money-saving-apps

Coolest Money-Saving Apps of 2018

If you find it difficult to stretch your paycheck over the entire month, don’t worry. Often times, it just takes being organized and creative to make it work. It is not about tightening the belt even more or starting a second/third job, but about using the newest technology to your advantage. There are numerous money-saving apps that will help you save some extra money and earn rewards for things you buy anyway.

money-saving-apps

Earny

This free app monitors retailers and notifies you when they reduce their price on an item that you have already purchased. In other words, it tells you that an item you just bought is now on sale. It calculates the difference and contacts the company so that they can return that amount to you.

Earny App

It is especially useful for retailers that will price match and you basically don’t do anything but enjoy the refund.

Swagbucks

This is one of the best apps that gives you rewards for simply because you shop, search or do other common activities online. The app includes a search engine that looks a bit like Google. This custom engine gives you points for searching, shopping at partner stores and participating in online surveys. When the points add up, you can get a free gift card for stores like Amazon or cashback into your PayPal account. While many apps offer gift cards, only Swagbucks provides you with cash into your account, which you can transfer to your bank and get actual cash.

Honey

Honey is a plugin that can be used with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera and helps you save money by not letting you forget that you have coupons that give you a discount. Honey applies the coupons automatically at the final stage of online shopping. A popup window will appear at the checkout stage of your shopping and all you need to do is click on it. Honey will check all coupon codes and apply the one that best fits the purchase. The plugin works with over 3,700 online stores and also gives you “Honey Gold” points. When you collect enough, you can exchange the points for a free gift card.

Wikibuy

This plugin is similar to Honey but only works with Chrome and Firefox. There is also an iOS version for iPhone and the site promises to launch an Android version soon. The plugin is considered less reliable than Honey, but if you find it more useful, you can use it. It also gives you points that can be redeemed for gift cards or other products.

Raise

Raise is a free app that helps you find discounted gift cards or sell your own gift cards for cash in case you do not want to use them. Raise allows you to find gift cards with an average discount of 12%. You can search gift cards by brand, category or value. This is the best place to save money by buying or selling gift cards depending on your needs.

CamelCamelCamel

This money-saving app is designed especially for those who love shopping on Amazon. It allows you to view charts and details with the history of product prices that are for sale on Amazon. It helps you compare current prices to the past trends and thus decide whether now is the best moment to buy or if you should wait to get a better deal. Since Amazon changes prices constantly, this app is a very useful tool to save money if you are an avid Amazon shopper.

Shopkick

This app is very useful for those who love to shop both online and offline. You can earn points that are called Kicks as a result of different activities, some of which do not require purchases. You get certain Kicks for going to a physical store and buying certain items that are eligible for awarding you points. In some cases, you are just required to physically visit a store and find a given product on the shelf without buying it. You need to upload your receipts in order to get the points and then exchange them for gift cards that can be used on Amazon, at Starbucks,and at Target.

As you can see, there are various money-saving apps that can help you with your budget. Choose those that you prefer. Be careful, since you can use only one app of a given type, so select the one that gives you the best results.

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How to send your child to college on a budget

How to send your child to college on a budget

Tuition fees have jumped in the recent years and it is expected that they will continue growing. If you plan to send a child (or children) to college, chances are, you are concerned about how you are going to afford it.

How to send your child to college on a budget

Here are our tips and suggestions to help you fund college on a budget.

Find out what it will cost and start saving

The first step is to find out how much it will cost you to send your child to college. Basically, that depends on the age of your kid. Tuition fees rise every year, so the younger your child is, the higher the amount you need to pay will be. This, however, also means that you have more time to save.

How to send your child to college on a budget

It was estimated that the annual tuition and fee for the academic 2017-2018 for a four-year state school was nearly $10,000. The cost of a private school can be two or three times higher. The inflation is roughly 5% per year, so if your kid is going to college in 10 years, the cost will be $16,000 for the first year. If you have a newborn and 18 years to college, the expected cost is $24,000 per year on average.

If you plan to start saving, there are a few things that you need to know. First, make sure that you pay off debt before you start the college fund. Putting off debt to save is usually a bad idea as you are accumulating interest and potential fees. The money you save by being debt-free will contribute to that college fund and you’ll be less stressed in the process. Second, experts recommend you put at least 15% aside for your retirement as this is also important.

Consider a college savings plan

One way to make your college savings grow is to set up a college savings plan, like a 529 plan or Coverdell. The plan gives you the opportunity to earn stock-market returns on the money you save. The contributions are tax-deferred until the time comes to use the money for paying college fees. At that moment, the earnings are taxed at the student’s rate. Be careful though: if you do not use the money for qualified educational expenses, you may be hit with a penalty – 10% to 15% of your accumulated earnings or 1% of the total account balance.

Research free money options

There are several resources that can help you with paying the college fees – federal student aid, scholarships, grants and state money. How much you get depends on your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). EFC is a calculation that is done to qualify your child for student aid and your contribution will vary depending on your income and net worth. Help your child research all the options and apply for student aid, as well as applicable scholarships.

Start planning for scholarships early

When your child enters high school, you can really start planning for scholarships. Focus on helping your child find extracurricular opportunities and activities to create a great resume for college. If your son or daughter is particularly good at something – whether it’s art, sport, writing or physics – hire a tutor, participate in competitions and do everything possible to develop their talents. Most scholarships are very specialized, so developing a specific skill early and creating a record of excellent results in that while your student is in high school will increase the chances of getting a scholarship.

Find additional income sources

Another way to add to your budget if you have to pay college fees is to find additional income sources. Your child can help you with this:

  • Start working – when in college, your son or daughter can start working on or off campus and thus help with covering some of the college costs.
  • Take a gap year – the child can take a gap year before going to college when they can work and gain both some experience and earn money.

If you are still short, consider student loans. When used correctly, they are a great vehicle to help you pay for higher education.

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Cheapest Vacations for Californians

Cheapest Vacations for Californians

If you are living in California, you are paying one of the highest costs of living in the USA. Your vacation in the Golden State, however, doesn’t have to cost you that much. There are numerous scenic places to visit– all close to home. There are several options depending on the type of vacation that you prefer. You can go on a road trip and enjoy many attractions while camping or staying at cabins for the night.

You can choose a popular destination and find a nice hotel and delight in the surrounding beauty without hurting your budget.

Cheapest Vacations for Californians

Managing your money while on a road trip

Some of the most iconic road trips are in California, so get your car ready and hit the road. There are many scenic drives that await you and lots of entertainment at affordable prices.

Here are a few suggestions:

·     The Pacific Coast Highway (also referred to as California State Route 1) is known as the most scenic drive in the state. The 656-mile drive starts near Leggett to the North and runs to Dana Point to the South. The most famous part of this road trip is from Monterey to Morro Bay. Be prepared for tight turns, though, and for fascinating views. Stop as often as you wish to enjoy the Pacific Ocean coastline.

·    Big Sur is one of the most beautiful spots in California that offers both luxurious inns and cabins along with affordable sleeping options. You can camp at one of the 12 campgrounds along the way for only $15 a night and appreciate the breathtaking views of the Ventana Wilderness. Cook your own meal at the campfire but treat yourself with a drink from the Big Sur River Inn, where you can have a beer while sitting in a chair in the river itself.

·      Calistoga is a charming town that has an Old West vibe and offers cheap accommodations for those who are on a road trip. You can stay at Calistoga Inn for $119-$129/night between Sunday and Thursday. The inconvenience is that you need to share the bathroom, but the brewery on site makes up for it. Besides, you can have ribs with garlic bread at Buster’s Original southern BBQ for just $12. You can also visit the petrified redwood forest for just $10 and see the 3-million-old redwoods that were turned to stone by a volcano eruption.

Budget hotels in famous places

Even the most renowned resorts meant for the affluent can offer affordable vacation opportunities. Here are just three examples that will make you consider a posh holiday on a budget:

·       Palm Springs is an affluent desert resort city that also has some hidden treasures for those who are looking for an affordable holiday. You can get a room at Los Arboles Hotel for just $89 per night. The boutique hotel offers a heated pool, a sun deck, a jacuzzi, and poolside dining. You can grab a tallboy for only $6 at The Amigo Room, where you can enjoy a free jacuzzi as well. Play some night golf at the Lights at Indio Municipal Golf Course, which charges $15 for a green fee and a cart during the summer.

·     Santa Cruz is the heaven for surfers but it also offers plenty of other attractions. There are numerous camping grounds nearby where you can stay. For those who prefer a bit more luxury – Casablanca on the Beach is a boutique hotel with rooms for $119 a night. There are plenty of places to have a drink and enjoy a free pool or a game of darts.

·      Santa Barbara has been dubbed the “American Riviera” and we know why. Hotel rooms can cost $600 a night but there are cheaper options as well. If you stay at The Wayfarer, a hotel and a hostel near the Funk Zone, you will be charged only $49 for a shared room or $125 for a private room per night, which also includes breakfast and a heated pool. If you are a wine lover, Santa Barbara Winery offers six tastings for just $10 and you keep the glass as a souvenir.

Even in California, you can enjoy a vacation without worrying about your finances.

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Choosing-credit-cards

Choosing a Credit Card

The difficulty in choosing just one credit card is that no credit card will suit all possible needs. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages and it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons based on what your needs are.

Choosing a Credit Card

Cashback and Reward Credit Cards

As the name suggests, reward cards offer different rewards. In most cases, these are either points you can use in specified stores and airlines or cashback based on your use of the card. The best way to use reward credit cards is to pay the balance by the end of every month. Not doing so will cause you to accrue interest on your cards and the benefits will not be worth it.

Purchase Cards

These are the best credits cards for those who have planned a significant, expensive purchase and would like to pay the debt off on a schedule, with no interest. These cards have no interest implied for a certain time period, after which it begins to accumulate. As long as you are confident that the debt will be repaid before the interest period starts, the purchase credit card is a great idea!

Balance Transfer Cards

Balance transfer cards allow the cardholder to transfer the balance from his or her current credit card without any fees for the transfer. When deciding on the type of balance transfer card, it is advisable to ask about transfer limits.

Low Rate Cards

Often, credit card users switch credit cards repetitively to take advantage of the 0% interest during the introductory period. Low rate cards offer the lowest possible APR and it is set for the whole period that the user will be using the card, eliminating the need for constant change.

Credit Builder Cards

For individuals with poor or no credit history, the credit builder card is the ideal option to help improve credit scores and create a positive rating. These cards are usually chosen by those looking to recover their credit reputation as they require monthly payments and once these are made, your credit score improves.

International Credit Cards

If you are someone who travels a lot, you have to find the best solution that will work globally. Review the cash advance fees and taxes, as well as additional charges before you sign up.

Always review initial and annual fees when signing up for a credit card, along with the detail on interest rates and potential fluctuations. Always compare different options to make sure you got the best one available. On some occasions, an auto title loan might serve you better than a new credit card. Some credit card types will require a high credit score and not everyone will be eligible.

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Money Management Basics

The way you spend and manage your money has a significant effect on your entire lifestyle. Unfortunately, critical money management skills aren’t commonly taught in schools, although that’s starting to change.

Money Management Basics

Determine your income sources

Whether you are a student, an employee, a business owner or a retired, you need to list your income sources and determine how much income each source generates. For most of us, the main source of income is the salary or wage we receive from our employer and in the most cases, it is a fixed amount each month. If this money is insufficient, consider additional income sources: you can start a second job, offer some services as a freelancer, sell your own products or declutter your house and organize a garage sale.

Spend less than you make

Once you know how much you expect to make on a monthly basis, add up your expenses. The rule of thumb when it comes to personal finance is to spend less money than you earn. If you spend even a thousand dollars more per year than what you earn, you will end up in a spiral of debt that is hard to come out of. If you spend exactly the same amount as your income, you will never be able to save money and be prepared for unexpected events, good or bad. Spend less than your earnings and put some money aside.

Do this by setting up a budget. You need to know where your money goes. Get in the habit of categorizing your bills and tracking your spending. The easiest way to set up a budget – even a basic one – is with a pen, paper and a calculator to help you determine how much money you can spend on each category. Now that you can see your budget at-a-glance, you can decide on the expenses you can cut – do you really need that new dress? Is it really time to upgrade your car? Can you afford this vacation right now? Set a budget threshold that is below your monthly income and try to stick to it.

Make smart investments

Do you wonder why rich people get richer? The simple answer is because they invest their money. Even if you do not have a lot of money, it is better to invest some, rather than keep all of it under your mattress. If you have no financial education or investment knowledge and experience, you can consult an expert, like a financial adviser or a money management coach. They will help you select the right investment vehicle based on your personal financial situation, risk tolerance and goals. Generally, it is better to have a diversified investment portfolio, rather than put all your eggs in one basket.

Choose the right bank account

Some banks require a minimum balance to open a bank account. Some banks charge monthly fees for maintaining your account or your credit card, or if you write more checks than the limit. Some institutions combine both, while others may have no fees. Some accounts come with handy apps that help you manage money, free transfers, automated bill pay and fee-free ATM.

Use your credit card wisely

It is easy to get a credit card and it is also easy to get into debt using one. Never buy things using a credit card that you can’t afford otherwise. In other words, if you don’t have the amount in your bank account to pay the credit card installments every month, don’t make that purchase. In addition to that, some credit card companies may give you a cash back or points if you make payments on time. There are a number of different credit cards with various rewards options. If you have one and find another that suits you better, you may be able to transfer your balance at 0% interest, so it’s worth looking into. Always pay your credit card bill on time to avoid late fees and extra interest.

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