>Remember, the goal isn't to cut all the money out of our holidays, but to shift our focus. It's easy to get caught up the consumerism and materialism, but challenging to change course and reconnect with simpler ideas about giving, receiving, and sharing. This holiday, push back on the tide of baubles and bangles and see if there isn't just a little more joy, a lot more time, and a lot less stress.</p> <p><em>Are you planning a no-spend or low-spend holiday this year? What ideas do you have to make it a success?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do 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-overpriced-holiday-gifts-you-should-skip">7 Overpriced Holiday Gifts You Should Skip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-holiday-gifts-that-arent-worth-the-money">13 Holiday Gifts That Aren&#039;t Worth the 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/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</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-holiday-mistakes-that-can-ruin-your-cheer">8 Holiday Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Cheer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Entertainment Christmas gifts holiday costs holiday spending Holidays Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:00:14 +0000 Kentin Waits 1254627 at http://www.wisebread.com