budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/503/all en-US Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-635966758.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay bills with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the smartest &mdash; and easiest &mdash; ways to earn more credit card rewards is to charge as many regular bills as makes sense. By using credit instead of your checking account to pay bills you normally pay anyway, you can increase your rewards without spending money you don't have.</p> <p>First step: Get out your monthly bank statements and make a list of expenses you pay on a regular basis. These might include utility bills, insurance premiums, and even rent.</p> <p>Next, determine whether you can pay these bills with credit. Using a credit card to pay your bills allows you to rack up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards?ref=internal" target="_blank">hotel points</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">airline miles</a> a lot faster, but there are some downsides you need to consider, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a>)</p> <h2>Beware of Fees<strong> </strong></h2> <p>While some businesses let you use a credit card without an added fee, others might charge a fixed or percentage-based convenience fee for using credit. This is because companies are charged a fee for processing credit card payments.</p> <p>If a fee is involved, it's usually not worth it to put the payment on your credit card. That additional fee would cancel out (and sometimes be more than) any rewards you'd get for the charge.</p> <p>Let's say you want to pay your $100 cellphone bill with a credit card, but your service provider charges a flat $1.95 fee for doing so. If your credit card offers 1% back for each dollar you spend, you would earn $1.00 in rewards for a $1.95 fee. You'd clearly be better off using some other payment method.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you have a rewards card that offer 5% back on cellphone purchases, you'd earn $5.00 in rewards on that $100 cellphone bill in exchange for a $1.95 fee. That's still a pretty good deal.</p> <h2>Don't Get in Debt for Rewards</h2> <p>No matter what, you should never charge bills you can't afford to repay right away. There is no amount of rewards that would be worth the interest credit cards charge for carrying a balance. Before you charge any bill, you should make sure you have the cash to pay your bill in full when it's due.</p> <h2>Don't Use Convenience Checks</h2> <p>Don't think you can bypass the fees by using those convenience checks credit cards send you, either. Those are considered cash advances, and you will not only not earn rewards using them, but you will be assessed interest the moment they are cashed. The interest on cash advances are much, much higher than the standard APR, too. So never, ever use those checks to pay your bills!</p> <h2>Overlooked Bills You Can Pay With Credit</h2> <p>With all of those caveats in mind, consider this list of bills you might not currently be paying by credit card:</p> <ul> <li>Cable/Internet/cellphone bill &mdash; Depending on which telecommunications service providers you use, you may be able to charge these bills to a credit card online or over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Car/homeowners/renters insurance &mdash; Most providers of these types of insurance let you pay your premiums with a credit card, though you may have to pay a fee. This is true whether you pay your bill monthly or just once or twice a year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>College tuition &mdash; Not all schools accept credit cards for tuition, and many that do charge a fee. For all the rest, charging your bill to a credit card can help you earn points and miles quickly. Because this tends to be a large bill, it's especially important to point out that this only pays off if you can pay the credit card charges in full at the end of the month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Day care &mdash; Many larger daycare centers let patrons charge their weekly or monthly day care expenses. Smaller providers may also accept credit cards, though they are more likely to charge a convenience fee.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Electricity, gas, water &mdash; More and more utility companies let consumers charge their bill payments to a credit card.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Health insurance &mdash; If you buy your own insurance on the open market or through the exchanges, you may be able to pay for your premiums with a credit card. Although some large health insurance companies have dropped this option, there are still some providers who allow it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Income taxes &mdash; The Internal Revenue Service authorizes three providers to accept and process <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/pay-taxes-by-credit-or-debit-card" target="_blank">federal income tax payments by credit card</a>. All of them charge fees, but at least part of the fee may be tax deductible. If you want to charge state income taxes, you'll need to check with your state for rules and additional details. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-with-a-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Kids' sports and activities &mdash; If your children are in baseball, ballet, or any other activity, don't forget to charge their activity fees or dues. You may also be able to charge equipment rental and uniform fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Offerings at your house of worship &mdash; An increasing number of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship accept credit card donations. If you tithe or regularly contribute to the offering plate, this is an expense to consider charging, keeping in mind that part of your donation will go to pay for credit card processing fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent &mdash; For a few lucky tenants, paying rent with a credit card is an option. Some landlords provide this service for free. Otherwise, there are companies that will accept your credit card payment and then pay your rent or mortgage by check, but the fees are almost always greater than any rewards you could earn.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subscriptions and membership dues &mdash; You can usually charge your fees for a gym, video streaming service, dating service, magazine, and other subscription services. Most large organizations will also let you pay for membership dues with a credit card.</li> </ul> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fshould-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FShould%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg&amp;description=Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card%3F" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Should%20You%20Pay%20Your%20Bills%20With%20a%20Credit%20Card-.jpg" alt="Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">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/dont-make-these-6-credit-card-sign-up-bonus-mistakes">Don&#039;t Make These 6 Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Mistakes</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-ways-to-save-loads-of-money-using-credit-cards">7 Ways to Save Loads of Money Using Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">The 5 Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards autopay bill pay bills budgeting credit rewards utilities Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Holly Johnson 1893287 at http://www.wisebread.com Avoid These 6 Mistakes Newbies Make With Their First Credit Cards http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-6-mistakes-newbies-make-with-their-first-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/avoid-these-6-mistakes-newbies-make-with-their-first-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-611298896.jpg" alt="Woman making mistakes with her first credit cards" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting your first credit card is a financial milestone. Your credit card can become an essential tool that builds your credit and helps you manage your money. But too many credit card rookies have gotten in trouble with debt and fees, while others simply miss out on important benefits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-before-getting-your-first-credit-card-0?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What You Need to Know Before Getting Your First Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>If you are about to apply for your first credit card, or are already using it, be careful not to make these six common mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Failing to Read the &quot;Fine Print&quot;<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Getting a credit card is an important financial decision, and you need to read the details before choosing one. Thankfully, the most important terms and conditions of credit cards aren't even written in fine print anymore. By law, credit card offers must show all of the interest rates and fees in a standard format and in large print, in what's called the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/decipher-credit-card-offers-with-the-schumer-box?ref=internal" target="_blank">Schumer Box</a>. And while you don't need to hire a lawyer to go over every single sentence, you should understand the interest rates being charged and all of the fees you could incur.</p> <h2>2. Applying for the First Offer Without Comparing Interest Rates<strong> </strong></h2> <p>When you are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer?ref=internal" target="_blank">considering a credit card offer</a>, you should take a close look at the standard APR (annual percentage rate) for purchases, and compare it to competing cards. Interest rates vary widely from card to card. If your account ever carries a balance (as more than 40% of all credit card accounts do), it's important to have the lowest possible interest rate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Low Interest Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>3. Signing Up for a Premium Rewards Card<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Just as you wouldn't want a novice driver to have an expensive luxury car, it's not a good idea for a first-time credit card user to have a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-premium-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">premium rewards card</a> with a large annual fee. As a newbie user, you are unlikely to use all the benefits that account for the annual fee. It's better to look for a basic card that will let you build credit with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">no annual fee</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for Students</a>)</p> <h2>4. Missing Payments<strong> </strong></h2> <p>The primary way that credit cards differ from debit and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">prepaid cards</a> is that you have to make a payment every month. If you fail to make at least the minimum payment on time, every month, then you will usually be faced with a much higher <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-didn-t-understand-about-credit-card-interest-grace-periods-and-penalty-aprs?ref=internal" target="_blank">penalty interest rate</a>, along with late fees. And when you repeatedly pay late, your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit will suffer severely</a>.</p> <p>On the other hand, you can quickly build excellent credit with a steady record of on-time payments. To make it easier to remember, sign up for email, phone, or text reminders of your due date. For even more assurance that you'll pay on time, sign up for auto-payments that clear your balance every month. Just be sure to look at your statements to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.</p> <h2>5. Making Just the Minimum Payment<strong> </strong></h2> <p>It can be tempting to pay just a little each month, but it will cost you dearly over time. The best way to use a credit card is to avoid interest charges by paying each month's statement balance in full and on time. But if you absolutely can't do that, then you should try to pay as much as possible, as early as possible. Most credit cards charge interest based on your average daily balance, so the sooner you can make a payment, and the more you can pay, the better. If you feel like you need a nudge to stay out of debt, you may consider a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-limit-no-interest-whats-the-deal-with-charge-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">charge card</a>, which has to be settled at the end of every month.</p> <h2>6. Missing Out on Benefits<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Besides being a convenient way to pay, most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-reasons-to-always-use-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards come with a lot of perks</a>, just for having the account. For example, you can receive <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-car-rental-insurance-really-cover-on-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">free rental car insurance</a> with most credit cards, but only when you use your card to pay for the rental and decline the optional coverage that the rental company offers. Other perks featured with many credit cards include <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-free-extended-warranties-work-on-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">extended warranty coverage</a>, price protection, and purchase protection against theft and accidental damage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Favoid-these-6-mistakes-newbies-make-with-their-first-credit-cards&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FAvoid%20These%206%20Mistakes%20Newbies%20Make%20With%20Their%20First%20Credit%20Cards.jpg&amp;description=Avoid%20These%206%20Mistakes%20Newbies%20Make%20With%20Their%20First%20Credit%20Cards" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Avoid%20These%206%20Mistakes%20Newbies%20Make%20With%20Their%20First%20Credit%20Cards.jpg" alt="Avoid These 6 Mistakes Newbies Make With Their First Credit Cards" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-6-mistakes-newbies-make-with-their-first-credit-cards">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/what-happens-when-your-credit-card-debt-is-charged-off">What Happens When Your Credit Card Debt Is Charged Off?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-5-costly-credit-card-mistakes">Stop Making These 5 Costly Credit Card Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-all-of-the-benefits-of-your-credit-cards-and-none-of-the-costs">How to Get All of the Benefits of Your Credit Cards — and None of the Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-credit-card-mistakes-that-could-be-ruining-your-credit">6 Credit Card Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards budgeting charge cards credit mistakes credit score late payments minimum payments rewards cards spending Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:30:32 +0000 Jason Steele 1892847 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-109722901.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You probably already know it makes more financial sense to pay off debts with the highest interest rates first, a payment method known as the debt avalanche.</p> <p>But here's a surprise: A study published last year in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people were more likely to actually pay off their debts if they relied on the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0" target="_blank">debt snowball method</a>, instead. In this approach, you pay off your smallest debt first, followed by your next smallest, and so on &mdash; until you've paid off all of them. You take this approach without worrying about which debts have the highest interest rates.</p> <p>Why does this method seem to work better? Researchers say it's about that all-important feeling of accomplishment. You'll get a rush of good feelings when you pay off a credit card, even if the debt on that card isn't that high. Yes, you'll pay more in the long run by not targeting debt with the highest interest rates first. But if the snowball method works better, and if you've long struggled with your credit card and other debts, you might be better off taking this approach.</p> <p>So, if you're ready to give the debt snowball method a chance, here are some tricks to boost your chances of success.</p> <h2>1. Draft a Household Budget</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps" target="_blank">Creating a budget</a> doesn't sound like fun, but it's critical if you're ready to get serious about paying down your debt. Your household budget should include the money that flows into your home each month and the money you spend, including estimates for such discretionary expenses as eating out and entertainment.</p> <p>Once you have a budget, you'll better know how much money you can allocate to paying down that smallest debt each month. Without a budget? You might be paying too much, putting yourself at financial risk. Or you might pay too little, dragging out the process of paying down your debts.</p> <h2>2. Don't Use the Card You're Trying to Pay Off</h2> <p>It might sound obvious, but don't add to the debt you're trying to pay off first. Don't use your credit cards to pay for anything. Follow your budget and pay cash or check for your allocated expenses. If you have a balance already on the card from the previous month, using it will immediately start interest charges on that amount. Nothing stalls your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">debt elimination process</a> more than adding additional interest.</p> <h2>3. In Fact, Don't Purchase Anything You Can't Afford to Pay Off</h2> <p>You're going to have to get used to a different sort of lifestyle, and that means no longer buying things you can't pay off at the end of the month.</p> <h2>4. Automate It</h2> <p>When you're concentrating on paying off one debt quickly, it can be easy to overlook some of your other bills. You can avoid this, though, by turning to automated bill payment. If you find yourself overlooking your cellphone bill, create an automatic payment from your bank account to cover that bill each month. You can do the same thing with car payments, student loan payments, or utility bills. Do this, and you'll dramatically reduce the odds of paying one bill late while you're whittling down another.</p> <h2>5. Don't Waste Bonuses or Promotions</h2> <p>Are you in line for a bonus at work? Don't blow that money on a new laptop. Instead, funnel it toward the debt you are trying to pay off. There's no better feeling than lopping off a huge chunk of debt.</p> <p>Or, maybe you've earned a promotion and a nice pay raise. Don't think that this gives you more spending money each month. No &mdash; until you pay off your debts, spending extra on fun shouldn't be a consideration. Instead, take the extra money you earn each month and use it to pay down your debt even faster. And then when you eliminate a student loan, credit card bill, or car loan, keep using that extra money to help pay down your next largest debt.</p> <h2>6. Consider a Balance Transfer Carefully</h2> <p>This strategy is only for those who are diligent and committed to paying off a certain amount of debt within a specific period of time. Credit cards offer new cardholders various balance transfer offers. Some have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">longer promotional periods (18-21 months)</a>, while others will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-no-balance-transfer-fees?ref=internal" target="_blank">waive the balance transfer fee</a> (usually 3%-5%). Using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-do-a-balance-transfer-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">balance transfer to pay down credit card debt</a> can save you a lot of money in interest. However, if instead you misuse this opportunity, by not paying off the debt during the 0% promotional period, and continuing to rack up debt on the cards you transferred balances from, you will find yourself in a crisis dealing with more accumulated debt than you started with, and at an even higher APR. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-important-things-you-should-know-about-balance-transfer-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Important Things You Should Know About Balance Transfers</a>)</p> <p>Paying down debt is never easy. But if you remain committed, and you need a series of smaller, but quicker, victories, the debt snowball method can work. Just make sure to remain focused on that goal of eliminating each debt one at a time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-to-mastering-the-debt-snowball">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</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-simple-way-to-decide-which-credit-card-to-pay-off-first">The Simple Way to Decide Which Credit Card to Pay Off First</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-debt-reduction-roadblocks-and-how-to-beat-them">6 Common Debt Reduction Roadblocks — And How to Beat Them</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management automatic payments bills bonuses budgeting promotions repayment plans snowball method strategies Tue, 31 Jan 2017 10:00:08 +0000 Dan Rafter 1877971 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Smart Money Moves for Empty Nesters http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-money-moves-for-empty-nesters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-smart-money-moves-for-empty-nesters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-108329619.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Parents love their children &mdash; that's a given &mdash; but that won't stop you from breaking out the trumpet in glee when your offspring start footing the bill for themselves. Oh, happy day! Need ideas on what to do with your cash now that it's actually yours again, empty nester? Consider these seven smart money moves once your kids fly the coop.</p> <h2>1. Re-evaluate Spending<strong> </strong></h2> <p>With fewer people living in the house, you'll likely see a reduction in monthly expenses. Re-evaluate your budget and assess how much you were spending before, and then look for areas to cut back. If you have a minivan or SUV that was suited to your larger family, consider trading it in for a smaller vehicle. You could possibly save money on the monthly payment, as well as pay less for insurance and fuel.</p> <p>Or maybe you have the Cadillac of cable TV packages, which accommodated everyone's viewing needs. Look into downgrading to a cheaper cable package. If you don't watch much TV, get rid of cable altogether, and sign up for an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained?ref=internal">inexpensive streaming servic</a>e. Additionally, since there are fewer mouths to feed, come up with a plan to spend less on groceries. The more you save, the more cash you'll have available to reach more important financial goals &mdash; like finally making some headway toward your retirement fund.</p> <h2>2. Grow Your Retirement Account<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Many parents make big sacrifices to provide for their children, which can include establishing college funds and fully or partially supporting adult children as they complete their educations. As a result, maybe you haven't contributed as much as you would have liked toward retirement. With the kids out of the house, now's the time to play catch-up.</p> <p>Work with a financial adviser, review your finances, and develop a realistic plan that lets you contribute as much as possible toward growing a comfortable nest egg. You can contribute up to $5,500 a year to an individual retirement account ($6,500 if you're 50 or older), and up to $18,000 a year to a 401K (plus an additional $6,000 if you're 50 or older).</p> <h2>3. Increase Liquid Savings<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Then again, maybe your retirement account is on track but you lack liquid savings for emergencies like a car or home repair. Instead of spending extra money on vacations, shopping, or redecorating your home, take the cash you're saving each month from cutting expenses and contribute to an emergency fund.</p> <h2>4. Pay Off Debt<strong> </strong></h2> <p>As you inch closer to retirement, the less debt you have, the better. Come up with a plan to pay off debt, especially <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit card debt</a>. This is not only costly debt &mdash; it also drags down your credit score.</p> <p>Gather all your credit card statements and write down the amounts you owe and the interest rates you're currently paying. Some people tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first, since this is the costliest, whereas others attack the debt with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-debt-snowball-method-0" target="_blank">lowest balance first</a> for a psychological boost. Whatever method you choose, pay more than your minimum every month, stop charging, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">negotiate your interest rates</a>.</p> <p>Additionally, consider making extra principal mortgage payments to pay off your home loan balance sooner. If you're able to pay off your mortgage before retiring, you can lower your expenses and stretch your retirement income.</p> <h2>5. Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Long-term care is a type of insurance that many people don't think about, but it's important to shop around and explore options while you're young and still relatively healthy. Long-term care insurance &mdash; which isn't covered by Medicare &mdash; pays for future expenses like home care, adult day care, and nursing home care. Some people don't think about getting a plan until they are ready to retire, but premiums are cheaper the earlier you buy.</p> <h2>6. Downsize Your Living Situation<strong> </strong></h2> <p>More than likely, you don't need as much space as before. Rather than stay in a house that's too big for you and your spouse, or waste money heating and cooling rooms you never use, downsize to a smaller space. A smaller house payment and cheaper utilities can increase your monthly savings, freeing up cash for paying down debt or increasing your nest egg.</p> <h2>7. Convert a Term Life Policy to a Whole Life Policy<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Life insurance is a necessity whether you're young or old. The death benefit paid to your beneficiaries can pay for final expenses, such as your funeral and burial, medical bills, and other debt. Term life insurance is cheaper than whole life insurance, which makes these policies an attractive option. But term policies expire after a certain number of years. A whole life policy, on the other hand, is a permanent policy that never expires and accumulates a cash value.</p> <p>Talk to your insurance agent about converting your term policy to a whole life policy. If you make the conversion before the policy expires, you can possibly get the new policy without additional medical underwriting.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-money-moves-for-empty-nesters">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/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-the-kids-move-out">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as the Kids Move Out</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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-college-kids-home-for-the-holidays-for-cheap">6 Ways to Get College Kids Home for the Holidays for Cheap</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-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting children debt empty nesters kids kids moving out retirement contributions teens young adults Fri, 27 Jan 2017 10:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1878109 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Smart Money Moves to Make in the New Year http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-money-moves-to-make-in-the-new-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-smart-money-moves-to-make-in-the-new-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy_bank_savings_545348368.jpg" alt="Piggy bank for making smart money moves in the new year" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe your New Year's resolution is to budget more consistently, save more, or spend less. Maybe it's investing a portion of your disposable income wisely. Whatever your financial objectives are, setting money-minded goals is important to ensure a more prosperous 2017 and beyond. Here are a few ways to build and improve upon the foundation you've already laid.</p> <h2>1. Enlist Professional Help</h2> <p>Guess what? Everybody gets themselves into a financial pickle every now and then &mdash; myself included &mdash; and it's not the end of the world. Don't beat yourself up about it. You can fix this.</p> <p>If you overdid it during the holidays (or even all of last year), identify your missteps so you don't repeat them in the future, and you can formulate a plan of resolve. If finances aren't your forte (though you should make them your forte ASAP), consider consulting an expert.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Cook</h2> <p>I know a staggering number of people who can't cook. Like, if they tried to sauté a few shrimp, you'd probably walk away from the dinner table with hepatitis. I don't understand it &mdash; which is why I harp on those who avoid the kitchen to get in there and learn. Refusing to prepare yourself fresh, delicious meals is just plain lazy.</p> <p>The other problem with not being able to cook is that the alternative is expensive and very unhealthy. For starters, you're at the mercy of the microwave or what's already prepared at takeouts and restaurants &mdash; and more times than not, that food is loaded with fats and sodium. Second, you're paying about three-to-one for ready-to-eat dishes (unless you're buying the worst of the worst from the freezer section) versus what you could make in your own home using store-bought ingredients.</p> <p>Cooking shows on the Food Network and recipes off the Internet taught me a lot of kitchen basics (like how to make sure a chicken breast is thoroughly cooked so I don't poison myself). A friend of mine recently hired a cook from Craigslist to come into his home once a week to help him learn how to prepare standard meals, like pork chops, veggies, and rice. There are plenty of resources available to help you learn how to cook, too. Find them, graduate to adulthood by making your own dinner, and then count all the cash you're saving. Your mama will be so proud.</p> <h2>3. Cut the Fat From Your Expenses</h2> <p>Along with cutting the fat from your diet, you also should look for ways to trim it from your budget. End memberships and subscriptions you don't use, and call your service providers to renegotiate your deals. I shaved $15 per month off my mobile phone bill last year by calling to update my 12-year-old plan. Also, investigate your bank accounts for erroneous fees; you may be paying for something on a recurring basis that you totally forgot about. Commit to shopping less, and saving more when you do need or want to spend. I don't buy anything without a coupon or discount code. Positive personal finance is a way of life.</p> <h2>4. Increase Your Retirement Savings</h2> <p>If there's extra money in your budget at the end of the month, spend it on your future by increasing your retirement savings. If your employer matches 401K contributions, you should at least be maxing them out. If you don't have an employer-sponsored plan, look into a Roth IRA as an alternative.</p> <h2>5. Consider a Balance Transfer</h2> <p>If you're underwater on your credit cards, consolidating that debt onto a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">card that allows balance transfers</a> could save you a decent chunk of change. Just make sure you check the fees and pay it off during the promotional period, otherwise interest can revert much higher, making repayment even more expensive. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-balance-transfer-credit-card-is-the-best-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Which Balance Transfer Credit Card Is Best for You?</a>)</p> <h2>6. Lower Your Investment Fees</h2> <p>If your finances are already fairly on track, there are still ways you can put more money back into your bank account &mdash; like lowering your investment fees if you play the stock market.</p> <p>Take a closer look at your portfolio, and re-evaluate to see how you can restructure so fees aren't costing you significant amounts in the long run. Now might also be a good time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-steps-to-getting-started-in-the-stock-market-with-index-funds?ref=internal">consider investing in index funds</a>, the benefits of which include broader market exposure, low operating expenses, and low portfolio turnover.</p> <h2>7. Research How the Trump Administration Will Affect Your Finances</h2> <p>Things are going to change, perhaps significantly, once Trump takes office. The new tax code overhaul alone could affect your finances one way or another. But there are other effects to consider, like rising interest rates, which may reduce the pool of potential buyers of a home sale if you're planning to sell in the near future. The repeal of Obamacare may also alter your budget, depending on what health care alternatives you have. Nonetheless, I recommend researching how the new administration's fiscal plans will trickle down to your own pocket. Hopefully you'll come out ahead, but you should prepare yourself, either way.</p> <h2>8. Just Say No</h2> <p>Make 2017 the year that less is more. Buy fewer retail items, dine out less frequently, limit your alcohol consumption, and learn how to say no to recreational activities that aren't in your budget. You don't have to do or have it all to feel satisfied. Rather, you'll start to experience satisfaction in other ways, like not living paycheck to paycheck because of frivolous spending. You deserve better; give it to yourself.</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/8-smart-money-moves-to-make-in-the-new-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-lessons-we-can-learn-from-jk-rowling">4 Money Lessons We Can Learn From J.K. Rowling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-soda-tidy-a-room-in-three-minutes-cure-a-hangover-and-become-a-movie-extra-phew">How To Make Your Own Soda, Tidy A Room In Three Minutes, Cure A Hangover And Become A Movie Extra. Phew!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living advice balance transfers budgeting fees financial help investments learning to cook New Year resolutions retirement Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:00:10 +0000 Mikey Rox 1873728 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-597659170.jpg" alt="your kids will love these books about money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Chances are, you want your child to be financially wise, but every time you start to talk about money management or smart spending, your kid conveniently tunes out. Fun books are the perfect way to get your children thinking about money.</p> <p>You don't necessarily need to force your kids to read heavy economic books. Instead, allow them to enjoy and be inspired by these books about saving, giving, and starting businesses.</p> <h2>1. <em>The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2i7aviQ" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense</a> helps teach kids about allowance management. The book has tear-out checks so that kids can practice writing their own. While most of the population uses <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison" target="_blank">debit cards and credit cards</a>, writing checks is still something that should be learned.</p> <h2>2.<em> The Berenstain Bears' Money Trouble</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1dwBl" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Money Trouble</a> features the same lovable bears as they start several businesses to earn money. Starting a business isn't easy, even when it's just a lemonade stand. This book goes through those initial obstacles in a fun way.</p> <h2>3. <em>The Berenstain Bears' Piggy Bank Blessings</em> by Stan and Jan Berenstain</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1fFwW" target="_blank">The Berenstain Bears' Piggy Bank Blessings</a> has an overall religious tone, quoting verses, but the story follows the bears as they save money for a surprise birthday present for their mom. My four-year-old enjoys this one, and I enjoy that the book shows the main characters thinking of others.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-best-sites-to-help-your-kids-learn-about-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Best Sites to Help Your Kids Learn About Money</a></p> <h2>4. <em>If You Made a Million</em> by David M. Schwartz</h2> <p>Kids throw around &quot;million&quot; without really knowing what it represents. <a href="http://amzn.to/2iw7QSV" target="_blank">If You Made a Million</a> helps children ages seven and older understand the complexity of big numbers in a fun way. While the book was published over two decades ago, it remains a classic, having won the ALA Notable Book and a Reading Rainbow Feature Selection.</p> <h2>5. <em>Prices! Prices! Prices!: Why They Go Up and Down</em> by David Adler</h2> <p>The well-loved author of the Cam Jansen series, David Adler, also happens to be a former math teacher. His book,<a href="http://amzn.to/2iAlvqd" target="_blank"> Prices! Prices! Prices!: Why They Go Up and Down</a> has such fun illustrations and tackles the concepts of supply and demand.</p> <h2>6. <em>Amelia Bedelia Means Business</em> by Herman Parish</h2> <p>Amelia Bedelia is a lovable and quirky character who takes everything literally. There have been many times I have laughed out loud while reading the original Amelia Bedelia series to my daughter, especially when she is told to &quot;dress the turkey&quot; and makes a little suit for the turkey dinner.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2iAnk6j" target="_blank">Amelia Bedelia Means Business</a> is not written by the original author, but the story still follows the same theme. This one follows a young Amelia Bedelia as she tries to make money, even getting in trouble with the local police.</p> <h2>7. <em>American Girl Library: A Smart Girl's Guide: Money</em> by Nancy Holyoke and Sarah Hunt</h2> <p>American Girl non-fiction titles are both engaging and useful for young girls. <a href="http://amzn.to/2hMVXnq" target="_blank">A Smart Girl's Guide: Money</a> is written in an engaging, magazine-type format. Topics covered are smart shopping tips, making money, and investing. The book includes fun graphics and easy-to-use quizzes.</p> <h2>8. <em>The</em> <em>Babysitter's Club Series</em> by Ann Martin</h2> <p>There might not be any set money lessons in the <a href="http://amzn.to/2iAhDW9" target="_blank">Babysitter's Club Series</a>, but I remember clearly that it helped spark an entrepreneurial spirit in me during my tween years. The idea that a group of teen girls start their own babysitting club had me planning and thinking about doing that myself. While I never started a babysitting club, I still have that entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed me to creatively earn money without a 9-to-5 position. The book series has been redone as a graphic novel, so it will appeal to today's generations.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frugal-living-skills-you-should-be-teaching-your-children?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Frugal Living Skills You Should Be Teaching Your Children</a></p> <h2>9. <em>Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock</em> by Sheila Bair</h2> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2j1rmUr" target="_blank">Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock</a> follows twins whose grandpa offers them a 10-week savings plan. Every dollar they save will be matched. One twin saves his money and has over $500 after 10 weeks, while the other twin spends the money foolishly. Tons of great money lessons in here.</p> <h2>10. <em>Isabel's Car Wash</em> by Sheila Bair</h2> <p>From the same author as the title above,<a href="http://amzn.to/2j1rvqX" target="_blank"> Isabel's Car Wash</a> is about a girl who wanted a doll that cost $10. She decides to start a car washing business, but first needs money for supplies. The book follows her adventure of starting a small business so that she can buy her doll.</p> <p>There are so many wonderful books out there that teach kids important money skills. Look for books that teach children the money basics in a fun way, and also look for books that features the main character acting as an entrepreneur.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-kid-build-their-first-budget">How to Help Your Kid Build Their First Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-new-toys-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use New Toys to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-tips-for-having-a-baby-without-going-broke">24 Tips for Having a Baby Without Going Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time">These 5 Money-Saving Hacks Are a Huge Waste of Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Entertainment Family budgeting family kids money parenting saving money Spending Money teenagers tweens Mon, 09 Jan 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1869549 at http://www.wisebread.com Taking a Work Leave? Here's How to Prepare http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-prepare-for-a-job-leave <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-smart-ways-to-prepare-for-a-job-leave" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/father_son_baby_505122600.jpg" alt="Man finding smart ways to prepare for a job leave" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may be looking to take some time off from work to stay home with your children. Or perhaps you have a new business venture you'd like to get after.</p> <p>Leaving the traditional workforce is something people do for a variety of reasons. I left my 9-to-5 a little over five years ago to stay home with my daughter. It was a big transition, both personally and professionally. I can tell you firsthand, though, that if you're smart about it &mdash; it may be one of the best moves of your life.</p> <h2>1. Make a Budget</h2> <p>If you don't already have a budget, make one &mdash; today. It's incredibly important before you take a job leave to understand how much money you have, where it's going, and how you'll deal once you don't have a steady paycheck coming in. Making a budget can be an enlightening or frightening process, but you definitely want to look before you leap into the financial unknown.</p> <p>To start, write out exactly how much money will be coming in after you leave your job. Then write out how much money goes out between fixed expenses (housing, student loans, car payments, etc.) and variable expenses (groceries, entertainment, clothing, travel). Don't forget big items like health care, either. After that, you can look for opportunities to cut your budget for the big change. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build Your First Budget in Five Easy Steps</a>)</p> <p>While you're at it, try saving as much as you can and building an emergency fund. My husband and I actually spent a good part of the year before I left my job trying to live within the budget we'd need after the baby. Any money we saved in the meantime went directly into our bank account.</p> <h2>2. Get Introspective and Creative</h2> <p>Leaving your job may mean making some pretty tough sacrifices. Maybe you won't be able to buy new cars or go on vacation. Maybe you'll need to stop eating out or even downsize your home. There will likely be days when you will ask yourself: &quot;Why am I doing this again?&quot;</p> <p>Having a long, hard talk with yourself (or several) will help you solidify the motivations for your leave. They will become stronger and stronger in your mind. Sure, you may hit some difficult or tricky times, but if you are passionate about the reason, you'll have the perseverance to continue on and figure out solutions.</p> <p>If you're feeling on the fence about it all, you may want to get creative. Meet with your HR department to explore other opportunities. Maybe you could scale back to working part-time. Maybe your department offers a more flexible schedule. Or maybe there are other jobs in your community that would afford you the time you're looking to gain.</p> <h2>3. Practice, Practice, Practice</h2> <p>After chatting with HR, I discovered that the university where I used to work offered up to eight months of unpaid child care leave. Before I decided to quit my job for good, I let my boss know that I wanted to take the maximum amount of leave. During this time off, our family continued to practice what life would be like &mdash; and what our budget would be like &mdash; without my paycheck. It wasn't a totally easy transition.</p> <p>For example, within the first month of my leave, our furnace died. It was the dead of winter, so we had to dip deep into the emergency fund earlier than expected. A few months after that we had a major roof leak. This is where our savings and budgeting really came into play.</p> <p>In the end, we realized that we would be fine because we had planned for these types of minor disasters. I had moments of doubt, though, and I was thankful to know that I had a job waiting for me if I needed it. Find out what type of temporary leave options are available to you. A trial run is a wonderful opportunity to see if your plans will work out in real life. Think of it as a pair of training wheels.</p> <h2>4. Leave on Good Terms</h2> <p>Even if you hate your job, you don't exactly want to leave burning all your bridges in the process. Of course, you may find yourself with a boss who doesn't completely understand or support your decision. And that's okay. What you can do, though, is to ease the transition for everyone involved as much as possible. That will help you leave on the best of terms.</p> <p>Give your boss plenty of notice before your leave. You may even want to, as I did, ask if you might return to your workplace in the future. Though my boss wasn't thrilled to be losing a dependable worker, he ultimately understood and respected my reasons for leaving.</p> <p>I left scrupulous notes for my replacement, organized all my digital and paper files, and even offered to be available for a short while if anyone had questions. On my last day, we shook hands and I felt confident &mdash; and still do &mdash; that I could apply for future positions.</p> <h2>5. Keep Your Toes Dipped</h2> <p>When I left my job, I wasn't totally sure how long it would work out. On paper, things were looking good. In practice, well, we kept hitting some financial roadblocks. I knew I wanted to stay home with my daughter, but I also knew that bringing in some money would be helpful. Keeping my resume and skills relevant was another important thing to me.</p> <p>That's when I started looking around for freelance writing work. Some of my friends were working on different gigs, so I reached out to them. Networked. I asked tons of questions and even got some leads on jobs. In the years since, I've worked at home anywhere between five and 30 hours a week. I've had a lot of situations in my life where I've needed to scale back or almost entirely from freelancing. Still, I have these jobs on my resume.</p> <p>I'm keeping current. (And I'm enjoying it, too!) Even if you don't want to actually work during your time off, you can volunteer. You can absolutely include volunteer work on your resume. Experience is experience. And the great thing about volunteering is that you can often put it on your own schedule.</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/5-smart-ways-to-prepare-for-a-job-leave">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-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</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-go-from-two-incomes-to-one">How to Go From Two Incomes to One</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-great-reasons-to-quit-your-job">13 Great Reasons to Quit Your Job</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Family budgeting emergency funds extended leave job leave one income family quitting stay at home parent workforce Wed, 04 Jan 2017 10:30:33 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1867991 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Give Your Finances a Year-End Review http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-give-your-finances-a-year-end-review <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-give-your-finances-a-year-end-review" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_paying_bills_168362659_0.jpg" alt="Couple giving their finances a year-end review" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As one year ends and another begins, it's a natural time for reflection &mdash; financial and otherwise. Here are some suggestions for evaluating your financial progress in 2016, with the hopes of planning an even better 2017.</p> <h2>Net Worth</h2> <p>This is your financial big picture and it makes for a great starting point. In essence, the net worth calculation asks, &quot;How much are you worth?&quot; And the more important question for our purposes: Has your net worth increased or decreased over the past year?</p> <p>Assets minus liabilities (debts) equals your net worth. Calculate the value of all your assets (home, vehicles, retirement accounts, savings, investments, belongings, etc.) minus any liabilities or debt (mortgage balance owed, car note balance, student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, etc.). The difference between your assets and liabilities is your net worth.</p> <p>If you did this exercise last year, how has your net worth changed over the last 12 months? And what contributed to the changes?</p> <h2>Cash Flow</h2> <p>When it comes to using a budget, there are various tools &mdash; from a paper and pencil budget to the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">envelope system</a>, and from software to online tools. When trying to motivate people to use a budget for the first time, I often say that the best budget tool is the one you'll actually use. However, for the purpose of a year-end analysis, there's nothing like an electronic tool, whether that means budget software or an online service such as <a href="https://www.mint.com/">Mint.</a></p> <p>For your cash flow analysis, start with the big picture &mdash; total income versus total expenses. Did you live within your means this year?</p> <p>Then do a category-by-category analysis. If you overspent in a certain category, was your budgeted amount unrealistic, or do you simply need to do a better job of managing your spending in that category?</p> <p>Use what you learn from this analysis in crafting your 2017 budget.</p> <h2>Experiential Net Worth</h2> <p>Traditional net worth statements have one big shortcoming, though &mdash; failing to account for investments you've made in positive experiences. <em>Experiential </em>net worth includes things like charitable donations, investments in your or your child's education, or even a memorable family vacation.</p> <p>Sure, these are expenses. However, research shows that spending money on positive experiences tends to make us happier than material things, so it's appropriate to recognize the experiences we <em>invest</em> in each year.</p> <p>To analyze your experiential net worth, focus on some of the ways you've spent money in the past year that led to some of your most positive experiences. This doesn't need to be a highly detailed account. If you gave to charity, for example, you might just list the organization(s) that you donated to as your experience, and maybe include a few details about the organization or how much money you contributed.</p> <p>Keeping tabs on your experiential investments can help you be strategic in planning future spending.</p> <h2>Emotional Net Worth</h2> <p>Emotional net worth is an assessment of how you <em>feel</em> about your current financial situation. While highly subjective, it can still help you analyze your overall financial wellbeing. Are you stressed about debt &mdash; and if so, how much? Do you feel you're making positive progress toward financial goals?</p> <p>Give your emotional net worth an overall rating. Next, jot down some ideas that could help you improve in this area, such as debt reduction, better communication about money with your spouse, or building an emergency fund.</p> <p>Now, take a good look at your year-end financial review. Are you content with what you see? Imagine it's this time next year. What changes will you need to make in 2017 to end up where you want to be?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-give-your-finances-a-year-end-review">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/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-money-moves-to-make-in-the-new-year">8 Smart Money Moves to Make in the New 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/its-10-pm-do-you-know-where-your-net-worth-is">It&#039;s 10 pm: Do You Know Where Your Net Worth Is?</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-13-numbers-are-the-keys-to-understanding-your-finances">These 13 Numbers Are the Keys to Understanding 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/plan-for-your-wants">Plan for your wants</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance analyzing budgeting cash flow experiences financial review investments net worth year end review Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:00:12 +0000 Matt Bell 1865739 at http://www.wisebread.com These 5 Money-Saving Hacks Are a Huge Waste of Time http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_stressed_time_485081278.jpg" alt="Woman learning money hacks are a waste of time" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the many reasons you read Wise Bread articles is to live large on a small budget. That means deals, strategies, and money-saving hacks. However, although most money-saving hacks are well worth your time, some are red herrings. They appear to be great ways to save, but in reality, they can end up costing you a lot of time and trouble for very little reward. Here are five you should avoid. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-time-is-worth-more-than-money?ref=seealso">8 Reasons Time Is Worth More Than Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Changing Your Own Oil</h2> <p>No doubt many people are shouting, &quot;Hey, that is totally worth it!&quot; at the screen right now, but let's look at the time, effort, and costs involved and see what kind of saving you're looking at. First of all, you have to purchase the initial equipment. This is a one-off expense, but you're looking at a good jack with jack stands, a drain pan, a filter wrench, a good flashlight, and maybe a creeper, a set of gloves, and coveralls.</p> <p>Depending on the quality of those items, you're looking at a minimum of $300. Then, you have the parts you need for every oil change: the oil, and the filter. Again, quality here can dictate cost. You can pay anywhere from $4-$60 for a filter, depending on the make and model of your car. But let's just say $5 for a filter. Oil is also a variable, depending on your climate, your car, and your budget. You can go for regular, blend, or full synthetic. You'll need at least four quarts, and even if you get the cheapest regular oil, you're in the hole for about $20. So there you have it &mdash; $25 for materials.</p> <p>Then there's your time. Mechanics with access to pneumatic tools and lifts can easily get under the car and do this in 15 minutes. You probably don't have those though. You'll spend around 30 minutes changing the oil, or longer if it's your first time. You also need to purchase a container for the old oil, and dispose of it safely. Consider all of that, and then look around for deals in your area. Many garages will offer oil changes at a loss, so that they can inspect your car, and find problems that they can work on for a profit. You can get an oil change for $20 or less, most of the time with a synthetic blend oil, plus a top off your fluids. Just don't take it to the dealership, where an oil change can set you back $50 or more.</p> <h2>2. Making Your Own Detergents, Soaps, and Cleaning Supplies</h2> <p>You will often hear people (frugal experts especially), talking about the great value of making cleaning supplies. But before you dive into this process, take a look at the basic costs involved, and the time it takes to make them. Most of the time, you will have to buy ingredients that cost as much as, or even more than, the actual cleaning products themselves.</p> <p>These days, stores like Target and Walmart carry store-brand products that are so cheap it boggles the mind. And empty squeeze bottles can actually cost more than cleaning products that come in squeeze bottles! So while it may be fun to turn your kitchen or garage into a chemistry lab, purchasing bora, baking soda, lemons, bleaches, lye, essential oils, aloe vera gel, clay, oatmeal, and all the tools needed to make your own products, just remember you're not saving much money. When you can pick up laundry detergent for a few bucks, and window cleaner for 99 cents, you are literally spending a lot of time for a few cents.</p> <h2>3. Cutting Coupons</h2> <p>When you see these shows about people who clip coupons and get two carts full of groceries for under $10, you might think cutting coupons is an excellent use of your time. This, in most cases, is not actually true. Professional &quot;couponers&quot; go to great lengths to get these deals, and usually fill their garages and basements with hundreds of bottles and cans that they may never use. It's a lengthy investment. For the average shopper, cutting coupons involves sitting at the kitchen table with a pair of scissors and a pile of circulars, spending a good 30-60 minutes looking for deals that apply. It's 25 cents off here, and 30 cents off there.</p> <p>Then, when it comes time to shop, many of us simply forget to use them, or they sit at home in a drawer waiting to expire. When you do see deals that are great, they're for products you usually don't buy, so you're actually spending money to save money. If you spend an hour cutting coupons and save $7, congratulations&hellip; you're earning less than minimum wage.</p> <h2>4. Searching Endlessly for a Slightly Better Deal</h2> <p>The Internet, deal apps, and a plethora of other price comparison tools have turned us all into deal hounds. However, we can often get sucked into the trap of refusing to buy something until we get the absolute best deal we possibly can. We go to Amazon, then eBay, then do a bunch of searches looking for promo codes and special offers. In fact, many websites experience something called &quot;cart abandonment&quot; because they have a box for a promo code or discount. When we see that, we start the long, drawn out search for coupons and codes that are often only sent out to former customers in an email blast. Sites like RetailMeNot have certainly helped, but even then, we can waste hours trying code after code, eventually hitting pay dirt with that $2 off coupon.</p> <p>Was it worth it? We may feel like it, but in reality, so many stores price-match and offer competitive values. In the end, we could have just bought the deal we found in the first five minutes. Don't accept the first price you see, but after five minutes, when you notice the lowest prices aren't changing, it's time to throw in the towel.</p> <h2>5. Driving Miles to Save a Few Bucks</h2> <p>We're all guilty of this. Some people swear by apps that promise to find them the cheapest gas in the state, and then drive miles to save 10 cents a gallon. Other people will drive halfway across town to save 50% on the price of a toy or game, which saves them $5&ndash;$10, but costs them gas, mileage, and their time. What's even more bizarre is that often, people look at the percentages involved in deals, not the money. The same person who drives across town to save $10 on a game costing $20 will not bother doing the same on a TV that costs $1000 versus $990. Keep in mind that $10 is $10, regardless of the original purchase price. But all that aside, really consider how far you're driving, and the money you're spending, to see if it's really worth it.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-lessons-to-take-from-the-great-depression">9 Money Lessons to Take From the Great Depression</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-when-youre-rich-dream-buys-that-arent-that-great">5 &quot;When You&#039;re Rich&quot; Dream Buys That Aren&#039;t That Great</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fun-books-that-will-get-your-kids-excited-about-money">10 Fun Books That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">4 Brilliant Tips From &quot;Smart Mom, Rich Mom&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting budgeting frugal living money hacks saving money Spending Money time management waste of time Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:01:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1863675 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_new_years_498059820.jpg" alt="Friends making personal finance resolutions they can master" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Working on your New Year's resolutions? Unfortunately, an incredible <a href="https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-new-years-resolutions-why-88-fail-and-how-to-make-them-work">88% of New Year's resolutions fail</a>. The big problem is that most people's resolutions aren't specific enough, or they're too ambitious.</p> <p>Ready to get 2017 off to a good money start? Try out these eight financial resolutions. They're simple enough so that anyone can accomplish them in the new year.</p> <h2>1. Build a Household Budget</h2> <p>We know it doesn't sound like fun, but crafting a household budget is the best financial move that you can make in 2017. Why? A budget tells you how much money you should be spending each month on everything from groceries to eating out to streaming movies on Amazon. Without a budget, your odds of overspending will soar. Fortunately, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps">making a budget</a> isn't nearly as challenging as you might think.</p> <h2>2. Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Your credit card debt might look overwhelming, but paying down this expensive debt in 2017 is actually a fairly easy task &mdash; if you commit. There are several different ways you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-credit-card-debt-elimination-strategies">attack your credit card debt</a>, from paying off the cards with the lowest balance first to prioritizing those with the highest interest rates. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso">The Fastest Way to Pay Down $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Build an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>What happens if your home furnace conks out? What if your car's transmission dies? Can you cover these unexpected expenses with cash? Or would you have to charge the repairs? If you have an emergency fund, you'll always have cash on hand to cover life's unexpected disasters. Financial experts say you should have at least six months' worth of daily living expenses saved in an emergency fund at all times. That might sound like a difficult goal, but you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">build this fund</a> as slowly as you'd like.</p> <h2>4. Cut Out One Unnecessary Expense</h2> <p>Vowing to cut your spending isn't the easiest New Year's resolution to keep; it's simply too vague. Instead, vow to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-unnecessary-household-expenses-you-can-cut-today">cut one unnecessary expense</a> from your routine. For instance, you might vow to stop buying coffee on the way to work, and instead brew your own java at home.</p> <h2>5. Boost Your Life Insurance Coverage</h2> <p>If you were to unexpectedly die, would you have enough of a life insurance payout to provide financial protection for your loved ones? If not, it might be time to boost your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/term-vs-whole-life-insurance-heres-how-to-choose">life insurance coverage</a>. Fortunately, this is an especially easy New Year's resolution to keep: Just call an insurance agent.</p> <h2>6. Protect Your Things</h2> <p>Whether you're a renter or a homeowner, you need to make sure that you have enough insurance to replace the items in your home, should they be stolen or destroyed. Resolve in 2017 to meet with an insurance agent to discuss either homeowners' or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance">renters' insurance</a>.</p> <h2>7. Pay Your Bills on Time Every Month</h2> <p>Want a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly">sky-high credit score</a>? Then pay your bills on time every month. Doing this will slowly, but steadily, cause your FICO credit score to rise. And a higher credit score will mean lower interest rates when you're borrowing money later.</p> <h2>8. Find a Better Savings Account</h2> <p>You might think savings accounts are a fairly boring place to stash your dollars. The truth, though, is that some savings accounts are better than others, and some provide far better interest. Make a resolution this year to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-types-of-savings-accounts-which-is-right-for-you">find a savings account</a> that will help you build your savings at a faster clip.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-golden-rules-of-personal-finance-everyone-should-know">10 Golden Rules of Personal Finance Everyone Should Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moments-that-should-be-on-everyones-bucket-list">8 Money Moments That Should Be On Everyone&#039;s Bucket List</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/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">You&#039;ve Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here&#039;s Why</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-financial-decisions-youll-never-regret">8 Financial Decisions You&#039;ll Never Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting debt emergency funds goals life insurance money resolutions new year's resolutions saving money savings accounts Wed, 28 Dec 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1863676 at http://www.wisebread.com You're Missing Out on These 5 Easy Fixes for FOMO http://www.wisebread.com/youre-missing-out-on-these-5-easy-fixes-for-fomo <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youre-missing-out-on-these-5-easy-fixes-for-fomo" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-584791208.jpg" alt="beat fomo for good" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before I wised up and turned off the notifications, the Facebook app on my phone used to ping every time someone liked or responded to one of my posts. I generally charge my smartphone on the other side of my office while I work, but the sudden and unexpected <em>ping</em> of a Facebook notification would prompt me to get up, walk across the room, and discover that my mother had liked a photo of my kids that I had posted. This was not exactly a model of efficiency in terms of getting work done.</p> <p>Trying to ignore those pings was even worse, though. After hearing one go off, I would sit at my desk, trying to focus on my work but agonizing over what I might be missing on Facebook. Yes, it might be a family member liking a picture of my kids. But&hellip; what if it were Stephen King commenting on my pithy (and oh-so-timely) post about <em>The Shining</em> and offering me a chance to collaborate on a novel together? How could I work while fearing that I might be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime?</p> <p>My experience is hardly unique. In fact, according to a study by JWT, out of 900 Millennials in China surveyed, 72% of them said they <a href="https://www.jwtintelligence.com/2012/05/data-point-our-unhappy-addiction-to-social-media/" target="_blank">experience some form of FOMO</a>. We're suffering from the nagging social anxiety that we might miss out on something more awesome that what we are already doing &mdash; and social media just fans the flames of our FOMO.</p> <p>The problem is that our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-letting-fomo-ruin-your-finances">fear of missing out</a> keeps us from being present in our own lives. We bring phones to the dinner table rather than talk to our significant others, we waste time at work rather than commit to our careers, and we abandon last month's hobbies and projects in favor of new fads that will in turn be abandoned next month.</p> <p>Ultimately, living with a heightened sense of FOMO is a good way to make yourself crazy, lonely, broke, and overwhelmed.</p> <p>Thankfully, there are steps you can take to cure your FOMO without cutting yourself off from the world. Here are five ways to overcome FOMO for good.</p> <h2>1. Set Hard Limits on Your Social Media Use</h2> <p>The problem with social media is that it's always available, which means you can indulge your FOMO by checking in 24/7. So it's up to you to set hard limits on your social media use. Specifically, download a blocker that keeps you from checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other site that you check over and over again due to FOMO. Blockers like <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji?hl=en" target="_blank">StayFocused</a> give you a specific number of minutes per day that you may surf the verboten sites, at which point you will not be able to access those sites again until the next day.</p> <p>This kind of hard limit will not only help you to better focus when you are trying to work or study, but the shortened amount of time you can visit the sites puts a major wrench in any sense of envy you might feel while browsing your friends' postings. If you know you have 15 minutes of Facebook time all day, you're much less likely to spend 10 of them sighing over the pictures of your cousin's roommate's trip to New York City.</p> <h2>2. Include the Boring in Your Mental Images of Other People</h2> <p>We have a tendency to forget that other people's lives are just as full of boring, frustrating, and tedious details as our own. When we look at the beautiful images of the sun rising over Tuscany posted by a friend of a friend, we envy the Italian vacation, and forget about the long slog she had saving up for the trip, the hour she spent in line at the post office getting her passport updated, and the terrible air sickness she suffered on the plane trip there.</p> <p>The best way to deal with the disconnect between the boring parts of our lives and the exciting parts of other people's lives is to remember that everyone has boring moments. No matter how exciting a person's life is, they will have to spend a portion of it washing the dishes, filing taxes, and waiting in lines. Just as nervous public speakers are told to imagine their audience in their underwear, FOMO sufferers should imagine that the objects of their envy are stuck in line somewhere. It will remind you that no wondrous moment ever came about without a lot of boring moments beforehand.</p> <h2>3. Cultivate Mindfulness</h2> <p>Mindfulness is the practice of being present in our lives and providing ourselves with non-judgmental awareness of our experiences as we experience them. Cultivating mindfulness is a sure antidote to FOMO, because once you are fully aware of what and how you feel, you have a better sense of what makes you feel good, and you are much less tempted to chase after opportunities that don't promise happiness.</p> <p>Meditation is a common way to practice mindfulness, but you can choose any number of methods for being more present in your life. In particular, paying closer attention to your body during meals is an excellent way to learn mindfulness and practice healthy eating habits at the same time. Listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues, take the time to truly taste and savor your food, and take in all of the sensory input of your meal. Starting your mindfulness practice with food can help you learn to be more present in every part of your life.</p> <h2>4. Make <em>No</em> Your Default Answer</h2> <p>Self-help gurus may often tout the importance of saying <em>yes</em> to life, but there's a limit to the amount of things any one person can do. If you suffer from consistent FOMO and waffle on decisions, then it's a good idea to start getting in the habit of making <em>no</em> your default. This way, if you say no to an opportunity but keep thinking about it, you'll know that it's one you truly don't want to miss out on. Making no your default answer allows you to get in touch with what you really want to do, rather than continuing to chase every opportunity you see.</p> <h2>5. Take Time to Be Grateful</h2> <p>At its heart, FOMO is the sense that there is something better out there than what you already have. But what you already have is pretty darn wonderful, if you take the time to appreciate it.</p> <p>According to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, regularly expressing gratitude for the things in your life can help you feel more optimistic and happier. The increase happiness you feel at recognizing the bounty in your life will make you less susceptible to FOMO, since you know no vacation, gadget, party, or relationship can greatly improve on a life that's already full. Emmons recommends keeping a gratitude journal, in which you regularly record the things for which you are grateful. This could not only help improve your mood, but such journals have also been shown to improve your physical and social well-being, as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-a-mindfulness-journal-can-fix-your-life?ref=seealso">7 Ways Mindfulness Journal Can Fix Your Life</a>)</p> <h2>The End of FOMO</h2> <p>There will always be something out there that you are missing out on. But creating a satisfying life free from FOMO is possible. You just need to be willing to live mindfully and actively enjoy what you already have.</p> <p>It also doesn't hurt to turn off those Facebook notifications.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-missing-out-on-these-5-easy-fixes-for-fomo">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/flashback-friday-51-ways-to-organize-your-whole-life-in-2017">Flashback Friday: 51 Ways to Organize Your Whole Life in 2017</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/are-you-letting-fomo-ruin-your-finances">Are You Letting FOMO Ruin 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/these-5-money-saving-hacks-are-a-huge-waste-of-time">These 5 Money-Saving Hacks Are a Huge Waste of Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared</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/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Organization budgeting fear of missing out FOMO frugal living organization Spending Money Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1858108 at http://www.wisebread.com You've Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here's Why http://www.wisebread.com/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_cash_514781336.jpg" alt="Woman learning she&#039;s been saving money all wrong" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If your savings account is not as big as you'd like it to be, it turns out that you're not alone. Americans are notoriously bad at saving for retirement &mdash; and one in three have nothing saved for retirement at all.</p> <p>While Social Security may still factor into your savings, it's not enough to cover the cost of retirement, let alone the other expenses you're trying to save for before even reaching retirement.</p> <p>But don't let the statistics get you down. There are some easy ways to change your savings habits. You'll be surprised by how quickly little tweaks can make a big difference in your accounts.</p> <h2>1. Wrong: An All or Nothing Attitude to Saving</h2> <p>When you come up with a savings plan, you may be tempted to cut out <em>all </em>of your discretionary expenditures. On paper, this looks reasonable enough. You can eliminate all of your nonessential costs and put that money right into your savings account. Perfect, right? However, an all or nothing approach is going to set you up for failure down the road.</p> <p>Just as with dieting, if the adjustments you make are not sustainable, you're not going to make real change in the long run. Instead, you're likely to get frustrated and give up altogether. When you deny yourself any and all expenses, whether it's getting a coffee at your favorite cafe or going out for drinks with friends, you're likely to feel deprived. Plus, this mentality doesn't allow for you to slip up or make exceptions.</p> <h3>Right: Be Reasonable</h3> <p>It's better to consistently save a dollar every day and be successful at it than to aim to save $100 a week, realize that's impossible, and then give up. Set a goal that is realistic and stick to it. Write down your plan and check in consistently to see how you are doing.</p> <p>The name of the game is moderation. Your savings isn't all or nothing. Don't get discouraged if you slip up. If you spend more on Wednesday, spend less on Thursday, but keep it realistic. Take another look at your budget and see if you can make up for the slip somewhere else.</p> <h2>2. Wrong: Cutting Out Activities or Socializing</h2> <p>You may think an easy way to save money is by cutting out activities entirely. Since there can be a hefty price tag that comes along with social activities, like going out for drinks or other entertainment, you may conclude that cutting out socializing completely is another way to save. However, these strategies are going to leave you feeling isolated and lacking the supportive environment you need to achieve your savings goals.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today?ref=seealso">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></p> <h3>Right: Find Inexpensive Ways to Keep in Touch</h3> <p>Instead of cutting out social activities entirely, why not find free or inexpensive alternatives?</p> <p>Rather than meeting friends at a pricey restaurant, invite them over for a home-cooked meal or a pot luck. Plan a game or movie night, or look up free events in your town to attend together.</p> <p>Exercise is also a great, inexpensive way to spend time with friends. Organize a game of Frisbee or flag football, or go for a run with friends. Do it often enough, and you could save on an expensive gym membership, too.</p> <p>In fact, your friends can be great allies in your fitness and savings endeavors. You don't have to choose between your relationships and your budget. Let your friends and family know what your goals are and ask them to help you stay on track. That way they can be a support system, instead of a roadblock.</p> <h2>3. Wrong: Focusing All of Your Attention on Cutting Costs</h2> <p>It seems foolproof to focus on decreasing your expenses so that you can save more money. But rather than putting all your energy into cutting your expenses to the bone, spend some of that energy <em>earning </em>extra income.</p> <p>If you're spending too much time calculating your budget, you'll end up feeling too limited. Your mindset will always be &quot;I don't have enough.&quot;</p> <p>The budget mindset is restrictive &mdash; and taxing on your stores of energy. Maintaining discipline is hard. Instead, use that energy to help you earn more money to put toward your savings goals.</p> <h3>Right: Work More, Spend Less</h3> <p>Taking on a second job can make a huge difference to your savings account, mostly because you're earning more &mdash; and, hopefully, saving more.</p> <p>Plus, since you're spending more time at work, you'll have less time to spend on frivolous things &mdash; or to worry about sticking to your budget.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year?ref=seealso2">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></p> <h2>4. Wrong: You Never Carry Cash, So You Don't Spend It</h2> <p>You may be under the impression that if you don't have cash with you, you will automatically spend less money. However, if you're mindlessly putting little expenditures on your credit or debit card, you're actually much less likely to be keeping track of how you are spending money.</p> <p>Cash can be your best friend when you're trying to save money, especially for those of us who are a bit less disciplined and aware of our spending habits.</p> <h3>Right: Use Cash and Cards Wisely</h3> <p>Allocate yourself a daily budget and leave home with that amount of cash in your wallet. This makes money feel real in a way that mindlessly swiping your card can't. It can help you to stay accountable to yourself. Once you run out of cash for the day, you are done spending.</p> <p>Of course, using a credit card does still hold advantages for people with more self control. You may want to consider applying for the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal">best rewards credit card</a> for your lifestyle, and then strategically using that card so you can earn points or miles on your purchases. Plus, you'll have a digital record of your expenses to look back on at the end of the month and see how you did. You can set up email or phone alerts, too, to help remind you of just how much you're spending on a daily basis.</p> <h2>5. Wrong: Ignoring Budgeting or Not Making a Budget at All</h2> <p>Unfortunately, saving doesn't just happen without making a real, concerted effort. It is crucial to your success that you have a concrete plan in place to make sure you're spending where you need to and saving where you can. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <h3>Right: Make a Comprehensive Budget</h3> <p>Make a clear and realistic plan. Write it down and revise it every month or so to check if you're staying on track. After paying your expenses for the month, put the rest of your money into savings. It may be a small amount at first, but you can increase it later, once your new habits have settled in.</p> <p>Even if you're just saving a little bit, if you're committed to putting it away every month, it will add up &mdash; and faster than you expect.</p> <h2>6. Wrong: Setting up a Traditional Savings Account at Your Local Bank</h2> <p>Traditional savings accounts do not offer the interest rates they used to. If you're keeping all of your money in a regular savings account, you're basically giving away money that you could be earning in interest.</p> <h3>Right: Open an Online Account</h3> <p>By <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates?ref=internal">moving your savings to an online account</a>, you can earn 1%&ndash;2%. That's not much, but it's more than a traditional bank and enough to add a few additional dollars a year to your savings, depending on how much money you have in your account. Other options, like CDs, pay a bit more interest, but don't offer easy access to your funds.</p> <p>Decide how much you want to put into your savings account, and set up an automatic transfer so you're committed to saving that money every month.</p> <p>Saving money doesn't have to be a drudge, and the good news is that a few small changes can make a big difference. You may even find that you are quickly becoming the exception to the discouraging savings trends nationwide.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fyouve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FYouve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why.jpg&amp;description=Youve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Youve%20Been%20Saving%20Money%20All%20Wrong.%20Heres%20Why.jpg" alt="You've Been Saving Money All Wrong. Here's Why" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youve-been-saving-money-all-wrong-heres-why">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-personal-finance-resolutions-anyone-can-master">8 Personal Finance Resolutions Anyone Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reach-your-money-goals-faster-with-a-simple-naming-trick">Reach Your Money Goals Faster With a Simple Naming Trick</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/heres-how-a-spending-ban-can-help-and-hurt-you">Here&#039;s How a Spending Ban Can Help (and Hurt) You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bank accounts budgeting cash cutting costs expenses Mistakes saving money savings accounts Fri, 16 Dec 2016 10:30:28 +0000 Nick Wharton 1853984 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Keep Anxiety From Ruining Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_women_jogging_538947995.jpg" alt="Friends keeping anxiety from ruining their budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life gets tough sometimes. When work is overwhelming, you are fighting with your parents, and the news seems to get grimmer every day, you might find yourself shopping your way into a better mood or pulling the covers over your head and ignoring all of your responsibilities.</p> <p>Stress, anxiety, and depression affect all of us at some time or another. And whether you are dealing with occasional and momentary periods of stress, or you are in the grips of a long-term and serious depressive episode, your mental state can often wreak havoc on your finances. It's not easy to protect your budget from your anxiety's destructive impulses, but the following types of self-care will not only help you to feel better when stress strikes, but they will also protect your bottom line.</p> <h2>1. Recruit an Accountability Partner</h2> <p>Accountability partners are an important strategy for improving your finances. Not only does having a partner motivate you to stay on the straight-and-narrow while you pay down debt or increase your savings, but working with someone else can offer you encouragement when you are feeling down and add some fun to a long process.</p> <p>All of these benefits are also crucial if you are trying to keep your budget looking healthy while you're dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression. In the case of trying to keep your mental state from hurting your finances, your accountability partner may act a little bit more like a sponsor from a 12-step program. You can call that person when you are overwhelmed and count on her to remind you of why a shopping binge will not actually help you feel better.</p> <p>Obviously, you and your accountability partner need to be able to offer each other the emotional support you both need. In times of widespread anxiety, it can be a little more difficult to find a partner when everyone is feeling overwhelmed. However, leaning on each other is often a great way for two friends to both feel better and make the best financial choices for themselves.</p> <h2>2. Meditate</h2> <p>Mindfulness meditation has been proven to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/01/07/260470831/mindfulness-meditation-can-help-relieve-anxiety-and-depression">alleviate the symptoms</a> of both anxiety and depression. The focus of such meditation is to train your brain to remain in the moment, rather than obsess over the past or worry about the future. Such mindfulness will not only help you to put worries in perspective, but it can also help you to recognize the link between your emotions and your financially-destructive behavior.</p> <p>For instance, let's say that after a day of bingeing on news online, you badly want to put a lavish vacation on credit, just so you have something to look forward to. If you take 10 minutes to meditate instead, it can help you to see that your anxiety will not be helped by a vacation you can't afford. It will also allow you to feel your anxiety, rather than push it away, which is a much more productive method of getting past the negative feelings.</p> <p>If you have never meditated before, there are many <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/well/guides/how-to-meditate">beginner's guides</a> out there to teach you the practice of mindfulness.</p> <h2>3. Go for a Run</h2> <p>Exercise is the closest thing we have to a no-fail antidepressant. Research has shown that people are <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2000/09/exercise922.html">happier after breaking a sweat</a> than they were beforehand, even if they had to force themselves to go to the gym.</p> <p>In addition, an exercise habit can help you to avoid budget-destroying habits you might otherwise engage in, like retail therapy or a weekend-long Netflix marathon that keeps you from taking care of your grocery shopping and laundry.</p> <p>Of course, when you are in the midst of a deep funk, the idea of lacing up your sneakers and going out for a life-affirming run sounds about as enticing as getting a root canal. This is another place where your accountability partner can help you do what's best for you both. Set up a regular date to exercise together, and you will both get to enjoy the endorphins and the good company.</p> <h2>4. Volunteer</h2> <p>Depression, anxiety, and stress are often side effects of feeling helpless. When it feels as if you have little power over your circumstances, it's easy to retreat into bad and expensive habits to help yourself feel better.</p> <p>But there is always meaningful work that we can do to improve lives &mdash; even if we can't improve our own. That is why volunteering for a cause you believe in can be such an important tool in improving your outlook on the world. According to a 2008 study by the London School of Economics, people who volunteer <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18321629">experience greater happiness</a> than those who do not.</p> <p>The researchers theorize that volunteering makes you happier because it helps to put your situation in perspective. In addition, volunteering your time helps alleviate depression because it allows you to feel like you are a part of something important that is doing good in the world.</p> <h2>5. Engage in Productive Self-Care</h2> <p>Sometimes things feel so bleak that you really do need to retreat and take care of yourself. There is nothing wrong an occasional &quot;Stop the world, I want to get off!&quot; day for yourself. But there can be a fine line between healthy and productive self-care, and self-destructive wallowing. For instance, buying a bottle of nail polish might make you feel good, which could prompt you to keep buying to keep that good feeling going. Instead, you might be better served by inviting a friend over to paint your nails together.</p> <p>To make sure your self-care is helpful rather than harmful, start with your needs. Ask yourself what needs are not being met right now, and listen carefully to the answer that bubbles to the surface. Wallowing is often a passive reaction, whereas productive self-care is when you engage in fulfilling your unmet needs. Taking the time to think through what you need may help you realize that you don't actually want to go out drinking, but instead you need to talk with a good friend.</p> <h2>Don't Let Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Hurt Your Finances</h2> <p>When your thoughts get stuck in a hamster wheel of anxiety or depression, the easy method of handling your distress can often cause you financial stress. Being intentional and mindful about how you handle your negative mental states can help to alleviate your feelings of helplessness and keep your finances healthy.</p> <p>If you are experiencing severe depression and/or suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-84-frugal-ways-to-eliminate-stress">Flashback Friday: 84 Frugal Ways to Eliminate Stress</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-38-ways-to-get-more-sleep-tonight">Flashback Friday: 38 Ways to Get More Sleep Tonight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-prevent-the-winter-blues-from-busting-your-budget">5 Ways to Prevent the Winter Blues from Busting 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/your-stressful-job-may-be-making-you-healthier">Your Stressful Job May Be… Making You Healthier?</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/flashback-friday-the-119-best-fitness-hacks-for-busy-people">Flashback Friday: The 119 Best Fitness Hacks for Busy People</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Health and Beauty Lifestyle anxiety bingeing budgeting depression exercise Help mental health overspending self care stress volunteering Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1843967 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Unique Holiday Gifts for Teachers That They'll Actually Like http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-for-teachers-that-theyll-actually-like <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-unique-holiday-gifts-for-teachers-that-theyll-actually-like" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-483199046.jpg" alt="teachers will love these gifts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The holiday season is upon us, and I've been starting my gift shopping in the hopes of finishing early so I can relax. On the list this year are my daughter's preschool teachers (three of them!) who have been tremendously helpful, nurturing, and caring.</p> <p>Out of respect for allergies in the classroom (as well as New Year's diet resolutions), I'm planning to give nonfood gifts this year. As a former teacher myself, I accumulated a good amount of impractical tchotchkes, so I assembled this list of practical gifts that teachers will actually like and use.</p> <h2>1. Personalized Tote Bag</h2> <p>As a former teacher, I spent many days lugging assignments back and forth in reusable shopping bags. Why not help a teacher out by giving him/her a sturdy, personalized tote bag? You can make it yourself by printing an iron-on transfer and decorating a plain canvas tote bag from the craft store, monogram a bag with fabric paint, or you can purchase one ready-made on Etsy. Either way, it's sure to send a message that an educator's hard work is appreciated.</p> <h2>2. Water Bottle</h2> <p>Coffee mugs are so 2003. Hydration is where it's at these days! Help your teacher stay healthy by providing them with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-aluminum-and-stainless-steel-water-bottles">sturdy reusable water bottle</a> that can be sipped from all day. Bottles from Camelbak and Contigo are always well-received, but less expensive options can be found at big box stores if you're on a budget.</p> <h2>3. Lunchbox Accessories</h2> <p>Like your kids, teachers usually pack a lunch to eat at school. Make your teacher feel a little more pampered at lunch time by giving them a fancy insulated lunch bag, a Thermos, and/or a few ice packs and reusable containers (at the rate I lose them, you can never have too many). A cookbook full of lunch ideas is also a great idea.</p> <h2>4. Gift Cards</h2> <p>While not the most personal gift, gift cards are certainly practical and are more likely to be used than any other gift. Starbucks, iTunes, and Amazon <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-christmas-shopping-with-this-clever-gift-card-strategy">gift cards are always useful</a> and appreciated. Gift cards to local restaurants are also a great way to help a teacher relax. Many teachers spend their own money on school supplies for students, so a gift card to Target, Walmart, Staples, or a craft store can help them keep costs down. Pair it with a thoughtful note and your teacher will be a happy camper.</p> <h2>5. Organization Tools</h2> <p>When it comes to gifts, teachers may have tchotchkes a-plenty, but nary a place to store them. Give the gift of organization with a set of sturdy baskets, boxes, and drawer organizers. Alternatively, a gift card to The Container Store might do the trick.</p> <h2>6. Personalized Office Supplies and Stationery</h2> <p>Put a smile on a teacher's face every time they open their desk drawer by providing a set of personalized office supplies. A monogrammed notepad, a personalized stamp, fancy scissors and staplers, and cute paper clips can brighten a teacher's day while remaining super practical.</p> <h2>7. Travel Accessories</h2> <p>Gift-giving occasions for teachers often happen before the winter or summer holidays, and your teacher might be taking a much-needed vacation. Why not make traveling a little easier by gifting some travel accessories? An attractive travel pouch with small toiletry bottles, mesh suitcase organizers, or a tote with a beach towel and sunscreen, can all be used by a jet-setting teacher.</p> <h2>8. Quality Bath Products</h2> <p>I always feel a little ambiguous about giving bath products, because as a teacher, I received my fair share of cheap, dollar-store bubble baths and lotions. However, I was always happy to receive quality bath products from brands like Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, or Philosophy. De-stressing in a hot bath with some aromatherapy bath salts really did wonders to lift my mood after a hard day.</p> <h2>9. Low-Maintenance Plants</h2> <p>The great thing about giving plants is that the teacher can leave them in the classroom to brighten up their work day, or take them home if they desire. And if they die, they can be thrown away and won't clutter up a junk drawer for years. Easy care plants such as succulents and air plants are good choices, or a pretty flower like an orchid or bromeliad that blooms for a long time.</p> <h2>10. Movie Night In</h2> <p>Give a teacher a relaxing night in by packing a basket with a cozy throw blanket, a gift card for an online movie rental (such as iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play), and a box of microwave popcorn. (Okay. Technically, this is a food gift, but popcorn makes every movie better!)</p> <h2>11. Classroom Supplies</h2> <p>If you're a teacher, you'll know that students are constantly asking to borrow pens, and somehow those pens rarely find themselves back onto your desk. Keep your child's teacher's costs down by giving him/her a jar full of pens that can be kept on their desk. Other useful items that teachers often buy themselves include highlighters, bandages, stickers, sticky notes, and sanitizing wipes.</p> <h2>12. Books for the Classroom</h2> <p>Most teachers get plenty of trinkets from students every year, but classroom supplies remain neglected. Age-appropriate books are great for kindergarten and lower-grade classrooms which may reuse the same small selection of books all year. You may want to ask the teacher what books are needed, or simply give them a gift card to a bookstore so they can make the best choice.</p> <h2>13. Activity Books</h2> <p>Adult coloring books are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They are incredibly relaxing. A coloring book with a set of nice colored pencils could be a thoughtful gift for a teacher, especially for someone who likes crafting. A sudoku or crossword puzzle book could be similarly fun to do when the teacher gets a little spare time.</p> <h2>14. Hobby Supplies</h2> <p>Have your child ask the teacher what hobbies they enjoy, and give them hobby supplies. Some ideas include: scrapbooking supplies, gardening supplies, baking tools and mixes, or a gift certificate to a hobby store.</p> <h2>15. Handmade Gifts</h2> <p>Nothing is as memorable or personal as a gift that was lovingly handmade by your child. Whether that's a personalized T-shirt or baseball cap, a classroom scrapbook, a planter, ornament, or picture frame, it's sure to send the message that you and your child appreciate the teacher's hard work and dedication to their job.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-for-teachers-that-theyll-actually-like">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/9-frugal-gifts-for-the-person-who-needs-a-nap">9 Frugal Gifts for the Person Who Needs a Nap</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-art-of-the-group-gift">The Art of the Group Gift</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/wise-bread-gift-guide-gifts-that-save-money">25 Gifts That Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-reasons-to-last-minute-holiday-shop">9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop</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/50-unique-gift-ideas-for-men">50+ Unique Gift Ideas for Men</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Shopping budgeting gift guide gift ideas gifts for teachers holiday shopping Holidays nonfood gifts teachers Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:00:13 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1844263 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Tips From "Playbook For Tough Times" That'll Help You Live Your Best Life http://www.wisebread.com/5-tips-from-playbook-for-tough-times-thatll-help-you-live-your-best-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-tips-from-playbook-for-tough-times-thatll-help-you-live-your-best-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_work_93573781.jpg" alt="Woman living her best life thanks to playbook" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to Cheryl, the winner of a copy of Donna Freedman's book, &quot;Playbook for Tough Times!&quot;</em></p> <p>When you're stuck in a financial rut, it can be difficult to summon the strength to pull yourself out. And it often requires way more than just strength. You need a plan, you need willpower, you need guidance, and you need the right tools. All of those things can be found in Donna Freedman's new book, <a href="http://amzn.to/2eLFRcE" target="_blank"><em>Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>Freedman doesn't just offer incredible advice, she shares her personal struggles. She understands what it's like to scrape by as a young single mom. She has had to find creative and frugal ways to shop for groceries on a very limited budget. She also knows what it's like to have a bank account emptied by a lengthy divorce &mdash; and while caring for a special-needs child and attending college later in life. Freedman doesn't sugarcoat her financial tips because she knows there's nothing sweet about being broke. Her book reads like a conversation with your savvy best friend &mdash; she understands you, and she wants to help you. Here are some of her best tips for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-brilliant-tips-from-smart-mom-rich-mom">weathering any financial storm</a>.</p> <h2>1. Don't Take It Personally</h2> <p>It's easy to look at your money woes and fixate on where it all went wrong, or at what point you screwed everything up. But if you obsess over what you specifically did wrong, you end up living inside that dark cloud of self-blame instead of seeking a solution. Freedman knows this cycle of negativity all too well.</p> <p>&quot;During my own difficult times I'd sometimes wonder, <em>Why me?</em> Ultimately I realized the answer: <em>Why </em><strong><em>not</em></strong><em> me?</em> Stuff happens. Life happens. It's not personal. So I worked to fix what I could and made my peace with the rest of it. No, life isn't fair. But unless your fairy godmother drops off a winning Powerball ticket, you have to play the hand you were dealt,&quot; Freedman writes.</p> <h2>2. Stay Frugal When Flush to Reach Financial Goals</h2> <p>It's no longer 2008, and we're inching our way out of the aftermath of the Great Recession. Back then, frugality meant survival, so there was no other way to live. Now that the economy is becoming more stable, people are starting to spend more, and save less. But living frugally doesn't need to be an emergency-only money strategy. The frugal lifestyle can help you reach your financial goals.</p> <p>Whether you're striving for an early retirement, paying off all your debt in the next few years, starting a family, or taking a much-needed vacation &mdash; as long as you make a conscious effort to save as often as possible, you'll be able to achieve the goals you want.</p> <h2>3. Understand That Frugality Is Fabulous</h2> <p>Freedman's mantra, &quot;Save where you can so you can spend where you want,&quot; is exactly what the world needs. You don't have to settle for eating ramen noodles for every meal for the rest of your life, but you also shouldn't overspend on everyday essentials that you can get for free or very cheap.</p> <p>Having the money to splurge occasionally, while also knowing how to get by when times get tough is a skill set that will make you financially invincible. And whenever the frugal life seems overwhelmingly tough to master, think about this bit of wisdom from Freedman:</p> <p>&quot;Ultimately I wanted more than rice and beans, thrift-store clothing, and part-time jobs that didn't pay well. But I was well aware that having those things made me luckier than a whole lot of people in this world. A rich life is not necessarily determined by the number of dollar signs in it.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Find All the Freebies</h2> <p>Why pay for something when you can get it for free? When a big chunk of your spending is entertainment-based &mdash; going to the movies, visiting museums, or embracing your bookworm side &mdash; Freedman shows you how to do all of that fun stuff for zero dollars.</p> <p>She also provides brilliant methods for slashing health expenses that can add up quickly, and lists foundations that provide free or reduced-price mammograms, dental work (including orthodontics), utility assistance, and eye exams and glasses. After all, there ain't no shame in the freebie game.</p> <h2>5. Embrace the Financial Fire Drill</h2> <p>The best tip, by far, is implementing what Freedman calls a &quot;financial fire drill.&quot; It's essentially a budget makeover that focuses on cutting down the number of bills you need to pay, and shifting into a smarter way to use your available funds. She breaks it down into three simple steps:</p> <ul> <li>On paper, build a baseline budget &mdash; which is the absolute minimum you need to survive.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Pretend that your household lost some or all of its income.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subtract the baseline from the income that remains (including unemployment, if that's an option). If the answer is a negative number, time to take another look at those wants and needs.</li> </ul> <p>Doing this when your finances are stable gives you a head start into a better life, and also protects you from a major financial setback should tough times arise.</p> <p>Feeling motivated yet? For more of Freedman's honest brilliance, check out <a href="http://donnafreedman.com/">her blog</a>, or pick up your copy of <a href="http://amzn.to/2eLFRcE" target="_blank"><em>Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul</em></a>, on sale today!</p> <p><strong>Editor's Note</strong>: Donna has donated one paperback, Kindle or PDF copy to be given away to a Wise Bread reader. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. U.S. residents only, comment must be left before December 31, 11:59 am Pacific Time. Winner will be announced first week of January.</p> <p>In addition, Wise Bread has negotiated <strong>a short-term discount for the PDF version of the book</strong>: <a href="https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?c=cart&amp;ejc=2&amp;cl=315870&amp;i=1507332">Go to this link</a> and enter WISEBREAD in the &quot;discount code&quot; box and receive 'Playbook' for just $5. The code will be good through December 31.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tips-from-playbook-for-tough-times-thatll-help-you-live-your-best-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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