My name is Brittany. I love personal finance and business which is why I saw it fitting to share my experiences with my fellow millennials. I’m not an expert. I am a mother who is constantly thinking about my financial future as well as my daughters.
Are you someone who likes to enjoy their leisure time going out to the movies? I do occasionally, but it can be expensive. Currently, I think I go to the movies about 4-5 times a month, depending on what’s out in theaters. It makes for a great date night (which I love!) and also a good time to hang out with your kids for early matinees. Depending on where you live, a single movie ticket can be from $7 – $20 for one person!
With the price of movie tickets and snacks at the almost non-avoidable concession stands, how can you make the experience more affordable? What if I told you there was a way to see movies for next to nothing cost?
As my boyfriend and I started going to the movies more often, he asked if i had MoviePass. I told him no and asked what it was. Essentially it has become our monthly thing to do.
What is MoviePass?
MoviePass is essentially a subscription service for watching movies. It allows you to go and see movies as many times as you like during the month for one low price! That’s right, you only pay once a month to see up to 31 days of movies.
How does it work?
With MoviePass, you sign up online or through the MoviePass app in the apple store and google play. They now offer two different plans to sign up for. For a limited time, you can choose the $7.95/mo. plan which includes 3 movies a month and an extended free 3-month trial of iHeart Radio All-Access. The standard plan “MoviePass Unlimited” is $9.95 and allows you to enjoy a new movie every day and you may cancel at any time.
Once you are signed up, you are sent a MoviePass card that acts as a credit card. Once you receive and activate your card, you are set to go. Use the MoviePass app to find a movie at your favorite theater and check-in. You can then use the self-service kiosks to buy your tickets with your movie pass card.
I’ve been using the card for the past month and so far have not run into any issues. There are some that say that they have had issues with checking in and getting tickets or their check-in being canceled. I have not experienced any of these, but my boyfriend had his reservation canceled on the first use. Since then there have been no issues and we have seen many movies with this service.
It is a great way to enjoy a night out and see the latest movies without breaking the bank. You still have to supply yourself with your favorite snacks for the film.
Establishing credit can be tough. Most people stay away from credit because they have of fear of getting into too much debt. The reality is you need credit order to get some major things in your life like purchasing a home or a car. Establishing credit means getting a start on your credit profile with loans, lines of credit and credit cards. If you want to establish credit, here are some ways to get you started.
Credit cards are a great way to help build credit as long as you are using them in the correct way. There are three types of credit cards that can help you start:
Secured Cards – these are credit cards that require you to have a deposit as your credit line in case you miss you payment. If you’d like a credit line of $500, you would need to send in $500. In this case, you are borrowing against yourself to prove you can handle repaying a loan.
Store Cards – these cards are a little more lenient in giving those with no credit a chance to prove themselves. You may start off with a credit line that is around $300 and work your way to $1000 or more depending on who the card is with. Store cards usually have very high interest rates so be cautious when applying for them.
Student Cards – perfect for students to help build credit if they haven’t started already. These cards often have rewards and other offers as benefits to being a student. If you’re looking for higher limits, you won’t find them here. The goal is to help show good repayment history and low limits are often the goal.
Another way to help build your credit is to become an authorized user on your parents credit card or a family member that is willing to help you establish credit. A lot of credit card companies will allow you to add an authorized user for free and without having to issue them a credit card.
Loans are a good way to build credit, but most lenders may ask for a co-signer with established history to be on the loan with you. If you have someone who is willing to co-sign with you, then you’re on your way.
Secured Loan – allows you to put up your own money as collateral for the loan: borrowing from yourself. If you don’t pay the loan back, the balance is paid back from the money you put in.
Personal loan – you may obtain a personal loan and be given anywhere from $300 – $500 with no established credit. If you’re looking to get a personal loan beware that you may require a co-signer with some lenders.
It’s easier for you to damage your credit than it is to fix or establish it. Obtain credit and use it responsibly to build trust with potential lenders.
I remember when I was on campus, I had one credit card for emergencies. There are multiple on-going expenses that you don’t think about having when you are a college student. The experience of going away or living on campus is meant to be fun. It is also meant to learn to be responsible. How can you make the most out of your college experience and still not end up dead broke?
Save on Textbooks!
Textbooks are expensive. There’s no other way to say it. Textbooks can run anywhere from $20 to $200 or more. One way you can cut down on your expenses is to buy used. Your school bookstore will sell used and new books. If you don’t care about excessive wear, you may find a good deal. Another place to look is online. Places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, campusbooks.com, and ecampus.com let you sell your used textbooks online. Sometimes you are able to get them even cheaper than in the bookstore. You do still have to take into account shipping prices for these sites.
College students eat, a lot! When you first enter college, you’ve probably signed up for a meal plan with your dining hall. This is a simple plan for a set amount of meals per semester. It’s an easy way to eat, especially as a freshman on campus. Got a job? Going Dutch with a friend on a meal may save you some cash.
You’re shopping habits don’t stop just because you’re in college. The only difference is the amount of money you actually have to spend on yourself. Using coupons while you shop can save you hundreds of dollars without breaking the bank. In-store clearance and sales paired with discount coupons can go a long way.
The college experience is fun, but can also be expensive. Always look for opportunities to save money as it’ll make college life a little easier. It’s better to learn good savings habits now so they can be applied once you graduate.
As you enter adulthood, you realize that it’s a lot different than you thought. You actually have to take care of yourself and if you have children, they’re counting on you too. Your parents may have made adulting look so cool and easy. The reality is…sometimes it’s not! Life get’s hard and sometimes your finances make it a little harder. With rent or a mortgage, student loan debt, credit card bills and a car payment, you can get frustrated beyond measures. So how can you ease the stress of your financial woes? Whether they are big or small, here are some tips that can help you relax and refocus.
Use That App!
Now, there’s literally an app for everything including managing your money. Apps like Personal Capital, Mint and Goodbudget are great for tracking your everyday income and expenses to help you stay on track. From banking and credit cards to auto loans and investments. All of your accounts are visible in one app.
Manage your stress
Being stressed can add to the worry and frustration when it comes to your finances. Managing your stress, especially at work, is essential to keeping a level head. Work stress can be the main contributing factor. Things, like feeling burned out, dealing with difficult clients or coworkers, or wanting a different position entirely, can severely affect the state of your financial health.
Keep it in your wallet
If you were to do an evaluation of your finances, what would you find? Most often it is that you are spending more on wants than needs. Most often, the urge to buy that shiny new toy or that new dress comes from a feeling of having “extra money”. Eliminating wasteful spending will help you adjust your spending and your budget and allow you to save more and stress less.
Be A Financial Goal Setter!
Sometimes the best motivator is setting a goal and accomplishing it. Evaluate your financial situation and set financial goals. Once you have a goal or a few, determine if they are short or long-term goals and find the best way at going about achieving them.
Now is the time of year where people start to seek out new years resolutions and the idea of changing circumstances in their life. You may be seeing a new career opportunity as well. Here are some job search sites that will help you get started.
Indeed: This is a great site for job seekers. The site pulls information from different job boards across the web and filters them based on your search criteria. You can search by job title and location, use keywords, and even sort by salary range. The search results will also tell you how long the job has been posted for.
LinkedIn: This professional networking site hosts every possible company you can think of. Each company has its own page and a link to current job openings with descriptions and qualifications. Like Indeed, you can search by location, salary desire, and job title. What I like about LinkedIn is as you are searching for your next career move, you can network with people that are at the company or people who may be linked to your connections.
Glassdoor: This engine is a little different than the others. You can search a job by job title, company, salary, and interview. With searching an interview, it allows you to review other people’s perception of their interview process with a company. You can also post a review of the company if you ever terminate your employment with them. This site does require you to sign up (for free) to review salary and other features.
Not quite sure where to start in your job search? There are also a few websites that offer advice on how to search for jobs on the web and other career advice:
The Muse (https://www.themuse.com): A great site offering a career coach to help you through the job search process. You can also research companies and explore courses to assist in the hunt as well. Have a question about your career search? There are many articles with the questions and answers you may be looking for.
The Ladders (https://www.theladders.com): Here you can apply for jobs but also be seen by recruiters. You are able to view salaries of your competition. Enter your job industry, salary, and location and it will match you with jobs based on the criteria you enter. They do charge for membership starting at $25 for 1 year, to $99 for 12 months.
Are you currently seeking a career change? What tools are you using in your job search and how have they worked for you?
I myself love to shop online. It’s convenient and I can do it from home in my pajamas! But can you save just as much shopping online as you can if you went into the store? Gathering coupons from the weekly Sunday newspaper to see what the best deal is this week can be too much sometimes. There is one savings tool that I have been consistently using to save money on almost every online purchase I make: Ebates. If you haven’t heard of Ebates, be prepared to enter a world of savings!
So what is Ebates? Ebates is an online company that allows you to earn cash back from purchases you make from online retailers. They have over 2,000 retailers to shop and earn cash back. They now also offer cash back in select stores if you register a visa card. Cash-back can be anywhere from 1% to up to 40%. Seasonal times such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday often offer double cash back. So for example, if you are shopping at Old Navy and they offer 5%, on Black Friday you could earn up to 10% back on your purchase.
How do you use Ebates?
Sign up for a free account (Yes Free!). New members usually are rewarded with a $10 welcome bonus and make a minimum purchase of $25 through one of the retailers within 90 days of signing up. Once you sign up you can search your favorite retailers to see how much cash back you can potentially earn.
Use the search tool at the top of the page to search for an online retailer. Once you have found the merchant, click the “Shop Now” button to make sure you get credit for your shopping trip and get the cash back.
What I also love about Ebates is that they also offer coupon codes on top of getting cash back. If you look at the screenshot above, you can earn 6% cash back and also get an additional 30% off for the Friend and Family discount.
Ebates pays out 4 times per year or quarterly by mail. They sent you an email letting you know that your check is on the way and how much you’ve earned during that time period.
I have been a member with Ebates since 2008 but really didn’t start using it consistently until about 2014. I have not had any issues with receiving credit for shopping trips or getting paid from them. Here is what received in November for shopping online:
My last check was for $76.46! I always seem to earn the most around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ebates is a great tool in online shopping to earn money back on purchases. It is really a free service that really pays! Are you currently using Ebates? Sign up for your free account and don’t lose out on savings!
The moment you have been waiting for all year has arrived: Holiday Shopping! The holidays are the most expensive time of year. We tend to spend the most money and raise our stress meter a little higher than normal. With so many stores, promotions and discounts, it can be stressful just stepping into the store before you even start shopping. So how do you take some of the stress out of your shopping experience?
Make a plan
Having a firm budget will help you not to overspend on things. It doesn’t have to be a fancy spreadsheet. Make a list of the people you are buying gifts for and the amount of money you are going to spend on them. The total will be your holiday spending budget.
Make your gift list reasonable
How many people are you gifting this year? Consider that adding extended family members and friends will increase your budget. Try and keep it small so that you aren’t spending more than you are wanting to.
Online shopping has become a more convenient way to shop over the last few years and even more so now as brick and mortar stores are no longer a consumer favorite. No lines, no tickets, no hassle. You can find exactly what you are looking for with a few clicks and sometimes even catch a better deal that’s going on in the store. The only thing you may run into is product inventory. Because of the popularity of online shopping, you are not the only one not getting off of the couch to shop and items may sell out.
Coupons are the most valuable thing created! Especially if you can gain a big discount during the holidays. Coupons can be found in Sunday circulars and online on most retail websites. If there is an online sale, you may even score additional savings.
Avoid using credit cards
It’s easy to use your credit cards to get those rewards points, especially during the holidays. Try to use cash for your purchases if possible. We tend to overspend when we use credit cards, no matter how much we budget for spending. If you do use a credit card, pay it off as soon as possible to avoid paying additional interest.
Use Rewards Points
If you have already racked up on rewards points during the year, now would be a good time to use them. Stores like Best Buy allow you to use your rewards certificates towards your purchase. When I bought my MacBook Air, it was on sale at Best Buy for $899. I had student coupons worth $50 off any Mac purchase, a $100 gift card I received when I purchased my cell phone from Best Buy, $50 gift certificate from using ShopKick and I had gained $100 in rewards certificates throughout the year as I knew I would be making a large purchase. $599 for an $1100 MacBook. Other stores and credit cards offer rewards as well. If you now that you will be making a specific purchase, rack up those points throughout the year.
Having your identity stolen can be one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. We see it all of the time, all over the news, and sometimes are thankful that we aren’t “that” person. But what if you were? What if someone stole your information and opened up thousands of dollars in credit in your name?
As consumers, young and old, we don’t often know what to do immediately following your initial shock.So what can you do if you’ve had your identity stolen?
Submit a fraud alert
A fraud alert alerts the credit reporting agencies that there is potential for fraud activity with your information. The alert will remain on your credit report for 90 days and is free to place on your report.
Request a credit freeze
Credit freezes will prevent creditors from looking at your credit bureau without your permission. If someone tries to use your information to open new credit, it will alert the creditor that there is a freeze. In order to place the freeze on, you would need to contact the credit reporting agencies and request the freeze. There is usually a small fee to do this and there is also a fee to remove it.
Review your credit report
You are allowed one free copy of your credit report a year from each of the credit reporting agencies. Request a copy of your credit report and review it for new accounts you are not familiar with or did not open.
File an Identity Theft Report
You also would want to file an Identity Theft Report with the FTC and a police report. This can be used to file your disputes with each of the credit reporting agencies.
Place an Extended Fraud Alert
An extended Fraud Alert lasts for 7 years and allows you to get 2 free copies of your credit report per year.
Remember, identity theft if more than stealing your credit information. Your social security number, address, birthdate, and other information are often used to open accounts and other things in your name. Be sure you are checking your credit report or signing up for credit monitoring services like MyFico.com to get alerts when something happens on your credit.
As the end of the year approaches, many are on the continued journey of paying down debt while others are getting ready for the new year so that they can start their journey Paying off your debt takes time and requires planning, but which method do you use?
I’ve used both, but it depends on your financial situation and what works best for you. The great debate is still always which method to use. If you look at Dave Ramsey’s followers, they lean heavily on the debt snowball method because it cater’s to your emotions and how you feel once you have accomplished one goal.
What is a debt snowball? A debt snowball allows you to pay the smallest debt first and the largest debt last, not worrying about the interest rates.
Credit card A has a balance of $5000
Credit card B has a balance of $500
Student Loan 1 has a balance of $1200
Student Loan 2 has a balance of $750
Doctor Bill for $250
Here you would start paying the doctor bill first and pay minimum payments on the rest until it’s paid off. Once you have it paid in full, you would pay credit card B next and so on.
This method is good for people who need the motivation to keep moving forward. When you pay the smallest debt first, you have a sense of accomplishment. Paying off $300 versus $2000 is easier and a lot more manageable for some. Seeing your progress allows you to continue on your journey to pay off the debt.
What is a debt avalanche? Just like a snowball, an avalanche sets up your debt to be paid off in a certain order. Instead of paying off the debt smallest to largest, you are paying the highest interest debt first down to the smallest.
Credit Card A has an interest rate of 22.99%
Credit Card B has an interest rate of 19.99%
Student loan 1 has an interest rate of 6%
Student loan 2 has an interest rate of 3.8%
Here, you would start with the highest interest debt, Credit card A, and pay that off first, paying the minimums on the rest until everything is paid off.
This method saves you money as you pay out more money on the high-interest debt than you do on the smaller debts. Saving on the interest means you pay off the debts more quickly.
The most important thing to remember when you are going into tackle your debt is to stay focused and stay motivated. Seeing progress or charging your progress and keep you in the right mindset to stick to it.
When looking to find something that would help with credit repair and credit monitoring of your FICO, I found MyFico.com. I’ve previously seen about two commercials for it in the past and took a look as I’m all about keeping my credit in check!
MyFico.com is an online credit monitoring site that allows you to obtain your credit report and credit score as well as monitor your credit report monthly or quarterly depending on the products you choose. So what tools are offered to help you get the most of maintaining your credit report? The site offers on-going credit reports and one-time credit reports in two forms: a three-bureau report and a single-bureau report.
Single-bureau credit reports
The one-time credit report offers
Instant access to your credit report and FICO score
Simulate different scenarios and see how they may affect your credit score
With this option, you may choose one of the three credit reporting agencies to obtain your credit report and score from.
On-going credit reports offer:
Instant access to your credit reports and scores
Track your Equifax credit score
Obtain one updated Equifax credit report every month
Access to identity monitoring tools
Three-bureau credit reports
One-time credit reports offer:
Instant access to all three credit bureaus with current credit scores
Ability to compare information across all three credit reports and allow you to look for errors
Review reports to see what is currently affecting your score
On-going credit reports offer:
instant access to all three credit reports and scores
Access to updated credit reports every quarter
The ability to monitor your progress across all three credit bureaus
Access to identity theft features
So what happens when?
What’s really nice about MyFico.com and their credit monitoring program is that it allows you to take your credit report and score and simulate different scenarios. Planning on buying a home? Use the Fico Score simulator to see how making the purchase will affect your score. It also allows you to see what might happen if you missed a payment on your credit card, file for bankruptcy or payoff some of your debt.
If you’re looking for an overall picture of your credit, this is the place to get all of the information you need. It is very descriptive in explaining exactly what is on your report, why it is there, and what you can do to fix it. See something that doesn’t belong? Disputing items on your credit reports is easy as well. They offer dispute forms that you are able to file online with ease, directly to the credit reporting agencies. If you’re old school and like an envelope and a handy stamp, they also have the address to send it into. If you do opt to mail in your dispute, you may be asked to send in additional information to prove who you say you are.