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Being financially independent isn’t just about earning more money, but saving it as well. Learn some money saving tips from the experts here.
Being financially independent isn’t just about earning more money, but saving it as well. Learn some money saving tips from the experts here.
Not so surprisingly, many millennials haven’t started saving money for retirement. Millennials are in the highest bracket of putting off until tomorrow when it comes to saving.
A recent survey showed that over 64% of this age group do not believe they will have enough money when they retire to live comfortably. In fact, many believe they will need to continue to work well past retirement age.
Let’s look at some of the reasons millennials will have a really tough time when they finally do retire.
If you’ve never calculated what you need for retirement, you’re in for a shock! Studies have shown that of all generations, millennials between the ages of 25 to 34 are the smallest percentage of people who have even attempted to calculate how much money they will need to retire.
By not having a set goal for retirement savings, many millennials will have no idea how much to contribute into a plan each month. Perhaps this explains why on average, the contribution levels from each paycheck is a paltry 7.3% for millennial men and 5.7% for millennial women. The result is that 75% of millennials between the ages of 25 to 34 have savings and investments of under $25,000 total.
The same survey showed that only 4 out of 10 millennials have actually started a savings plan for retirement and half of them live paycheck to paycheck.
Putting off making retirement contributions has a seriously negative impact on your future. Due to IRS regulations, it’s can be practically impossible to “catch up”. The IRS has a ceiling on the amount of money you can put into a 401(k) and an IRA. Each year you cannot go over $18,000 in contributions to your 401k and $5,500 into your IRA. Therefore, if you wait until you’re 40 to start bulking up your retirement account, you’ll never be able to make up those lost years, no matter how much money you earn.
Student loans taken out by millennials average $37,172, which is up 6% from last year. Many students strongly believe in further education which causes such a rise in loans. There is no doubt that a higher education will lead to a higher income upon graduating and most students just don’t have the funds so they take out loans.
Statistics show that back in 1993, the average percentage of students taking out student loans was only 45% with an average balance of $15,000. Obviously, those numbers have increased greatly since then and because of that, millennials will not be able to contribute to an IRA and/or 401k because they’ll be too busy trying to pay off their student loans.
Faced with the reality that their student loans must be paid off, most millennials will grab the first job offer that comes along, regardless of the salary.
What’s worse is that they won’t even negotiate their salary one cent. Surveys have shown that 9 out of 10 employees have never negotiated for a better salary for fear they would not get the position. By not negotiating, millennials are shortchanging themselves and their potential for retirement.
According to TD Ameritrade, 19% of millennial parents believe their kids’ college education is their first priority. Granted, this is based on the fact that they have personally had a tough time with their college loans.
Millennial parents are putting aside approximately $310 each month toward their children’s college education. On top of that, they’re also making roughly the same monthly payment on their own student loan debt. Unfortunately, saving money for retirement is third on the list of priorities.
When you begin to understand the uphill climb it is to reach your retirement savings goal, you’ll get a better grasp of why you need to start saving now. Some day you will retire and realizing that fact of life now will help you better plan for it so you can enjoy your retirement when it’s time.
At what age did you begin to seriously begin investing in your retirement?
There are countless ways to reduce your grocery store bills. Even if you can just slash 5 dollars off your receipt, that little bit goes a long way. That $5 a week is $260 per year, every year.
Here are 9 ways you can save money on food.
Shop at a grocery store that rewards you. Some stores may have sales, but others have both sales and a rewards program. Join their loyalty program to get members-only discounts and accrue points that you can redeem for store gift cards.
Ralphs for example gives low prices for members and sends you bonus coupons in the mail. Sometimes it’s a coupon for a free pack of eggs, free orange juice or a $5 off certificate to be used on your next trip.
Certain foods are cheaper than others. A meal of rice, beans and vegetables are cheaper and healthier than a meat-based meal. Stock up on items you can purchase by the pound like rice. When you see a good deal, buy it in bulk. It won’t spoil and you can eat a serving of rice for less than a quarter.
Soft drinks are far more expensive than water. Control your caffeine addiction and choose to drink less soda. You can improve your health and keep your wallet healthier by drinking more water.
Tap water is practically free while with bottled water, you’re buying the plastic bottle for the most part. Help the environment and your wallet by not buying plastic bottles.
If you absolutely refuse to drink tap water, purchase a water filter and do the filtration at home. If you still don’t like the taste, try and different brand until you find the one you like.
You’re not supposed to need to eat until you can’t eat any more. If you find yourself unbuttoning your pants after your meals, you’re doing it wrong.
You should only eat as much as your body requires. You should eat until you are no longer hungry. For most people, this means you can eat less, lose weight and save money.
Invest in a club membership card at these warehouse stores. Your first few visits will pay for the card. Some of them even have gas stations where you can save 20 cents per gallon. You may come to find out that this is the best investment you’ve ever made.
This tip here goes hand in hand with the previous tip about warehouse stores. When you see a good deal, jump on it and purchase several of them. Just make sure you have the room back at home.
Don’t make a habit out of eating at restaurants. The markup on food and drinks is amazingly high. They fill their foods with loads of sodium too. It’s okay to go out every once in awhile, but just don’t make it a habit if you want to keep your food costs down.
Saving a dollar or two here and there adds up to a few hundred bucks per year. If you hate carrying coupons, you can use a smartphone app to scan your coupons for you.
It’s no secret that college is expensive. Today’s graduates are leaving college with more than just an education – they’re leaving with staggering amounts of debt. These massive student loans are causing them to delay important life milestones like getting married, buying a house and having children.
New polls from the Pew Research center indicate that more Americans than ever feel that college is simply too expensive to afford. If that sounds like you, read on to discover 7 easy ways you can save on college.
Be choosy about your school. Not only will you need to select an institution that has a great reputation for a quality education, but you’ll want to also look at the total cost. Public universities are a great way to get a world-class education without the huge expense of fancy private schools.
Sure, you may have to give up the dream of having your own dorm room or another perk of a private school, but in return you’ll have much lower loans which is a fair tradeoff.
Don’t forget about the tax savings. Whether you’re filing your year-end taxes or saving for college, there are programs that offer tax advantages to help you pay for the high cost of college.
Opening a 529 plan is a great way to save money for school in a tax-free way provided you use the funds for college costs. You can also claim tax credits for tuition paid or interest paid on student loans.
To keep your college costs down, look into federal loans. Federal loans generally have lower interest rates than private loans. As a bonus, some loans can be forgiven if you go into the right field and work in a disadvantaged area for a certain period of time.
The subsidized federal loans are based on financial need while unsubsidized loans are available to anyone. Whether you get federal loans or not, be sure to fill out the FAFSA to see which loans are available to you. Your school may also use the FAFSA to determine if you’re eligible for any need-based scholarships.
Apply for all of the scholarships and grants you can find. There are thousands of dollars available every year for a variety of reasons. Look for and apply for the free money to help cut down on the cost of your education.
Remember that grants and scholarships don’t need to be repaid, so really put some effort into finding ones you’re eligible for.
There are plenty of ways you can go about obtaining a degree in under four years, and online schools are arguably one of the most efficient and cost-effective options available.
This new form of education also helps you cut down costs that otherwise would have been dedicated to commuting and room and board, making it a great choice for any student on a budget.
Plan your education carefully to ensure you graduate in a maximum of four years to prevent the dreaded expense of a fifth year.
Go to a local community college for the first 2 years. If you’re not sure what you want to major in or if you’re just feeling thrifty, try out a community college first.
In 2 years you can get an associates degree that includes all of the prerequisites for your major meaning you’ll complete your bachelor’s degree on time, but for a fraction of the cost.
If this sounds like a good idea, check with the school you plan to attend to make sure credits are transferable. In general, public universities are more accepting of community college credits than private schools are.
Look into military or veteran college benefits. If you were in the military or if your parent was in the military, you may be eligible for college benefits. Servicemen and women who were in for at least 36 months of active duty are eligible to receive financial assistance to pay for school.
If you’re considering going to college, but can’t afford it, entering the military may be a great way to serve your country, kickstart your career and pay for your education. Some schools offer ROTC programs where you can train for military service while going to college full time as long as you commit to a military career upon graduation.
Look around your home. How many old TVs, cell phones, remote controls and other electronics do you have lying around collecting dust? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably a lot. Most homes are filled with outdated technology that’s wasting both space and money.
Here are 5 ways you can save cash by cutting old tech products out of your life.
There’s no reason to pay hundreds of dollars for hundreds of channels you’ll never really watch. Cable is slowly finding it has no place in modern America and the overpriced service is being cut from households across the nation, one house at a time.
Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap or free places to get your TV fix and none of them involve paying the cable companies. If you’re a movie buff, you can take advantage of Redbox and rent movies for a dollar. Another option is Netflix to get your favorites for 9 bucks a month. To watch your favorite television shows on cable subscribe to Hulu Plus for $8 a month.
Once you get into the habit of streaming or renting your videos, go through your DVD collection and get rid of the flicks you don’t want to watch again. Don’t just throw them away though, sell them at a yard sale, sell them on eBay or take them to a used DVD store to trade them in for cash.
It turns out that less than a third of Americans still use a landline. If you’re in that small group, it may be time to look at why others are getting rid of their home phones and using their cell phone exclusively.
Landlines are expensive and charge you for long distance, caller ID and call waiting, all items that come with your cell phone at no additional charge.
The downside of cell phones used to be that they limit your minutes, but there’s many plans now with unlimited minutes or at least unlimited nights and weekends. With other ways of communication being available like email, text messages and Facebook, people are talking on the phone less and less anyway.
If you still want to chat up a storm you can use FaceTime or Skype and talk as long as you want for free. You’ll need the other person to have either service and a good wifi connection and you’ll be set to either video chat or just voice chat.
With all of these options available, there’s little need to still pay for your landline.
Digital cameras made film obsolete. Now smartphones are making digital cameras redundant. Unless you have high quality DSLR camera, there’s little need to own a digital camera anymore.
Most people actually prefer taking pictures with their phone because their phones are always an arms length away. Carrying a digital camera around is an inconvenience as it’s another item to carry in your pocket or purse.
Quality-wise, new smartphones can take amazing pictures that rival your typical point and shoot digital camera.
Better yet, you can save your pictures straight to the cloud from your smartphone, something you can’t do with most digital cameras. You’ll have to take the added step of transferring the pictures to your computer.
Another bit of dying technology you should get rid of is paid software. Depending on what you need, most of the time there are online services or free smartphone apps that can do as good of a job as paid software.
If you just need basic photo editing, you don’t need to buy Adobe Photoshop If all you need is to crop, rotate, touch up photos, add text or an effect to your pictures, you can a free online service like Canva.
If you need a program to create documents, flyers, a spreadsheet or a presentation you don’t need to pay a few hundred dollars for Microsoft Office. There are free options such as OpenOffice or my preference, Google Docs. With Google Docs you can create documents online on any computer without the need to download anything. You can log in to your Google account and edit your documents from anywhere, even your phone.
First, there were records and record players, then cassettes and cassette players, then CD’s and CD players and then there were digital downloads and mp3 players.
Now there’s a new way to listen to music. You can stream it from the cloud. You don’t have to purchase, download and store individual music files anymore. With services like Pandora and Spotify, users can listen to music for free. With Spotify you can create a playlist to listen to, listen to a specific genre or just choose your favorite artist and shuffle their music all day long.
With each of these services, there are paid options available which give you additional options such as removing advertisements and removing time limits.
You need a budget in 2020. But where do you start? How do you prioritize what you spend on?
Here's a good rule of thumb:
Here's how it works.
Set aside 50% of your income to go toward necessities such as housing and important bills.
Set aside 20% of your income to go toward your financial goals. This includes paying off your debt and starting to save for retirement.
Finally, the last 30% of your income can go toward your wants. This is all that fun stuff like restaurants, movies and other forms of entertainment.
Download this free budget printable to help you prioritize your spending. Use this to help you determine what expenses matter most and need to be paid first.
Oh and one more thing. If you found this printable helpful, all I ask is that you share it on Pinterest or Facebook. Thanks!
Using a money saving challenge is the perfect way to get better at money management. That’s why I created this flexible 52 week money saving challenge. This is going to be one of the best money saving tips you’re ever going to come across.
We know all about 30 day challenges (or monthly money saving challenges), but why not a 52 week money saving challenge?
Plus, this money saving challenge comes in a free printable you can use. Use this free printable template / worksheet to make saving money easy to track (and accomplish).
Use this 52 week money challenge to get rid of your debt, get better with money and start saving money. This money challenge sure is the best personal finance tip you’re going to find today.
How it works:
Each week, pick one square you want to save. Afterward, cross it off. The reason I like this money-saving challenge so much is because you can save as little as $10 or as much as $57 in one week. If you complete this challenge – you would have saved over one thousand dollars this year!
One more thing:
I do have a favor to ask, could you please share this on Pinterest and Facebook?
Cars guzzle two things: gas and your money. If you’re unlucky, there will always be something wrong with your vehicle that requires a trip to the mechanic and a hit on your wallet.
It’s bad enough when there’s something seriously wrong with your car, but it’s far worse when you’re being overcharged by a mechanic to fix a simple problem that you could easily take care of by yourself.
There are actually more car problems that anyone can fix than you’d think. The issue ultimately stems from confidence – you might think the problem is minor but may be scared to fix it yourself. If you can roll up your sleeves and summon the courage to tackle your own car maintenance and repair tasks, however, you can save time and, more importantly, money.
Here are 6 common car problems anyone can tackle.
There are few maintenance tasks within a car that are as easy as replacing the air filter, which is the piece that prevents dirt and other particles from the outside getting into the engine system and damaging it. Air filters should be checked at the same time as the oil (i.e. on a regular basis, every few thousand miles).
If the air filter does need to be changed, it’s usually just a case of opening the lid that keeps it in place (sometimes using a screwdriver), lifting it out and putting the new one in.
Coolant leaks in the vehicle’s engine can be extremely problematic if they are left untended-to, sometimes meaning that the entire engine needs to be replaced – this can often be more expensive than it’s worth, leading to the scrapping of the car.
Sealing solutions are often the easiest way to fix a coolant leak as they simply require the solution to be poured into the coolant system to do its work. As long as you pour the solution into the right part of the engine, there should be no need to call in the professionals.
One of the legal requirements of driving at night or in murky conditions is that you have working headlights on the front and back of the car. Not only is it a safety issue but you’ll be pulled over by the police constantly and may be ticketed.
In practice, changing the headlight bulbs when they fail is no more difficult than changing a normal lightbulb – the tricky bit is detaching and reattaching the headlight assembly.
A lot of the time, you may not even need tools for this job, though it depends which bulbs are being replaced. Most bulbs are screwed into place or attached by clamps and wires and the front headlights can be accessed under the vehicle’s bonnet. Make sure you buy the right sort of bulb – they’re not all the same.
You wake up one morning before going to work and your car is dead. You turn the ignition and… nothing. The most common culprit is a dead battery. But don’t go scheduling an appointment with the mechanic just yet. You can do this one on your own.
Head over to O’Reilly’s, Walmart or any nearby place that sells car batteries. You’re looking at spending anywhere from $50-$100 for a new one.
The main challenge here is to remove and replace the positive and negative cables in the right order. If your vehicle has negative ground (check your manual), the negative battery cable must be removed first and replaced last. If it has positive ground, the positive cable must be removed first and replaced last.
Make sure you wear safety gloves and goggles, as you may come into contact with battery acid which is extremely corrosive.
Remember to dispose of the old battery responsibly. Some places will give you a discount on your new battery if you give them your old one. Otherwise, you can take it to a recycling center to be properly disposed of.
If you can successfully replace a car battery on your own, you should be able to move on to more complicated repairs.
When a sunroof begins to leak, the issue is usually a drain tube that has become clogged with debris, meaning that water has nowhere to go and makes its escape into the interior of the vehicle. The tubes need to be cleared and this should fix the problem.
You can get to the insides of the drain tubes via the holes in the front corner of the sunroof – if you can, try and vacuum the blockage out rather than poking wire up the tubes or using compressed air, as you could create a hole or disconnect the tubes from the sunroof and have to replace the whole draining system. If you do have to use a wire, do so carefully.
A faulty thermostat, which regulates the temperature of the engine, can lead to issues with the car’s performance – for instance, if it sticks in an open position, the car won’t be able to warm up properly, and if it sticks in a closed position then the engine will overheat. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to replace when needed.
You’ll need to locate the thermostat to begin with. In most cars it’s where either the top or bottom radiator hose connects to the engine. From there, the most difficult bits of the job involves loosening a clamp and replacing the coolant that you’ll lose during the process.
Remember to follow your vehicle service manual and thoroughly research the issue so you know what you have to do every step of the way.
Have you ever fixed anything car-related on your own to save money?
Going off the grid isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, but adopting some aspects of this life can be a great way to save money without having to completely move to a cabin in the woods. Instead of taking things that far, you can reduce consumption and save money by eschewing some of the costly and wasteful habits that most people are used to.
Even if you’re not interested in going fully off the grid, here are some money-saving techniques to learn from that lifestyle.
Most Americans have a similar problem: We all have too much stuff, and our homes are growing bigger to accommodate all those things. Home sizes have tripled in the past few decades, while 10 percent of Americans have to rent storage units to keep all their unneeded stuff.
This stuff drags us all down and takes up valuable room in our living spaces. Take the minimalist, off-the-grid approach and get rid of all the things you don’t need. Be strict and judicious with what you want to keep. When you’ve found the things that can go, donate them, sell them or give them away. Everybody wins that way, and you’ll be grateful you have room for more important things.
A great way to save money and move toward an off-the-grid life is to finally cut the cord and get rid of cable TV. With prices inching upwards and plenty of alternative entertainment options, there’s never been a better time to get rid of cable. The number of people getting rid of paid TV is on the rise, so you definitely won’t be alone in your decision.
Want to see how much money you can save? Use a calculator to see how worthwhile the cord-cutting decision is.
Getting rid of cable TV is a lot easier than ditching internet. For most of us, getting rid of internet is a nonstarter. Depending on your needs, you might want to consider using your phone’s mobile data as a hotspot.
This all depends on how good your mobile carrier is when it comes to data pricing, but it’s something worth considering. It could be an effective way to save money and reduce the number of bills you need to pay.
Power in all forms, whether it’s solar, wind or gas, is especially precious when you’re off the grid. Likewise, if you’re on the grid. To ensure you have no problems with overconsumption, you’ll want to make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
That means utilizing appliances – especially refrigerators – that aren’t wasteful, insulating the home for maximum efficiency and being smart with your consumption habits. Taking all these steps will help you save money.
Solar and other renewable forms of energy are ideal, but they might be too expensive or inadequate to power everything you need. If you’re serious about saving money in an off-the-grid way, you’ll want to consider propane to supplement your energy needs.
This clean-burning fuel can be used for home heating, water heating and even some appliances. It’s often a cost-effective way and can be stored on your property in a large underground tank to ensure you’re off the grid.
When people think of going off the grid, they envision generating their own electricity, growing their own food and similar things. Going off the grid can also mean ditching the financial norms that most people are stuck with. To that end, you should consider limiting the number of credit cards you have. This is good financial advice whether you want to go off the grid or not, as high credit card debt is something most Americans suffer from.
You don’t need all those cards. Having one or two is convenient, but any more than that might end up holding you down and costing you money.
When people are going off the grid, they need a plan with incremental goals to reach. The same must be done from a financial standpoint. Take a step back and look at your spending in the previous year. Going over credit card statements, past bills and bank statements will give you a clear picture of where your money is going. When you have that knowledge, you’ll see how to spend your money more efficiently.
One of the most important things when trying to save money is to have the ability to be flexible. You don’t have to go without your favorite things, but it helps if you’re adaptable and willing to change things up.
That’s part of what an off-the-grid-lifestyle is all about. It’s not always easy or painless, but it does come with its own rewards. Keep that in mind and you’ll do great. Your growing bank account from all the wise money decisions you’ve made will be concrete proof of that.
Going to a restaurant can be a real budget-buster, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know how to search for good deals and choose the right menu options, you can save a pretty penny while dining out.
Here are ten ways to enjoy great restaurants and dine out on the cheap.
Most restaurants have coupons available. All you have to do it is Google it or just use the Retail Me Not app to get a coupon. You may not need to even print the coupon out. Just show it to your server from your smartphone when it’s time to pay.
Some restaurants only give coupons to members of their loyalty programs. You can get a free rewards card and accrue points that can later be redeemed for free food. Members of these loyalty programs also get emailed members-only coupons like free entrée with the purchase of another entrée.
The portion sizes at some restaurants are ridiculously large. They’re so big they can feed two people. So consider sharing a plate with your partner and cut your dining costs in half.
The mark-up on beverages at restaurants is huge. You might buy a soda can for $0.25 if you buy a 12 pack for example. But for the same amount of soda they’ll charge you $3.00. A lot of their profit comes from drinks. They’ll always advertise the low cost of their food, but they fail to mention the high price of their beverages.
You go to the restaurant for the food, not the soda. Choose instead to drink the free water offered instead. It’s better for you anyway.
Lunch specials cost significantly less than dinners. If you are available during the day choose to eat earlier to cash in on daytime savings. Plus there’s an added benefit, no wait time.
Restaurants have trained us into thinking that you must first order drinks, then an appetizer, then an entrée followed lastly by dessert. Turn the tables on them and only order one meal per visit.
If you really like an appetizer, simply make it your main course and skip the entrée.
Eat at the bar during happy hour and cash in on half priced drinks and appetizers. You won’t have to sit in an uncomfortable stool in front of televisions. Most restaurants have an area next to it with booths you can sit at. Best of all, there’s no wait time if you can find a seat.
You don’t have to be a kid to order from the kids menu. If you have a small appetite you can order the smaller sized options typically found on the kids menu.
Many restaurants offer discounts for kids on certain days. If you’re dining with your family choose to go on their “Kids Eat Free Tuesdays” for example. The way it works is simple. When an adult purchase an entrée your kid gets theirs free.
If you bit off more than you could chew, don’t throw that food away. Ask for a box and you can eat that meal tomorrow. While you won’t save on your current meal, you’ll save money and time by not having to buy something or cook the next day.
Ready to begin the process of buying your first car? You’re in the right place!
Cars are a part of life. Without a car, it’s hard to do little things like buy groceries and commute to work.
Unfortunately, cars are also expensive, and there is a lot that goes into the purchasing process. It can be especially difficult for millennials who have never purchased a car before you know what to do.
If you’re thinking about buying your first car, consider these 9 steps before you sign on the dotted line.
Before you even think about buying a used car, figure out how much you can realistically afford. Most financial planners recommend spending less than 15% of your total budget on a car payment.
Don’t have a budget? Yeah you’ll need to read this blog post first to create a smart budget.
Once you’ve got your budget created, see how much money you have left to spend on a car. Oh and you can figure out your estimated car payment by using this calculator.
Note: Don’t forget to include the cost of insurance in your budget either.
Yeah, I know, it really adds up!
I know you’re already saying that special car of your dreams. But before you make up your mind, open your eyes and look at other makes and models first.
Every make and model is different. Specific years even have their own pros and cons.
Before you make a purchase, research at least three different makes and models. Pay special attention to each vehicle’s weak points, repair costs, and resale value.
When you’re done, compare and contrast these statistics to help you make your purchase.
If you’re unsure where to start, two of the most popular vehicles for first-time car buyers are the Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla. Both vehicles are affordable, good with gas mileage and have low repair costs.
There are a number of places you can find used cars. Each has their pros and cons. Do you want to save a lot of money? Then buy a car off eBay or Craigslist. Do you want it to be easy? Then go to a dealership instead.
New car dealerships offer a range of new and used vehicles, while independent dealerships tend to offer a selection of used vehicles of different makes and models.
Dealers and individual sellers are both open to negotiating the final price. The exception would be Carmax and Autonation, which offer you their lowest price right off the bat and leave no room for negotiation.
You’ll want to check all the hot spots first: cars.com, autotrader.com and truecar.com. Next, try Craigslist and eBay. Finally, head over to a local dealer once you are knowledgeable about what prices cars are going for.
Some dealerships sell certified pre-owned vehicles at a higher price point. While these vehicles often come with an additional warranty, it may not be worth the markup. For example, while Honda and Toyota have extensive certification programs, other certified vehicles are nothing more than retired rental cars.
A certified pre-owned vehicle will cost you roughly $1,500 more. An alternative option for you is to buy an extended warranty instead, which should be cheaper.
Always get a vehicle history report before you purchase a used vehicle. These reports will tell you if the vehicle has ever been totaled or had the odometer rolled back.
If you’re dealing with a friend or loved one, it can be tempting to skip this step. Don’t. You may learn information that the seller didn’t even know.
If you’re buying a car from an individual seller, a preliminary phone call will help you gather information about the vehicle and build a relationship with the seller.
During the conversation, ask the seller about the car’s history, present condition, and reason for selling. These questions may reveal information that was not listed online.
This conversation also offers an opportunity to size up the seller. Do they sound shifty or honest? Are they willing to answer your questions, or are they giving you the runaround?
Remember that when you buy a car from an individual, you are taking a huge risk. Cars are sold as-is so there are no returns or refunds, even if the car breaks down on your way home.
When you’ve narrowed the search to one vehicle, arrange a test drive. This is the best way to determine if the vehicle is right for you. During the drive, pay attention to the vehicle’s brakes, acceleration, transmission, and power steering.
If the drive goes as expected, you should arrange for an official inspection. Just because the car drives good doesn’t mean there aren’t issues you can’t notice. Most mechanics will offer a pre-purchase inspection for around $100. You shouldn’t buy a used car without an inspection.
Never settle on the sticker price. Most sellers expect to haggle with their buyers so they list the car for a few thousand dollars more than their minimum price.
When ready, make an offer that’s lower than the average resale price for the vehicle. The first number you throw out there will be the starting point of the negotiation, so you don’t want to start too high.
The seller will make a counter-offer, and you will go on from there until you arrive at a price you’re both comfortable with.
Many how-to guides will encourage first time car buyers to avoid financing your vehicle at all costs. Obviously it’s best to save up your money and buy a car without a loan.
But we also have to be realistic. Millennials who are recent grads are saddled with student loan debt and will need to start putting their degree to good use right away. If you will use your car to go to work, then your car is crucial to you making money.
If you have above average credit, it is entirely possible for you to get a loan with an interest rate of 4%. Using that example, you could borrow $10,000 and end up paying back $11,000 total after 5 years. That’s just $200 per year in interest, not bad at all.
Do you have any tips you can share with millennials about buying your first car?
Sticking to a budget is something many people strive to do, but few can actually do it consistently. Budgeting is not as easy as it sounds.
It’s hard to budget for things like gas when the price per gallon keeps going up. Keeping to a budget is difficult when certain bills, like water, gas and electricity, change every month. Then there are those pesky unexpected expenses that always seem to pop up.
Like with any other skill, staying on budget is something that takes time and practice to master. Here are 7 tips for sticking to your monthly budget.
Giving yourself a cash-only allowance for all of the “extra” things you want is a great way to eliminate excess spending. Remember that once the money is gone, it’s gone, so that means no more lattes or other splurge items.
It’s easy to get a coffee or go out for lunch when you’re just swiping a card and not thinking about it. Instead of paying with plastic, take out a cash allowance each month to keep your spending under control.
Have the other members of your family participate in this exercise too by giving each person a monthly cash allowance.
Treat your savings account as a bill and pay it first. Having an emergency savings account is important for all those expenses you don’t expect, like an auto accident or an injury.
If you have direct deposit through your job, have a portion of your paycheck put directly into your savings account so you’re never tempted to use it rather than save it.
Eating out and buying groceries are two of the largest spending categories in most families’ budgets. Many people grab a pizza or fast food when they forget to take something out for dinner or can’t think of anything to cook.
Instead of eating out frequently, plan your meals in advance and shop weekly. This will help you avoid running out of food so you won’t have to do extra shopping mid-week.
Another advantage of shopping ahead is if you use the sales flyer to plan your meals you can save a bundle by shopping the sales. Using these deals and coupons can help keep your food budget in check.
Make a list (a mental list is fine) of the items you regularly buy and their price. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, so if you notice that mangoes, apples or avocados cost $0.50 in one season and $1.50 in another, plan accordingly.
Other items are seasonal too. TV’s are always cheaper right before the Super Bowl or after Black Friday. Grills are cheaper in the summer. Shop for clothing during Labor Day sales or during back-to-school-specials.
Many stores lower prices on items seasonally or on a weekly schedule, so knowing when something will be at the rock bottom price will help you plan your purchases better.
If your budget is too big for the amount of money you’re bringing in, take a look at your tax withholding to ease that burden a bit. Sure, having a huge tax refund in April is fun, but at the same time you’ve essentially given the government an interest-free loan all year.
Instead of lending the government the money, keep it for your monthly needs or put it in your own savings account so you can at least earn interest on it.
Whether it’s smoking, drinking or even a Netflix subscription that isn’t being used, eliminating your most expensive habits can help you lead a better life while putting more cash into your monthly budget.
Addicted to coffee? Switch from Starbucks to McDonalds McCafe. Love watching TV? Cancel cable and get a Hulu subscription. Look at your lifestyle and identify places where you can cut back on spending to help with your finances.
Use software or apps to help you keep track of your monthly budget. There are numerous free apps and online software packages that can help you track all of your spending and accounts. There’s Mint, Level Money and You Need A Budget.
These smartphone apps will give you an overview of where you’re spending money and help you identify places you can save. Some also alert you when your budget for a particular category is almost exhausted.
You already know that couponing can save you a lot of money. But you just don’t have the time or energy to hunt out the best coupon, clip them and fumble through the checkout lines at the grocery store.
If that sounds like you, a mobile coupon app can help you get the savings you want with far less effort than traditional methods of hunting, clipping and saving coupons.
Read on to learn about 6 of the best mobile coupon apps for your smartphone.
SnipSnap operates like a coupon binder. It allows you to search stores for coupons and then download them to the app where you can access them later. It’ll even sort by expiration date and let you search your coupons later for easy access. When you get to the checkout counter, just scan the coupons from your phone and you’ll see the savings automatically come off your total. Best of all, the app is free which really appeals to savvy shoppers.
Yowza operates by allowing retailers rather than users to upload coupons to share. That results in better savings and more accurate coupon codes. You can search the app based on your location or the retailer. You can even search for your favorite stores, even if they’re not in your immediate area. Over 70,000 retailers participate with Yowza, making it a great way to get exclusive coupons for your favorite stores. The app is free and works with iPhone or Android devices.
Express Checkout is part savings app and part sanity saver. Instead of fumbling with your keyring to find your savings cards, Express Checkout keeps all of your loyalty cards in one convenient location. You can scan your loyalty card directly from your phone, eliminating the need to weigh down your key ring with excessive clutter.
Coupon Sherpa offers a virtual wallet that you can save your coupons into. It offers a variety of savings options by retailer, brand or other distinguishing characteristics. You can scan the coupons from your phone or you can print them off. The app is free and works on all operating systems.
ShopKick encourages you to shop by providing rewards when you visit certain retailers, even if you don’t make a purchase. It is a deals app and a rewards app all in one. It uses a location serve to track which stores you’re in and rewards you with points. You then exchange the points for gift cards.
You can also get points for completing social activities, taking surveys and performing other actions. The downside is that the app has to be open to reward you with points and it is known to drain the battery life of most phones.
Checkout51 is an effortless app that’s great for people who don’t really like to coupon. It offers a great cash-back product for products you’ve purchased anyway. You access the savings by scanning receipts, meaning you’ll never have to clip coupons or take them to the store. Once you reach a specific threshold you can have a check mailed to you.
Are there any apps you use to save money I may have missed? Let me know in the comments section.
Having a budget is a must-have for anyone looking to take control of their financial situation at home. But sticking to your budget is much easier said than one. But with steady practice, staying on track with your budget can get easier over time.
Here are 5 ways you can keep your expenses down so you can stay on track with your budget.
To create a smart budget you need to know where your money is coming from and where it’s going. Without this, you have no chance of making your budget work.
So step 1 is to find out how much everyone in the family makes. This includes summer jobs and side hustle gigs in addition to your main sources of income. Don’t forget to include year-end work bonuses and tax refunds.
If the money varies month to month, get the last 3 months and average the total income out.
Knowing how much you’re making each month will put your financial situation in focus. Because at the end of this, if you realize you’re bringing in less than what you spend – something’s gotta give.!!
While reducing your expenses to make your budget work is a great idea, do not ignore the option of increasing your income! Doing this will allow you to maintain your quality of life. Look at my resources page for help with increasing your income from home.
Now that you know how much money is coming in, it’s time to figure out what’s going out. We need to create an expense report for your family to figure out what’s happening to all this money you’re earning.
You can use a spreadsheet to note your expenses, but a pen and paper will work too.
If you use a credit or debit card for all of your expenses, you’re in luck! Usually, there’s a year-end summary available in your account statements section. If you have several cards, you’ll need to add these figures up.
After you get the total, you’ll need to remember what other purchases you routinely make with cash. This could have been buying a used car with cash, or paying for $50 in gas every two weeks, etc.
Once you have your expense report finalized, it’s time to overestimate your expenses – because sh.. happens! That’s life.
Don’t you just hate when you make a budget and say your gas is $30, electricity is $50 and water bill is $80 and one bad month explodes your budget? Rather than trying to guess the exact amount each of your bills, overestimate them.
This way, if you have a good month, that means you have more money to spend on fun expenses. If you have a month where you use a lot of energy, then you’ll be right where you thought you’d be all along.
Rather than writing down your budget on a piece of paper or using a spreadsheet, use an app to help save time.
Here are the best budgeting apps:
Best of all, some of these apps allow you to invite family members so you can share your budget with them so they can all keep track of their expenses right from their smartphone.
The 50/30/20 rule is a simple smart budget anyone can follow. Here’s how it works:
Another popular budget is the 80/20 budget. In this one:
No matter what budget type you pick, remember these three main categories: obligations, goals and splurges. Your budget needs to account for all 3 of these.
Don’t forget to fund your emergency savings account.
It NEEDS to be fully funded at all times, no exceptions. What happens if you happen to get into an emergency situation such as your car breaking down or an unexpected medical event? This is when your savings account will help get you through these times.
It may seem counterintuitive to put money into your savings while you still carry a debt like an auto loan or credit card debt. But having a healthy savings account is imperative to your financial wellbeing.
By not having enough in your savings account, you’re just setting yourself up to land yourself in debt all over again.
Add an entertainment expense.
Life isn’t all about saving every penny you have. What’s the point of being the richest person in the cemetery? Life should be fun, so even though this article is to help you create a solid budget, don’t forget to have some fun too.
It sounds strange to put aside money for entertainment since having fun should be spontaneous. But you should allot a reasonable amount for entertainment each month. By being too strict on your budget you will only go nuts and go on a mad spending spree. By actually factoring in some fun each month, you are more likely to not get frustrated and stick to your budget.
Download this free budget printable to help you plan your expenses for 2020 and beyond. Using a simple budget printable can really help you see where your money should be headed in 2020.
Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, seeing those 2 lines on the test strip will change you entire life. Thinking about your future and the financial responsibilities you’ll soon face can trigger anxiety and stress in the most frugal of people.
Once parenthood is impending, it’s important for mom and dad to start thinking about finances and to get their priorities in order. Read on for 6 financial tips for new parents.
If you don’t already have a life insurance policy, get one. Once you have a family, a death could leave behind not just a grieving spouse, but a family that needs financial support.
Get a basic term life insurance policy instead of a permanent life policy to save money. Make sure you get a plan that covers the life of your mortgage and will provide support until at least the kids are out of school.
Check your employers leave policies and health coverage. You’ll want to look into maternity leave or paternity leave as soon as possible so you can start planning what will happen once the baby arrives.
Also, find out if the birth will be covered with your health insurance and how much you can expect to pay. Even if you have good insurance it can still cost thousands of dollars to have a baby in a hospital.
Ideally, you’d already have an emergency fund with enough money in it to cover any bills should you get laid off. If you don’t, now is a good time to start one.
Even if you can’t fund the whole thing before baby arrives, it’s good to have any amount of cash in reserve for unexpected expenses.
Once baby arrives it’s a good time to start a 529 college savings plan. When your kids go off to school you’ll have a nice nest egg of tax-advantages savings that can be used to pay for tuition or other school expenses.
Best of all, other relatives can add to the account and help it grow, making birthdays and holidays a breeze for relatives.
Wills, estates and things like that aren’t just documents that old or elderly individuals need. Unexpected deaths can happen to anyone, so it’s important to have a plan in place that details what you want to happen to your belongings and your children.
Babies are expensive, so there’s no better time to get serious about budgeting. Look at your monthly expenses and find places to tweak the budget to make ends meet. You may be surprised how many monthly services you’re paying for that you really don’t need.
It is the responsibility of every parent to teach their children about money. Making your kids understand the value of a dollar is the best way to prepare them for the responsibilities that lie ahead.
Your children’s financial education will change as they grow and age, with different lessons being taught at different points in their lives.
Below, you’ll find five ways to teach your kids about money.
When your child is very young, a simple work and reward system will teach them how to earn money. Give them simple tasks, such as chores around the house and reward them with coins for their piggy banks. Very young children can do a variety of tasks, such as putting their toys away, folding towels, or helping dust furniture. The chores should be age-appropriate as should be the reward.
While a nickel per task is plenty for a toddler picking up their toys, teenagers will require a heftier payment for more involved work, such as washing the car.
Once your kids have mastered earning money, it’s time to teach them about saving money. Take your kids to the bank and open a savings account, then take them back to the bank once a month to deposit their chore money.
If your kids have a habit of spending their money before they can save it, try having them deposit their money in a locking box, to which you hold the key.
You can also teach your kids about money while shopping at the store. Whenever they ask for a toy or special treat, have them think about how much it costs in terms of how many chores they would have to do to earn it. Try phrasing your response like, “That toy boat costs a lot of money. You would have to put away 25 toys to earn that.”
If your child still insists on getting the boat, tell them they need to earn the money before they can buy it and they will have an opportunity to do chores when you get home.
Often, your kids will find that they don’t want the toy as badly once they are out of the store. This doubles as a lesson about impulse buying and self restraint.
Use cash when you go shopping, so your kids can experience handling and counting actual money. Schools are slowly phasing out children how to count money and make change, so it’s up to you as a parent to make sure your kids understand basic concepts about finances.
Give them chances to count and handle money in real life situations so they can learn valuable financial skills.
When your kids are teenagers, talk to them about credit cards. You need to make sure to get to them before the credit card companies do. Make sure they understand that credit card purchases represent real money.
Teaching your teenagers about credit cards will help them make good choices as adults. You can further press the lesson by creating an invoice of items they ask you to buy and presenting them with the invoice at the end of the week or month to be paid for with their allowance money.
This way, they will gain experience and understanding, without the potentially devastating credit implications of learning with a real credit card.
If you’ve always had access to a car, ditching your wheels may seem like a scary endeavor. But if you’re lucky enough to live in a city or an area with good public transportation, it’s entirely possibly to get rid of your car and still get by quite comfortably.
Living the car-free life will save you money on gas, repair bills, car payments and car insurance. If the savings sound appealing, read the following 5 tips for living without a vehicle.
A bike will be your new wheels and best of all, it doesn’t run on costly fuel. Besides letting you easily navigate city areas, riding a bike is environmentally friendly and it keeps you in shape.
This GMC Denali bike from Amazon has 600+ reviews, is about $200 with free shipping. You can also find great deals on used bikes at garage sales or on classified sites like Craigslist.
You’ll also want to purchase a bike lock to prevent your new set of wheels from being stolen. The Kryptonite Kryptolok is Amazon’s best seller.
To live a car-free life you’ll want to learn how to navigate public transportation. Familiarize yourself with the routes of the busses, trains and subway systems in your city. Odds are they’re going where you’re going and for a small fee they’ll do all the hard work for you.
Google Maps on your smartphone is your friend who can help you choose the best route to and from work. You can even adjust your route by choosing options with fewer stops or less walking.
Have a solid plan in place for your weekday commute so you never have to wait too long or get stranded. While these services (almost) always run like clockwork, it’s good to have a backup plan in place. Google Maps again will help you find alternate routes if there’s ever any service disruptions.
While you’re at it, look for a discount card. Frequent riders can buy multiple rides at once in most cities to get a discounted rate. Reusing a reloadable card can provide even more savings.
Without your car, it will probably take much longer to go where you need to go. If you’re walking, riding a bike or taking public transportation, odds are that you won’t be able to get anywhere in 5 minutes anymore.
Instead of being chronically late, plan your commutes ahead of time and leave a buffer in case the public transportation system is delayed or if you run into problems along your way.
When you had a car, the weather wasn’t much of a concern. However, when you’re relying on public transportation, a bike or your own two legs, knowing the weather can make a huge difference.
Since you’ll be exposed to the elements, check the daily forecast and plan ahead to see if you need to bring a raincoat, umbrella or a pair of boots with you.
In today’s society, it’s almost impossible to avoid riding a vehicle altogether. You may work in an area where transportation service is spotty or you may just work too far away.
An alternative to not owning a vehicle is to carpool with a co-worker. Agree on a monthly payment plan and both of you will be happy.
Your co-worker will get to work sooner since they can ride the carpool lane, they’ll get some money to offset the cost of gas and some company for their commute.
You will benefit the most though. No more insurance premiums, no more vehicle maintenance fees, no more trips to the gas station, no more car washes, no more vehicle registration fees. You even get a driver and you’ll help the environment.
Clipping coupons is a pain, but if you have a smartphone there are plenty of apps that can make your life much easier. There are tons of money-saving apps available that let you view, save and use coupons right from your phone. You’ll never have to clip a coupon and you’ll still enjoy the savings at the register.
Read on for 8 shopping apps you need to download right away.
If you’re a Target shopper, you need this app. The app lets you see the latest deals in the store and add special offers to your cartwheel. Then, you can use all of the coupons you’ve selected at the register with just a simple scan of a barcode off the screen of your phone.
If you shop at Walgreens, you’re probably familiar with the coupon books they put out each month. Instead of clipping coupons from the book, why not snag them on your phone? You’ll never forget your coupons and you won’t waste paper tossing out the ones you don’t want. You can clip the coupons electronically and them scanned at the register. As a bonus, you can also manage your prescriptions through the app.
Similar to the Walgreens App, the CVS App allows you to view and use coupons over your phone. It also allows you to order products through an online store. The downside is that you need a CVS card to use the app, but if you’re a frequent shopper it shouldn’t be a problem.
SnipSnap is a tricky app since some stores won’t let you use it. The app allows you to take pictures of your paper coupons for later use. You can file the coupons in a particular order and even use a search program to find coupons within the app itself.
If you’re the type of shopper that prefers working with a list, Dealnews offers the top 300 deals in your area so you can browse and discover great savings near you. The products span a range of varieties and the list is updated daily.
If you use in-store savings cards, SavingStar can let you load coupons right onto those cards. It is a coupon app that works specifically with grocery stores, letting you clip and save coupons from the app.
If you’re a restaurant and store shopper, RetailMeNot has your back. You can browse deals from your favorite retailers and bookmark anything you’d like to use in the future. This is a great app for people that shop in a variety of stores and are always on the lookout for coupon codes.
Groupon is an app that offers local items and services at reduced costs. You can use the app to participate in giveaways and to redeem your Groupon vouchers.
Why apps do you use?
Black Friday has always been a holiday that bargain hunters have eagerly awaited. The day after Thanksgiving officially kicks off the Christmas season and some savvy shoppers flock to the stores hoping to get great deals on the latest gadgets, clothing trends and more.
However, in the last five years Black Friday shopping has become even more intense than it was in years past with stores opening earlier – even on Thanksgiving – and online deals rivaling those in stores.
Before you head out for Black Friday this year, check out the following 8 tips to stay organized and on budget.
Compare in-store and online deals. Some of the bigger retailers are now offering their best-selling in-store items online at the same price. This lets you bypass the lines, the crowds and the frustration. Be prepared for long loading times though since sites can easily get overloaded.
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending and overdo it. Put a limit on your spending and don’t deviate from your plan to avoid post-holiday remorse.
Make a list, check it twice and cross off anyone whose been naughty, not nice. Pick out the best sale items that you definitely want to buy and make a list of when the stores open. Make up your plan of attack, carefully charting your course based on opening time and the popularity of the product.
There are plenty of websites that will send you an email alert as soon as the black friday ad is posted. Sometimes you can even get printable coupons to use in store during the sales. Sign up for email alerts to get notified if your must-have products are on sale and to get any extra discounts that may be available.
These are special early bird specials where hot-ticket items are way marked down. Doorbusters typically sell out quickly, so you may need to wait in line to get one of these deals, so get there early if it’s something you really want.
Black Friday will be one of the longest shopping days you’ll ever experience, so it’s important to be comfortable. Forget looking cute while you shop – the other shoppers won’t even notice as they’ll be much like sharks at feeding time. As long as you’re decently covered and comfortable, you’re good to go.
Sometimes you find a better deal after Black Friday and sometimes you just have buyer’s remorse. Whatever the case may be, make sure you know which stores you can return things to and what the time frame is for doing so.
Sadly, Black Friday shopping is a huge draw for thieves. Whether it’s purse snatchers, pick pockets or credit card thieves, the frazzled masses mobbing retailers after dark is really attractive to the wrong kind of people. Only bring what you really need with you to go shopping and keep track of your purse, wallet and cell phone at all times.