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7 Ways to Make Extra Money When You’re Absolutely Broke is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Being broke is not a comfortable feeling. I don’t like to think back to the times when I was flat out broke because they were tough. I remember being a single mom in college while renting out a small one bedroom apartment.

There were several months where I felt like I had no money to my name. Sometimes it was a stretch to pay rent and cover basic expenses. Looking back, I know I spent too much time feeling sorry for myself and living in self-pity. I didn’t think there was anything I could do at the time to improve my circumstances other than wish for more money.

Instead of getting down or simply wishing, the best thing you can do is make extra money when you’re broke. If your cash flow is so low, it has nowhere else to go but up.

Here are 7 practical ways to make extra money when you’re broke.

Here are 7 practical ways to make extra money when you're broke.
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1. Start Selling Stuff

When you’re absolutely broke, you need to act fast in order to make money. You also can’t afford to spend a ton of money by setting up an additional income stream.

One of the best ways to make extra money when you’re broke is to start selling stuff around your home. Odds are, you have items like clothing, electronics, decor, furniture, kitchen supplies, tools, and clothes that you are no longer using.

You can list these items online for sale without even having to leave your house or spend any more money. Consider using sites like Amazon or eBay to sell online or use Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace to sell locally.

If you have electronics you no longer use like an old phone, gaming console or tablet, consider selling them to online buyback stores like Decluttr.

2. Walk Dogs or Babysit

People always need childcare. If you want to start babysitting, let your friends and family know then tell them to spread the word. See if you can create a profile on Care.com to start connecting with parents who may need your services.

You can offer to babysit during hours that are less common like early in the morning or during events or weekends so parents can enjoy a date night. Most daycares are not open during these times so this will prompt more parents to consider hiring you.

You can also make decent money by walking dogs or becoming a pet sitter. Create a profile on Rover or Wag in order to market your service to pet owners in the area. You can typically earn anywhere from $15 – $30 per walk and $30+ per night if you decide to pet sit while owners are out of town.

3. Donate Blood or Plasma

If you are 18 or older, in good health and don’t mind needles, you can make extra money by donating blood or plasma. Some centers will pay you anywhere from $20 to $25 per week the first time and up to $30 – $45 if you come back again.

Personally, I’ve never donated blood for cash before but I know plenty of people who have. My husband actually did this a few times for extra money in college. For medical reasons, you can only donate plasma up to two times per week.

Still, you can earn around $200 – $400 per month if you do it regularly. Most centers will pay you cash after your donation or give you a prepaid card that they load with your compensation.

4. Offer to Help Someone

Can you provide a service to someone that helps them save time and energy? If so, you can most likely get paid for it. Consider the skills and experience you have. Maybe you can help someone move one weekend or fix a leaky faucet.

Maybe you can offer to watch another parent’s child after school or help an elderly neighbor do some yard work. If you excel are a particular subject, perhaps you can offer to tutor kids in your area.

You can use apps like TaskRabbit to find people who need short tasks taken care of in your area. Just focus on serving other people and you’re bound to come across someone who is willing to pay you something for your help.

5. Write an Article

This is something I definitely did to make more money when I was broke. It was probably the only thing I did but I enjoyed writing and found it pretty easy. Even if you’re not the best writer, you can still make extra money quickly by writing an article online.

Check out sites like Craigslist and Upwork for gigs. I used to find gigs on Craigslist and some of them were recurring. I worked with this one website owner who paid me $25 – $50 to write lifestyle articles and feature stories for his site. I also found another client who paid me to do light research on Canadian real estate and write short 300-word articles on my findings.

I didn’t earn a ton of money from writing at the time, but it was quick money and enough to help me pay a bill or add to my food budget.

6. Take Surveys

When I mention online paid surveys as an earning opportunity, I always like to lead with the fact that taking surveys won’t make you rich or replace your income. I also doubt you’ll make enough to pay your rent or mortgage.

However, it’s a super easy way to make some extra money to help supplement some of your expenses. I recommend signing up for multiple legitimate survey sites (like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Pinecone Research, and Opinion Outpost) to maximize your earnings.

Consider taking surveys during your spare time, while commuting or even while watching TV.

7. Earn a Sign on Bonus with Uber or Lyft

Uber and Lyft both offer sign-on bonuses to new drivers who complete a certain number of trips during their first month. You will need a little money to start making money with a rideshare company, but it’s mainly just gas so long as your car is in good condition.

Your sign on bonus could be hundreds of dollars and that’s in addition to whatever you earn from driving. The great thing about Uber and Lyft is that you can get paid weekly so you can essentially cash flow your gas money by deducting some from your weekly earnings so you can keep driving and making more money. You can also cash out your earnings earlier if you need to and only pay a small fee usually around $0.50.

Final Word

Being broke is not a life sentence. The best thing you can do is find a way to make extra money so you can get back on your feet and improve your cash flow. Set a goal for how much money you want to make, then consider trying one or more of these quick income-generating opportunities.

You don’t have to settle for being broke. Have you considered trying any of these ways of extra money? 

7 Ways to Make Extra Money When You’re Absolutely Broke is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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What To Do When Unexpected Expenses Pop Up is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

We have all gone through periods when unexpected expenses pop up out of nowhere. And we all choose to react differently to these types of situations, based on a myriad of different things at play. Part of our reaction has to do with our past history with money. Another part, that determines our reaction, has to do with our genetic chemistry. And the final part has to do with how we CHOOSE to respond when these situations occur.

The Past

Our history with money is something that we really have no control over. Your past is simply your past and it helped to shape who you are now. And how you look at money and financial situations.

However, your past can have a serious impact upon how you react to unexpected expenses popping up. This is where the term “knee-jerk reaction” comes from. I know that for me, personally, my knee-jerk reaction is always to go into irritation and anger mode upon the onset. But, usually, in less than a minute, I automatically shift into serious problem-solving mode to figure this thing out.

Here is a good example of how your past can predict your reaction:

  • In the past, you have been in a spot where your secure income stream was suddenly taken away
  • You then had to scramble to figure out how to pay your bills and feed your family
  • What was your reaction to that situation?

However you chose to react previously, will give you a good indicator of how you would react if it happened again.

And this may, or may not, be a good thing.

More than likely, if you find yourself in a similar position again, then your previous reaction did not elicit permanent positive change. This is simply due to the repetition of similar experiences, which does not propel you further, but holds you back.

Technically, we are looking at the definition of insanity here. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you want to change your situation, you have to change your behavior.

Your past can have a serious impact upon how you react to unexpected expenses popping up!
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Chemical Reactions?

And speaking of behavior, it is not just your past history that predicates it. How you react to unexpected expenses cropping up may have more to do with your genetic chemistry than your past.

The Journal of Molecular Psychiatry published a study that touches on this exact topic. What it shows is that some of us may react very differently than others, solely based on our brain chemistry.

I know that sounds a bit crazy, but hear me out. Even though we are all the same species, there can be some major differences between us when it comes to our chemical composition. It all comes down to the hormone and neurotransmitter, Norepinephrine.

Here is the gist of the study results:

  • If you have a LOWER level of the norepinephrine transporters (this means that you have a buildup of norepinephrine in certain parts of your brain) – you are much more likely to have a LOWER aversion to losing money.
  • If you have a HIGHER level of norepinephrine transporters (meaning your brain does not carry a buildup of norepinephrine) – you are much more likely to have a HIGHER aversion to the financial loss.

Falling into the latter category means that you may have a much stronger reaction to the loss. This can, in turn, make you more driven to regain financial stability rapidly.

Unfortunately, though, sometimes this reaction can actually make the situation worse due to hasty decision making. Therefore, no matter what your reaction, take the time to think it through carefully before making any rash decisions.

React Accordingly

You may not be able to control your past history or brain chemistry. But, knowing these things about yourself, and your past reactions can help how you react in the future. Take a look at some of the most common reactions and see which ones you have exhibited in the past:

  • Anger – I don’t deserve this, because I am a good person! Don’t you know who I AM?
  • Blasé – Whatever. Who cares. Money is a stupid human creation and it doesn’t mean anything.
  • Despondence – I am in such shock. I don’t know what to do.
  • Hurt – How could this happen to me? I am such a hard worker and a great person. Why did I get taken advantage of?
  • Hysteria – This is completely insane! It’s just too much and I simply can’t handle it.

Each of these common responses leads to some common reactions also. Some of which are healthier for your financial security. And others, not so much. The most common corresponding reactions are:

  • Anger – Quick, rash decisions. Usually not in their best interest and can cause more money lost.
  • Blasé – Will go on as if nothing ever happened and continue to spend money, but won’t make any moves to recover the unexpected lost funds.
  • Despondent – Frozen behavior. Very little to no action, due to lack of processing the information.
  • Hurt – Depression, withdrawal, very little to no positive action, spending more money to self soothe.
  • Hysteria – Usually elicits a combination of “hurt” and “withdrawal” reactions. This can cause yo-yo spending and saving sprees, which can spiral out of control.

Understanding which behavior(s) you have exhibited in the past, and the correlating reactions can help you change your future reactions. So this is a very important form of self-reflection that you should engage in so as to not repeat the same pattern over and over again.

Unexpected Expenses Game Plan

Please understand that I am not saying you shouldn’t feel what you feel. You absolutely should!

Feeling what you feel, and understanding the past reactions can only help fuel the fire to recover your financial security. Give yourself a day to go through all of the emotions and then come up with a game plan.

Assessing the situation is a very important part of potential financial recovery.

  • Take an in-depth look at what was lost, or will be due to no secure financial income stream.
  • Write down all of the numbers and be as specific, and close to the penny, as possible.
  • Then sit down and take a look at your regular bills.
  • Make a budget that incorporates your regular bills and saving as much as possible to recover your emergency fund.
  • There are some great apps to create a budget, such as MintPersonal Capital, and Digit.

Once you have your proposed budget, then I suggest figuring out ways to side hustle. This means pick up as many side jobs as you can. Side hustles can end up being pretty lucrative. Plus, there are a lot of them you can do in your own time so you can create your own schedule.

If you have debt, work on paying that off first and then work on your savings.

However, a good rule of thumb is to always have about a 6-month cushion in your savings account. Depending upon your situation, this can be hard to do sometimes. But the more you have in your savings, the more of a cushion you have, and the more breathing room to recover.

Cut back on your spending, EVERYWHERE! Go back to living like you did in your early college years, because this will help you recover faster.

Although, based on your past history and your brain chemistry, you may be a person who reacts the complete opposite. If you feel as if you will never recover and start spending money like it’s water, then you are just digging yourself deeper. Just remember this is only a temporary setback and you will come out stronger. But only if you look at the situation differently.

Instead, do the opposite of your knee-jerk reaction. Put your head down, bust out the side hustles and keep your hands out of your wallet.

And another quick tip is to switch to cash instead of credit cards. This makes spending much more “real” when you use cash as opposed to a card. You will then be less inclined to spend money if you see it and feel it more. This can help you recover faster from the unexpected financial drain.

Eventually, you will come out of it. Hopefully, you will not only fully recover, but come out stronger and more financially secure.

What are some of the ways you have handled unexpected expenses? Did you come out the other side stronger for being in that situation?

What To Do When Unexpected Expenses Pop Up is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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How My Family Spends Virtually Nothing on Clothing Each Year is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Yes, you read that right. My family and I spend practically nothing on clothing each year. We have a monthly clothing budget of just $30 for our family of three and most months, we don’t even use it. If we did that would only add up to $360 per year.

It’s funny how we got to this point because I used to shop a lot. I did so much online shopping for clothes that I had my debit card number, expiration date, and security code memorized which is pretty dangerous for a shopaholic.

Once I got serious about getting out of debt, I chose to go on a clothing ban. It wasn’t too difficult since I already had a ton of clothes. Over time, I eased off the clothing ban and came up with a small clothing budget for my family.

It actually worked. If you’re looking to spend nothing on clothing too (or close to it), here are some tips that helped us.

Knowing What We Have

Knowing your inventory is the first step if you want to spend less on clothing. Since I used to shop a lot, I knew I already had a ton of clothes but sometimes they were hard to locate. My husband and son already had quite a bit of clothing to start with as well due to giveaways.

I started by organizing what I had and taking good care of it so it would last longer. Some of the clothes I used to replace were due to that fact that I lost the original item in the first place which was kind of careless on my end.

Using the Marie Kondo method of tidying up and organizing your clothes can also help you keep track of your inventory better. However, back then I wasn’t familiar with that method so I categorized my clothes by color and kept track of all my favorite pieces.

Once you know what you have and can cover the basic staples, you may find that you have everything you need and can spend nothing on clothing as well.

Thrift Stores

We tend to check out thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army whenever we do need new clothes. Some people don’t like thrift shopping but I love the hunt. I often find good-quality clothing for my son including durable name brand jeans.

He grows so fast I see little reason to spend a ton of money buying him brand new clothes that he won’t be able to fit a year from now.

My husband can also find nice shirts at thrift stores so it’s our go-to if we really need something.

Accepting Hand-Me-Downs or Giveaways

My family and I aren’t afraid to accept free clothes. My son gets a ton of hand-me-down clothes from family members which has been super helpful to us. I don’t think I’ve bought him a winter coat in years and I feel truly blessed to have a generous family.

I don’t get offered too many hand-me-downs but my husband does sometimes from his brothers or parents.

Giveaways are also a good way to get free clothes especially if you have kids. Last year a previous coworker of mine posted on Facebook that she had a ton of boy clothes and was looking for someone to give them to. When I found out most of the clothes were in my son’s size, I asked about them and was able to get a ton of nice boy clothes as a result.

Gifts

My family and I don’t flat out ask for clothes as gifts, but friends and family like to gift us with clothing every now and then for birthdays. For example, I usually host a birthday party for my son every other year and friends often ask what size he wears so they can buy him clothes.

Since he’s getting older, he doesn’t play with toys much so the most common gifts he likes to receive are clothes and PlayStation game cards.

My husband also tends to get gift cards and clothing as gifts for his birthday. He has one friend who loves to buy him nice shirts for his birthday (without him even asking) so again it’s a nice gesture and reduces the need for us to go out and buy clothes.

This past Christmas, my mom gave my sister and I each a brand new coat she ordered. I also gave my mom boots but it was awesome that we each gave each other gifts we really wanted and needed.

Coupons and Utilizing the Off Season

Yes, we still go to stores occasionally to buy new clothes. When we do we use coupons. I like stopping by Kohls during the back to school season because they have a ton of discounts and coupons so shoppers can save.

ThredUp is an online consignment store I like to shop at because their clothes are already discounted and they even provide coupons for new shoppers and credits for those who get referrals.

I also like to shop the clearance section at Target because I can usually find clothing at great prices. Target also has their own app and they load it with coupons and offers.

Cash Back Rewards

While shopping online for clothes is rare for me, I do like to use cash back rewards sites like Ebates to earn money on my purchase. This ultimately reduces my out of pocket costs for clothing.

I also have a cash back credit card that I can use to help us pay for clothes should we ever need to do a huge haul. I use my cash back card for everyday purchases and pay the bill off in full. So far, we haven’t had any huge hauls because we obtain new clothes and/or shoes whenever we need to.

Remember, we do have a budget for clothing so it’s not like we can’t go out and buy new clothes if we need them. Sometimes we don’t use our clothing budget at all so we either roll that money to the next month or spend it on something else.

I still value having nice clothes that I love and enjoy wearing, but I don’t shop as a hobby anymore. Drastically reducing our spending in this area has freed up more money in our budget for experiences, debt payoff, additional savings, and other areas of our life that we value.

Do you think you could spend nothing on clothing each month or even for an entire year? Why or why not?

How My Family Spends Virtually Nothing on Clothing Each Year is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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Is It Better To Shop With Credit Cards or Cash? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Whether to shop with credit cards or cash is always the million dollar question. At least, it is in our house. In today’s digital world, shopping with credit cards is just so much simpler. But in the grand scheme of things, is it the best way to shop for our long term financial wellness?

Shop with Credit Cards

Doing regular shopping, especially with children in tow, can just end up being more of a pain than anything else. So, as most of us try to do, I want to make shopping easier, quicker and less painful. This is where credit cards come into play.

The easiest way to go shopping is with a credit card. Or is it? Of course, it is simple to just swipe your card and move on to the next place. But there are a few things to think about before proceeding with just swiping left and right with your credit card.

Yes, I may be able to rack up some serious reward points on my credit card just by doing regular shopping with it, but at what cost?

The reward points on credit cards are only worth it if you pay your card off every month. If you don’t, then the monthly interest you are paying will be well more than the rewards you are getting. And this is what the credit card companies hope you will be doing. That way they can make some serious money off of you.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to make money off of the credit card companies instead. Therefore, we make sure to pay off our credit card in full every month, to justify what reward points we are making. In order to do this though, we use mostly cash and just fill in with our credit card for things like:

  • Gas (because we don’t want to have to go into the gas station)
  • Amazon purchases
  • Train fares
  • Places that won’t accept cash

This is a great way to shop, even if it can sometimes take longer to pay with cash. This way we know that we have enough to pay off our card each month, because we don’t put much on it. By continuing to use our card regularly, and not using much of the total credit line, it helps increase our credit score. That may not be important to everybody, but we want to keep our credit scores as high as possible in case we need it for some reason. And this is an easy way to help with that.

But if you don’t have the cash flow to pay off your credit card every month, then it would be better for you to pay for everything with strictly cash instead.

The easiest way to go shopping is with a credit card. Or is it?
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Shop with Cash

As always, cash is king, if you happen to have it on hand. And if you don’t, then add it into your budget to take out a certain amount of cash per month.

We talk about our budget once a week to stay on track. That is when we decide if we have enough cash for our necessities for the week, or if we need to get out more cash. Even if you don’t go through your budget, weekly, it is best to do it more than once a month. Especially, if you are trying to stick to a strict budget while paying off debt or reaching a specific financial goal.

Envelope System

I really like the envelope system by Dave Ramsey, because it gives us more control over our spending. This is where you pull out cash and designate it all into separate envelopes to spend for the month. Some of the most common envelope categories are:

  • Groceries
  • Gas/Auto
  • Household
  • Gifts
  • Clothing
  • Miscellaneous

Basically, the theory is that we can’t spend what we don’t have in the envelope. Although, I can tell you that I have overspent before. I didn’t want to have to tell the cashier to take some of the groceries off and block the line. So, I whipped out my card and used it for the extra $3 – $10 worth of groceries.

I realize this is cheating the envelope system. But we are okay with using the credit card for those smaller amounts, since we pay it off every month. Either way, the total amount of the receipt goes into our budget spreadsheet. That way we know how much we have left for the month in each category, and plan accordingly.

If I accidentally go over and run out of cash, that means I get less cash out the next week. So it all balances out in the end.

Shop With Credit Cards or Cash?

Credit cards are great for boosting your credit score and getting some great reward points. However, these rewards are ONLY great if you can afford to pay off the balance right away. If you can’t, then continue to use strictly cash until you find yourself in a position to do so. This will help boost your financial wellness and keep yourself out of debt in the process.

Or you can use a combination of both cash and credit cards, like we do. Using mostly cash helps keep us on track with our budget, and rein it in if we are spending too much. By using credit cards for gas and minor purchases, it helps us get some rewards points. Plus it helps boost our credit score, which is a huge bonus for us.

Overall, you have to find the right balance that works for you.

Depending upon your situation, using all cash until you get out of debt may be the best solution for you. Temporarily.

Or, if you have a much higher income than your typical expenses, and are comfortable paying off your card every month, you may be fine with paying for everything with a credit card.

But if you are like us and have a little bit of debt left and some specific financial goals to meet, then a combo of cash and credit may just be the winning ticket. Either way, figure out what works for your best chance at long term financial wellness, and stick with it.

Do you prefer to pay for regular purchases with cash or credit cards? Why?

Is It Better To Shop With Credit Cards or Cash? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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How to Live Comfortably Without a Car is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Last year, I did something different and calculated all my expenses for the year. I usually just budget for monthly expenses and leave it at that but this time, I was eager to see how much certain things have cost us over a span of 12 months.

I was shocked to see how much we spent on our two cars. My husband and I both have paid off cars, but they were still expensive to maintain. We spent about $1,080 on insurance, at least $2,040 on fuel costs, about $1,500 on maintenance and repairs, plus a slew of other expenses like toll fees and car registration costs.

Overall, this made me wonder if we would be better off financially if we became a one car family. We could essentially cut these expenses in half. What about living without any car at all? These expenses would be eliminated completely.

One of my friends recently decided to give up her car which made me wonder if people would live comfortably without a car. This is a serious question since I’ve owned a car since before I could drive. Still, if you’re wondering if you can live comfortably without a car and ramp up your savings as a result, here are some tips to help you make it work.

Living without a car is possible and can save you thousands per year.
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Reside in a Large City

This is literally one of the best ways to get by without owning a car. Some cities make it a hassle to own a car anyway. Cities like Chicago charge high monthly permit fees to allow residents to park their car outside their own home. Plus, if you go into the downtown area often, you will still likely have to pay to park. Plus, traffic in big cities can be pretty bad.

Knowing all this gives you all the more reason to not have a car. You can still get around by utilizing public transit which will likely be much cheaper than some of the gas prices.

You also won’t have to worry about parking fees and can even walk to some places if you live in an area that is pretty accessible. Walking or biking will allow you to get more exercise and explore your neighborhood.

Pick a Job That’s Close to Home

One of my first jobs was so close to home that I could often stop by my house during my 30-minute lunch break and visit my son. At one of my other jobs, I had a coworker who lived a block away from the office and I was always so jealous about how he didn’t have to sit in traffic and could likely even walk to and from work.

I understand that it’s not always realistic to work close to home but it is a goal you can shoot for. Again, when you choose where you live narrow down certain features and benefits that you want.

Do you want to be close to stores and restaurants? Do you prefer to be near office buildings or employers within your line of work? This would be a wise decision as it would save you commuting time and gas money. If you can walk or bike to work, you will find less use for a car.

Work From Home

This is also an option that may not be ideal for everyone, but more and more people are working from home these days so it could work for you too. Since I work from home, I often come to the realization that I probably don’t need a car and it’s just a luxury at this point.

I can make money and pay my bills right from my desk at home. I can also walk to a nearby store or cafe if I really wanted to get out of the house. There are so many jobs you can do from home including customer service, writing, virtual assistant work, marketing, consulting, nursing, transcription, legal work, and more.

If you have kids and they go to a local school, you may be able to even walk to the school for drop offs and pick ups or they can take the bus.

Use ZipCar For Errands

You probably don’t want to be a burden on friends and family just because you don’t have a car. That said, consider using ZipCar when you do need to run errands or drive to places that are further away.

Zipcar is a U.S.-based car-sharing service that provides car reservations to its members that are billable by the minute, hour or day. Members do have to pay a fee, but rates start as low as $7 per month or $70 annually and this includes insurance.

You can literally rent a basic economy car for $7-$10 per hour. Paying hourly will prompt you to run your errands in a timely manner. Plus, you won’t have to worry about maintaining the vehicle long-term.

Get Your Company to Pay For Your Public Transit

If you don’t have a car and need to take public transit to work, see if your employer can pay for this expense. While some forms of public transit are relatively cheap, other methods can add up quickly. For example, if you need to take the train into work each day, you may be able to get a weekly or monthly pass.

In my area we have the Metra train which takes passengers from the suburbs to the city. A monthly unlimited train pass can cost as much as $239.25 per month which isn’t horrible, but it adds up to $2,871 per year.

If your employer can pay that rate for you, you can still use the train unlimited for business and personal travel. This will free up more money in your budget in the event that you do need to use services like ZipCar or other methods of transportation.

Rely on Uber or Lyft Occasionally

Ridesharing companies can be a convenient way to get around when you don’t have a car – so long as you don’t overdo it. Set a budget regarding how much you wish to spend per month on Uber and Lyft rides.

Choose your rides wisely and only consider it an option if you can’t walk or take public transit. For example, you may want to use Uber once a week to go grocery shopping.

Depending on the distance, you probably won’t spend much. You can even lower your costs by referring friends and family to sign up for Uber and Lyft. You can share your referral code via email and social media. When someone signs up using your link, you’ll get credits that you can cash in for free rides.

Summary

It’s possible to live comfortably without a car and likely save thousands of dollars each year. Living without a car can free up more money in your budget so you can do other things. This may be easier to pull off in you live in a city, but it’s also doable if you’re in the suburbs as well.

Embrace alternate methods of transportation like public transit, biking, and even walking to help you get around. You’ll likely be healthier too in addition to having more cash in your wallet.

How to Live Comfortably Without a Car is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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What are Great Ways to Get Fantastic Summer Camps on a Budget? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Whether we like it or not, summer is right around the corner. Our kids can hardly wait for it to be here. But as parents, we think about summer break from a slightly different perspective.

Since most of us still have to work for the majority of the summer, we are starting to try and figure out what to do with our kids while they are out for the summer. This is where summer camps come into play!

Summer camps can also get pretty pricey these days. So finding summer camps on a budget, can be a second job in and of itself. I have found some great tricks to getting great summer camps, without killing my budget.

The Math

The first part of the equation to think about is:

How many weeks you will need them in camp over the summer?

For me, every year ends up being completely different. That is due to what I am been doing for work at the time, and how flexible my schedule will be.

The first few years after my divorce, I needed my kids in camps every other week while I worked.

Luckily, I was able to work it out with my parents so that they would take them during the day for one week during the summer. They did this so that they could spend some more bonding time with them. The side effect was that it helped me work, without having to pay for camp for the kids.

If you are going to need childcare for your kids all summer, then this is the first option I would look at. While it is possible to get in summer camps on a budget, nothing beats free. Especially if it means more bonding time for your kids with their family.

The second part of the equation is:

  • how much you make in a week and
  • how much camp will cost you?

Does it work out financially to send them to camp? If it doesn’t, and you can work it out to take a week or two off, then do it. If it is close, then you may be eligible for financial assistance. This is what saved me!

Scholarships

Scholarships can really be a blessing for a lot of parents. I have found that most summer camp programs funded by the city or county, have scholarship options. These are all needs based, so you will have to apply for the benefits through the program directly.

I have used three different programs in my area to help cut costs on summer camps. One is through the city of Raleigh, but the other two are not. These programs are:

Raleigh Parks and Rec has a ton of different summer camp options, and are usually a bit lower cost, to begin with than the other two programs. So, I usually start with them as a jumping off point.

Most summer camp programs funded by the city or county, have scholarship options.
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All three programs have scholarship options, though. So if you find a higher cost summer camp, that you know would be great for your child, don’t hesitate to fill out the scholarship application to see if you qualify.

An example of how much the Raleigh Parks and Rec Summer camps cost me is:

  • $60 – $75 a week per kid – I have to pack their lunches and provide two snacks and a water bottle
  • $10 a week per kid, is what it really cost me with the scholarship!

The YMCA summer camps usually run at about $222 per week per child. This is definitely NOT in my budget, even now. Therefore, I can apply for their financial assistance and then the price becomes:

  • $17 a week per kid – I also pack their lunches, provide two snacks, a water bottle and their swimsuits and towel

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences summer camps can be a bit more expensive. Right now they seem to be running between $300 – $375 a week per kid. This is REALLY not in my financial wheelhouse! But when I put them in camp there last time, I qualified for the scholarship. Plus, I was an ASTC member, so that gave me an additional discount. The prices broke down like this:

  • $225 – $275 a week per kid – I had to pack their lunch and one snack, depending upon the class, because some of them had food included if they were cooking
  • $60 a week per kid is what I ended up paying with the scholarship

While this one was certainly more expensive for me, and still is, sometimes the camps they offer are worth it. Plus, the museum usually keeps them longer hours for their camps. So it makes it easier for working parents to have a full day at work. Some of the other camps run less time throughout the day, which can lead to a shorter working day for us parents.

And even though I am now part of a blended family, since we aren’t married and don’t file our taxes together, we both still qualify for some of the summer camps scholarship programs.

Groupon

When all else fails, my other go-to solution to try is Groupon. Very frequently, there are listings for summer camps at a fairly reduced rate.

The best way to play this, if you have more than one child, is to call them to see if they will honor the same price for all children and/or all weeks you want them to attend camp. The reason is that vendors don’t make 100% of the going price when you purchase a Groupon. They usually make closer to 50% of the Groupon listed price instead.

Therefore, if you ask for the same rate the Groupon is showing, the camp will still be better off because they get 100% of that rate, instead of just 50%. Very rarely have I found a vendor to tell me NO when I negotiate this way.

Summer Camp Overview

The kids really like the opportunity of going to camp, learning new skills and meeting new friends. It helps them socialize and learn new things; while it helps me work without distraction. And it can still be done within my budget.

If summer camps are something you could use for your kids this summer but need to stick within a budget, then don’t forget to:

  • look at city and county programs
  • ask about scholarships
  • check Groupon

If you remember to do these things, you can get some great summer camps on a budget. Your kids and your wallet will thank you for it!

What are some of the best ways you have found to get great summer camps within your budget?

What are Great Ways to Get Fantastic Summer Camps on a Budget? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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8 Romantic and Affordable Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Your anniversary is coming up, and you’re stumped on how to celebrate. When my husband and I got married, we immediately started settling into our new life together after our honeymoon.

We also knew we wanted to pay off the rest of my husband’s credit card debt, so we hustled hard to make that happen. There wasn’t a lot of money leftover for dates, but we still made it work.

Whether you’re busy working on reaching financial goals together or a fancy anniversary trip just isn’t in your budget this time, here are 8 romantic and affordable ways to celebrate your anniversary.

1. Recreate One of Your First Dates

Maybe your first date with your spouse involved a budget-friendly activity. If it didn’t, go back to one of your other first dates that was pretty affordable.

My husband and I met up at a local restaurant on our college campus for our first date and we also enjoyed walking around campus.  Sometimes he’d come over to my apartment and we’d watch a movie together.

Celebrate your anniversary by recreating one of your favorite first dates and adding a special element to it.

2. Attend a Local Comedy Show

Enjoy a good laugh? There are tons of free and cheap comedy shows that are hosted all over. A brewery in our area actually hosts a free one most Thursday nights. All we need to do is pay for drinks and an appetizer if we wish.

You can also catch deals on coupon sites to lower your ticket prices. Just make sure you don’t sit in the front row so the comedian will be less likely to use you as target practice.

3. Visit a Museum

If you and your partner enjoy learning fun facts about interesting places and topics, consider checking out a museum in the area during a free or discounted admission day.

You may even have to travel a bit to find a new museum to explore but it will be worth it. Plus, you can plan to have lunch or dinner afterward and make a day out of it.

4. Go Camping

This may not sound like a glamorous way to celebrate your anniversary, but if you are both outdoorsy people you might love it. You can even turn it into a glamping experience. Bring a camping stove so you can prepare a variety of meals, rest up and sleep in on a fluffy air mattress, and spend your time hiking, fishing, and reminiscing together.

Spending time in nature may be the perfect escape so you can really take time to bond and make memories together.

Spending time in nature may be the perfect escape so you can really take time to bond and make memories together.
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5. Spend a Romantic Night Away

My husband and I did this for our first anniversary. We planned to take a trip every other year, so that meant that in between we’d do something local and affordable.

For this particular anniversary, I ended up finding a couple’s getaway resort in the area. We used Groupon to get a discount on a one night stay which was under $100.

Getting away for the night and going to dinner was a great way to celebrate and we didn’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money.

6. Go to the Beach

If the weather permits, visit a local beach and spend a day swimming and laying out in the sun. Natural beaches are often free to visit and you can pack a lunch or bring activities to stay entertained whether it’s game or books.

7. Day Trip

Day trips don’t have to be costly. In fact, that’s the main idea. Consider going into the city or visiting a nearby state and soaking up all the attractions to celebrate your anniversary. Some cities have passes that allow you admission to check out some of their top attractions all for one low fee.

Other times, you can take advantage of all the free attractions and experiences in the area.

8. Go Out But Skip Dinner

Let’s face it, dinner can be pretty expensive. But for your anniversary, it’s may be worth the cost depending on what you value. If you’d rather go out and experience something new together, maybe you can cook dinner together at home to free up more money for your activity.

Cooking together can still be romantic, and it allows you the opportunity to try a new recipe together or recreate a favorite meal. You can even consider going out for dessert, riding bikes or checking out a show.

Make It Special

Sometimes what you do to celebrate your anniversary isn’t a major deal. If you have a budget this year, stick to it and brainstorm ideas that will meet your spending flexibility.

Also, focus on making things special and romantic in a sentimental way. Only you know certain things about your spouse and the two of you each have your own set of memories together.

Consider doing things like:

  • Writing a special love letter to express your feelings
  • Making a photo album book to represent the highlights of your relationship
  • Creating a playlist of all your favorite love songs
  • Getting their favorite item engraved
  • Creating a custom photo item (like a blanket, coffee mug, etc.)
  • Renewing your vows together
  • Revisiting a significant place that highlights a milestone in your relationship

The sky is really the limit when it comes to determining romantic and affordable ways to celebrate your anniversary. You don’t have to just settle for the typical dinner and a movie date night.

The best part is that you don’t need a ton of money to do something special and show your spouse how much they mean to you. Build on this list and develop your own romantic anniversary celebration.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments along with whether you’ve ever used any of these ideas before.

8 Romantic and Affordable Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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Assets or inheritance abroad? Consider using specialist services is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Losing a loved one is a profoundly sad experience. This emotion is made worse by the realities of today’s world, as many of us have moved abroad in search of a better life.

And yet, even thousands of kilometres of separation doesn’t diminish the pride felt by their parents. When they pass, they leave behind inheritances for their kids. With their minds clouded by grief, countless individuals move cash bequeathed to them – and get screwed in the process.

Unless you’re financially literate, it can be hard to repatriate funds without losing a sizable chunk. Below, we’ll shed light on the pitfalls of international money transfer, and show you how to minimize your losses.

Many of us have family overseas

With each passing generation, more and more of us are willing to go international in search of opportunity. According to a 2013 UN study, 232 million people, or 3.2% of the world’s population, resided outside their country of birth. That represents a 33.6% increase compared with 1990 figures when only 154 million people lived abroad.

Even Americans, notorious for being homebodies (only 35% would consider moving overseas), are embracing the expat lifestyle. Nine million people, or about 2.8% of the population, lived abroad in 2016, according to State Department estimates.

This trend is only getting started. According to a survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, 59% of Millennials would consider heading overseas for work. That’s far higher than the general population figure – soon, international firms will employ more people than ever. However, these professionals will be leaving assets behind in their home country. From retirement accounts to investment real estate, they’ll eventually need to access them from abroad.

And then there are inheritances. As the years go by, the loved ones we cherish will pass on. When this happens, most don’t expect to run into issues when repatriating bequeathed funds. After all, the American estate tax doesn’t kick in until an inheritance’s value exceeds $11.2 million.

However, those inexperienced with the travails of international law and cash transfer can run into nasty surprises.

What problems can occur when repatriating an inheritance?

Overcome by grief, most fail to consider the tax implications of foreign inheritances. Many nations apply levies on estates, and your home nation may do the same when you repatriate these funds.

For example, Europe has laws that vary greatly from country to country. Denmark allows estates to move from the deceased spouse to their widow tax-free, but they tax children at a rate of 15%. Germany exempts smaller estates from its levy, but taxes amounts above €500,000 between 7-50%. Italians have a capital-friendly regime, with the first €1,000,000 exempt from its inheritance tax.

On the other end, your home government may interpret your repatriated funds as taxable income. Take Canada, for instance – generally, they treat funds from non-resident estates as non-taxable.

However, if the government determines your relative was a Canadian tax resident, you could get whacked. For example, if your mother raised you in Canada, but retired abroad, she could be considered a tax resident. Owning property, a bank account, or having Canadian family members could be all it takes for the Canada Revenue Agency to make its case.

Aside from avoiding double taxation via bilateral tax treaties, it can be hard to minimize your burden. However, most recipients of inheritances commit unforced errors when it comes to transferring them.

Used to dealing with their bank, beneficiaries of inheritances think nothing of moving money through them. This move is a huge mistake, as you can lose thousands that are rightfully yours – we’ll explain why below.

Beware the pitfalls of moving money without professional guidance

Think you’re in the clear by learning about inheritance laws? Not so fast – if you inadvertently break regulations governing cash transfers, you could get dinged again. If you send more than €5,000 to Canada from Finland, this act will expose you to a gift tax between 8-33%.

If your Finnish grandma has bequeathed you €20,000, how do you avoid coughing up 8% to the government? By sending it in tranches. By arranging five transfers of €4,000, you’ll be able to repatriate your money without paying a dime in tax.

Don’t do this through a legacy financial institution, though. For the longest time, banks had a virtual monopoly on international cash transfers. This situation allowed them not just to charge outrageous fees, but set unfair exchange rates.

Let’s say you’ve flown to the United Kingdom to dissolve your portion of your mother’s estate. You’ve never heard of online money transfer, so you send £50,000 to your Australian account through Barclay’s.

As of April 3, 2019, they’re offering a GBP/AUD rate of 1.7402. Less fees, you’ll collect 87,010 AUD on the other end. However, had you checked the interbank rate on xe.com, you’d blush at the margin that Barclays charges. At the time of your transaction (April 3, 2019), the GBP/AUD spot price was 1.8508 – that’s a spread of almost 6%!

Several money transfer providers offer rates just off interbank – how much could you save by going through them? We’ll introduce to a few top firms below.

Who can help me save money on international cash transfers?

The internet has revolutionized the money transfer business. Free from overhead (utility bills, salaries, bonuses, etc.), newly-formed competitors could charge low/no fees, and offer fantastic exchange rates.

If you needed to send an inheritance to, for example, Australia, you’d keep more than if you went through the banks. If you posted that same £50,000 through World First, you’d get a rate of 1.8460 – that would get you 92,298 AUD, with no fees deducted. That’s a difference of more than 5,000 AUD compared to Barclays!

What about Transferwise? They offer an exchange rate within a hair’s width of the interbank – 1.85078.  After deducting a nominal 0.35% fee, you’d get 92,215 AUD – less than World First, but far better than Barclay’s.

Keep the dirty paws of the banks/government off your inheritance

Most people that leave behind inheritances aren’t deca-billionaires. They’re hard-working folk that fought hard for everything they’ve ever earned. They want their children to be okay when they’re gone – as such, their kids should get everything to which they’re entitled.

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that. If you’re vigilant, though, you can maximize what you keep when moving inheritances across international borders.

Assets or inheritance abroad? Consider using specialist services is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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What is the Difference Between Airbnb and Airbnb Experiences? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

If you’ve heard of Airbnb, you know it can be a great deal when you travel. I know that we have used it quite a few times when scheduling our travel just to make our trips more budget friendly. Plus, staying at an Airbnb is a much different experience than staying at a hotel, so what’s not to love?

Did you know that Airbnb also has a thing called “Airbnb Experiences?” I know that we didn’t until a friend turned me onto it. Ever since then, I am in love! There are a few differences between Airbnb and Airbnb experiences.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb has been around for a little while now, so it has become fairly widespread. In fact, we have found them all over the world. Which is awesome!

Airbnb makes traveling cheaper because you have a ton of choices as to where you stay and which type of accommodations.

Hosts can offer up anything from:

  • single room in their house
  • whole floor in their home
  • cottage house outside of their main home
  • home they use as a vacation home – Although beware of this one because it is technically illegal in almost every state and county to rent these out as short term rentals. If Airbnb catches wind of it, these listings will be kicked off of Airbnb. I have seen it happen quite a few times now!

They all usually offer amenities of some sort so that you don’t have to pack everything with you. These can vary, depending upon the accommodation type, but can include:

  • sheets
  • pillows
  • blankets
  • towels
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • personal hygiene products
  • tissues
  • television
  • cable
  • Wi-Fi
  • coffee
  • refrigerator
  • microwave
  • stove
  • hairdryer

If you are really lucky, and savvy, you might even run across one of the few that offer breakfast every day also. This can save you a ton of money during your travels, so keep an eye out for these.

What is Airbnb Experiences?

While Airbnb Experiences is a part of Airbnb, it is a slightly different animal. The experiences option is not for lodging, but for experiences. Depending on your area, or where you are traveling, they can differ wildly.

Some smaller areas don’t have any Airbnb Experiences yet, because it is still fairly new, but they will soon. Most larger cities do, including ours. Lucky for us!

Experiences can be anything from:

  • Photo tours
  • Cooking Classes
  • Vineyard tours
  • Brewery tours
  • Art classes
  • Walking tours
  • Adventure tours
  • The list is almost endless!

The big deal here is that while they are similar to Groupon and Living Social, Airbnb requires that you prove experience in the thing you are planning to teach. Whether it is with a degree, professional certificate or work history. In order to host an experience, you must first prove that you are an expert in what you are teaching.

I really like this about Airbnb Experiences because I feel like it can be a different caliber of experiences.

As experience driven people, this twist on the traditional Airbnb has really peaked our interest.

Side Hustle with Both

As an entrepreneur, I am always looking for new things to dip my toes into from a business perspective. Also, since we are a blended family and don’t have our kids half of the month, Airbnb seemed like another good thing for us to try as a side hustle.

Airbnb

Unfortunately, we don’t have a separate space for guests to stay. But we do have 3 unused bedrooms and 2 baths for half the month.

It took a while to set up our original profile because you need good pictures of every space guests will have available for use. Once you input the pictures and what you want your profile to say, then you have to decide which amenities you will offer. We decided to offer breakfast for each guest since we have a culinary background and love to cook.

But, this turned out to not be advantageous for us. While every guest we had loved our space and amenities, we just didn’t make enough to make it worth it as a side hustle. The way Airbnb’s algorithm seems to work is based on similar offerings near you. It tells you what you should price your space at per night, but you can change this, of course.

However, if you are priced too high, then you won’t get any bookings. And they don’t seem to account for the few properties that do offer breakfast.

Since that was the case for us, as well as the fact that we weren’t huge fans of having people in our house above our heads while we were home, we only did this for a couple of months.

But, this may be a good option for you to earn extra money, as long as you price your space right for the area and don’t offer too many amenities.

Airbnb Experiences

Towards the end of our Airbnb side hustle, we found out about the Experiences version. Since my spouse is a Chef, I used to own a gluten-free bakery and was a bartender, we qualified to teach cooking classes. We have done this outside of our home before and love it. So it made sense to add another option to our offerings and give it a shot.

If you want to do this, the process is similar to setting up an Airbnb profile. You have to add some quality pictures of you teaching the experience, create a unique profile, set your days and times for the experience and then set the price. The pricing for this is a bit trickier. This is especially true if you are the only one in your area offering a specific type of experience.

We really enjoyed hosting culinary craft cocktail pairing classes in our home for couples. But, it became too taxing on us with everything else we have going on and the rate of return was minimal since we had to purchase all of the ingredients. And since we are very particular about quality ingredients, it was costing us almost as much as we were making after Airbnb’s 20% cut. So we aren’t doing this one anymore either.

However, Airbnb & Airbnb Experiences can be great side hustles for the right person, in the right market.

Airbnb & Airbnb Experiences can be great side hustles for the right person, in the right market.
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Airbnb for the Win!

Using Airbnb for traveling and enjoying new experiences is one of our favorite things to do. Despite the differences between Airbnb and Airbnb Experiences becoming a host in either platform can potentially make you some decent side hustle money.

I call that an all-around win!

Have you been a guest or a host for either Airbnb platform before? What is your take on it?

What is the Difference Between Airbnb and Airbnb Experiences? is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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Easy Ways to Cut Your Monthly Spending is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

Last year our monthly expenses increased quite a bit since our housing costs went up by around 40%. It was a huge jump for us, but we already live below our means so we knew we could handle it.

Still, I didn’t want to be house poor and be scraping by just to pay the bills. It feels great when you can afford your basic expenses and have a little extra to enjoy as you please or stash away in savings.

To ensure we had enough money to provide sufficient breathing room, we focused on finding simple ways to cut our spending. Choosing to cut your monthly spending doesn’t have to be a painful effort. Here are some easy ways to cut your spending if you’re looking to get started and see how much you can save.

Make Sure Your Home is Energy Efficient

A lot of people underestimate the importance of having an energy efficient home. It’s not only good for the Earth, but it can also help you keep your utility bills pretty low. Low flow fixtures can help you save money on your water bill and they’re easy to install.

Having the proper insulation along with a programmable thermostat can also keep your home warmer during the winter so you can withstand running the heat so often. Energy-efficient windows can help regular temperatures in the house and also reduce your overall heating and cooling costs.

Sometimes it doesn’t require a lot of effort or money to make your home more energy efficient. Just focus on taking it one step at a time. If you rent, you can request your landlord make certain changes or even help you cover the costs for them.

Stream TV Shows and Movies

I enjoy watching TV every week, but I’m not going to pay $100 – $300 per month on a cable bill and other miscellaneous bundled services. Cable companies are sneaky. They try to sell you expensive T.V. packages and bundle other services you may or may not need in order to make extra money.

An easy way to cut your monthly spending involves cutting the cord and streaming T.V. shows instead. Services like Hulu and Netflix are pretty cheap. We only have Netflix currently, and we use it to watch popular movies and T.V. shows.

I also watch some T.V. shows for free on YouTube. Finally, there’s always the library if you don’t want to stream content. You can always rent a movie or television show series for free.

Get Some Exercise

I enjoy having a gym membership although I do switch it up every now and then and cancel it. I like taking advantage of holiday sales when it comes to saving money on gym enrollment and monthly fees.

Sometimes you can even get a free 30-day trial at many gyms. Needless to say, you can always get rid of your gym membership and still get plenty of exercise in.

This is what I did when we were trying to save more money. I used to pay $125 per month for a kickboxing membership. I noticed I wasn’t going as often as I wanted so I decided to get rid of it.

I was still able to do active things like going on walks, riding my bike, hiking, and lifting weights at home. The best part? It was absolutely free.

Buy Snacks in Bulk to Keep In Your Car

This is one of my favorite easy ways to cut your monthly spending. My worst and most common impulse purchase is random snacks. I may be out and about running errands one day and feel the urge to stop for a soft drink or a snack.

As you can imagine, these little unplanned expenses can add up quickly over time. To avoid wasting all your extra money on sporadic snacking, buy snacks you like in bulk and keep them with you.

You can store snacks in your purse, backpack, car, etc. I literally have a box of granola bars that I keep in my trunk. It helps me satisfy my snack craving on the go without having to buy those expensive $3 or $4 granola bars in the gas station. I also bring my water bottle with me whenever I go somewhere so I won’t have to be tempted to buy beverages when I’m out either.

Switch to a Free Checking Account

Are you paying ridiculous checking account fees? You shouldn’t have to pay a ton of money just to keep your money at a bank. Check your account to see if you’re paying any avoidable fees.

Ask your bank if you can waive them in the future but be ready to switch if they refuse. There are tons of quality banks you can choose that don’t charge a ton of fees for no reasons.

Try an online bank like Capital One 360. There are no maintenance or overdraft fees and no minimum balance requirements. You can earn interest on your balance and open up over 20 different savings accounts for free.

Try an online bank like Capital One 360. There are no maintenance or overdraft fees and no minimum balance requirements.
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Make Your Lunch and Coffee At Home

Stop eating your money. I’ll be the first to say that I enjoy dining out, but when I do it all the time it gets pretty old and doesn’t seem as special. Commit to picking how many times you can comfortably spend money on restaurant meals. Then, prepare your meals at home and bring your lunch to work most of the time.

You’ll easily save $1,000+ per year doing this. The same goes for coffee. Drive past Starbucks each morning and make your coffee at home instead. You’ll still get your caffeine fix but at a fraction of the cost.

Deciding to cut your monthly spending is one of the best ways to make sure you have enough cash flow to exceed your expected and unexpected needs. I encourage you go through your budget line by line to determine the best ways you can cut spending and save.

Which areas of your spending can you cut and how much do you expect to save as a result? 

Easy Ways to Cut Your Monthly Spending is a post originally published on: Everything Finance - Everything Finance - Its all about Money!

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