budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/503/all en-US 12 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Learn From Hipsters http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-saving-tricks-you-can-learn-from-hipsters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-money-saving-tricks-you-can-learn-from-hipsters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hipster-woman-cafe-492403647-small.jpg" alt="hipster woman cafe" title="hipster woman cafe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Particularly if you live in a larger city, you've probably come across a few hipsters. These arty counter-culturalists tend to sport thick glasses, skinny jeans, and thrift-store inspired fashions. And, at least in the 20-30 year age group, they appear to rule. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-of-americas-awesomest-cheap-cities?ref=seealso">10 of America's Awesomest Cheap Cities</a>)</p> <p>I am not one of them. I don't use an iPhone, I own absolutely no chic, nostalgic memorabilia and, rather than wearing skinny jeans and an ironic T-shirt, I'm often found wearing running spandex and compression socks &mdash; in public. I do, however, think that my outsider status allows me to have a more objective view of hipster culture, and I've noticed that when it comes to money, hipsters have some great habits.</p> <p>Here are the top 12 ways hipsters stay frugal and ignore the status quo for spending.</p> <h2>1. Reuse Everything</h2> <p>Whether it's grandpa's pants, a vintage bicycle or the unicorn T-shirt your little sister used to wear, making old things new again appears to be what being a hipster is all about. (It makes affording the requisite iPhone a whole lot easier too.) (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-new-things-you-can-make-with-old-denim-jeans?ref=seealso">20 New Things You Can Make With Old Denim</a>)</p> <h2>2. Avoid Learning to Drive</h2> <p>Whether they're headed to work or out to the bar, hipsters tend to choose a bicycle. These are often vintage or vintage-style fixed-gear cruisers. They get you where you want to go on the cheap, and they look perfect with a basket &mdash; all the better for carrying your groceries.</p> <h2>3. Go Vegetarian (Or, Better Yet, Vegan)</h2> <p>There seem to be two strains of hipster: those who thrive on things like bone marrow and bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and those who abstain from meat and/or all animal products. In fact, in the restaurants where hipsters tend to hang out, you'll often find an interesting mix of bacon and coconut bacon, braised pork belly and fried tempeh. Oh and almond milk. Gallons of it. For the most part, a vegetarian diet &mdash; or at least one with less meat &mdash; can be considerably less expensive, especially if you do the cooking yourself. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-foods-with-the-most-bang-for-your-buck?ref=seealso">10 Foods With the Most Bang For Your Buck</a>)</p> <h2>4. Do the Cooking</h2> <p>Hipsters love talking about, eating, and cooking great food. Cooking your own food &mdash; no matter how extravagant &mdash; is always cheaper and healthier than dining out. So pass the kale. Just be sure to share a photo of your latest creation on Instagram before you take the first bite.</p> <h2>5. Read</h2> <p>Reading is a classic form of hipster entertainment. Intellectual curiosity and individualism are hallmarks of hipsterhood. Reading also gives you something to talk about at parties. Plus, books are cheap, and old books look cool.</p> <h2>6. Listen to Newly-Emerging, Independent Music</h2> <p>The hippest of hipster music is played by a band no one has heard of. And since these bands are obscure, they're often dirt cheap to see live. Another thrifty tip: Buy a vinyl copy of the band's single or album and&nbsp;<a href="http://qz.com/103785/hipsters-are-buying-vinyl-records-but-they-arent-listening-to-them/">use it as art</a>.</p> <h2>7. Use Social Media</h2> <p>Whether they're sharing a yoga selfie on Twitter or posting quotes on Tumblr, hipsters can entertain themselves for days on end with social media. And why shouldn't they? It's free!</p> <h2>8. Skip the Clean Shave</h2> <p>For hipster of the male persuasion, looking like a lumberjack every day of the week is completely acceptable, especially if that facial fur is paired with a bow tie or horn rimmed glasses (vintage of course). If you've seen the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.allure.com/beauty-trends/blogs/daily-beauty-reporter/2013/05/allure-man-why-are-razors-so-expensive.html">price of a pack of razorblades lately</a>, letting that facial hair do its thing can be a real money-saver. You'll also have the honor of being referred to as &quot;that guy with the beard&quot; outside of hipster circles.</p> <h2>9. Keep Things Casual</h2> <p>For the ladies, while hipster style is carefully considered, it's never well-coifed. Whether long, short or in between, hipster hair is always judiciously, adorably unkempt (and often asymmetrical). That means les (or no) time at the salon. If you're having a really bad hair day, deal with it hipster-style by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pinterest.com/studioleft/beanie-hat-hipsters/">sporting a beanie</a>.</p> <h2>10. Watch Old Movies</h2> <p>Hipsters love old movies like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A7DVR2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000A7DVR2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=P7KYPA2QBLKGYUU2">The Big Lebowski</a> and <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A7DVR2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000A7DVR2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=IPUYLJHUIBP77CYK">Ferris Bueller's Day Off</a> along with just about anything directed by Wes Anderson or starring Bill Murray. These movies aren't just fun blasts from the past &mdash; they're usually available on Netflix, which means they cost next to nothing to watch. You do have Netflix, right?</p> <h2>11. Get a Hobby</h2> <p>Whether it's photography, poetry, playing guitar or knitting, hipsters tend to have a hobby or artistic outlet. It's very hipster to devote yourself to something and be totally into it. You don't need expensive materials or formal instructions; hipsters just follow what interests them and do it, making for an inexpensive pastime. Not sure what to try your hand at? Check out this&nbsp;<a href="http://hipsterhobbygenerator.com/">Hipster Hobby Generator</a> for ideas.</p> <h2>12. Just Be Cool (Or &quot;Deck&quot;)</h2> <p>Hipsters tend to eschew mass consumerism in favor of individuality. So, at least in theory, if you like something, it's cool. That purple vintage T-shirt with a wolf on it? Cool. That bizarre orange couch you found on Craigslist? Cool. Those antlers you found in your parents' garage? Cool. Your great grandma's cardigan? Cool. As long as it floats your boat, it's cool. If you follow that logic, you can live by your own rules &mdash; and your own budget. As a hipster might say, that's a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.engadget.com/2014/07/22/totes-amazeballs-dictionary-yolo/">totes amazeballs</a> way to live, whether you're a hipster or not.</p> <p><em>Anything I've overlooked? What frugal lessons have you learned from a hipster?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-money-saving-tricks-you-can-learn-from-hipsters" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Learn From Hipsters" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle budgeting frugal lessons hipsters upcycling Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Tara Struyk 1239948 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Ways to Make a Better Budget Today http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-make-a-better-budget-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-ways-to-make-a-better-budget-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-paying-bills-76754631-small.jpg" alt="man paying bills" title="man paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles with helpful tips to make your budget better, the smartest way to repay your student loans, and the only legit reasons to work for free.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://blog.readyforzero.com/17-ways-to-budget-better-starting-today/">17 Ways to Make Your Budget Better &ndash; Starting Today</a> &mdash; You can learn a lot about your spending habits when you try out a &quot;zero spending day.&quot; [ReadyForZero]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneyunder30.com/smartest-way-to-repay-student-loans">What&rsquo;s the Smartest Way to Repay Your Student Loans?</a> &mdash; It depends on your financial situation. If you want to reduce your monthly loan payments, consider consolidating or refinancing your student loans. [Money Under 30]</p> <p><a href="http://www.girlsjustwannahavefunds.com/the-only-five-reasons-you-should-ever-work-for-free-and-one-big-reason-why-you-shouldnt/">The Only Five Reasons You Should Ever Work For Free (and One Big Reason Why You Shouldn&rsquo;t)</a> &mdash; One good reason to work for free is if the project will enhance your career skills in some way, like helping you gain new expertise or visibility in a different area. [Girls Just Wanna Have Funds]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Things-Youll-Never-Regret-35665219">51 Things That You'll Never Regret</a> &mdash; For a happier life, remember that you'll never regret traveling somewhere new or saying &quot;I love you&quot; when you mean it. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/business/T057-S001-7-things-that-will-soon-disappear/index.html">7 Things That Will Soon Disappear</a> &mdash; Your neighborhood mail collection box will soon become a thing of the past as the USPS pulls boxes that don't see enough traffic. [Kiplinger]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thousandaire.com/is-now-the-time-to-buy-a-house/">Is Now the Time to Buy a House?</a> &mdash; Interest rates are at historic lows, so if you're financially prepared to buy a house, this may be the right time to take the jump! [Thousandaire]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/peer-lending-friends-family-layoff/">How to Use Peer-to-Peer Sites to Borrow Money From Friends and Family After a Layoff</a> &mdash; Using a peer-to-peer lending site formalizes the borrowing process so you don't encounter the usual misunderstandings that can occur when you borrow directly from friends and family. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.carefulcents.com/transition-from-employee-entrepreneur/">Is Now the Right Time to Transition From Employee to Entrepreneur?</a> &mdash; Saying &quot;yes&quot; to everything and creating an abundance of work ensures that you'll have a full portfolio of clients to draw from when you quit your day job. [Careful Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/8-ways-to-get-and-stay-healthy">8 Ways to Get and Stay Healthy</a> &mdash; Keeping your family healthy isn't only about good nutrition and exercise. Make sure to spend quality time together, too. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://couponpal.com/blog/where-to-buy-glasses-online-for-less">Where to Buy Glasses Online for Less</a> &mdash; You can find great deals on glasses when you shop online. For example, get your first pair of glasses at Coastal.com for free when you use their coupon code! [CouponPal]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-ways-to-make-a-better-budget-today" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Ways to Make a Better Budget Today" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting best money tips budgeting Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:00:06 +0000 Amy Lu 1235110 at http://www.wisebread.com Never Use Cash for These 11 Things http://www.wisebread.com/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl-shopping-checkout-180329083-small.jpg" alt="shopping checkout" title="shopping checkout" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people only make their purchases in cash in order to avoid accumulating debt. Others swear by credit cards in order to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-type-of-rewards-credit-card-is-right-for-you?ref=inarticle">earn rewards</a>. But most people use a mix of cash and card. So which purchases should you never use cash for? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-6-reasons-why-using-cash-only-rocks?ref=seealso">Top 6 Reasons Cash-Only Rocks</a>)</p> <h2>1. A House</h2> <p>There are few people who can afford to purchase a house outright, but even if you can, it may not be the wisest financial decision. Mortgage rates are at all time lows, and so you would likely be better off using the cash you would otherwise pay for the home to invest in the stock market. And obtaining and making payments on a mortgage is good for your credit history. Plus, mortgage interest is tax deductible.</p> <h2>2. Appliances</h2> <p>Many credit cards offer extended warranty protection, which is insanely helpful for appliances that are prone to breaking. This means that if your $300 above-the-stove-microwave breaks after 18 months (six months after the warranty expired), you can contact your credit card company and they will issue you a refund. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-secret-credit-card-perk-that-saved-me-300">This exact thing happened to me</a>, and I got all my money back, and now I make sure to purchase all my appliances on a credit card which has warranty protection. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer?ref=seealso">How to Use Your Credit Card's Free Extended Warranty</a>)</p> <h2>3. Items From Stores With Short Return Policies</h2> <p>Some stores only offer a two week or 30-day return policy. If you pay cash and want to make a return past this period, you're out of luck. But many credit cards offer 90 day return protection, which means that if the store won't take back the item on day 89, the credit card will refund your money. (Note that usually you are required to ship the product you can't return to the store to the credit card company.)</p> <h2>4. Clearance Items</h2> <p>Many stores have no refund policies for clearance items (typically marked &quot;all sales final&quot;). For the same reasons as for stores with short return periods, by using a credit card with 90 day return protection instead of paying cash you'll protect yourself if the item doesn't work out.</p> <h2>5. An Item You're Likely to Break or Ruin</h2> <p>Another of my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ultimate-credit-card-perks-checklist-benefits-you-dont-know-about">favorite credit card perks</a> is &quot;buyer protection,&quot; a form of purchase protection that protects you if you lose or break an item within a certain time of purchasing it (typically three months). If you're buying an expensive item or something you could break, ruin, or get stolen, then charge the item to a credit card.</p> <h2>6. Medical Expenses</h2> <p>Medical expenses are subject to certain tax breaks and thus it's best to have a record of them. Whether you're claiming a deduction because you've accumulated expenses greater than 7.5% of your income, or you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you must keep a record of your purchases. While the IRS may not accept a credit card bill (the rules on this are a little complex), it doesn't hurt to have the card bill if the tax man comes knocking at your door. More importantly, using a credit card will help you keep track of expenses so you can make the claim when the time comes.</p> <h2>7. Charitable Donations</h2> <p>Like with medical expenses, putting charitable donations on a credit or debit card will help you keep track of the expenses for tax purposes. Use a budgeting tool like Mint.com to easily help you compile your deductions at the end of the year.</p> <h2>8. Purchases at a Store Where You Shop Frequently</h2> <p>If you spend at least several thousand dollars each year at certain stores, it may be worthwhile to get the store's credit card to save you money. For example, a Target Card saves you 5% on every purchase and an Amazon.com card gives you 3% in rewards. Certain department stores even offer special coupons or savings events for their cardholders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/store-credit-cards-that-dont-suck?ref=seealso">Store Credit Cards That Don't Suck</a>)</p> <h2>9. Recurring Purchases</h2> <p>If you have recurring debits set up for payments on your water bill, cable TV, phone, utilities, or anything else, you should charge it to a credit card and not have the amount debited directly from your bank. Why? If you have a dispute over a charge, you can file a dispute with your card company and immediately get your money back. (If you file a dispute with your bank over an automatic withdrawal from a checking account, you have a much harder battle to fight.) I know someone who recently cancelled an insurance policy, but the company continued to debit her checking account anyway. Had she charged it to a card, it would have been far less hassle to sort out because the credit card company would do the fighting for her.</p> <h2>10. Airline Tickets</h2> <p>When you book your plane ticket using a credit card, you're likely eligible for a whole host of related benefits including: Baggage Loss Protection, Passport/Credit Card Loss Protection, No Baggage Checking Fees, Free Airport Lounge Access, Lost Luggage Tracking Assistance, Emergency Translation/Interpretation for Medical Emergencies, and Emergency Medical Transportation Assistance. Chances are you won't need to use any of these protections, but if you do run into a sticky situation, these protections will make a huge difference. (See also:<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso"> Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>11. Car Rentals</h2> <p>Want to save a lot of money on rental cars? Decline the additional insurance offering and rely on your credit card's insurance instead. Besides car rental insurance, using a credit card for renting a car may also entitle you to additional car rental discounts and roadside assistance.</p> <p>Note regarding credit cards: Many of the protections listed above vary by credit card, so be sure to check with your card company to see what benefits you're entitled to. And these benefits assume that you're paying your card in full every month; if you're not, the additional interest you accumulate may not offset the benefits of paying with a card.</p> <p><em>What other items do you never use cash to buy?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things" class="sharethis-link" title="Never Use Cash for These 11 Things" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elizabeth-lang">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Credit Cards Shopping budgeting cash credit cards interest shopping Fri, 03 Oct 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 1226294 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Every Major Purchase http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-you-need-to-ask-yourself-before-every-major-purchase <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-questions-you-need-to-ask-yourself-before-every-major-purchase" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car-shopper-thinking%3D506576603-small.jpg" alt="car shopper thinking" title="car shopper thinking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A car. The wedding of your dreams. Your first house. These could be three of the most wonderful purchases of your life &mdash; or three of the worst. After all, the words &quot;regret car purchase&quot; generate 7.5 million Google search results, your wedding day will very likely be the most expensive day of your life, and <a href="http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2014/04/1-in-4-homeowners-have-buyers-remorse.html#.VBfXsS5dXTz">1 in 4 homeowners have buyer's remorse</a>. Better do it right. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make?ref=seealso">The 7 Dumbest Purchases People Make</a>)</p> <p>But how does one keep far from catastrophe when making purchasing decisions about items that cost five figures or more? Purchases of this magnitude aren't run-of-the-mill for most of us. Well, lucky for you we've compiled a tidy list of questions to ask yourself before pulling the trigger on any major purchase.</p> <h2>1. Will I View This as a Good Purchase a Year From Now? Five Years From Now?</h2> <p>Buyer's remorse is a sneaky thing. At first, you're over-the-moon for your new Jeep. But will you still be pleased with your purchase once the newness wears off? Even our most prized possessions have a way of becoming just another thing in the pile of stuff that occupies so much of the space in our lives. We begin to compare it to other things like it that we don't yet have. Like a petite, red sports car. Or a Harley Davidson. And just like that our Jeep loses its luster.</p> <p>Besides, research shows <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/why-wanting-expensive-things-makes-us-so-much-happier-than-buying-them/276717/">it's the experience of wanting</a> a luxury item and shopping around for it &mdash; not the purchase itself &mdash; that makes us happy. So, go ahead and research the heck out of that new Jeep. You can even take it for a test drive. Just don't buy the thing unless it passes our four-question vetting process.</p> <h2>2. How Secure Are My Finances?</h2> <p>How plausible is it that your income could drop off dramatically two years from now? Would you be left to drown in payments you can no longer afford? Imagine your worst-case financial scenario, and draft a plan for how you'd escape things like bankruptcy and foreclosure. Are you completely dependent on your income to cover your expenses and financial obligation, or do you have a sizable savings?</p> <p>If you don't seriously consider your financial forecast, even things widely considered as great investments can become regrettable. Exhibit A: A third of millennials say they would have been <a href="https://www.wellsfargo.com/press/2013/20130522_MorethanhalfofMillennials">better off working than going to college</a>. The reason? They're drowning in debt. More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that has become the crux of their financial distress.</p> <h2>3. Am I Suffering From Stress, Duress, or Lack of Sleep?</h2> <p>Studies show that <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=4268597">we're more likely to make big, splurgy purchases</a> we'll later regret when we're mourning a death, dealing with a divorce, feeling depressed, experiencing stress at work, or otherwise emotional. That's because sadness often tricks us into thinking we can better ourselves and therefore our emotional state by making extravagant purchases. So steer clear of making any drastic financial decisions when experiencing any period of personal turmoil.</p> <h2>4. Am I Buying Because It's a Good Deal?</h2> <p>Make sure it's a good deal for <em>you</em> &mdash; your personal wants, needs, values, and financial standing &mdash; and not just &quot;a good deal,&quot; period. The boat may very well be &quot;the deal of a lifetime,&quot; but make sure it's <em>your</em> lifetime that you're considering. In fact, it doesn't really matter how good the deal is anyway. If you weren't planning on buying a boat until the good deal came along, then you're running the risk of throwing your money away on a luxury item you simply don't need. Now that's a recipe sure to do nothing more than worsen your financial position.</p> <p><em>What do you ask yourself before making a big purchase? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-you-need-to-ask-yourself-before-every-major-purchase" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Every Major Purchase" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance big purchases budgeting purchases spending Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1219246 at http://www.wisebread.com 73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/buying-medicine-78056472-small.jpg" alt="buying medicine" title="buying medicine" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The first step to saving dough is to have a go-to list of cost-cutting strategies in your pocket. Below are 73 ways to cut spending, some more orthodox than others. Find just a few that work for you and watch the savings add up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-things-everyone-should-be-saving-for?ref=seealso">The 10 Things Everyone Should Be Saving For</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cancel Cable TV</h2> <p>With so many streaming options like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there's barely any reason to pay for cable TV. at all. Unless you watch a whole lot of new programming, it's even cheaper to buy your shows by the season through itunes.</p> <h2>2. Find a Cheaper Cell Plan</h2> <p>Don't overpay for minutes or data that you're not using. Likewise, be sure to shop carriers every time your contract is up to make sure you're buying from the cheapest service provider (assuming they also offer the best coverage, of course).</p> <h2>3. Shop for Groceries With a List</h2> <p>A list can help keep you from adding needless items in the shopping cart (chocolate chip cookies, anyone?) that can flatten your wallet while fattening your waistline.</p> <h2>4. Shop Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies</h2> <p>There are no discounts for loyalty these days. One expert I spoke with recently estimated a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-26000-in-5-years-or-less">$600 &ndash; $800 annual savings</a> by comparing insurance carriers every couple of years. That's a big bang for a couple of minutes worth of work.</p> <h2>5. Buy Discount Pharmaceuticals</h2> <p>Large retailers are increasingly offering discounted pharmaceuticals. <a href="http://www.goodrx.com/">GoodRX.com</a> compares prescription prices to help you find the lowest costs in your area. Both Target and Walmart have a large list of generics that are priced at $4 for a month's supply. <a href="http://www.shoprite.com/health-wellness-pharmacy/">Shop Rite</a> also offers a discount generics program as well as free short-term supplies of prenatal vitamins and diabetes medication.</p> <h2>6. Throw a Potluck Party (Instead of Going Out)</h2> <p>Going out to eat is expensive. Why not have your friends over, instead? If everyone brings a dish or drink, you can all eat like royalty for the night &mdash; for next to nothing.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Sew</h2> <p>Taking your duds to the tailor for button and rip repairs can add up, not to mention the price of scrapping the item altogether and buying new. Why not learn to sew and make minor repairs on your own at the fraction of the price?</p> <h2>8. Ask Your Credit Card Company for a Rate Reduction</h2> <p>If you carry a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=inarticle">credit card balance</a>, any reduction in rate can help shave a couple of dollars off your costs. Before you call, be prepared with any offers you've received from competitors and come to the phone with a script, <a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-getting-your-credit-card-interest-rates-reduced/">like this one</a>. If you have a $5,000 balance, a 5% rate reduction could save you $250 over the course of a year.</p> <h2>9. Consign Clothes You Don't Wear Anymore</h2> <p>Clearing clutter not only saves space and time, but it can also pad your savings account, if you send your castoffs to your local consignment shop. Most consignors offer you a percentage of what the items sells for, keeping the remainder for themselves to pay for overhead and as profit. If you're not wearing the duds anymore, it can pay (literally) to clean house.</p> <h2>10. Learn to Cook</h2> <p>A recent study found that <a href="http://retailfeedback.com/component/k2/item/6-home-cooked-meals.html">it costs $12.28 per person to dine out</a>, on average. If you live in a major city or have champagne tastes (like me), it can cost substantially more. Cut your dining costs by at least half by cooking more of your meals at home.</p> <h2>11. Cook Meals in Batches</h2> <p>Save time and money by doubling or tripling recipes when you cook. It takes just as much effort to cook one meal but you'll end up with two or three nights worth of dinners (saving you time as well!) plus you can save cash by buying groceries in bulk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend?ref=seealso">Save Time and Money With a Bulk Cooking Weekend</a>)</p> <h2>12. Open Your Windows</h2> <p>Cooling costs add up in the summer. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open up the windows. You'll save money and air out the house at the same time.</p> <h2>13. Turn Off the Lights</h2> <p>Don't let your electric bills get out of control. Listen to what dad always said and turn off lights when you leave a room.</p> <h2>14. Unplug Unused Appliances and Gadgets</h2> <p>Even if they're not in use, they're still draining electricity, so long as the plug is in the socket.</p> <h2>15. Borrow Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks From Your Local Library</h2> <p>Voracious readers know that book costs can add up quickly. Save yourself some dough and borrow from your local library instead. Most libraries have added e- and audio books to their catalogs, so you can borrow in your favorite format.</p> <h2>16. Declutter</h2> <p>Decluttering your home helps you find the things you already own &mdash; so you're less likely to make the mistake of buying items in duplicate or triplicate (of which I am guilty!). Bonus: You'll also save time because you'll know where everything is. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever?ref=seealso">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <h2>17. Use LED lightbulbs</h2> <p>A household can <a href="http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html">save over $6,000</a> by switching their home lighting from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. The bulbs cost substantially more up front, but they're extremely energy efficient. They can last between 11 and 17 years, even if used up to 12 hours a day. Over time, the higher up-front cost of the bulbs will pay you back in substantially lower energy and replacement costs.</p> <h2>18. Cancel Unused Subscriptions</h2> <p>Unread magazine subscriptions needlessly clutter your space and drain your wallet. If you're not reading the issues, let the subscription go.</p> <h2>19. Cancel Unused Memberships</h2> <p>It's easy to let memberships services like those to Netflix and your local gym run, even if you're not using them. Check out where you're being billed monthly for a service you don't utilize and get canceling.</p> <h2>20. Buy Used</h2> <p>Consignment stores are good for more than just selling. You can often buy high end brands at a fraction of the price at your local consignment shop, eBay, or from sporting goods resale shops. Great finds can also be found at yard sales and estate sales.</p> <h2>21. Set Up a Babysitting Co-Op With Friends</h2> <p>Long gone are the days when a local teen would watch your kids for $3 an hour. Today's babysitters charge anywhere between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on where in the country you live and how many kids you have. Instead of breaking the bank to get some much needed quality time with your partner, set up a babysitting co-op with other local parents.</p> <h2>22. Brown Bag Your Lunch</h2> <p>One <a href="http://www.yourgfm.com/debt-calculators/brown-bag-calculator.shtml">online calculator</a> estimates a New Yorker can save $31,200 over 10 years by packing a lunch instead of going out. Even workers in less pricy cities can see substantial savings from a homemade lunch. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-quick-cheap-lunch-ideas?ref=seealso">25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas</a>)</p> <h2>23. Perform Routine Maintenance on Your Car</h2> <p>Your car's regular service isn't the place to scrimp. Changing your car's oil and filter every 3,000 &ndash; 10,000 miles (depending on what your owner's manual recommends) is the best way to avoid engine failure, which can add up to thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. That's just for starters. To avoid costly repairs, follow your auto manual's recommendations for air filter changes, tire rotations, brake checks and more.</p> <h2>24. Wear More Traditionally Styled Clothes</h2> <p>Following fashion trends can be expensive, particularly for women. Traditional or conservative style choices go out of fashion less often, meaning you can update your wardrobe less frequently.</p> <h2>25. Plant a Vegetable Garden</h2> <p>According to one blogger, the Burpee Seed Co. estimates a <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-save-money-with-a-home-garden/">$1250 produce yield</a> for every $50 a family spends on seeds and fertilizer.</p> <h2>26. Check Out Free or Cheap Community Events</h2> <p>Most communities offer free or inexpensive community events <a href="http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/">like these</a>, found in New York City. Check out your local chamber of commerce or township website for what's available near you. Most often you can stay entertained without spending a dime.</p> <h2>27. Ditch Your Car</h2> <p>According to AAA, the <a href="http://newsroom.aaa.com/2014/05/owning-and-operating-your-vehicle-just-got-a-little-cheaper-aaas-2014-your-driving-costs-study/%20">average annual cost of owning a car</a> is $8,876 per year. If you live in a walkable area or in a city with a good transportation system, you could easily forego that cost.</p> <h2>28. Pack Your Own Vacation Snacks</h2> <p>Most major theme parks will let you carry your own snacks through the gate and the savings can really add up. A snack-sized serving of <a href="about:blank">grapes costs $3.69</a> in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom while you can buy an entire bag at the grocery store for about the same amount. Pack a backpack on your next day trip and you can shave beaucoup bucks off your final day's tab.</p> <h2>29. Pack Snacks and Coffee for Your Car Trip</h2> <p>We all want to break up a long drive with a stop at Starbucks. In my area, a tall frappuccino costs over $4. Add in another for my spouse and some snacks for the kids and a little diversion can add up to over $20. Instead, bring some brew from home and pack kiddie snacks in a couple of ziplock bags.</p> <h2>30. Negotiate Fees With Service Providers</h2> <p>Everything is negotiable, so&hellip; negotiate!</p> <h2>31. Use Coupons</h2> <p>If you don't like the coupon clutter, check one of the latest coupon apps like <a href="http://www.retailmenot.com/">RetailMeNot</a> or <a href="https://www.favado.com/">Favado</a>.</p> <h2>32. Vacation Within Driving Distance</h2> <p>Airfare rose 2% in 2013 and flyers coughed up <a href="http://www.pressherald.com/2014/01/16/airfares_continue_to_rise__up_12_percent_since_2009/">$3.4 billion in fees</a> last year. Bring down the cost of your vacation by going Griswold style and packing up the station wagon (or minivan).</p> <h2>33. Exercise at Home</h2> <p>According to one source, the <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/01/02/the-heavy-price-of-losing-weight">average cost of a gym membership</a> is $55 per month. Instead, check out these exercises that will give you a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-at-home-exercises-will-give-you-a-gym-quality-workout-for-free">gym-quality workout for free</a>.</p> <h2>34. Pay Off Your Debts</h2> <p>The average household owes in $7,221 in credit card debt at an average fixed rate<a href="http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/rate-roundup.aspx"> APR of 13.02%</a>. All that interest adds up to money that's needlessly being paid out to credit card companies. Stop the cycle, pay in cash, and stash those payments in your own account. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-strategies-to-wipe-out-your-credit-card-balance?ref=seealso">How to Wipe Out Your Credit Card Balance</a>)</p> <h2>35. Save Your Loose Change</h2> <p>Put it in a jar at the end of each day and watch the pennies add up.</p> <h2>36. Quit Smoking</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/reports-resources/cessation-economic-benefits/states/united-states.html">pack of cigarettes costs $5.51</a>, on average, and THEY KILL YOU.</p> <h2>37. Brew Your Own Coffee</h2> <p>One blogger estimates the cost of a cup of<a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/01/25/savings-experiment-the-perks-of-brewing-versus-buying-coffee/"> home brew at 16 cents per cup</a>. Compare that to your local coffee shop.</p> <h2>38. Use Fee-Free ATMs</h2> <p>Find one <a href="http://www.allpointnetwork.com">here</a>.</p> <h2>39. Pay Extra Toward Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Calculate your<a href="http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/helpful-advice/save-by-paying-more.php"> potential annual savings</a> here.</p> <h2>40. Weatherproof Your Home</h2> <p>You'll save on energy and replacement costs by insulating pipes, installing storm doors and windows, and caulking cracks.</p> <h2>41. Buy Clothing on Sale</h2> <p>Retailers want to make room for new merchandise at the end of a season and usually slash prices to a fraction of what you'll find at high season. Take advantage of the savings by buying off season and preparing for the following year.</p> <h2>42. Buy Consigned Clothing Online</h2> <p>Consignment stores aren't just for selling your cast offs. Check your local options or check out some of the newer online consignors like <a href="https://www.liketwice.com/">Twice</a>, <a href="http://www.thredup.com/">ThredUP</a>, or <a href="http://www.greenestreetconsignment.com/">Greene Street Consignment</a>.</p> <h2>43. Buy High Quality Clothing</h2> <p>Don't like to buy used? Invest in higher quality duds that will stand up to wear and tear over the years. The upfront cost may be higher but over time you'll be shopping far less often.</p> <h2>44. Learn to Iron</h2> <p>The average two-piece dress costs $12.47 to dry clean. Iron your pieces at home and you can stretch the time between dry cleanings.</p> <h2>45. Set Gift Price Limits</h2> <p>The <a href="http://americanresearchgroup.com/holiday/">average cost of Christmas</a> for families in 2013 was $801. Birthdays and holidays don't have to be as expensive if you talk to your loved ones and set a price limit on gift giving. It's the thought that counts, anyway. Right?</p> <h2>46. Buy a Smaller Home</h2> <p>Because lower utility bills, lower maintenance costs, less to clean, less to furnish, and lower tax bills. Need I say more?</p> <h2>47. Live Close to Work</h2> <p>One blogger estimates <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5855550/the-true-cost-of-commuting-you-could-buy-a-house-priced-15900-more-for-each-mile-you-move-closer-to-work">you can buy a house priced $15,900 more for each mile you live closer to work</a>.</p> <h2>48. Move to a Cheaper City</h2> <p>According to <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/">one online calculator</a>, it costs half as much to live in Chapel Hill, NC as it does to live in New York City. Make your own comparisons.</p> <h2>49. Get a Roommate</h2> <p>Half the rent, half the utilities.</p> <h2>50. Pay Your Bills on Time</h2> <p>Chronic late credit card payers can <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/10/18/chronic-late-credit-card-payments-how-bad-can-fines-fees-get/">face a fee of $35 per month</a>, in some instances. That's an added expense with no included benefit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-and-avoid-late-fees?ref=seealso">How to Get Rid of and Avoid Late Fees</a>)</p> <h2>51. Downsize to One Car</h2> <p>Save on the added insurance and maintenance costs of the extra set of wheels.</p> <h2>52. Downsize to a Smaller Car</h2> <p>A sedan has a lower sticker price and also guzzles less gas than an SUV.</p> <h2>53. Skip the Credit Card With the Annual Fee</h2> <p>There are plenty of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-type-of-rewards-credit-card-is-right-for-you?ref=inarticle">reward cards</a> available that don't tack on an unnecessary annual fee.</p> <h2>54. Cancel Your Landline</h2> <p><a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/06/cell-phone-ownership-hits-91-of-adults/">91% of Americans carry a cell phone</a> so there's little reason to maintain the expense of an additional land line.</p> <h2>55. Send Your Kid to a Cheaper College</h2> <p>In his latest book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316204366/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0316204366&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=V7QLJKDKF4IT5UMS">David and Goliath</a>, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the academically gifted will rise to the top at a lower-tier school and that there are many esteem-boosting advantages to this education strategy. You and your kid can also save a whole heck of a lot of money in the process.</p> <h2>56. Keep Driving Your Beater</h2> <p>A paid off car has one major advantage over a new car: It's paid off. Think twice before you upgrade to a newer model with a hefty monthly price tag.</p> <h2>57. Create a Personal Waiting Period</h2> <p>One study found that <a href="http://www.usaweekend.com/article/20130712/MONEY01/307120006/I-ll-take-that-that-that-Experts-explain-impulse-buying">North Americans spend more than $4 billion per year in impulse buys</a>. Create a cooling off period for yourself and go home to think about a purchase, before you make it. You'll be surprised by how much you'll save.</p> <h2>58. Use Cloth Diapers</h2> <p>For new parents who can stomach the added responsibility, <a href="https://www.babyworks.com/cost-comparisons">cloth diapering can save a family several thousand dollars</a> by the time baby turns two and a half.</p> <h2>59. Skip Your Supermarket's Pre-cut Fruits and Vegetables</h2> <p>The markup is high and they expire faster. Cut your own and save.</p> <h2>60. Buy Generic Groceries</h2> <p>Generic groceries usually taste just as good as their more expensive brand-name counterparts. They're also cheaper.</p> <h2>61. Eat Homemade Soup</h2> <p>Invest in a $20 crock pot and throw all your leftovers in the pot. Dinner is made when you get home from work, it was cheap, and it's good for you. Triple win. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-night-soup-delicious-soup-from-leftovers?ref=seealso">Thursday Night Soup: Delicious Soup From Leftovers</a>)</p> <h2>62. Make Your Own Bread</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/make-your-own-sandwich-bread-5-recipes-for-beginners-167356">Baking bread</a> is easier than you think. A homemade loaf also costs a small fraction of a store-bought loaf.</p> <h2>63. Freecycle Your Castoffs</h2> <p>Declutter your life by taking advantage of your local <a href="https://www.freecycle.org">freecycle community</a>. You can also find a few new things for yourself, at zero added cost.</p> <h2>64. Mow Your Own Lawn</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_mow_lawn.html">cost to hire a service</a> to mow your lawn averages between $0.06 and $0.31 per square foot. Mow your own and you can save a bundle over time.</p> <h2>65. Go to the Matinee</h2> <p>From the movie house to Broadway theater, matinee showings are substantially cheaper. If you're paying for a few friends or family members, the cost can be cut dramatically by watching a show in the afternoon instead of evening.</p> <h2>66. Make Frugal Friends</h2> <p>Frugal friends can help you keep your savings goals on track, inspire you with new ideas, and won't encourage you to break the bank on the newest trends.</p> <h2>67. Have Your Shoes Repaired</h2> <p>Repairing quality footwear is usually more cost effective than buying cheaper shoes more frequently. A quality pair of men's dress shoes can last for 10 years or more, particularly if they're resoled or re-crafted. A good cobbler can extend the life of your shoes for decades.</p> <h2>68. Buy Cheaper Wine</h2> <p>The research shows that <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-decision-tree/201207/cheap-and-expensive-wine-taste-the-same-in-blind-taste-tests">we really can't tell the difference</a> between an expensive bottle of French wine and a cheaper bottle of domestic swill. Save yourself the bucks and buy cheap. If you're serving guests and want to look upscale, invest in a decanter, just for show.</p> <h2>69. Shop Consignment Sales for Kids Clothes and Toys</h2> <p>There are consignment sales throughout the country where parents sell their castoff toys and clothes for a fraction of the cost of buying new. <a href="http://consignmentmommies.com/SeasonalSales">Find one near you</a> and save big.</p> <h2>70. Dress for the Weather</h2> <p>Before you crank up the heat, grab a cardigan to stay warm. Offset the cost of high fuel costs with appropriate winter gear in the house. Sweaters, fingerless gloves, and fleece pants help keep you warm in cold weather.</p> <h2>71. Vacation in the Off Season</h2> <p>A September beach vacation can cost half of what it costs in July or August. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Top Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>72. Vacation Via a Houseshare Program</h2> <p>Services like Airbnb give you the opportunity to find unique vacation accommodations while you save a few bucks. You can also earn some cash by renting out your own place while you're out of town.</p> <h2>73. Drink at Home</h2> <p>Skip the expensive bar and have your nightcap at home with friends.</p> <p><em>Do you have an easy money-saver that isn't on the list? Share it below!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today" class="sharethis-link" title="73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance budgeting credit cards debt saving spending Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1209317 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Dumb Little Purchases You Need to Stop Making Today http://www.wisebread.com/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-buying-DVDs-158220812-small.jpg" alt="man buying DVDs" title="man buying DVDs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all make dumb little purchases here and there &mdash; it's what puts the <em>'merica</em> in America &mdash; but this habit can result in a whole bevy of negatives like unnecessary overspending and hazards to your health. Yep, some of them could actually be making you sick. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/knowing-your-triggers-can-prevent-stupid-spending?ref=seealso">Knowing Your Triggers Can Prevent Emotional Spending</a>)</p> <p>What seemingly harmless, little purchases are absolutely not helping you in any way and might actually be holding you back? Here are 13 that you need to learn to just say no to today.</p> <h2>1. Coffee on the Go</h2> <p><a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cup-of-coffee-to-cost-more-at-starbucks-2014-06-21">You're wasting an incredible amount of money</a> every time you step into a java shop. You're also wasting time (you know you've stood in that long, zig-zaggy line just to get your fix) &mdash; and in my world (and probably yours, too) time is money.</p> <p>For the price that you pay for two Venti caramel soy mocha latte ya yas &mdash; or whatever they're called &mdash; you can buy a pound of coffee from your grocery store or local discount retailer (like Marshalls or T.J.Maxx) that you can make at home. Fact: <a href="http://store.starbucks.com/Coffee-Preparation-FAQ/coffee-prep-faq,default,pg.html">One pound of coffee makes about 40 eight-ounce cups of coffee</a>, depending on how you like it. That's a lot of joe for very little dough. Need more perspective? You'll save roughly $30 with a pound of coffee at home opposed to buying cups on the go. That's not a drop in the carafe, folks. If you're a coffee addict, that kind of savings will add up quickly.</p> <h2>2. Bottled Drinks</h2> <p>Let's get the obvious out of the way: Tap water is free nearly everywhere you go. Thus, there's no reason why you shouldn't have a reusable bottle that you're filling up whenever you're thirsty instead of heading to the convenience store or vending machine for a bottle of water.</p> <p>With that out of the way, let's tackle the flavored drinks.</p> <p>First, you can cut back on how much you're consuming and spending on soft drinks if you recognize that most of them have no health benefits, and they're only making you fat, but if you want to ignore that warning at least recognize that nowadays you can easily and inexpensively make your own soft drinks at home. Whether you're investing in a machine that instantly turns flat drinks into fizzy beverages or purchasing your favorite soft drink in liquid or powder form to mix at home, you can save a substantial amount of coin with the press of a button or a few stirs of a pitcher.</p> <h2>3. Magazines and Newspapers</h2> <p>I get a lot of flack every time I suggest that we should abandon magazines and newspapers in order to save money. I can almost bet that someone will comment about how this is irresponsible of me because people's jobs are on the line. Guess what, folks? I'm a writer for print publications as well, so my own advice directly affects me. Still, there's no stopping the gradual progression toward a paperless world. News moves at the speed of the Internet these days, and it's completely free. Save the trees.</p> <h2>4. Lottery Tickets</h2> <p>I wish you all the luck in the world, of course, but the odds just aren't in your favor. That's not to say that you can't take a gamble and have fun every once in while &mdash; I do, and you can, too &mdash; but if you're playing the lottery and buying scratch-offs several times a week (or just on a regular basis), you might as well skip a trip to the store and flush your hard-earned cash right down the toilet &mdash; which, depending on your financial situation, can be a decent chunk of change according to reports: Business Insider revealed recently that low-income households earning less than $13,000 a year spend 9% of their income on lottery tickets. That's bad.</p> <h2>5. Cheap Shoes</h2> <p>The problem with cheaply made shoes (and cheaply made anything for that matter) is that they have a shorter lifespan than quality-made shoes. The result of this discrepancy is that you'll replace the former more often than the latter, which can result in an overall higher cost in the end. How do you think Walmart became so big and profitable?</p> <h2>6. DVDs and On Demand Movies</h2> <p>My husband is the most notorious on-demand orderer I know. He often can't wait for the early release movies to become available for rent, so he buys them outright for $15 to $20 a pop, which practically makes me faint every time I see a newly purchased flick in the queue. Does he realize that if we change cable providers all that content is lost?! I seriously might have to pop a Xanax just thinking about this.</p> <p>It's okay to rent a DVD from a kiosk or order on demand every so often &mdash; especially if it's an alternative to spending more money going out &mdash; but don't make it a habit. DVD kiosk rentals &mdash; although initially inexpensive &mdash; can add up if you're renting frequently, renting without promo codes, or returning late. And at anywhere from $3.99 to $6.99 per on-demand rental, it's wise to be conservative here, too. A good compromise, however &mdash; if you're a heavy content consumer &mdash; is to subscribe to a relatively low-cost streaming service or checking out content (for free!) from your local library.</p> <h2>7. In-App Purchases</h2> <p>As someone who's in in-app-purchase rehab, learn from my weaknesses and repeat after me: I DO NOT NEED THIS. I CAN LIVE WITHOUT THIS. The temptation is hard to resist, but it'll get easier as time goes on and you won't have to live with that gnawing guilt anymore.</p> <h2>8. Paper Towels and Napkins</h2> <p>You're literally throwing away money with paper towels. Swap them out for reusable, washable towels/napkins by repurposing items you already have &mdash; like old t-shirts as replacements with personality &mdash; which will require no additional investment whatsoever.</p> <h2>9. Antibacterial Soap</h2> <p>Why, in this age of Ebola and the Kardashians, would you skip the antibacterial soap? Simple: Because it doesn't work. The FDA recently noted that antibacterial products are no more effective than soap and water, and, in fact, they may even be dangerous. Here are <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-reasons-why-you-should-probably-stop-using-antibacterial-soap-180948078/?no-ist">four more reasons to skip antibacterial everything</a> and get back to basics.</p> <h2>10. Multivitamins</h2> <p>I mean, I don't want to burst another bubble for you, but <a href="http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20131216/experts-dont-waste-your-money-on-multivitamins">your multivitamins are worthless too</a>. Recently, three separate studies concluded that a daily multivitamin doesn't help boost the average American's health. The takeaway? Put down the gummies and pick up some veggies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multivitamins-arent-as-good-as-you-think-eat-these-real-foods-instead?ref=seealso">Multivitamins Aren't as Good as You Think: Eat These Real Foods Instead</a>)</p> <h2>11. Travel-Size Toiletries</h2> <p>Frankly, I'm offended that personal-product makers take us for complete idiots by waaaay overpricing smaller, travel-size versions of their larger products. Most travel-size items are a dollar or more, and there are rarely (if ever) coupons available for these tiny items. Conversely, the full-size version of the same product &mdash; shampoo and toothpaste, for instance &mdash; doesn't cost much more than the travel size and there are often coupons available for full-size items. In the end, you could spend less on the full-size item than the travel-size item (the ounce-to-ounce cost difference is absurd, too), which is a huge win in my book. Here are a few more tricks you can use to save on travel-size items:</p> <ol> <li>Buy TSA-approved containers in which you can put shampoo, conditioners, gel, etc. and toss them in your travel bag. These <a href="http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10036635&amp;N=&amp;Ntt=silicone+travel">GoToobs</a> are my favorite. I just fill them up from my big bottles and I'm ready to go.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't bother buying or bringing toothpaste, shampoo, razors, shaving cream, and other grooming products that you know your hotel will have. Just ask for them at the front desk at check-in.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take the partially used (or even unused) hotel-provided toiletries with you so you're not wasting product or money. (Somebody will inevitably cast shame on me for yanking unopened products, but listen man, if I pay over $150 a night to sleep in a bed, I'm takin' some shampoo with me. Me and You-Know-Who will reconcile this in the afterlife.)</li> </ol> <h2>12. Food Delivery</h2> <p>Trust me, I get it. Sometimes you just can't (cannot!) be bothered to make a simple sandwich at home let alone cook a real meal because you and the couch have become one. I've been there. But if you're ordering out frequently, you're not only wasting your money, you're wasting away. Get this problem in check before it becomes a habit; if it's already become a habit, consider making a lifestyle change. Delivery is okay as a treat, but it should not be a regular routine.</p> <p>In addition, there's another thing to consider about food delivery these days: Many companies that previously offered free delivery are now charging for delivery. I was recently charged a $2.25 delivery fee for a pizza delivery that took more than two hours. Investigate if there's a delivery fee before you order so you can make an informed decision to patronize that establishment or take your business elsewhere. That delivery fee is on top of tax and tip.</p> <h2>13. Paper and Plastic Products</h2> <p>I know people who strictly eat and drink from paper and plastic products and who have cabinets full of perfectly fine dishes. Their reliance on these expensive (they may seem cheap in the short-term, but it'll add up quickly) and wasteful products is a direct result of pure laziness &mdash; they don't want to wash dishes by hand, or, and this really makes me shake my head, they view loading and unloading the dishwasher as way too much work for one person to reasonably handle. This is where my doctor-prescribed breathing techniques come in handy.</p> <p>Let's not get started on the people who actually wash the plastic products. Uh huh, people do it. And I'm like, why did you buy disposable products if you're going to wash them? That completely defeats the purpose, but I suppose it's at least a small step in the right direction. In any case, buy a set of dishes, please. It's much more economical to use something over and over opposed to using it once, throwing it away, and repurchasing the same thing time and again.</p> <p><em>Can you suggest more dumb little purchases that we should stop making today? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today" class="sharethis-link" title="13 Dumb Little Purchases You Need to Stop Making Today" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Green Living budgeting small buys spending wasteful spending Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1197959 at http://www.wisebread.com The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cooking-460315377-small.jpg" alt="cooking at home" title="cooking at home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Anyone bringing home a steady, reasonably sufficient paycheck can save. Not only that, but saving is one of the simplest acts of money management that you can engage in, and there are a lot of ways to make it happen. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-around-the-house?ref=seealso">101 Easy Ways to Save Around the House</a>)</p> <p>To help you get started, try some &mdash; or all! &mdash; of the 10 of the most low-effort strategies for stocking your rainy-day fund.</p> <h2>1. Set Up an Automatic Transfer</h2> <p>Almost all online banking systems are equipped with a feature that allows you to set a date and time for automatic transfers of funds from one account to another. Set one up to transfer money from your checking to your savings account on a weekly basis. The trick is to set it for a small and manageable amount. Try starting with just $20 or $30. It's the small, consistent contributions that really add up over the course of a few years.</p> <h2>2. Cook Meals at Home</h2> <p>Restaurant meals are notoriously more expensive than cooking at home, which is understandable since you're paying for the food along with the kitchen labor and the service. But if you make it a point to eat more meals at home, you'll often save half or more of what you would spend in a restaurant. When you do, make a note of the money you saved (whatever the amount) and transfer that to your savings account.</p> <h2>3. Spend a Night In</h2> <p>Sitting on the couch and watching TV isn't often thought of as a money-saving activity. But if your habit is to go out for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, stay in and save the expense of food, alcohol, and the fuel you'd spend getting to those things. The amount you'll save varies, but $50 for a night out isn't unusual.</p> <h2>4. Adjust Your Thermostat</h2> <p>It takes all of 10 seconds to adjust your thermostat, and it can save you a significant amount on your monthly heating and cooling costs. You've got to be willing to put up with somewhat more uncomfortable temperatures, but keeping your thermostat higher in the summer (75 to 77) and lower in the winter (65 to 68) <a href="http://www.energyhub.com/news/how-much-is-one-degree-worth/">can cut around $10 a month</a> for <em>each change in degree</em>.</p> <h2>5. Plan Meals</h2> <p>If you do decide to cook at home more, you can take it a step further by planning your meals every week. This is particularly helpful for families as it can save you money when you go grocery shopping and help you avoid impulse buys or ending up with food that you don't eat. Rather than wander the aisle tossing whatever looks good into your cart, you'll be armed with a list that can keep you on track. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-eat-every-day-a-month-of-frugal-meals?ref=seealso">What to Eat Every Day: A Month of Frugal Meals</a>)</p> <h2>6. Set a Short-Term Savings Goal</h2> <p>If motivation to save money is a problem for you, set small, attainable goals that can be met in a short period of time. Just telling yourself that you're going to save money isn't enough. Far-reaching goals are hard to keep on track, but smaller, achievable triumphs help pave the way little by little. Meeting those goals will encourage you to continue being intentional about putting money away.</p> <h2>7. Check the Air in Your Tires Regularly</h2> <p>Tires that aren't inflated to the proper PSI will decrease your car's gas mileage and cost you more fuel, especially during the warm summer months. Use a tire gauge and make sure that the PSI in each tire is close to whatever is <a href="http://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/tires/tirepressure.jsp">recommended for your vehicle</a>.</p> <h2>8. Contribute a Little More to Your 401(k)</h2> <p>Most employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage. If you want an easy way to save for retirement without having to think about it, up the amount that gets taken out of your paycheck for your 401(k) so it's safely put away and invested before you even see it.</p> <h2>9. Drink More Water</h2> <p>Water is by far the cheapest and most readily available drink that we have (so long as you're not committing the ultimate money wasting crime of buying bottled water, of course), and also the healthiest. An easy way to save money is to opt for water at home and when you're going out to eat as opposed to the far more expensive soft drinks, juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. I drink water all day long, and compared to my husband who buys several drinks a day while he's working, I'd venture to guess I'm saving about $35 per week by avoiding anything but good ol' H2O.</p> <h2>10. Fill Out a Budget Sheet</h2> <p>There are a lot of great budget sheets online, like the <a href="http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/">Quick-Start budget forms</a> offered by Dave Ramsey. They can be downloaded as PDFs, printed, and filled out, allowing you to conveniently plan how much money you have going out and where it will end up. If you stick to your budget, all of your bills are accounted for and paid, and you know exactly how much discretionary income you have to spend &mdash; and save.</p> <h2>Patience and Simplicity</h2> <p>If you're patient and methodical about saving money, the best ways to do so are often incredibly simple and low-stress. So don't over-complicate the process. Start with the easier methods and work your way up as you get into the habit of budgeting and putting money aside. You'll feel better about your finances knowing that it's easy to meet your savings goals, set up an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund">emergency fund</a> and increase cash flow.</p> <p><em>Do you have more low-effort ways to save money? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-low-effort-ways-to-save-money-ever" class="sharethis-link" title="The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance budgeting saving saving strategies spending Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1188676 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways Staying on Budget Can Be Fun (Really!) http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-staying-on-budget-can-be-fun-really <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-staying-on-budget-can-be-fun-really" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother-daughter-budget-83590568-small.jpg" alt="mother daughter budget" title="mother daughter budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ok, sure, &quot;budget&quot; isn't always synonymous with &quot;rollicking good time.&quot; But there are ways to make the process more fun at every stage, from assessing your finances, to setting goals, to meeting those goals, to reaping the rewards. And the more fun you can make the process, the more likely you are to stick with your budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/evolve-your-money-management-beyond-the-budget?ref=seealso">Evolve Your Money Management Beyond a Budget</a>)</p> <p>These ideas may help you to stay on course and have fun, while you are budgeting.</p> <h2>1. Try an App</h2> <p>Check out <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wally-smart-personal-finance/id610314677?mt=8">Wally,</a> <a href="http://www.moneybookapp.com/moneybook.html">Moneybook</a>, or <a href="https://www.ireconcile.com/iReconcile/Features/iPhoneOS/Budgets">iReconcle</a> (love their rollover feature). Besides smartphones being an enormous help (because they're always with us when we shop), just the act of being able to toy around with a new gadget can make budgeting that more fun. View your finances in cool new infographics and charts, build organized and professional-looking budgets, and just generally nerd out! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">10 Sites and Apps to Help You Track spending and Keep a Budget</a>)</p> <h2>2. Get Help From a Celebrity Pro</h2> <p>Check out free forms from <a href="http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/">Dave's Budgeting Forms</a> (Dave Ramsey) or <a href="http://www.suzeorman.com/suze-tools/">Suze Orman</a>. Read their blogs, or follow them on Twitter, and you'll get even more information &mdash; and find other people who share your questions and issues. Join in the conversations and see that you are far from being the only one who needs financial information. You're suddenly in a club!</p> <h2>3. Buddy Up!</h2> <p>Your partner, friend, family member, or co-worker may want to try budgeting and saving money along with you. Try approaching them with an idea about how fun it can be (like this <a href="http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/11/envelope-budgeting-a-simple-way-to-gain-control-of-your-money.html">envelope </a>idea). It's even more fun when you can compare notes, cheer each other on, or get a little competitive. If you feel the urge to spend, a buddy may be able to divert you to a different, free, activity. For instance, I might email my co-worker when I feel like dining out, instead of my brown bag, and she'll remind me about my goals and come eat brown-bag with me. Or, when I want to hit the mall, my girlfriend will say, &quot;Let's go thrift-shopping, instead!&quot; I like to be able to tweet or text my buddies when I am feeling sorely tempted &mdash; they keep me on track.</p> <h2>4. Think Tiny Rewards</h2> <p>If you have brown-bagged it all month instead of going out to lunch, a nice reward is to treat yourself to a moderately-priced restaurant. Some of my girlfriends used to love going out for manicures &mdash; until one of them figured out how to do her own. Hawaii not in the vacation cards this year? Consider a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-fun-and-affordable-vacation-ideas">staycation</a>. Sometimes, just for making my own breakfast and brown-bag lunch, I'll treat myself to an hour at the library (cell phone off, of course!).</p> <p>The point is, you don't want to burn out on budgeting. If the fun factor goes down, you'll regress, and go looking for an expensive activity that will blow your hard work. Find your carrot. Movie night? Trip to the bookstore? What activity, or thing, will help you to feel less deprived?</p> <h2>5. Enjoy Anticipation</h2> <p>We're happier when we wait and <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/imperfect-spirituality/201403/are-your-beliefs-about-money-keeping-you-poor">anticipate</a> the purchase, believe it or not. Also, for me, on those really &quot;blah&quot; days at work, knowing I am working for something tangible helps to get me through. Children love marking days off of calendars (I still remember my Advent calendars before Christmas), illustrating how close they are getting to a special day or vacation.</p> <h2>6. Visualize It</h2> <p>Are you budgeting for a vacation? Saving for a new car? Put a picture of your dream location on your refrigerator, desk, or medicine cabinet. Seeing the goal will be a good reminder. Starting a <a href="http://jackcanfield.com/how-to-create-an-empowering-vision-book/">visualization board</a> is a fun thing to do. We have one in our hallway. You can also create a virtual one (or several, for different categories of your budget) on Pinterest.</p> <h2>7. Enlist Your Family</h2> <p>Rally your kids. They are great at collecting change and surprisingly good savers. Count it together each week, or find a Coinstar machine (our credit union offers free use of one). Let 'em go crazy with the couch cushions. Be sure to include the family in the &quot;tiny rewards&quot; to keep the fun going. (&quot;Okay, we saved $20 this week, so let's have ice cream tonight.&quot;)</p> <h2>8. Learn With a Group</h2> <p>Check your local community college, library, YWCA, or even churches to see if classes are offered in financial planning. I was surprised to find several in my area. All seminars were completely free! Many will first help you learn how to get rid of your debt.</p> <h2>9. Learn New Things</h2> <p>Spending a lot of money dining out? Try a cooking class. Maybe you can learn to change your own oil, or start a garden. You might learn a skill that will enable you to make a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-money-making-hobbies">side income</a>. Several of our neighbors have yard-care businesses. Another does flower arrangements. Saving money may be the ultimate end, but there's no reason the means can't be an adventure in and of themselves!</p> <p><em>See? Budgeting really can be fun. How do you make it fun?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-staying-on-budget-can-be-fun-really" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Ways Staying on Budget Can Be Fun (Really!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting General Tips budgeting debt management spending Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00:06 +0000 Marla Walters 1166029 at http://www.wisebread.com The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn't Money — It's This http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/paying-bills-157864480-small.jpg" alt="paying bills" title="paying bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="154" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Financial planners always stress the miracle of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-most-important-financial-lessons-people-learn-in-their-20s-did-you">compound interest</a>. The earlier you start saving, the more compound interest works in your favor. Time is on your side.</p> <p>When you have debt, however, compound interest is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/key-terms-new-credit-card-users-must-understand">the worst</a>. It's what makes paying down credit card debt so difficult. It's one of those things that make it harder to gain financial independence. Luckily, even when compound interest is working against you, time is still your friend. You just have to turn your relationship with time from a long-term partnership to a short-term fling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lifestyle-inflation-the-ultimate-financial-trap?ref=seealso">Lifestyle Inflation: The Ultimate Financial Trap</a>)</p> <p>I am hugely motivated to pay down my debt by the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor">icky sensation</a> that I am just one step away from the poor house. I will do just about anything to avoid feeling finance-related stress. I am all about pain avoidance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-debt-is-killing-you-heres-the-cure?ref=seealso">Your Debt is Killing You</a>)</p> <p>My husband, on the other hand, has a much higher emotional tolerance for debt. He hates scrimping as much as he hates paying the bank for previous purchases. That said, once he discovered that paying down debt quickly saves a crap-ton of money, he jumped on the frugal bandwagon.</p> <h2>Think of the Time When You Won't Have Financial Stress</h2> <p>As of today my husband and I have both been unemployed for 177 days. Luckily, my husband starts working at a fantastic, new job tomorrow, so I will finally be able to go to the dentist without worrying about paying the bill.</p> <p>That said, even with the new income, my husband and I are going to continue to live on our no-frills, crisis budget, until we pay off all our debt.</p> <p>The big lesson of the last six months has been this: Regardless of how upper-middle class we appear, as long as we have debt we are actually poor. That's kind of the definition of poverty right? Not having money. So, as long as we have debt, we not only have NO money, we've got less than no money.</p> <p>After 177 days I don't see the point in extending our poverty for one day longer than we need to. We've got five years to pay off my Home Equity Line of Credit. But why extend our poverty for half a decade when we could save three years of financial stress and pay off the debt in two years instead? We've just lived through six months of grinding poverty, which was no fun, but survivable.</p> <p>Is 24 months of the same, cash-poor life, worth the reward of early financial freedom?</p> <p>I think so.</p> <h2>Less Time in Debt Equals Huge Financial Gains</h2> <p>Paying of my HELOC early will also save me thousands of dollars in interest. Money that I can turn around and spend on furthering my education, so I can get a higher paying job, put toward my retirement fund, or blow on an extravagant vacation.</p> <p>While I love to travel, what I will probably end up doing is using the savings to pay down the mortgage on my rental property.</p> <p>Like most Americans I don't have enough money put away for retirement. People in my family live to be 90. That's several decades of retirement income I've got to find sooner rather than later. Instead of a 401(k), I have a rental property that currently breaks even, but will be an income generator, once I pay off the mortgage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/just-saving-isnt-enough-how-cash-flow-allocation-helps-you-retire?ref=seealso">Just Saving Isn't Enough: How Cash Flow Allocation Helps You Retire</a>)</p> <p>While most people, even bank loan officers, refer to my house as an asset, I don't. Unless something makes money for me while I sleep, it's not an asset.</p> <p>I'll just come out and say it: I'd like to make money in my sleep ASAP.</p> <p>Shockingly, As Soon As Possible is a lot sooner than I expected. Using a <a href="http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/debt-free/">debt calculator</a>, I discovered that I could be making a passive rental income from my house that's bigger than my current poverty budget in just 13 years.</p> <h2>Here's the Math</h2> <p>If I make the minimum $1800 mortgage payment on my house every month with my current, yucky interest rate of 5.9%, it will take me until March of 2037 to pay off my house that cost $270,000 (including my HELOC). In addition to the $270,000, I will also spend a whopping $220,866 in interest.</p> <p>However, if I spend just $150 more per month (the equivalent of an one additional mortgage payment per year), I will pay off my mortgage in November of 2033 and instead pay $183,979 in interest. If I really stretch myself and my budget and start paying $2500 a month (an additional $8400 per year), I will pay off my house in May of 2027 and pay a total of $115,940 in interest. So what's the obstacle that's keeping me from becoming financially independent almost ten years sooner, saving $104,926 in interest, and owning a rental property that (by the current rental market) will make me $2000 per month in profit?</p> <p>$8400 per year.</p> <p>Do I think I can find a way to make an additional $8400 per year with that kind of incentive?</p> <p>Yes.</p> <p><em>Have you ever paid off a debt early? Please share your story in comments. Was it worth the extra suffering?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this" class="sharethis-link" title="The Most Valuable Thing Debt Takes From You Isn&#039;t Money — It&#039;s This" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Debt Management budgeting debt mortgage saving Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Max Wong 1151880 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Financial Mistakes That Limit Your Freedom http://www.wisebread.com/4-financial-mistakes-that-limit-your-freedom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-financial-mistakes-that-limit-your-freedom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/debt-91460027-small.jpg" alt="woman with bills" title="woman with bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you are at home, at work, or out with friends, there's no escaping financial stress. It's the kind of stress that stays with you until you do something about it. It takes over your life. You end up spending a lot of time thinking about your finances which causes you to be unproductive in other areas&hellip; and not present in life. It limits your freedom. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-worst-money-mistakes-married-people-make?ref=seealso">The 7 Worst Money Mistakes Married People Make</a>)</p> <p>Let's take a look at some of the specific mistakes that you may be making that add stress and frustration and limit your time and enjoyment!</p> <h2>Making Excess Purchases on Your Credit Card</h2> <p>This can also fall under a category called &quot;careless spending.&quot;</p> <p>At first glance, credit cards may seem to provide you with a sense of financial freedom. Suddenly, you can spend up to your credit limit without actually having the money to pay for it. You can put those new jeans, after work drinks, and a vacation to Hawaii on your card without any short term repercussions&hellip; freedom!</p> <p>The reality is that once you rack up this debt, you are forced to begin paying it back the next month. And if you don't, it will impact your credit score, and in turn, your ability to borrow money in the future (and maybe even your chances of getting a new job!). Even with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">cards that offer 0% APR</a> for the first 12-18 months, you must pay a minimum amount each month to keep that rate. Although you may initially be able to make a purchase on a whim, the cash needed to pay down the debt each month (plus any interest) will eat away at your income until you pay it off.</p> <h2>Paying Too Much in Rent (or Owning a Place You Can't Afford)</h2> <p>One of the biggest mistakes people make is paying too much for housing. The rule of thumb is that renters and homeowners alike should not pay more than 30% of gross income in housing costs. Whether you own or rent, the money comes out of your cash flow each month, reducing the amount of extra money you have to spend on other activities. Yes, it is great to live in a place with all the bells and whistles available to you, yet how much value are you actually deriving from such benefits? Would money spent elsewhere reduce your stress and increase your freedom?</p> <h2>Guessing How Much Your Expenses Are Each Month</h2> <p>One of the most common answers I receive from clients when I ask how much they spend each month starts like this, &quot;I think I spend&hellip;&quot; That's simply a guess. And, when it comes to your spending, guessing will only decrease your freedom in the long run. Imagine asking a hotel how much a room is per night and them responding that they &quot;think&quot; it is $300. After staying for two nights you find out that it was actually $500. You're now paying $400 more than you thought. It doesn't work in this situation and it doesn't work with your monthly cash flow. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">10 Sites That Help You Track Your Spending</a>)</p> <h2>Dreaming About Everything and Planning for Nothing</h2> <p>We all like to dream about what it would be like to live a more eventful and enjoyable life. It's fun! However, when was the last time you heard about someone dreaming their way to financial freedom? It just doesn't happen. Without some kind of a plan, you will never achieve the success you are dreaming about today.</p> <h2>3 Quick Solutions</h2> <p>Some of the above items have obvious solutions, but overall it's about bringing <em>intention</em> to your finances. This means that you should take steps to organize yourself. Even if you take just one step at a time, you will be progressing toward a place that may provide you freedom over your finances.</p> <h3>Limit Your Credit Card Use</h3> <p>When it comes to credit cards, never purchase something you can't afford to buy now. At the very least, you should be able to pay for it in the next two or three months. This will minimize the interest you pay and also support a lower credit score. This is &quot;bad debt,&quot; so get rid of it quickly.</p> <h3>Be Responsible With Your Housing Costs</h3> <p>Take a hard look at your monthly mortgage or rent payment. Do you feel like you can afford it without limiting other areas of your life? If not, does living there provide you with enough value to sacrifice other freedoms? There is no right answer, but I highly recommend evaluating your circumstances. What would it be like to save $300-$400 a month on rent? What could you do with that money that would provide you with more freedom than you have today?</p> <h3>Write It Down</h3> <p>Whether we are talking about your monthly cash flow or your plans for the future, putting real information down on paper makes all the difference. A simple Internet search will provide you with various ways to track your expenses. You can start by using a service like <a href="http://www.mint.com">Mint.com</a>. As for your goals, they aren't real until you announce them to the world. Write them down, share them with your family and friends&hellip; create an <a href="http://beyondyourhammock.com/creating-a-structure-to-hold-you-accountable-a-secret-to-financial-success/">accountability partner</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-every-day-to-defeat-out-of-control-spending?ref=seealso">Do This One Thing Every Day to Defeat Out-of-Control Spending</a>)</p> <p>What would it be like if you knew your financial status, at least in a general sense, rather than having to guess all the time. Guessing about your finances creates anxiety&hellip; and there are enough other things in the world that can cause that!</p> <p><em>Have you found a way to free yourself from financial stress? How? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-financial-mistakes-that-limit-your-freedom" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Financial Mistakes That Limit Your Freedom" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eric-roberge-cfp">Eric Roberge CFP</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Debt Management budgeting credit debt money mistakes Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Eric Roberge CFP 1149832 at http://www.wisebread.com Do This One Thing Every Day to Defeat Out-of-Control Spending http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-every-day-to-defeat-out-of-control-spending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-this-one-thing-every-day-to-defeat-out-of-control-spending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/shopping-494386095-small.jpg" alt="excessive shopping" title="excessive shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="158" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you wince when you open up your monthly credit card statement? Do you look at the savings in your bank account at the end of the month and wonder where all of your money went? You're not alone. A 2013 study by FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that 41% of people spend less than they earn, 36% spend as much as they earn, and 19% <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/study-19-percent-americans-spend-225020907.html">spend <em>more</em> than they earn</a>.</p> <p>If you find yourself living beyond your means (or close to them), here is a daily practice that you can employ to get your spending under control: Write it down.</p> <p>A large percentage of our out of control spending derives from not keeping track of what we're spending. Below is a four-step plan with tools and tactics to make writing it down less of a chore and more of an asset to help manage your spending. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=seealso">How to Do a One Month Spending Freeze</a>)</p> <h2>1. Write It Down</h2> <p>Every time you spend money, write it down. At the end of each day, tally up your spending by category (food, clothes, travel and transportation, etc.) and in total. This will help you see the big picture of your spending as well as the specific areas that are the biggest drain on your money.</p> <h2>2. How to Get It All Down (and Keep It)</h2> <p>Whether you prefer a high-tech or low-tech tool, make sure to choose a method that's easy for you based on your lifestyle.</p> <p>For some people, simple and tangible is the way to go. A small notebook dedicated to just spend tracking that easily fits in your pocket or purse is a helpful and manageable tool. If you live by the information in your mobile phone, there are many mobile apps to help you keep track of your spending. I use <a href="https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-tools/mobile-apps/trackmyspend">TrackMySPEND</a>,and it couldn't be easier &mdash; one click, enter your expense and the reason for it, and save. Done! Another good option is <a href="http://www.inkpadnotepad.com/">a simple Notepad app</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com/features/iphone">You Need a Budget</a> (or YNAB for people in the know!) is a popular app for those who like to keep track of their spending within the confines of a set budget. It's a whole budgeting and spending philosophy, so it might be better suited to more advanced spending trackers.</p> <h2>3. Cash Versus Credit Versus Debit</h2> <p>There are many opinions on whether cash, a debit card, or a credit card is the best option to keep spending under control. The answer is different for every person.</p> <p>If your spending is wildly out of control, then the best option is to carry a set amount of cash each day and never spend beyond that amount.</p> <p>If you spend more than you'd like to spend, though, and have discipline to check yourself before purchases, then a credit or debit card is a good option. Cards are safer than cash, can be more convenient, and also give you an excellent digital view of your spending through your monthly statement. Most credit cards give card holders the options to set spending alerts and limits so you can keep spending on them in check, too.</p> <p>Whatever payment method you use &mdash; you've still got to write down what you spend.</p> <h2>4. Daily Reflection</h2> <p>This is the most important step of the process.</p> <p>When you look at your daily spending, spend a minute considering how much satisfaction you received from your spending.</p> <p>The high you get from what's commonly termed <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302171527.htm">&quot;retail therapy&quot; is very short-lived</a>. If you had that money back in your pocket, would you choose to do something different with it now? How would you feel if you could take your spending from the day and put it away in savings? Think about how hard you had to work to make that money. Does the satisfaction from your spending match the effort it took to make that money? Asking these types of questions really help you see, feel, and understand the real value of money.</p> <p>A very small amount of people can naturally curb their spending. For the rest of us, limiting our spending is a habit that we must work to build every day. Self-control in every sense is a muscle, and the more we exercise it, the stronger we get.</p> <p><em>Do you have regular habits and tips that help you keep your spending under control? Please share them with the Wise Bread community in the comments section below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-every-day-to-defeat-out-of-control-spending" class="sharethis-link" title="Do This One Thing Every Day to Defeat Out-of-Control Spending" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Debt Management General Tips Shopping budgeting one thing spending Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:00:19 +0000 Christa Avampato 1142625 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Ways to Stay on Budget — Even With Your Spendy Friends http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-stay-on-budget-even-with-your-spendy-friends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-stay-on-budget-even-with-your-spendy-friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-80375663.jpg" alt="friends" title="friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all love spending time with our friends. But if you find yourself dipping deeper into your pockets than you'd like for get togethers, you might wonder how to cope. I, too, am on tight entertainment funds. In fact, now that I'm a full-fledged adult, I thought it would be prudent to put myself back on an allowance to stay in check. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build Your First Budget in 5 Steps</a>)</p> <p>Thing is, it can feel awkward or even embarrassing when I'm asked to take part in an activity I can't afford or don't want to find room for in my budget. If you find yourself in a similar boat, consider these tips for how to diffuse the situation.</p> <h2>1. Try Honesty</h2> <p>First are foremost, I find it's best to be upfront to avoid uncomfortable situations in the future. If you are close enough with your buddies, they should understand why you want to scrimp and save. Often, you may even discover that they &mdash; too &mdash; would rather find less expensive things to do.</p> <h2>2. Suggest Alternatives</h2> <p>If you don't feel honesty is the best policy, you could also take control by offering up some suggestions within your price range. Some ideas:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fun-nights-out-for-5-or-less">15 Fun Nights Out for $5 Or Less</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend">47 Cheap, Fun Things To Do This Weekend</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-and-cheap-fun-things-to-do-in-your-city">The Ultimate $5 Fun List</a></li> </ul> <p>You truly can have fun on a dime (or for no money at all).</p> <h2>3. Make Yourself Responsible</h2> <p>There's little reason to decline invitations to go shopping or out to other activities that don't involve a cover or ticket charge. Instead, make yourself the responsible party for keeping your dollars in your pocket. Don't bring your credit card, &quot;forget&quot; cash, or just try old fashioned restraint. You can still enjoy the time together without all the swag.</p> <h2>4. Open Your Home</h2> <p>One of the best ways my husband and I have found to save money going out is to invite people into our own home. Instead of going out for a pricey dinner, we ask friends to all bring a dish to share and enjoy a cheap potluck with bonus game night. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-dinner-party-for-6-feed-em-for-under-20?ref=seealso">Host a Dinner Party for Under $20</a>)</p> <h2>5. Crunch the Numbers</h2> <p>Many people don't realize how the little things add up to something big. In this case, even going out to lunch three days a week could add up to $30 and a staggering $1,500 over the course of a year. Explain you'd rather pack your brown bag now and take that fun vacation later.</p> <h2>6. Blame Your Budget</h2> <p>Along with being honest comes telling friends you are indeed on a budget (shouldn't we all be?). If an invitation catches you at the wrong time socially or financially, you could always just explain that you've maxed out your entertainment funds for the week or month. By doing so, perhaps you'll start a productive conversation on personal finances and inspire your friend to try your saving ways! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-talk-to-friends-about-money?ref=seealso">Should You Talk to Friends About Money?</a>)</p> <h2>7. Share Positivity</h2> <p>You can even go a step beyond bringing up budget to sharing a recent success with paying off credit card bills or other debt through being frugal. Say something like &quot;You know, I can't go this weekend because I've been paying off X bill, and it feels so good to see my balance getting closer to $0!&quot; You might inspire a friend to do the same.</p> <h2>8. Make a Healthy Excuse</h2> <p>Rather than outright lie about another commitment as your excuse to not do something, come up with a healthy reason to skip out. Lies won't work in the long run anyway, and it's easy to get caught in your own game. Consider saying something like &quot;Well, I would love to &mdash; but I just have to get my run in that day. Would you join me?&quot; Or &quot;I've been too sedentary this week, would you like to take a walk instead?&quot;</p> <h2>9. Sell Quality Time</h2> <p>You can also be quite convincing by sharing the benefits of time spent doing nothing at all. Often, going to movies, concerts, loud restaurants, and other costly events mean there's little time to actually connect. Instead, suggest meeting over a warm cup of tea or glass of wine and having a nice, long chat to catch up.</p> <h2>10. Plan Ahead</h2> <p>If you know your pal likes to go to expensive concerts or games, why not get on some forward thinking? Ask your friend if he or she would like to attend one of these events with a date in the future. That way, you could save up your pennies slowly, but avoid that awkward spur-of-the-moment conversation entirely.</p> <h2>11. Set Schedules</h2> <p>For everyday invitations to lunches out, for example, take control by setting a specific day of the week or month to indulge. Remember, you can still treat yourself on occasion and still stay on point for your financial goals. If you have a friend who is routinely asking you to go out and splurge, go back to honesty.</p> <h2>12. Just Say &quot;No&quot;</h2> <p>You don't necessarily have to give an excuse or reason for why you can't do something. A simple, but polite &quot;no&quot; should do well to decline an invitation. If you're pressed for details, you can always just say you're busy (saving money!). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-say-no-to-friends-and-family?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Say &quot;No&quot;</a>)</p> <h2>13. Play the Busy Card</h2> <p>However, if your &quot;busy&quot; ploy is falling flat, write up a to-do list and make it legitimate. The next time you're asked to do something out of your budget, say you're busy. Then go item by item on your list and get productive with your time. Can't go to that five star restaurant? Finish painting your bedroom. That weekend away too extravagant right now? Clean your house from top to bottom.</p> <h2>14. Reevaluate</h2> <p>If you're continually feeling the pressure to keep up with the Joneses, you might alleviate your stress by taking a step back. True friends should truly understand the value of your friendship versus flashy purchases or a fine restaurant bucket list.</p> <h2>15. Reciprocate</h2> <p>On the flip side, if you're in good standing with your budget and find yourself to be the one making all the invitations, be understanding. We all cycle through different periods in our lives and with our money and goals. Before you ask your buddies to do something extravagant, consider if there's a thrifty alternative that isn't going to exclude anyone in your circle.</p> <p><em>How do you tell friends you can't (or won't) spend money?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-stay-on-budget-even-with-your-spendy-friends" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Ways to Stay on Budget — Even With Your Spendy Friends" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living budgeting friends friends and money frugality Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:24:48 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1136585 at http://www.wisebread.com The Only 3 Budgeting Apps You Need to Know About http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-477483519.jpg" alt="smartphone" title="smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gone are the days when balancing a budget required pages of spreadsheets, a pencil, a calculator (and a large eraser), and a great deal of patience. Thanks to technology, budgets can be managed easily on your tablet or phone with minimal work. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-a-better-budget-in-5-minutes-flat?ref=seealso">Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes</a>)</p> <p>There are lots of budget apps available to try. Many cost nothing, most cost just a few dollars, and some can cost $50 or more. Below are three of the best budgeting apps available for both Android and iOs devices.</p> <h2>Mint</h2> <p>If you are looking for an app that has been around for awhile and has had time to get all the kinks out, then <a href="https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/">Mint</a> is the one for you. It has been available since 2007 and is now owned by Intuit. It's totally free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cool-mint-tools-for-manaing-your-money?ref=seealso">8 Cool Mint Tools</a>)</p> <p>Mint is initially set up on a computer through their website. You will connect your bank, credit, and investment accounts there. Mint will then give you a three-month comprehensive view of your spending. It will sort spending into categories and suggest a budget for you. You will have the ability to make changes to the budget for places that you want to decrease spending and increase saving. Mint also offers advice on where you can save or improve your budget. (Here is where you will find ads that help pay for the service.)</p> <p>The mobile app, which have been voted Best Finance App in the 1st Annual App Awards and TIME Magazine's 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011, allows you to view your finances in real-time, make changes to information, and monitor your spending from your smartphone. The app is password protected, so if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can feel comfortable that no one can access your financial information.</p> <h2>You Need A Budget</h2> <p>Another product that has been around for a while is <a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com/features">You Need A Budget (YNAB)</a>. It costs you $60, unless you're a college student, in which case it's free. This cost will give you the desktop version of YNAB, the mobile app, and all updates for the current version of the software. Unfortunately, if the app goes into a new version (for example, YNAB 5.0), you will need to pay the $60 again. YNAB does offer a 34-day trial period to try out their software.</p> <p>YNAB has proven to be very user-friendly and helpful with managing budgets. It also educates users on four basic but essential principles. These principles are the foundation to how YNAB works. Users are taught to assign a place for every dollar, save for unexpected expenses, deal with mistakes without stress, and live on last month's income. With these principles, a budget is easy to create and allows you to know exactly how much money you have to spend. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/evolve-your-money-management-beyond-the-budget?ref=seealso">Money Management Beyond the Budget</a>)</p> <p>The mobile app lets you to sync to your desktop software through the cloud, giving you easy access to your budget. You can enter transactions while you are on-the-go as well to keep your budget current.</p> <p>Note that YNAB does not automatically sync with your bank, credit, and investment accounts. Users have to enter transactions manually or import from their accounts. YNAB's developers insist that <a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/article/will-ynab-ever-directly-connect-to-my-bank-and-download-my-transactions">manual transaction entry encourages</a> users to have a closer understanding of where their money goes. It's also a good option if you're concerned about sharing your account sign-ins and passwords with an app.</p> <h2>Level Money</h2> <p>Want to know how much money you have to spend each month after all your bills are paid for so you can plan for extras? <a href="https://levelmoney.com/">Level Money</a> will do that for you. This free app connects to your accounts, and based off the previous month's income and spending, will tell you how much money you have to spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When a transaction is updated into the system, Level Money will adjust your available amount accordingly.</p> <p>Level is great for anyone who finds themselves short on money at the end of the month due to unnecessary spending. It's easy-to-use, offers many different ways to view your money through graphs, pie charts, and graphics, and has a great, sleek look. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">Sites and Apps That Help Track Your Spending</a>)</p> <h2>Also Worth Mentioning...</h2> <p>There is one more app that looks promising but is too new and, as of yet, does not have many reviews. <a href="https://budgetease.com/what-it-does/">Budget Ease</a> is one app that appears to be easy-to-use and effective at maintaining a budget on your mobile device. It is based on the envelope system, which categorizes all your money into envelopes.</p> <p>One great aspect of Budget Ease is the ability to send a text to their system every time you spend money. You simply type in the name of the envelope, the amount you spent, and the store, and Budget Ease will text you back with your current balance. For example, if you spent $35 for gas at Shell, you would text &quot;Gas $35 Shell.&quot; A moment later you will receive a reply telling you how much you have left in that envelope. This is a great way to keep track of your spending when you don't have access to Wi-Fi to use the app.</p> <p>Budget Ease does have a monthly fee which ranges from about $5.50 a month to $7.</p> <p>Whether you are struggling to pay off debt, trying to save for the future, or just want to know where your money goes each month, a budget is essential. These apps will help you keep your budget in place and allow you to improve your financial situation.</p> <p><em>Do you use a budgeting app? Has it helped you stay on budget?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-3-budgeting-apps-you-need-to-know-about" class="sharethis-link" title="The Only 3 Budgeting Apps You Need to Know About" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting General Tips apps budget tools budgeting financial apps Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:36:39 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1135030 at http://www.wisebread.com How I Erased $70,000 of Debt and Became an Eventual Millionaire http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-erased-70000-of-debt-and-became-an-eventual-millionaire <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-i-erased-70000-of-debt-and-became-an-eventual-millionaire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-2188028-small.jpg" alt="woman" title="woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Money can give you freedom or make you stuck. You have the power to change your future, and it all begins with your money. You want your money to work for you; you don't want to work for your money. I know, because I learned the hard way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-lessons-from-millionaires?ref=seealso">Money Lessons From Millionaires</a>)</p> <p>In my early- and mid-twenties, my husband and I always felt broke even though we both had good jobs and were doing the best we could. And to top it all off, I wasn't happy with my job at all because I wasn't in control. I worked really long hours for a video-on-demand company as a project manager, but I realized I was spending too much time and energy on something that I wasn't passionate about. I really longed to do something that I cared about. But I felt stuck because of the choices I had made, and I owed too much to be able to quit my job.</p> <p>Then I had the realization that only I could take control to change my situation. It was up to me and no one else. I could be the hero of my own story. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-fortune-become-your-own-hero?ref=seealso">Become Your Own Hero to Make Your Fortune</a>)</p> <h2>Be Honest With Yourself</h2> <p>Ignoring your finances is so easy. It's normal to only pay attention when the next bill is due, or when you realize your bank account slipped below $100. We ignore our finances because we feel that it's too complicated to figure out, or we're afraid of what we might find when we actually do peek into Pandora's box. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-are-lying-to-yourself-about-your-money?ref=seealso">Ways You're Lying About Your Money</a>)</p> <p>But you need to be honest with yourself. And that means uncovering things you don't want to uncover and admitting things you don't want to admit. Being honest is accepting where you are now, exactly as you are.</p> <p>You need to put it all down on paper; it can't just be a number in your head. It may be a hard thing to do but you need to find out how much you actually owe. This is a first step in controlling your money &mdash; you will figure out where the money you do have is going and then you can figure out different ways to bring more in.</p> <p>I did this by adding up all of my debt. I had no idea I owed more than $70,000. In fact, I thought I was pretty good with my money. It wasn't just credit cards either. It was a home equity loan, a new car, and student loans.</p> <h3>Action Item: Look Hard at Your Numbers</h3> <p>Take a hard look at all of your numbers. They are the facts, so take some time tonight to lay it all out on the table. Pull together every number you can, your debt, your income, your assets, and retirement. In the immortal words of GI Joe, &quot;Knowing is half the battle.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ways-to-track-debt-0?ref=seealso">Ways to Track Debt</a>)</p> <h2>Be Value Conscious</h2> <p>Many millionaires know the value of a dollar. They know because many of them have been broke. Here's a question: What do you value? It's very important to figure out what you want in life and what's most important to you. Most of the time, it's not material items that you value. It's so much more than that. So after you figure out what you truly value, then your spending should reinforce that. You should start spending money in ways that make you happy. Here are a few key principles to make you happy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/29-scientifically-proven-ways-to-be-happier-this-year?ref=seealso">Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier</a>)</p> <h3>Buy Experiences Instead of Things</h3> <p>Researchers have found that the happiness derived from experiences instead of things wears off slower. So when we think about that memory, we get to relive that experience all over again. It's like we get more bang for our buck over that &quot;thing&quot; we could have bought instead that loses its importance over time.</p> <h3>Help Others Instead of Yourself</h3> <p>Research also shows that whenever we improve our connections with others, we are happier. So when we get to spend money on others or help someone out, it brings us a sense of fulfillment. I have found a very common theme when asking people why they want to become a millionaire &mdash; it's usually something like, &quot;to help others and give more.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-ways-to-make-someone-happy-today?ref=seealso">Easy Ways to Make Someone Happy</a>)</p> <h3>Buy Many Small Pleasures Instead of a Few Big Ones</h3> <p>Does eating one 12-ounce cookie give us twice the pleasure as eating a 6-ounce cookie? Studies show the answer is no. In fact, eating two 6-ounce cookies gives you more satisfaction. So the lesson here is to learn to break up your spending into smaller pleasures.</p> <h3>Acting on My Values</h3> <p>I realized that I was acting so out of control with my money. I would go to the store and not remember what I bought a day later (though I remembered spending over $100 on the trip!). I started to cut out all of those pieces that didn't really matter.</p> <p>I found that I really cared for experiences, so it was the act of going to the coffee shop that I liked. So instead of an expensive sugar-laden latte, I just bought the cheapest tea on the menu. We put in place a budget for extras (when we were getting out of debt it was $25 per month each!), and I learned how to stretch that $25 for the whole month.</p> <h3>Action Item: Identify What You Really Care About</h3> <p>Write down the last 10 items you purchased. What really made a difference to you? Was it being able to go to your favorite coffee house, or do you not care about coffee at all?</p> <h2>Numbers in Your Head Don't Count</h2> <p>To understand one's finances means that you understand the meaning behind the numbers, not just the basic figures themselves. We all need to seek to understand our finances. That means knowing the basics like your income and expenses and having them written down. But it's also knowing what those numbers mean to your life and goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-steps-to-achieving-all-your-goals?ref=seealso">Achieve All Your Goals in 6 Steps</a>)</p> <h3>Know Your Net Worth</h3> <p>The first number to figure out is your Net Worth. Your net worth is all of your assets minus all of your liabilities. This is simple math, just addition and subtraction. It just takes some time to find all of the numbers. It might be disheartening to see it in black and white after you figure this out, but at least you know where you stand and are being honest with yourself.</p> <h3>Develop a Budget</h3> <p>The second number to figure out is your Income and Expenses &mdash; a Spending Plan. No matter how much money you have coming in and going out, I firmly believe that understanding your finances is vital to having a healthy relationship with money. In other words, create a budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-a-better-relationship-with-money-make-plans?ref=seealso">How to Have a Better Relationship With Money</a>)</p> <h3>Know Your Current Spending</h3> <p>The third number is your Current Spending. You need to know how much your spending matches the budget you set out for yourself. Budgeting helps you become very clear on your spending habits so you can start to predict what the future will look like.</p> <h3>My Results</h3> <p>We ended up realizing that the new car was a huge piece of the debt ($19,200). We also looked to see how long it would take us to pay off all of our debt. If we took out big chunks like the car, the number of months it took would be a lot less.</p> <p>So we first started to look at bigger chunks. We got rid of the new car and bought a cheaper $8,000 car. We also sold kayaks, a jeep CJ7, and just about everything we could.</p> <p>Then we looked at the smaller things in the budget. We did the standard things like canceling cable and negotiating our rates. Plus we really tried to raise our income every single month. My husband took on odd jobs. Every time we did a little more the length of time we had to do it got smaller. That was a <em>huge</em> motivation for us. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough?ref=seealso">How to Stay Motivated When the Going Gets Tough</a>)</p> <h3>Action Item: Establish the Finish Line</h3> <p>Figure out your three numbers (or update them if you haven't lately!). Figure out that magic date, the day you will pay off all of your debt, or be able to quit your job, etc. It will set the goal in stone, and help you realize there is an end in sight!</p> <h2>Control Your Money</h2> <p>Now that you have all of the numbers in place and a plan of attack with your budget, you'll need to figure out what to do with your excess money! The goal at first is to reduce your expenses and increase your income so that the excess amount gets bigger.</p> <p>You need to take a hard look at everything and see what and where you can cut things. Be deliberate with your money and know where every penny is going. And remember, these cuts are a temporary way to creating the best setup for you to move forward on your goals.</p> <p>Keep reading sites like this one and finding stories similar to yours. That's how I persevered in getting out of debt. And that's how I'm on my way to a million dollars right now. I am interviewing millionaires who can tell me their stories of how they have done it, which inspires me to keep moving forward toward my goals.</p> <p>To me, an Eventual Millionaire is someone who has the goal to be a millionaire, eventually. But they want to do it on their own terms; they want an enjoyable business and an enjoyable life.</p> <p>I am an Eventual Millionaire.</p> <p><em>Which action step will you be committing to today?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-erased-70000-of-debt-and-became-an-eventual-millionaire" class="sharethis-link" title="How I Erased $70,000 of Debt and Became an Eventual Millionaire" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jaime Tardy is a Business Coach and a Speaker who helps entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. She's the Founder of EventualMillionaire.com, a website that features a new millionaire interview each week and focuses on personal finance and entrepreneurship. You can grab The Eventual Millionaire Book at <a href="http://eventualmillionaire.com/book">TheEventualMillionaire.com</a> and also download the Eventual Millionaire Starter Kit for free right on the site. You can also listen in to all 100+ interviews with millionaires free on EventualMillionaire.com.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jaime-tardy">Jaime Tardy</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Debt Management budgeting debt debt elimination financial goals Mon, 24 Feb 2014 10:36:17 +0000 Jaime Tardy 1126855 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Budgeting for the Present and Future http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-budgeting-for-the-present-and-future <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-budgeting-for-the-present-and-future" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-1834866-small.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some stellar articles on budgeting for the present and future, buying life insurance, and financial considerations before you become your own boss.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2013/10/14/budgeting-for-the-present-and-future/">Budgeting for the present and future</a> &mdash; To develop a budget that will guide you into the future, hold yourself accountable to staying on budget. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://ptmoney.com/buy-life-insurance/">How to Buy Life Insurance in 7 Easy Steps</a> &mdash; The first step in buying life insurance is to research the type and amount of life insurance to buy. [PT Money]</p> <p><a href="http://freefrombroke.com/financial-considerations-before-you-quit-your-job-to-be-your-own-boss/">5 Financial Considerations Before You Quit Your Job to Be Your Own Boss</a> &mdash; Before you quit your job to be your own boss, take into consideration your retirement plan. [Free From Broke]</p> <p><a href="http://www.hullfinancialplanning.com/6-reasons-i-sold-my-car-at-carmax/">6 Reasons I Sold My Car at CarMax</a> &mdash; It may be a good idea to sell your car at a company like CarMax so that you don&#39;t spend a ton of time on your own trying to sell your car. You may lose out on some money, but time is money! [Hull Financial Planning]</p> <p><a href="http://www.investinganswers.com/investment-ideas/options-derivatives/5-secrets-every-successful-options-trader-knows-6833">5 Secrets Every Successful Options Trader Knows</a> &mdash; Every successful options trader knows to protect themselves by hedging. [InvestingAnswers]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/DIY-Microwave-Container-Covers-32106356">DIY Microwave Container Covers</a> &mdash; Did you know you can make your own microwave container covers using fabric, tupperware, pencils, string, scissors, and a needle? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://tightfistedmiser.com/2013/10/14/my-experience-getting-insurance-from-healthcare-gov/">My Experience Getting Insurance from Healthcare.gov</a> &mdash; Have you been able to successfully use the healthcare.gov website or see how much insurance would cost for you? [Tight Fisted Miser]</p> <p><a href="http://shopmyclosetproject.com/cash-money-dollar-dollar-bills/">Cash money, dollar, dollar bills</a> &mdash; To save $2,000, consider picking up a side-hustle or cutting down on eating out. [The Shop My Closet Project]</p> <p><a href="http://www.momsplans.com/2013/10/kids-america-get-much-crappy-food-lets-cut-junk-food-change-idea-treats/">Why Do Kids in America Get So Much Crappy Food? Let&#39;s Cut the Junk Food and Change Our Idea of Treats</a> &mdash; Would you rather your child eat cookies or orange slices after a sports game? [Mom&#39;s Plans]</p> <p><a href="http://artofbeingcheap.com/recipe-cost-calculator/">Recipe Cost Calculator</a> &mdash; Ever wanted to know how much a certain recipe costs per serving? Check out this calculator! [Art of Being Cheap]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-budgeting-for-the-present-and-future" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Budgeting for the Present and Future" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance best money tips budgeting future present Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1022981 at http://www.wisebread.com