Tips to Throw an Affordable Socially Distanced 4th of July Party
In 2017, CNBC estimated that Americans would spend over $7 billion on cookouts and other 4th of July celebrations. With most firework shows and beach bashes canceled for the summer of 2020, this year might look a bit different. It can be a challenge to throw a last-minute party on a budget, especially one you're putting together with the coronavirus pandemic in mind. But it's not impossible.LEARN MORE
Save Money and Eat Well This Summer with These Healthy Tips
Most of us are operating under the assumption that it’s too expensive to eat healthy. And if you’re only browsing the premium aisles at Whole Foods, this might be true. But otherwise, it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to save on groceries and have healthy meals on a budget. You just have to be ready to do the extra work. Choosing convenience over all other considerations is what tends to get us in trouble. When you make cautious and mindful decisions, your wallet and your health will thank you!LEARN MORE
10 Money Saving Tips for Your Summer Vacation
We’ve all been eagerly anticipating its arrival, and the official start of summer is just a few days away. From June 20 through September 22, summer usually means more time with family and friends, longer days, more time spent basking in the sunshine, and for most American families, a summer vacation. In recent years, surveys have revealed that over 60% of Americans plan on taking a summer vacation. And this year, though travel is anticipated to be down due to ongoing concerns related to coronavirus, many Americans will indeed be taking a summer vacation away from home.LEARN MORE
5 Great Ways to Save Money on a Staycation
Whether you’re saving for a major life event, catching up on debts, or you have a limited number of vacation days each year, it’s easy to spend a lot of time longing for a vacation. But the great thing about vacations is that they can be just about whatever you want them to be! With a little bit of creativity and pre-planning, you can enjoy some time off outside of the restrictions that larger vacations impose. When you need one, staycations are a great way to rest, recharge, and give yourself the break you deserve. And the best part: they’re often much more affordable, too. So, you can put that money you saved aside for something better.LEARN MORE
How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient in the Summer
In today’s technology-driven age, it’s becoming increasingly easy to find ways to live more efficiently. We have apps that track our steps and make sure we get enough exercise. Other apps remind us to stretch and drink water, and others still alert us to meetings, phone calls, and mindfulness practices. It seems like there’s an app for everything these days. But where are the apps for making our homes more energy-efficient in the summer?LEARN MORE
How to Make Money Online
With some patience, a working laptop, and a strong Wi-Fi connection, there are many different ways to make money online. The only problem is that not all of them are worth your time and effort. The internet is teeming with money-making schemes that promise full-time incomes with part-time efforts. These are the easy schemes to spot. Others may look like legitimate opportunities until you’ve sunk 20 hours into taking online surveys only to find that you made pennies compared to what they promised.LEARN MORE
Tips for an Affordable Last-Minute Memorial Day 2020 Weekend Getaway
Memorial Day is a holiday that most of us look forward to each year. It’s a weekend for the sun, loved ones, good food, and celebrations. It also happens to be a long weekend, and though the spirit of Memorial Day is to recognize our past and present soldiers and their sacrifices, so many of us will find ways to travel and enjoy some time away.LEARN MORE
20 Ways to Make Money in 2020
If you could use some extra money, you’re by no means alone. Over 44 million Americans have a side hustle. Extra hours or side jobs are common for people that are still in school, working through debt, starting a career, transitioning between jobs, or feeding a family on a limited income. For most people, extra money has become a key component in making ends meet. For others extra money could help fund a trip, or be invested in their future.LEARN MORE
Avoid these 5 Mistakes by Using Better Money Management
We’ve all made a financial misstep from time to time. This is especially true for people who are just starting out. The problem with money mistakes is that they can affect today’s finances and tomorrow’s, too. Even the worst money moves made in your 20’s can take months or years to fix, so it’s important to do what we can to avoid them. This will save you money, anxiety, and one of our other most precious resources: time.LEARN MORE
Budgeting for your Investments
As you know by now, we’re big fans of the 50/20/30 budgeting system. This particular budgeting method allocates 50% of your post-tax income toward needs like housing and food, 30% toward your wants, like Netflix and take-out, and 20% toward your investments, which speak for themselves. Focusing the majority of your money on what you need and want gives you the confidence, flexibility, and understanding you need to make the most of your budget.LEARN MORE
Budgeting for your Wants
The 50/20/30 budgeting system is one of the easiest and most effective budget strategies to follow. Under this method, 50% of your post-tax income goes to needs, 20% to savings or investments, and 30% to wants. Your biggest percentage should always go toward essential needs like housing, bills, and groceries. This is the easiest category to define. But the other two categories are a bit more ambiguous.LEARN MORE
Budgeting for your Needs
Earlier this year, we talked about a highly effective way to update or set your budget called the 50/20/30 budgeting system. As a quick reminder, this budgeting system allocates 50% of your income (after taxes are taken out) to your needs, 30% to your wants, and the remaining 20% to savings or investments. The biggest percentage goes to your needs, like your housing, bills, and food. That’s what we’ll focus on here.LEARN MORE
Understanding Your Stimulus Check
By now, we’re all eagerly anticipating our COVID-19 stimulus payments. With every update regarding the payments, we’re given a few answers, but it seems we finish reading with just as many questions. If you’re wondering how much you’ll receive as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that was signed into law late last month, there’s an easy way to calculate your total and find answers to your other questions.
In Demand Jobs for the Unemployed
There has been a lot of uncertainty since COVID-19 coverage ramped up in the United States and across the rest of the world. In particular, financial uncertainty seems to fluctuate with each coronavirus-related update, and rampant layoffs and fluctuations in the market are providing a whole new set of challenges. In the short amount of time that we’ve been seeing cases accrue, a record-high number of Americans have been forced to file for unemployment.
How to Get Financially Fit at Home
Let’s face it - people all over the world right now are spending time at home, figuring out a new normal as the world seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus. This has resulted in the need for people of all ages to get creative. Those fortunate enough to do so are working from home. Educators are looking for new ways to provide teachings to their students through webcams and other technology. Fitness enthusiasts are setting up home gyms so that they can stay in shape.LEARN MORE
What You Need to Know about Your Upcoming Stimulus Check
If you’ve been following the news related to the coronavirus, you likely know that the White House and leaders of Congress recently negotiated a $2 trillion recovery package. As part of this package, various taxpayers across the United States may be able to receive a $1200 stimulus check.LEARN MORE
Avoid Debt with These Six Fun DIY Spring Projects
With spring right around the corner and a bit more time at home to take advantage of, do-it-yourself projects can give us something to focus on that doesn’t involve spending a lot of money (if any). After all, what’s better than doing something fun and productive that also doesn’t take away from your financial goals?LEARN MORE
How to Build an Emergency Savings Fund
Whether it’s an emergency room trip, a roof repair, or a car replacement, a major unexpected expense can be a tremendous setback. But when you take the time to build your savings, it’ll be far less damaging. Having a solid emergency savings fund to fall back on can help you avoid borrowing at high rates or maxing out credit cards. If you’re worried about being behind, you’re not the only one; according to Bankrate, about 28% of U.S. adults don’t have emergency savings. This important financial buffer can be difficult to build, but here are some tips to make it easier.
How to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is considered to be one of the worst debt forms because it’s easy to max those cards out, and even easier to get buried under a mountain of accumulated compound interest. If this sounds like a familiar story, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the beginning, but each positive money move you make brings you closer to financial freedom.
How to Avoid Building Credit Card Debt
There are many different methods we can use to secure a healthy financial present and future. Avoiding credit card debt like the plague is one of the best and biggest ones. That’s not to say that credit cards, on the whole, are terrible and have no redeeming qualities. When you use them the right way, they can help you build your credit, make large purchases, and earn rewards.
What Happens to Debt When Someone Dies?
In an ideal world, our debts would be wiped clean once we passed away. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. In reality, the process of dealing with debt after someone dies can get a bit complicated. Depending on the type of debt and the situation, debts may be discharged, collected through other methods, or fall on the co-signer or joint account holder.
How Long Does Bankruptcy Stay on Your Credit Report?
When we were young, no one ever really taught us about tricky financial situations like credit card debt, owing money to the IRS at tax time, or going through bankruptcy. Unfortunately, many of us have had to learn these lessons the hard way. Interest on loans and credit card bills can sneak up on the best of us. But the good news is that you’re not on your own anymore; there are resources available to help.
Changes to the FICO Score in 2020 - What You Should Know
One of the best ways to keep track of your financial health is to monitor your credit score. This number helps to determine your eligibility for different kinds of loans (personal, mortgage, auto, etc.), rentals, credit cards, and more. We’ll get right down to what you need to know about the changes to your score this year, but it is essential that you also take the time to understand why your FICO score is so important.
What You Need to Know for Tax Season 2020
It’s almost that dreaded time of year again when we have to start preparing to file our taxes. For many of us, this process might already be well underway. In reality, tax season 2020 may be the last thing that any of us wants to think about, but it’s important to stay on top of it. Waiting until April to file will make it much harder to meet with frantic tax advisors and find all of the documents you need, all while that sound of the clock is ticking inside your head.
What Steps Are You Taking to Improve Your Credit Score?
It’s February, which means that a few of our enthusiastic and well-intentioned new year’s resolutions may have started to fall to the wayside by now. After all, it’s hard to stick to a healthy diet when your kitchen’s full of leftover holiday cookies. We’re all human, and it’s normal to slip on a goal or resolution now and then. But there’s one that you should bring back to life: taking steps to improve your credit score.LEARN MORE
How to Know if You Are a Victim of Fraud
Recently, we published an article about the importance of checking your credit report annually. We cannot stress enough as to the importance of this activity. After all, doing so allows you the opportunity to dispute potentially erroneous information on your report, and you can become aware of negative information in your file. Another benefit, however, to checking your report annually comes from the ability to ensure that you are not a victim of identity theft or other fraudulent activities.LEARN MORE
Setting a Budget and Living Within Your Means
Last week, we provided insight into the importance of checking your credit report once per year. On a parallel path to working through inaccuracies or negative information on your credit report, your next step is to establish a budget that will help you get ahead. Though many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, this can be dangerous territory. It is simply not a sustainable process. And, if something goes wrong such as you incur an unanticipated medical expense, you experience a job loss, or other, you can quickly find yourself in a position where staying on top of your bills is no longer possible.LEARN MORE
Start 2020 Off Right with a Credit Report Review
2020 is here - a new year and a new decade. If you are like most Americans you have probably established a few New Year’s resolutions. If 2020 is like 2019 (and many years before that), you are likely resolving to get in shape, lose weight, eat healthier, improve your approach to self-care, learn a new skill, get a new job, or manage your money better. And managing your money better is a critical lifestyle change that will help you become financially healthier (and mentally healthier too).LEARN MORE
The Importance of Credit Scores
You are more than a number. You are a living, breathing person with hopes and dreams. You are a truly unique and special soul.
But when it comes to your credit, well, you’re kind of a number.
As many people know — especially people with bad credit — credit scores are very important to lenders. These three-digit scores are calculated using a variety of factors and banks use them when determining if they should give you a credit card, line of credit or loan. The lower your score is, the bigger a risk a lender thinks it will be that they’ll get their money back from you.
Holiday Survival Guide: Finance Edition
The holidays are full of joy and cheer to end your year. The time with family and friends is a gift that never ends.
OK, let’s be real. The holidays are hard. There’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones and see everyone in a limited amount of time. And we won’t even get into what it’s like to try to have a conversation with that uncle. You know the one.
Another reason the holidays can be difficult is because of your finances. Every commercial, every store, and every event is encouraging you to spend a little bit more than you should.
How can you survive the holidays with your finances intact? We’ve got you covered with this survival guide.
How Do Interest Rates Actually Work?
They say it takes money to make money. The hard truth is that it also takes money to borrow money, though it kind of works in reverse.
The general idea behind loans is that a lender provides a sum of money in return for a promise that the borrower will pay that money (and some more) back within a specified period of time. So, any loan is a trade-off where you as the borrower say, “Having X dollars today is important enough to me that I’m willing to pay you back Y dollars.”
How Financial Fees Pack a Punch
Credit cards, bank accounts and loans all have a few things in common — none more obvious than fees. There are so many potential fees that it’s hard to keep track of all of them.
By doing your homework before you borrow money or rack up credit card debt, you can determine the right path for you. Spotloan, for instance, is a short-term installment loan that prides itself on having no hidden fees.LEARN MORE
5 Ways to Use Reviews to Choose a Lender
As a consumer, you like to know what you can expect from the products and services you purchase. You like transactions to be, you know, transactional. You give someone X dollars in exchange for Y product or service, and you both go on your respective ways, better off for it.
In the short-term loan industry, though, not all transactions are that straightforward. The fine print can include details that come as an unpleasant surprise later. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you know what you can expect.
What You Should Know About Prepayment Penalties
Prepayment penalties just seem wrong. It doesn’t seem like you should be able to be punished for going above and beyond to deliver something better (or sooner) than what you had promised. Despite that, prepayment penalties on loans are legal and enforceable due to the fine print found in many of them, especially payday loans.
Let's take a step back. What exactly are prepayment penalties? These are clauses written into loan agreements that allow the lender to enact a financial penalty on the borrower for paying off (or significantly paying down) the principal of a loan before its specified term is over.
8 ways new grads can manage student debt
Have a lot of student loan debt? Join the club. About 70% of college grads today have significant debt from student loans, CNBC reports. The average amount is just over $37,000, up $20,000 from 13 years ago. And Americans owe a total of $1.5 trillion in student loans, nearly double the amount owed ten years ago, according to The Federal Reserve.
Here are 8 tips to help you manage your student debt:
How TILA keeps you from getting fooled
As the calendar turns to April, we welcome in one of the most glorious times of the year. The days are getting longer. The sun once again kisses our skin, some of which has been clothing-covered for four consecutive months. Trees and plants begin to flower. But there is a darker side. Also as the calendar turns to April, the friends and family you know and love transform into prank-loving demons.
April Fools’ Day has the ability to turn even the honest souls among us into deceptive lie-mongers whose only objective is to trick you into believing something false. And, unfortunately, there are no rules in place to help you avoid finding your car covered in Saran Wrap, or getting a pie in the face, as the result of one of these pranksters.
When it comes to the lending industry, though, there is a rule to help prevent you from being tricked. The Truth in Lending Act, commonly referred to as TILA, has a number of provisions that regulate how lenders and creditors can act and what they can say. The TILA is working for you to keep that pie out of your face, so to speak, by requiring lenders to be more trustworthy.
10 ways to save and make money in 2019
Nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. But only 8% actually keep them, according to Fast Company. The secret is to set realistic goals and then take small, consistent steps toward meeting them.
With that in mind, we’ve put together 10 simple but effective strategies to help you save and make money in 2019.
What you should know about holiday loans
Backed by a strong economy and low unemployment, U.S. online holiday spending is expected to rise 14.8% this year compared to 2017, while brick-and-mortar retailers should see a 2.7% boost, according to Adobe Analytics.
Clearly, the holiday shopping party is already in full swing. But will you wake up afterwards with a financial hangover? After all, it’s way too easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season. Plus, retailers have extended their sales well beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday. How can you resist all those great deals?
If you’ve still got gifts to buy but maxed out your credit card and cash is tight, consider a holiday loan. Here are answers to questions you might have about holiday loans.
Paying off debt — where do you start?
If you’re in debt, you’re in good company. Americans’ debt climbed to a new high of $13.29 trillion in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
But when you’re in debt, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And it’s difficult to know exactly where to start to climb out of the financial hole. Here are some tips to help you begin tackling your debt.LEARN MORE
How to start repairing your credit in 7 steps
You’ve been denied a bank loan because your credit score is low. Or you’ve been issued a new credit card. But the APR is higher than you expected. You call the card issuer to find out why, and you’re told it’s because your credit score is low.
Both are bad news. But in time, you can repair your credit. Here are 7 steps to get you started.
How to protect your personal information from getting hacked
The more you buy and bank online, the more your personal information—birthday, social security number, banking account details—is stored online. But how can you protect that data, especially given 2017’s high-profile data security breaches at Equifax, Verizon, Uber, Yahoo, and other companies?LEARN MORE
How to get the best deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond
The period beginning with Thanksgiving and going until after New Year’s is prime time for finding great deals from retailers. Here’s how to shop wisely for consumer electronics and other merchandise as the 2017 holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.LEARN MORE
How to cut your credit card interest rate and fees
7 tips for reducing your cell phone billLEARN MORE
How to save money eating out
Americans spend more at eating and drinking establishments than at grocery stores, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Clearly, many of us would rather let someone else cook.
But when you eat out, you pay a premium for food and beverages. Most food establishments markup food items by 300%, Fox Business reports. And restaurant buyers told SFGate they charge about four times as much for a glass of beer, and four to five times as much for a glass of wine, than they actually pay.LEARN MORE
7 ways to save money on broadband internet
Broadband internet is practically like water and electricity—a utility that just about every household needs. But broadband can be pricey. The average monthly cost of residential broadband globally was $104 in 2016, according to an internet research firm.
Here are seven tips for cutting your monthly broadband internet bill.LEARN MORE