Spring Cleaning for Your Budget: 9 Strategies for Organizing Your Finances

I want to like spring cleaning. I go nuts for the New Year and Lent, because I’m all about self-improvement. Similarly, spring cleaning is a time to reorganize and start over in many areas.

But I despise it. I hate any cleaning, really. Folding laundry is about the only thing I do that qualifies as housework.

Lately, however, I’ve been seeing posts about “financial spring cleaning.” Applying spring cleaning to money? This idea is perfect for me! I can work toward self-betterment without having to pick up a sponge.

How to Spring Clean Your Finances and Organize Your Personal Budget

Here are a few ways you can scrub the dirt off your finances this spring.

By the way, you don’t have to take on all nine of these goals. Actually, please don’t! When I read lists like this one, my perfectionism kicks in and I get overwhelmed by how many changes I think I should make.

Just choose one way to clean your financial home this spring. Maybe two ways, if you’re feeling adventurous. Remember, your goal is progress, not perfection.

Start with one small, measurable goal. The sense of empowerment you will experience from being successful in that area can give you the confidence to take on the next small challenge.

1. Reevaluate Your New Year’s Resolutions

Maybe you set financial New Year’s resolutions for 2019. But considering the success rate for resolutions (how’s that exercise program going?), there’s a good chance you’ve let at least one of those goals fall by the wayside.

Resist the urge to see yourself as weak; instead, consider yourself older and wiser. Spring is the perfect time to modify resolutions that weren’t realistic.

So you didn’t make any resolutions? That’s OK. Peruse the rest of the ideas on this list and choose one or two personal spring cleaning goals that feel manageable.

2. Start an Emergency Fund

It’s a common opinion that people should have at least three months’ expenses in savings at any given time. Then if you lose your job or your car breaks down, your life doesn’t suddenly fall apart.

Guess how much money I have in my emergency fund? A whopping $ 0. Yeah, starting an emergency fund has earned its place at the top of my spring cleaning list.

To start your emergency fund, calculate your expenses for one month. Consider the cost of rent, utilities, transportation, insurance and debt. Don’t forget sneaky expenses such as personal hygiene products.

Then multiply that number by three. That’s how much money you should aim to have in your emergency fund.

Where should you open an account? The key is that you want your money to be accessible in case of an emergency, but not so accessible that you’re tempted to withdraw it when you want to go on a weekend trip with your friends.

I recommend opening a separate savings account with your bank or a money market account. Money market accounts typically require a higher minimum balance, but the interest rate can be higher — which means more money for you!

3. Keep Track of Your Debts

For six months, I was aware that I had debts to repay. I knew that I owed my in-laws money, that my husband had some vague amount to repay on his student loans, and that I had a little credit card debt (although precisely how much was on each of my three cards was a bit fuzzy).

I finally took 30 minutes to create a spreadsheet in Excel listing all our debts, including the grand total. I update that document every Monday.

Seeing everything in print gives me a better idea of where we are financially. And every time that grand total gets smaller, I do a little dance in my chair!

Looking at those numbers every Monday, especially the total, gives me the momentum to keep chipping away at our debt.

4. Sort Out Your Credit Cards

Everyone’s credit card situation is different.

If you have eight credit cards and little willpower, consider canceling a few of those cards. (But first, check how canceling your credit card could affect your credit score. Canceling isn’t always the best idea.)

If you have a low credit score but high willpower, maybe you should get a card and use it responsibly to establish good credit.

I (incorrectly) held the belief that credit cards were pure evil for years. But some credit cards pay you for signing up, hook you up with travel points, or give you extended warranties on certain purchases.

Do your research and find out how you can make credit cards work for you rather than against you. I recently paid off the last of my credit cards that carried a balance. Yay, me! Now I’m trying to decide on my next step.

5. Act to Improve Your Credit

First of all, if you don’t already know your credit score, get a free credit report. If you don’t like what you see, don’t freak out; there are plenty of ways to boost that number!

Simply paying off your debts and paying your bills on time can improve your score. If you’re not sure what’s keeping your credit score so low, check out Credit Sesame. The free site lays out exactly what factors are affecting your credit score and offers advice on how to change them.

A few years ago, I had good credit, but I wanted excellent credit. So I set up a loan with my bank. They gave me $ 2,000 to pay back over two years. I immediately put that money in a separate account, set up automatic withdrawals and never had to worry about it. (Except when I had to take out money a couple times for emergencies. See why I’m motivated to set up an emergency fund?)

That was the easiest way I could have imagined to improve my credit score. I got it all set up in just one trip to the bank and ended up raising my credit score to 787.

6. Set Short Term Goals for Your Side Hustle

Whether you’re a freelance writer, Uber driver or Etsy shop owner, it’s always good to set clear objectives.

Setting concrete goals has helped me understand my long-term vision for my freelance writing side gig. I created a list of aims, and that document acts as a source of accountability. I look at that list whenever I decide whether to take on a new project.

I ask myself, “Is this decision in line with my goals? Is it helping me move toward my long-term vision?” Setting goals has motivated me to take action.

I now have a couple of steady gigs, so I’ve started setting monthly and weekly financial goals, as well.  With fewer surprises, I can plan for how much of this extra money I want to channel toward paying off my debts.

7. Contribute More to Your Retirement Account

If you’re contributing anything to your retirement account, high five!

But if the very thought of doing financial spring cleaning depresses you, make your “one thing” to bump up your 401(k) or IRA contributions a tad. If you currently contribute 4% of your income, try bumping it up to 5% or 6%. Chances are, your wallet won’t feel the difference. If you find out your budget can’t handle the financial strain, you can decrease your contribution later.

Increasing your contribution by such a small amount may not seem worth it. But don’t forget the power of compound interest!

If you haven’t opened a retirement account yet and don’t know what all these letters mean, don’t panic. Read this simple explanation of a 401(k) and IRA. It’s never too late to start. My mom is kicking herself for putting off contributing to a 401(k) until 10 years ago, but hey, at least she started!

8. Begin Investing

Making your first investment is daunting. Especially if you’re like me and know nothing about the subject.

I urge you to take that leap, though. When you invest, your money makes you more money. There are several ways to take your first step.

My husband and I chose to pass the torch to our financial advisor. We set up automatic withdrawals with his company to put money into our IRAs. Since we are still in the early stages of saving for retirement, once we hit a certain balance in those accounts, our advisor will start making investments from our IRA nest eggs to help the accounts grow. We won’t have to worry at all.

If you don’t want to pay an advisor, ask a family member or friend who understands investing to take you under their wing and explain their strategy.

You can also use apps to get started. We checked them and found the best apps to help you start investing here.

9. Consider Your Insurance Needs

My brother’s apartment burned down at 32 years old, and he lost almost everything. Believe it or not, the exact same thing happened when he was 20! (Neither fire was his fault, by the way.)

While upsetting, the second fire was far less financially devastating because he had renter’s insurance. The insurance company paid for food and a hotel while he looked for a new place to live and gave him $ 10,000 to replace items lost in the fire.

We like to think we don’t need insurance. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it. But if you don’t have renter’s, homeowner’s, life or catastrophic insurance (for those of you whose employers don’t offer medical insurance)… seriously look into it.

Of course, not everyone needs all these types of insurance! Carefully review your needs to see which ones you should consider, and which aren’t necessary for you.

Don’t freak out if you haven’t already accomplished all nine of these tasks. That’s what spring cleaning is for! Focus on one thing this season, whether it’s purchasing renter’s insurance or bumping up your credit score. Happy spring!

Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer who is always looking for ways to save money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

Got Active Kids? Here Are 9 Simple Ways to Stretch the Family Budget

You’ve weathered the baby-rearing years. Congratulations! Now you can sit back and enjoy having your kids in school.

Oh, but now there are hobbies: band, dance class and sports. Don’t forget field trips.

By the time you’ve paid for that clarinet and lessons, dance shoes and costumes, cleats and knee pads, your family budget is shot.

Raising kids is expensive. But there are things you can do to help the rest of the family budget survive as your little progeny showcases all of their talents.

1. Do Fun Stuff for Less

OK, the kids are in school, and that’s expensive. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around on the weekends watching the grass grow. Get out there, and do some fun stuff!

Just don’t pay full price for it.

If you haven’t embraced deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial yet, it’s time to take a look. You can find a lot of sweet deals on local activities, attractions and restaurants with very little effort. It’s a simple way to save money but still get out of the house.

2. Don’t Pay Just to Access Your Own Money

With all the sporting events and other travel you do with the kids, chances are you’ll need to stop and get a little cash every so often.

The average total cost of taking cash from an out-of-network ATM is $ 4.68, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

Want to avoid those fees? There’s an easier way than driving around town to get to an in-network ATM. You can simply keep your money in an account that doesn’t charge those fees — like the Aspiration account.

With Aspiration, you’ll face no ATM fees — domestic or international. ATMs in-network are free, and Aspiration will reimburse you the fees for out-of-network ATMs monthly.

Other perks? You’ll never pay a monthly maintenance fee, a minimum balance fee or an overdraft fee. Oh, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY interest on your account’s balance.

Yup. It’s that simple to start living a fee-free* life thanks to Aspiration. That’s a big win for a family on the go.

3. Missed a Good Deal? Get Paid Back

If you’re like most parents, you don’t have a lot of time to run to the mall. You probably do a lot of your shopping online. That’s cool. Now you don’t have to worry about the “what ifs” of sales that start tomorrow or next week. Get the tool that hunts for those deals for you.

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

4. Make Sure You’re Not Overpaying for Car Insurance

 family on a road trip in car

All of the driving you do to get your kids to soccer or the science fair adds up. It also means you’re probably not getting that low-mileage discount from your car insurance company. Are you spending too much on your car insurance? When was the last time you checked?

Just like you compare the prices of flights, shoes and laptops before purchasing, why not compare car insurance?

The Zebra, an online car insurance search engine that offers “insurance in black and white,” compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds.

We talked to Artie Januario, who found new insurance through The Zebra and managed to knock off $ 30 a month — or $ 360 a year — from his premium.

With the money you save, you could get something nice for yourself. Ha! Just kidding… You will, however, have a little more available to budget for the kids’ next great adventure.

5. Feed the Fam for Less

The refrigerator never stays full for long when you have kids. Make those frequent trips to the grocery store a little less painful by earning cash back.

That’s right: Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works:  Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

  • 25 cents back for any item.
  • 25 cents back on strawberries.
  • 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks.

Notice those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!

6. Get Paid to Dress the Kids for Success

Mother and daughter picking out clothes in bedroom

When your kids are in school, they grow — and fast. That super-cute outfit you bought last fall? Useless now. You need new clothes for them. Again.

One of our favorite ways to save is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you up to 10% cash back on online purchases at Walmart.

Plus, you’ll get a free $ 10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

To earn your gift card:

  1. Sign up for Ebates with your email or Facebook account.
  2. Use the Ebates portal the next time you need to buy something. It’s connected to thousands of stores, including Walmart, Amazon and Target. You’ll need to make your first purchase through the site within 90 days and spend at least $ 25.
  3. Your account will be credited with rewards points you can cash in for your $ 10 Walmart gift card.

It’s easy savings for clothes you know you have to buy because they’ve already outgrown last month’s styles.

7. Sell off Stuff They Don’t Need Anymore

From toys to clothes to bedroom decor, your kids accumulate stuff fast, don’t they?

Don’t just hang on to that stuff and let it fill up your basement or garage. Sell it, so you have a little extra money (and room) to buy the new stuff.

You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.

Come on, you know your kids are going to want new stuff, and your home can only hold so much!

8. Pay Less to Get There. And There. And There.

Mother getting children (6-10) to soccer practice

Having kids means you have to run to a lot of activities. From sporting events to band practice and any number of other things, you may feel like you live in your car.

And that car needs gas. No, not the stinky kind. If you have boys, you’re probably all set there. We mean gasoline, and that can get expensive. You need to save at the pump.

Get a discount card from GasBuddy to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).

The free discount card is tied directly to your checking account. It works at 95% of gas stations throughout the country, so you don’t have to drive around town just to find “your” station. Plus, you don’t have to wait for a rebate — it’s immediate savings.

Simply and securely sign up through GasBuddy. Connect your bank account, enter your address, and GasBuddy will put a card in the mail.

9. Keep Saving Even Though You’re Busy

Saving money is tough. Saving money when you have kids in school can seem impossible. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?

Digit makes that possible.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1.00% bonus every three months.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, Penny Hoarder Matt Wiley told us he saved $ 4,300 without noticing.

If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward. That’s a small price to pay to keep your family saving during the crazy days of school.

Take Your Mind off Money and Focus on Fun

Father And Daughter Playing Basketball On Driveway At Home

Hey, your kids are only this age once. Enjoy it!

Having school-aged kids can be financially taxing, but you can relieve some of that stress by following these tips and taking some of the pressure off. You don’t want to spend all of your time dwelling on the family budget. You want to teach your baby girl to hit her free throws and your little guy how to play that guitar.

Remember, it might be hard, but it’s OK to say no to your kids on occasion, too. They don’t have to be in every extracurricular activity out there. Learning how to limit their activities and wants can save you a lot of money and a little bit of stress, as well.

Oh, and don’t forget to get a Groupon or Livingsocial deal for a nice, relaxing date night for yourself. You deserve it.

*Aspiration Partners, Inc. and its affiliates are committed to “All Extra Services Provided at Cost,” meaning that it’ll only charge you what it costs them to provide the extra service (such as a wire transfer), and not a penny more. Besides these at-cost service charges, the only account fee you pay is the fee you choose, even if it’s $ 0, which is why it’s called Pay What Is Fair.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He is bracing for the day that his twin babies start school and all of the fun that goes with it. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

The best cities for budget travel in 2019

ADVERTISEMENT


You don’t have to have the budget of a Kardashian to have some epic travel adventures in 2019. In fact, the best thing about budget travel is that you can use the money you save for a duty-free shopping spree at the airport – or even more travel! Just because you’re on a budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the world. Here are the best cities for budget travel in 2019.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos is often overlooked in favor of Thailand and Vietnam, and as such, it is a lot cheaper or those who do visit it. If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, you are going to love the vast range of activities, from zip-lining and kayaking, to climbing and hot air ballooning. Although these are all activities offered in other places, you will find that the cost to enjoy them in Laos is a whole lot lower, with smaller crowds.

Budapest, Hungary

While everyone else is flocking to Rome or Paris and paying over inflated prices, make sure you head to Budapest, where you can get your fill of delicious food, culture, history, and amazing experiences for a fraction of the cost. A top tip for saving money on your budget trip in Budapest is to remember that the further away you are from the river, the cheaper things are going to be!

Medellín, Colombia

Colombia has such a mix of environments, from valleys to beaches, and jungles to mountain ranges, that you really get your money’s worth when you choose to visit. It really does feel as though you are passing through several counties at once. The food is cheap yet delicious, museums are cheap, if not free, and public transport is also a reasonable price; allowing you to have a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank.

Transylvania, Romania

If you have a love for all things gothic or medieval, a visit to Romania should be high on your list, and you will be pleased to know that it’s not too pricey either! Explore the forests (but be on the lookout for bears and wolves), visit historical castles, and step back in time in the medieval towns. Train travel is a cheap way to get around, and the daily menu in most restaurants will only set you back around $ 5.

Berlin, Germany

One of the biggest draws of this city are the many outdoor attractions and green spaces which are open for free access to the public. There are plenty of museums and galleries to enjoy, and be sure to experience the nightlife too! Berlin is ranked as one of the more affordable cities in Europe but has plenty to offer for its low price tag.

So if you are on a tight budget this year, you don’t have to forgo a vacation entirely. Instead, just choose one of these fantastic budget destinations and really make the most of every cent! After all, ‘budget’ doesn’t need to mean boring.

ADVERTISEMENT

The post The best cities for budget travel in 2019 appeared first on Worldation.

Worldation

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

9 Smart (and Simple) Ways to Stretch Your Budget When You’re a Single Parent

As far as I’m concerned, all you single parents are heroes without capes.

Well, you’ll swoosh on a cape when your kids want to play dress-up. But that’s beside the point. Single parents have to juggle work, kids and life. That’s no easy feat — especially on the wallet.

That’s why we put together these simple tips to help you better manage your money.

1. Involve Kids in Financial Decisions

Your kid sees their classmates taking piano, tennis, dance and karate lessons. But you might not be able to afford all of that.

Instead of feeling guilty — or worse, caving and overspending — have an open conversation with your child.

“Classically, parents will go behind a closed door to talk about saving, budgeting and investing,” says Maggie Johndrow, a financial adviser at Johndrow Wealth Management. “But psychologists have found that will make your children think finances are scary, taboo and something that’s not to be talked about in the open.”

Instead, Johndrow encourages parents lay it all out there. Let your child know your budget for after-school activities, then work together to pick and choose what you can afford.

“Empower them and teach them by giving them that choice,” she says.

2. Analyze Your Needs vs. Wants

Mother and daughter on computer

An integral part of managing your money is budgeting. Ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and understand where you can cut back.

You don’t have to rely on complicated Excel-spreadsheet formulas or spend hours categorizing your expenses to stick to a budget. Instead, use an app.

An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim, a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions.

Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.

Best part? It’s free to sign up.

3. Pay Yourself First

Hey, you! Yeah, you! You’re important. Don’t forget to prioritize your needs — like your savings. Whether you’re starting an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a home or planning a weekend getaway for you and the kids, why not make the process easy?

One of our favorite strategies? Set up automatic withdrawals from your paycheck, so you’ll squirrel money away without thinking about it.

One of our favorite accounts for this is Aspiration — you’ll pay no monthly fees, and you’ll earn up to 2.00% APY on your savings.

You’ll get access to an online-only account for spending and for saving. It comes with a debit card that earns 0.5% cash back on all your purchases, plus free ATMs, so you can easily access your money when you need it.

After you open your Aspiration account, use it to split your income:

  • Automatically deposit a portion of your income into your spending account, and use that to cover basic expenses.
  • Deposit what’s left into your Aspiration savings to keep it out of sight and let it grow. You’ll earn 2.00% APY as long you deposit just $ 1 a month.

Even if you’re slipping $ 10 into your emergency fund each month, that’s OK. Do what you can to take advantage of the compound interest.

4. Take Care of Your Debt

Mom multitasking

“I often find that people are struggling because of debt, so if you can come up with a debt repayment strategy and eliminate your debt, the other things all of a sudden become a lot easier,” Johndrow says.

Her top recommendation? Refinance. Refinancing can lower your interest rates and, therefore, lower your monthly payments.

You can basically refinance any type of debt, but here are a couple of examples:

  • Refinance your credit card debt: Credit card interest is no joke. Refinancing your debt with a personal loan could help you save a ton. If your credit score is at least 620, a good resource is Fiona, a search engine that can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs. You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
  • Refinance your auto loan: It’s normally a pain to re-title your vehicle at your local DMV office, but a company called MotoRefi will do all the heavy lifting for you — and could cut your monthly car payment by $ 100 or more.

In addition to refinancing for better interest rates, Johndrow suggests extending the term of your loan if your budget is tight. “This might mean paying more in interest over time, but it might free up some monthly cash flow, which can help with your budgeting,” she says.

It gives you some breathing room.

5. Find Sneaky Ways to Save on Your Necessities

Finding ways to save on your needs feels harder than finding ways to save on your wants — but it’s possible.

Here are a few examples that’ll get you going in the right direction:

  • Save on groceries with a cash-back app. There’s no way around groceries, but you can earn some money back with Ibotta. The app is free to download, and you’ll get a $ 10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
  • Save money by negotiating your bills. Don’t have time to call? Download Truebill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, Truebill says it helps customers save more than $ 700 a year.
  • Save money on your car insurance. One way you could save money is by shopping around and comparing rates. Use an online car insurance search engine like The Zebra, which offers “insurance in black and white” and compares your options from 204 providers in less than 60 seconds

6. Manage Life’s Risks

Father dancing with daughter

You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so it’s important to be realistic.

“God forbid something happens to you, and you’re all your kid has,” Johndrow says. “Life insurance leaves them with enough to still hopefully attend college and achieve their goals.”

If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without the medical exam, pushy sales calls or even getting up from the couch, check out Bestow. The company is built around one concept: helping you get the term life insurance policy you want, simply and fast.

It just takes five minutes to answer some basic lifestyle questions, and you can get quotes for up to $ 1 million in coverage without a medical exam. If you’re approved, you can personalize your coverage to fit your budget. You can change or cancel your plan at any time.

Johndrow also urges parents to look into disability insurance, in case you can’t work and need to supplement your income; and long-term care insurance, in case you need health care not covered by your health insurance.

7. Find Creative Ways to Diversify Your Income

We know you don’t have a lot of extra time, but if you’re looking for a way to make some extra money to cushion your budget, try something creative.

For example, have you ever thought about renting out your baby gear? Yeah, the stuff you have sitting around the house that your kids don’t need anymore.

Online marketplaces like BabyQuip allow parents to rent out strollers, car seats, cribs and other baby items to traveling parents. (Because checking a crib on a flight is near impossible.)

Stay-at-home mom Manuela Madrid rents her baby gear out. She works, on average, 12 hours a month and earns between $ 120 to $ 180 with each rental.

8. Don’t Sleep on Your Retirement Savings

Dad telling bed time stories

Although retirement might seem like a faraway fantasy, it’s going to pop up sooner than you think.

If you haven’t yet started, open a company-matched 401(k) or your own traditional or Roth IRA. Even if you only put $ 5 in each week, that’s something — and you’re still taking advantage of that compound interest.

Having trouble prioritizing your savings? Johndrow urges you to think of it like this: “You can take out a loan for almost anything in life, but you cannot take out a loan for your retirement.”

So if you can’t put away money for your kids’ college fund? They’ll be OK. They can take out student loans like everyone else. But you can’t take out a loan to cover your living expenses once you retire.

“You want the best for your children, and the last thing you want to do is ask them to care for you when they’re trying to care for themselves and the next generation,” Johndrow says.

9. Make a Date With Your Money

At the end of each month, put the kids to bed, and pour yourself a glass of wine. If you prefer: Once they’re out the door to school, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and cozy in.

Then, take some time to look at your monthly income and spending and see how you’re doing. See how the last month went — which areas you excelled in and where you might’ve gone over budget. Then, take a look at the month ahead and note any additional upcoming expenses.

Even taking 15 minutes to check in with yourself can help you stay on budget.

Carson Kohler (carson@thepennyhoarder.com) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

HHS Secretary Azar defends Trump budget cuts to Medicaid, NIH programs

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar takes heat on Capitol Hill over some of the Trump administration's proposed cuts in health care.
Health and Science

U.S.HEALTHCARE UPDATE:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Warning signs for Trump loom as he unveils budget

Early warning signs are flashing for President Donald Trump on some of his core arguments on immigration, the economy and North Korea that are central to his 2020 re-election message.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Trump’s budget will project 3% GDP growth over the next few years – defying consensus forecasts

The forecasts will show GDP reaching 3.2 percent this year compared to last year and 3.1 percent in 2020, according to a copy of the projections obtained by CNBC. Growth will then level off at 3 percent through 2024, according to the projections.
Politics

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Save 50% Today! Get 24/7 Access to Your Credit Scores & Reports with TransUnion

Trump invites a new fight with Democrats over 2020 budget

The Trump administration is headed for a budget clash with Congress, with calls for deep domestic spending cuts that lawmakers are likely to ignore as the nation’s debt reaches record levels.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Trump budget to propose slashing domestic spending, boosting defense

The House Democratic majority intends to ignore the president’s proposals, but they lay out the White House vision ahead of spending fights later this year.
Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Cuomo’s bid to balance budget leaves big trouble ahead

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent most of the past two weeks pointing fingers: first at President Trump, whose tax law he blames for a sudden decline in New York’s revenues, and then at state Senate Democrats, whom he holds responsible for the Amazon fiasco. But the blame game will carry Cuomo only so far. In…
Opinion | New York Post

SPECIAL SHOE DISCOUNT:

Everyday Savings: Up to 40% Off on over 2,000 Styles at DSW! Shop Now!

Behind the scenes: How four veteran lawmakers saved the budget deal and avoided a second shutdown

Richard Shelby needed a drink. As the top Republican negotiator in Congress, the powerful Appropriations Committee chairman had spent the past few days hammering out the contours of a bipartisan spending bill to avert a second government shutdown.


CNN.com – RSS Channel – Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

On a Budget for Valentine’s Day? This Fun Date Idea Only Costs a Penny

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, which means it’s almost time to blow an entire paycheck on a dozen long-stem roses, a six-foot-tall teddy bear and a rare, perfectly aged bottle of Champagne.

And don’t forget to make a reservation for that fancy restaurant that’s only serving an overpriced “tasting menu” on that particular night!

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to spring for a couple’s massage, too, right?

Wait, did someone mention a box of chocolates?

Well, the good news is you can forgo the romantic candles — at this point, your empty wallet is useless and you can just set fire to it and let the soft, warm glow of broke-ness wash over you and your date.

Romance, amiright?

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

A Valentine’s Day Date Idea That Only Costs a Penny

In fact, if you’re in it for the long haul, finances can be a pretty touchy subject, and the last thing you need is to add another pricy line-item to your budget this month.

Luckily, there’s a way to take your sweetheart on a fun and interesting date — the likes of which they’ve probably never been on before — that won’t cost you more than, say, a penny.

(Which just so happens to be our favorite coin!)

The Penny Date Rules

Here’s how it works:

First, find a penny. If you don’t have a penny handy, it’s just a matter of yanking the cushions off the couch, checking the cupholder of your car or sneaking one out of your kid’s piggy bank while they’re at school.

Next, roll a 30-sided die. Alternatively, have your date pick a number (without telling them what it’s for) or use an online random number generator. This number is the number of turns you’ll take throughout your date.

Hop in the car or, if you’re walking, pick a corner to start on.

To start the adventure, have your date flip the penny. If it lands heads up, turn right. If it lands tails up, turn left.

Start walking or driving in whichever direction the penny instructs. Stop and flip again each time you reach a stop sign, stop light or intersection.

Continue flipping the penny, turning left or right at each juncture, until you’ve reached the number you set at the beginning of the night.

Once you reach that number, stop the car (or, uh, your legs).

Wherever you are, that’s where your date will take place.

If you look up to find a park with a lovely, lit gazebo, good for you!

If all you happen to see before you is a gas station, all I can say is I wish you the best of luck throwing a romantic spin on that one. Yikes.

But it’s all part of the adventure, right?

No, really. The fun of the penny date is in the mystery, the confusion and the downright ridiculousness of your time together. It’s a way to do something different, something that you wouldn’t have done ordinarily, and to have fun doing it.

Either way, it’s sure to be a memorable date, right?

A Few Notes to Help You Create the Perfect Penny Date

To keep costs low, pack a picnic meal to bring with you. That way, wherever you end up, you’ll have dinner ready to go. (This is especially important if you’re going on this date on Valentine’s Day, because most places will be booked solid. You won’t be able to randomly show up at a restaurant and expect to get a table.)

You don’t have to be in a metropolitan area to make this date work, but you’ll want to adjust your number of turns based on your location. Thirty turns won’t take very long on city streets, but if you’re driving long back roads, 30 turns could take forever.

Even if there’s a stop sign or traffic light, don’t turn into a parking lot or street with no outlet. Just move along to the next intersection and flip the penny there.

Keep your adventurous spirit open to the experience. Chances are, you’re going to end up somewhere less than romantic (or maybe even downright weird), but it’s all part of the fun of a date night left totally up to chance.

More often than not, a penny date offers up a little nonsense, a lot of laughter and a couple of really great stories.

Besides, like any good relationship, a penny date is about the journey — not the destination.

Right? (No, left.)

Grace Schweizer is the email content writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

Never Tired: Fatigue Pants For Every Budget

The triumvirate of classic men’s casual pants? Blue jeans, khakis, and fatigue pants. They rule over all others. The renewability and adaptability of these styles keeps them relevant year after year after year, whether “classic style” is the prevailing style for men or not. Since before Cady Heron wore Army pants with flip flops (in 2004 (!)), olive drab, military-derived pants have been cool (with someone, somewhere) for decades.

How people choose to wear fatigues changes, of course. The current taste for them likely has something to do with nostalgia for the 1990s, when baggier shapes were the standard for men and women. Slim shirts for women and shoe-swallowing hems for all. The return has been considered a welcome break from over a decade of close-to-the-body cuts, but for men, at least, looser fatigues have always been there.

There have been piles of olive drab milsurp pants in thrift and vintage stores for as long as I can remember (fewer in real thrift stores in the last decade), designer versions since at least Maharishi in the 1990s, and today you can take your pick from surplus, to mall retail, to high end repro, to more conceptual takes. The models vary a lot: “fatigues” refer most often to the military’s work uniform from the 1950s until the late 1980s. It’s often referred to as OG 107, which refers to the color of the cloth (olive drab cotton sateen). The olive color is most often associated with the Army, but it was the work uniform across the U.S. armed forces.

The trouser design is nearly as basic as possible, although some details vary across production lots and contractors: straight (or slightly tapered appearing roughly straight) leg, button closure and fly, belt loops, button adjusters at the sides of the waist, and front and back pockets sewn as patches outside the pants. Also called utility or field pants, these pants do not have cargo pockets, articulating seams at the knees, or drawstring hems, hallmarks of the later tropical combat uniform.

We recommend fatigues all the time as a solid alternative to denim — comfortable, versatile, and without the business casual associations of plain khakis. The way I wear them I owe mostly to the styling of Daiki Suzuki and Engineered Garments, who in the late 2000s showed men that fatigues didn’t have to be sloppy. Nepenthes’ honcho Keizo Shimizu has credited Suzuki with bringing fatigues to the Japanese market in the 1980s at their Tokyo shop, Redwood.

A lot of people considered Engineered Garments’ fatigues to be the current standard; the brand makes a pair nearly every season, although the fabric and silhouette can vary. They’re great. They’re also north of $ 200 retail, which is beyond a lot of budgets. There are a good number of options out there.

$ 50-$ 100: Vintage, Earl’s Apparel/Stan Ray

Fortunately, it’s pretty cheap to give fatigues a shot. Vintage fatigues are everywhere. Many surplus stores will have them. They’re plentiful on ebay and Etsy. Some men’s contemporary retail stores have been carrying vintage pairs as well. While design and condition can vary, they’re really easier to buy, in my opinion, than vintage denim, as there’s fewer “special” features to look out for. There’s no redline selvage to look for, no hidden rivets.

There are several different makes — from the 1950s until the 1970s, the pants were made with 100% cotton sateen fabric. Then a more colorfast cotton/poly blend was introduced. It’s not worse, just different. Older models have slightly fancier buttons, with a lip on the edge; newer are flatter. When buying vintage, you just have to keep an eye on measurements — some are sized S/M/L; later models are sized by inches, so 32/34 being 32 waist, 34 inseam. Many if not most of the trousers were also altered by the owners, so measurements on worn trousers may not match the expectations given the size. Consider especially that pants were intended to be worn “bloused” — that is, tucked into boots.

A popular option for new utilities is Earl’s Apparel, the Texas company that makes camp pants under Stan Ray and Gung Ho brands. These trousers have a good rep; they’re basic and well made. Right now they’re a little hard to find in the United States — you’re more likely to see them in the UK under the Stan Ray name or in Japan labeled Gung Ho. I spoke with Jeanne Beard at Earl’s and she said she expects their “camp pants” to be more visible in the near future, although the company does not have a retail operation. In the United States, you can buy their slim fits at Snake Oil Provisions for $ 75, which is a good value. They also have a fuller, classic fit that’s currently sold out in many locations–Independence still has a couple of pairs.

Topo Designs also makes a slim fatigue pant in this price range; J. Crew’s Wallace and Barnes had a slubby cotton olive drab version this fall (they’re the ones in my photos in this post) that has sold out–you can still find them on eBay.

$ 100-$ 200: Contemporary Cuts

For some reason, my survey of the market didn’t find a lot in this range, which is a comfort zone for a lot of guys — more than basic but not a major commitment. A couple of UK-based brands have slightly upscale versions of the OG 107 pants. Albam has made a herringbone version in a modern, tapered cut, and Universal Works has a smooth-finish twill pair with side adjusters.

$ 200+: Special Fabrics and Designer Takes

At this range, you have essentially two paths: painstaking recreations of original pants, or creative riffs on fatigues. Real McCoy’s has made maybe the ideal reproduction, although availability is sparse and the price is dear. Orslow makes a slubby, sturdy cotton version that looks a lot like military issue, just new and $ 250. Monitaly has made a pair in their Vancloth fabric for a couple of seasons–baggier and tapered. Engineered Garments generally releases an olive drab version every year–sometimes in rip stop, sometimes in cotton blend, sometimes in their heavy “double cloth” — the cut can vary season to season. Their line of perennials, Workaday, usually has a sateen pair in stock in a full cut. Needles makes a wild baggy tapered style that is pretty daring and only loosely linked to the original design.

The post Never Tired: Fatigue Pants For Every Budget appeared first on Put This On.

Put This On

FASHION UPDATE:

Short-term budget deal comes just in time for biotech firms

Initial public offerings and drug approvals had been held up by the partial government shutdown.
Health and Science

U.S.HEALTHCARE UPDATE:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

4 Common Obstacles to Making a Useful Budget — and How You Can Beat Them

Like New Year’s resolutions and fad diets, budgets seem destined for failure.

How are you supposed to allocate every dollar of every paycheck without hiccups or unexpected expenses? Can you stick to a budget and still have fun?

There’s one thing that so many budget experts skip mentioning: There’s not a single perfect budget template to rule them all. Every person’s financial situation is different, so there can be many correct budgets.

Now that you’ve had that pep talk, you need to find the budget that works for you. It’s not just about choosing between apps and paper and pencil. It’s about cultivating a habit that supports your financial goals.

But it’s hard to get to the healthy-habit philosophy if you’re stuck trying to figure out what’s coming in and out of your bank account each month or how to plan for your wacky billing schedules.

We’ve got answers for that. Read on for some basics and advice for tackling four major budgeting obstacles you’ve probably already encountered.

How to Find the Right Budgeting Method for You

Your biggest budgeting problem may not have anything to do with your income, spending habits or savings goals; rather, it’s that you haven’t found the right budgeting method for you.

With so many online templates, apps and blogger-designed financial planning tools, the search for the perfect budgeting method for your needs can take longer than you hoped. Here’s how to brace yourself for the inevitable trial-and-error process.

Start With Info You Already Have

Start your budget with what you already have: bank statements

Whether you’re downloading the app your friend recommended or trying to pick the perfect notebook to track your budget by hand, you can take a few steps to increase your chances of budgeting success.

“Before you actually sit down to make a budget, print out the last two or three months of statements from your credit and debit cards,” Bridget Todd, COO of The Financial Gym, says. “Go through and categorize everything.”

You can export your statements to a spreadsheet or use highlighters on printed statements. Doing this helps you see patterns in your spending in the categories that fit your life — not just the categories your old copy of “Budgeting for Dummies” suggests.

“So many people track spending but don’t use that information,” Todd says. “What are you spending money on now? Where is there room for improvement?”

Let It Percolate and Adjust as Needed

Lillian Karabaic, CEO of Oh My Dollar!, likes to remind her clients that the first month you set up your budget, you’ll forget about things.

“That’s OK. You’re just getting better information” each month as you remember expenses, she says. “The third month is the point at which, if you’re still doing it, you start to feel like you’re in charge of the budget.”

Key words there: If you’re still doing it.

You’re likely to fall off your budget in one of these two ways: You set restrictions for yourself but fail to meet them, or you forget to keep up with your budgeting method and give up.

“Budgets can be flexible,” Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance, says. “Give yourself space to adjust as needed. Pick it up and use it whenever you remember.”

You only really need the parts of a budget method that serve you and your plans for the future. Todd doesn’t like to think of a budget as a money diet, but rather as a place for goal setting.

If she’s working with you on your budget, she says, “You’re going to save every month, then pay your fixed expenses, and then I don’t care what you spend your money on — as long as you meet your savings goals.”

Feeling motivated to set up your first budget or revive your abandoned one? Get ready to face these money issues that can trip up even the most confident budgeters.

How to Overcome 4 Common Budgeting Obstacles

These four budgeting obstacles can trip up even the most determined budgeter.

1. Weird Pay Schedules

Weird Payday Schedules can conflict with your budget

Monthly, twice monthly, biweekly — all you really want to know is when you get your money and how long it’s going to last.

Getting paid biweekly can throw off your budget when you come across a three-paycheck month. “That magical third paycheck usually means that something is going to be wonky elsewhere,” Rapley says. “It means you might not get paid until the middle of the month the following month.”

Todd suggests pretending you get only 24 paychecks so the occasional bonus paycheck doesn’t throw you off. She advises her clients to “identify the month the third paycheck hits and try to save that entire paycheck or devote it to paying down debt.”

If you have extra money in your checking account, that wonky third paycheck may not faze you at all. Karabaic suggests building up a buffer of about one month of expenses and leaving it in your checking account.

While it can take a while to build up that buffer — she says the average time is seven months — it’ll help you avoid overdraft fees and weird pay-schedule surprises.

2. Irregular Income

If you don’t rely on steady paychecks, it’s hard to determine how much money you’ll actually have on hand in a given month.

If you’re a server, bartender or other professional who relies on tips for much of your pay, we like bar manager Jeff Morrison’s system of figuring out your income.

Morrison recommends tracking your income after tipping out other staff. Total your income for 10 weeks, then divide by 10 to get your average weekly income.

It’s not a perfect science, but it can help you figure out what to put on the “income” line in your budget. Tip-based workers can find more info on how to budget in this post.

If you’re a freelancer or one of the 33% of Americans involved in the gig economy, Todd recommends backing into the amount you need to live on by evaluating your monthly fixed expenses. Include line items like rent, utilities and debt payments, but don’t forget to work in a savings amount — Todd says it should be at least 10% of your gross income.

Self-employed budgeters can benefit by taking a step back each quarter to examine their income. “If you’re paying quarterly taxes anyway, you have this natural stopping point to look,” says Karabaic, who tries to increase her income by 10% each quarter. “It’s a good way to check on the health of your business.”

3. Irregular Expenses

Irregular Expenses can conflict with your budget

What about expenses that don’t come on a regular monthly basis? We’re talking your twice-yearly car insurance. Your subscription to a pricy trade publication or professional association. That dental crown you know you should get replaced sooner rather than later.

First, tally up those annual or twice-yearly expenses. It can help to keep these in a separate list or spreadsheet than your actual budget, as the list may change as you keep or drop subscriptions, or remember additional expenses.

Then it’s a matter of adding up those expenses and dividing by 12 to find out how much they cost each month. “You might open a separate bank account for your annual expenses,” Todd suggests. “Then when the bills come, you don’t have to adjust your spending. It’s similar to saving for Christmas shopping” throughout the year, she says.

It can also help to earmark cash for expenses you know will crop up eventually. Karabaic calls hers “a wish farm: categories for things I want or feel like I should be saving for.” They’re not necessities or the highest priorities, but she says it takes the panic out of making those purchases.

“Cellphone replacements are a huge one. Glasses,” she says, adding the laptop she drowned with coffee to her personal list. If money’s tight this month, maybe you don’t contribute to the wish farm, Karabaic says. “But if you’re feeling flush, you can take care of future you.”

Once you start saving for irregular expenses, Rapley advises to plan ahead to anticipate them. “Set calendar reminders for two months before it’s due, then one month until it’s due, two weeks until due. Don’t let these expenses take you by surprise. A reminder on the day it’s due isn’t enough.”

4. So Many Due Dates

This one’s easy: If you have a hard time remembering which bill is due when — or those dates just don’t jibe with your cash-flow situation — you can ask to have them adjusted.

“If you’re a responsible credit user, [credit card companies are] very flexible, and you have some control,” Todd says. “It might mean you pay two bills in one month, a regular one and a small one,” while your billing cycle adjusts.

Utility companies are similarly flexible, and you can ask your internet and cellular providers, too.

“Don’t change your due date to the first” for anything, Rapley says. “You usually have a mortgage or rent due then, so space it out.” But she says that if you have the money for a bill ready before your due date, go ahead and pay it. “You don’t always have to wait until the payment date.”

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

Shutdown to stretch on until at least Thursday as Senate adjourns with no deal over budget, Trump’s border wall

The move came after a lunch with the president and conservative Republicans — followed by a discussion between Vice President Pence and Sen. Charles E. Schumer that fell flat.
Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Your Money, Your Life: Episode 4 – ‘Creating A Budget That Works For You’

Learn why having a spending plan—also known as a budget—is key to financial wellness and enables you to confidently set and achieve your goals, with guest Angela Yee, host of The Breakfast Club and host and creator of the ‘Lip Service’ podcast.



The new personal finance podcast, Your Money, Your Life is sponsored by Prudential and hosted by Black Enterprise’s own Alfred Edmond Jr. This special series features a lineup of great guests including The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee; DeForest B. Soaries Jr., founder of the dfree Financial Freedom Movement; Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche; and Jacquette M. Timmons, president & CEO of Sterling Investment Management. The show will cover money topics ranging from how to control your debt to our psychological relationship with our finance. A can’t miss!

The post Your Money, Your Life: Episode 4 – ‘Creating A Budget That Works For You’ appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at Bloomingdales.com!

Trump names budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting White House chief of staff

The announcement came after nearly a week of jockeying in which several possible picks turned down the job.
Politics

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

12 DIY Christmas Gifts That’ll Make Your Loved Ones (and Your Budget) Happy

I grew up with a big family, which made it hard to buy everyone something nice at Christmas.

My gift options were to shop at the dollar store or “do it yourself.”

While the dollar store is by far the easier path, DIY gifts are a genuine labor of love. But you don’t have to be Martha Stewart or a contestant on “Making It” to explore the DIY route. It’s more about the gesture than making a perfectly crafted artisanal present. Your loved ones will likely appreciate a heartfelt and useful gift more than a store-bought one.

Plus, staying at home to make these gifts will save you from the impulse purchases shopping can bring.

12 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas to Try This Holiday Season

1. Photo Magnets

An assortment of wood cut outs lay next to modge moge.

These are so much fun to make, and there are dozens of ways to get the job done.  

Use precut wood shapes, tiles, glass stones or mason jar lids — all found at your local arts and crafts store — as your base. Use some Mod Podge (a glue-type sealant) to adhere your printed photos to the base. Once dry, glue magnet strips to the back of the base. Done.

Or, you can use adhesive magnetic sheets for bigger images. You can make hundreds of these personal DIY gifts and inexpensively give your friends and family all the feels.

2. Baked Goods

Chocolate chip cookies sit on a plate.

The fastest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. Home-baked treats will do the trick.

Try making holiday-themed cookies with cookie cutters and decorations, or play with seasonal flavors like peppermint, ginger and chocolate.

Turn up the sweetness with some fudge, challenge yourself to whip up toffee or make a loaf of banana bread (my mother’s signature baked good).

Bake your goods in large batches and deliver them to family, friends and coworkers in reusable holiday tins, treat bags or Tupperware.

3. Family Cookbook

Covertly gather recipes from your family members and put them into a special family cookbook.

Ask family members to share their recipes or take notes next time someone whips up a casserole or batch of cookies. Maybe grandma has a box of handwritten recipes you can convert.

Create an accessible digital version online or assemble your own hard copy. Free and low-cost templates and software are available if you want to do it yourself.

The cookbook will be a treasured gift for generations to come. Just don’t tell anyone else what’s in the sauce, because we all know that’s a family secret.

4. Pickled Fruits and Veggies

Pickled vegetables make great Christmas presents.

Use a hot water bath to pickle fruits and vegetables. You can pickle anything from cucumbers, green beans and carrots to cauliflower and pears. Find out your relatives’ favorites and surprise them with a homemade jar — or five.

One minimal investment in canning equipment and the basic ingredients can yield enough to give something to everyone special in your life during the holidays. Go a step further and create your own cheeky product labels for the jars.

You might find a workshop in your city to teach you how. Follow our pickle tutorial or use herbs and vegetables from your garden to save on produce costs.

5. Framed Pictures

Love that photo of you and mom on vacation? What about the one of all your best friends together? Frame it.

Scope out affordable picture frames at thrift stores, dollar stores, Michael’s (it always has a coupon available) or another major retailer.  Or spruce up and decorate an old picture frame with buttons.

Once you know what size frame you have, get the highest-resolution copy of the picture and have it printed to size at a local photo processor (CVS, Walgreens, Walmart). Each print usually costs less than $ 1. Too many photos to narrow down? Assemble an entire photo album.

6. Ornaments

Commemorate the year with a homemade ornament using paper, glass, precut shapes or reusable everyday products like wine corks, popsicle sticks and bottle caps. Spend a Saturday and craft them all yourself, or get the kids or significant other involved.

Make cheeky ones using pictures of the kids or fur babies, or you can tailor them specifically to your home state or siblings. Start a tradition and create a new one every year.

7. Mason Jar Mixtures

A mason jar mixture is wrapped in ribbons.

Assemble an edible gift in a jar. Concoct your own specialty holiday recipe like salsa, dry soup mix, hot chocolate, snack mix, nuts and cookie ingredients. Shoot, you can even go the alcohol route and infuse vodka.

All you need is a case of Mason jars, your ingredients and a recipe tag. The tag should include ingredients and any baking instructions.

If it’s really good, you’ll have everyone excited for next year’s batch.

8. Kid Art

A child's art work hangs on the work desk of a person.

There’s nothing wrong with this kind of child labor. The rugrats get creative and you get cheap DIY Christmas gifts out of it. Win-win.

Gather non-toxic paints, glitter and large pieces of posterboard (paper, cardboard or canvas work, too) for the kiddos to craft their masterpiece upon. Let them go to town. Once it’s finished and dry, cut up the project into frameable pieces. Sign and date the bottom like a true artist.

Frame the pieces and give them out as gifts. I have the one my nieces made me in 2011 on my desk.

9. Coasters

Do your civic duty and save all tables from condensation rings by making DIY coasters for your friends and family. It’s a cheap and easy gift you can’t go wrong with, because everyone needs coasters, especially funky (or classy) homemade ones.  

Craft DIY coasters out of ceramic tiles, wood slices and pressed flowers, mason jar lids, popsicle sticks or fabric. The picture magnets mentioned above can double as coasters if you skip the magnetic strips.

Sets of four are standard, so put on some Netflix and settle into a project weekend.

10. Pressed Flowers

Pick wildflowers on a walk, or save flowers from a special occasion and use them to create a piece of art.

Press the flowers with a book or iron and display them between glass, on paper, as a bookmark or matted onto a candle holder or key ring. There are a surprising amount of pressed flower projects to try.

While the art of flower pressing takes time, the elegantly preserved souvenir will be worth it.

11. Homemade Spices

Homemade spices can make a great, affordable Christmas present.

Homemade spices, seasonings and extracts are an affordable and practical gift for the food lovers in your life.

Awaken your inner chef and concoct a spice combination that suits your personality or complements a slice of your favorite meat. Blend a piquant taco seasoning, dry rub or apple and pumpkin pie spice mixes.

Just don’t forget to add your own labels for that extra zing.

12. Knitted or Crocheted Goods

Homemade scarves, hats and gloves make for affordable Christmas presents.

My favorite handmade gifts over the years have been knit scarves and shawls my mother made.

Knitted and crocheted goods are truly one-of-a-kind gifts.  Something as simple as a hat, scarf or bag will carry sentiment forever. The only thing they really cost is time, which makes a finished product feel more valuable.

If you don’t want to make bulky sweaters and ill-fitted hats for people, try coasters, blankets or rugs. There are free patterns galore online.

Probably not a new hobby to take up 10 days before Christmas, though.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s making mustard and pickled things as gifts for her friends and family this year. Read her full bio here or say hi on Twitter @StephBolling.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer

The 60-20-20 Budget Puts Needs Before Wants. Here’s How to Try It

I always thought the right budget breakdown was the tried-and-true 50-30-20 method, where 50% of my monthly take-home pay goes toward living expenses, 20% toward savings and 30% toward whatever I want.

But when I finally got a financial advisor, I was surprised to hear that his recommendation wasn’t 50-30-20 after all — it was the 60-20-20 budget.

During our first meeting, we discussed all of my finances. I explained to him that I own a home in a costly state (hello, New Jersey), commute to work in New York City, aim to save a large amount every month and have little debt.

With all of this and more in mind, his recommendation of the 60-20-20 budget made perfect sense. I immediately became a huge fan of how the money I save and spend on whatever I want is equal — each 20%. Plus, knowing I was allowed 60% of my monthly budget for my living expenses, I had a little more flexibility over my fluctuating bills like groceries and electric.

Why the 60-20-20 Budget?

In reality, you can budget your take-home pay any way you want, but the 60-20-20 budget is great place to begin.

Let’s say your monthly take-home pay is $ 4,000. According to the 60-20-20 budget, you should allot 60% (or $ 2,400) to your monthly living expenses, 20% (or $ 800) to savings and then 20% (another $ 800) to your personal wants.

My financial advisor, Northwestern Mutual insurance agent Nicholas Verard Zanoni, said this method can help you build structure into your budget and learn how to save.

“With this rule, 60% of your [take-home pay] will typically go toward your lifestyle expenses,” Zanoni said. “These are your needs — food, water, shelter and standard of living. Things like your fixed expenses. Then 20% is for your discretionary spending. This is your fun money — traveling, drinks, sporting events, concerts, eating out, etc. And the last 20% is to be saved or invested.”

It’s not much different than the 50-30-20 budget, but it puts more of a focus on fixed expenses and savings than personal wants and spending.

“This is a rule-of-thumb guideline to start out with and visualize,” Zanoni said. “Whether it’s 50/30 or 60/20, it’s really just splitting hairs in a lot of ways. Ultimately, my goal is to help coach my clients at first to spend 80% and save 20%.”

When you take a step back and look at how much of your take-home pay goes into each of these three buckets, you can better analyze your spending in order to make smarter savings decisions.

How to Get Started With the 60-20-20 Budget

If you’re ready to utilize the 60-20-20 budget, start by taking inventory of your finances. Write down every monthly expense you can think of and keep track of them in a spreadsheet. Then look at how much you’re spending through the lens of the 60-20-20 budget.

From there, consider using a financial app to help you find ways to cut back and save even more.

“People should focus on treating their savings like a bill, an obligation and not so much of an option,” Zanoni said. “Focusing on fixed expenses and saving helps identify the money that might be being spent unnecessarily or without much recognition. More often than not, most individuals are not aware of all of the things they spend money on.”

This budget could help you be more aware of your spending habits, especially when you’re doling out the dough for things you don’t really need (hi, super cute sweater from H&M) or that you’re not using (hello, monthly streaming subscriptions).

Instead of equally spending $ 800 on savings and $ 800 on your personal wants, perhaps you’d want to put $ 1,000 toward your savings and only spend $ 600 on your personal wants. That would shift the 60-20-20 budget to 60-25-15, and you’d be saving more.

“In order to reach the goals we have for ourselves, we very typically find that we need to increase savings to 25 or 30% over time to reach those goals,” Zanoni said. “People may not be able to start out at 20%, but that’s what we want to help them achieve and work toward at first. Over time, we will need to be saving more as we continue to progress in life every single year.”

Lastly, Zanoni said to keep your goals in mind and consider working with a financial advisor who can help you stay on track.

“Focusing on that budget and making sure that they work with someone to help optimize that budget for all of their goals is really the most important part,” Zanoni said.

Budgeting is all about finding ways to set yourself up for financial freedom. Starting now can really make a difference in the future.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Nicholas Verard Zanoni is an insurance agent of NM.

Hilarey Wojtowicz is the senior career and finance editor at Swirled, a lifestyle newsletter and website that helps millennials learn everything they need to know in order to truly start adulting.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer