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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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10 Budgeting hacks that help you save more

10 Budgeting hacks that help you save more

If you have tried saving up money, you might have noticed that it is tougher than it sounds. Being part of a modern consumer society, we often find ourselves spending far more than we had planned. But with a bit of self-discipline, good organization, and our useful budgeting hacks below, you could save more.

10 Budgeting hacks that help you save more

Envision your success

Make your wish as specific as possible. Then surround yourself with it. If you want to save up for a car, the first step is to choose the specific type you want. Then print pictures of it and put them on your fridge, bathroom mirror, and on your workspace. Take a step further and set them as your phone and computer wallpaper. Make sure you are constantly reminded of what your goal is. That will help you to stay motivated and keep saving up money.

Cook at home

A lot of money is spent on food. Instead of having home cooked meals, we sometimes order food or go out to eat, which is much more expensive. In the dynamics of today’s world, few of us have the time to prepare meals at home. A solution we can offer is to cook only one day a week. Eating the same dish more than twice can be boring but you can prepare various meals and freeze them for later that week. This way you will be able to save up money and even take the food to work.

Think of the real price

When going for shopping, no matter what product or service you are about to spend your money on, first think of the real price. What we mean by that is to simply calculate how much time you have to work for the item of interest. For example, if you are looking at a dress that costs $70 and you get paid $8 per hour that would mean you have to work about 9 hours for it – an entire day and some more. Once you know how much it will cost you in terms of time, simply decide for yourself whether it is really worth it.

Grocery Shopping

Many times, we come out of the store having bought way too many things. By the time we get to use them all, we might even have to throw some away. This is mainly because we have the bad habit of grocery shopping when hungry. Besides going to the store on a full stomach, other things that can help us not waste time and money are to chew gum and wear headphones. The mint is used to counter the persuasive scents in stores. Likewise, listening to our own music blocks the one in the store usually carefully selected in order to make the customers spend more time shopping.

Use Cash

The next tip is to use cash instead of credit or debit cards. Cards are convenient because it is easier and safer to carry and use them instead of cash. The downside, however, is that one can very easily spend a larger amount of money on things that are not particularly necessary. This leads to falling off track and not reaching your financial goals. By setting a budget and carrying only necessary cash, you can stick to your budget much easier.

Sales

An important part of saving money is to figure out what your priorities are. Just because you are saving up for something doesn’t mean you have to cut all things that bring you joy. You can still go shopping and go eat out, it would just be on a budget. Sales are great because you end up buying something you want but at a lower price, of course, at the additional cost of the time, you would have waited for the item to be on sale.

Start slow

Like with everything else that requires a change in lifestyle, it is better to start slow. Take small steps by putting aside a small amount of money and then gradually increase with time.

Saving can be fun

If you get motivated by challenges, then try the 52-week money challenge.  The money you deposit each week is equivalent to the week number. So, in the first week, you will put aside just $1, during week 2 – $2, week 30 -$30 and so on. At the end of the year, you should have $1378 in savings. Another fun way to save money, besides challenges would be to use tools such as SaveUp, which reward you with cash and prizes for saving money.

Avoid

“Quick” visits to the shopping center and going out with friends are usually the types of activities where we get tempted to spend money most easily. Restrict yourself from giving into these temptations too often. At the end of the day, homemade coffee is as good – if not even better – as the one you are going to spend $9 for.

Treat yourself

Just because you are saving money doesn’t mean you have to stop doing/eating/shopping for what you like. Definitely treat yourself, whenever you reach a milestone. For example, when you have saved up the first $500 for your dream car, in order to treat yourself on reaching the mile stones, you should set a “fun” fund beforehand.

Saving money is not for everyone and we know for a fact that in some cases it isn’t even an option. For the times when you need money urgently, call us at Fast Money Loan. You will have cash with no credit check in as little as 30 minutes.

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Protecting your Identity or Personal Information

10 Steps to Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft is something people tend to neglect, no matter how often they hear about it. It always seems as something terrible that only happens to others but never to us. The unpleasant truth is that identity theft can happen to anyone. And even though there is no 100% guaranteed method to protect ourselves against it, there are a number of simple things we can do to make us less likely to become a victim of identity theft.

But first, let’s see why we should do it.

What qualifies as identity theft and why you should be careful

Protecting your Identity or Personal Information

We often imagine identity theft as someone walking around, pretending to be us. In reality, unauthorized use of any piece of personal information is considered identity theft. This could include address, email address, previous addresses, mother’s maiden name, the place where you were born, pin number, bank account details, social security number, passwords, and more.

Having your SSN stolen sounds pretty scary – with it, a criminal could do almost everything that the real SSN holder can. Your property would be at risk. Not only that, but a criminal could commit a crime using your SSN and name. Then the police would come looking for you, thinking you’re the one who did it.

But how could a criminal use your mother’s maiden name to do you harm? Indirectly. Many companies keep your personal information these days and questions like “what is your mother’s maiden name” are common before they give you access to your data. Someone could take advantage of this and break into your account. Once they do, they would likely find more sensitive information, which can be directly used for their benefit.

Online Identity Theft Prevention

Identity theft is not something new but modern technologies and lifestyle present new risks. Social media, for example, makes it very easy for thieves to find victims and acquire personal information. You can’t be completely safe. There is no way to hide your email from everyone or even control who sees it. But you can take certain precautions.

  1. Use strong passwords –many sites today ask users to use a password with at least 12 characters, including letters, capital letters, numbers, and symbols. This a safety measure against brute force hacking into your account. Ideally, a password like that is random-generated. However, recent studies suggest that this practice had made overall web security weaker. That’s because people simply cannot remember those passwords and as a result, they write them down somewhere – on a separate text file or on a note on the desk. This makes it easy for others to find and use those passwords. Perhaps the best advice is to use a password you can remember but is hard for others to guess.
  2. Use 2-factor verification for all of your online accounts–upon login, you will be asked to enter not just your username and password, but also something else – like a pin code sent to your phone as an SMS. This drastically improves security and is common practice for banks and financial institutions, but you should use 2-factor verification wherever possible.
  3. Be mindful of your privacy settings on social media–you are able to choose who sees what of the things what you share. An open profile makes it extremely easy for identity thieves to learn an awful lot about you. Take the time and adjust your security settings now.
  4. Don’t be quick to open or download any email attachments – they are often infected with malware which gives hackers access to your computer and any private information you store on it.
  5. Be hesitant to share sensitive information on sites which do not have SSL certificate – check if the web address starts with https. If it does, it means that the site will encrypt the information you are about to submit, making it unreadable to hackers.
  6. Remember that public Wi-Fi connections might be corrupted – do not use them to log in your PayPal account or online banking. Actually, do not use them to access any accounts. Hackers could easily steal your information over non-secure Wi-Fi networks.

Offline Identity Theft Prevention

Compared to the online world, we feel more secure in the real world. It is hard to imagine how someone could trick us into giving them sensitive information. But practice shows this happens a lot and we shouldn’t underestimate the risks.

  1. Be careful with documents that contain private information. Documents such as bank statements and solicitations should be shred or at least torn up. Some people could search through your garbage to find your private information. Don’t throw the ATM receipt in the nearest bin. Carry it in your pocket until you can get rid of it safely.
  2. Do not give away any private information over the phone. Ever. No company would ask you to do that. If someone is trying to collect your information, it is most probably a scam. If it seems urgent, hang up, call the company back, and ask them to confirm that they indeed need this information from you.
  3. Monitor your credit score. You can request a free credit report from the three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union – once a year. This means that every 4 months you can check for anything suspicious going on with your credit. For example, if someone has tried to apply for a loan using your social security number.
  4. Pay extra attention to how you protect your Social Security Number. Do you keep it in a safe place? If it is in your wallet or purse, how likely is it to get stolen? Who has access to it? Whenever someone requests you to give a SSN, ask if it is absolutely mandatory and why. Be familiar with their privacy policy.

Identity theft is among the fastest growing crimes in America. It may cause you serious trouble and it is typically hard to undo the damage. Protection of your personal information should be a priority. And if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, contact the authorities immediately. Stay safe!

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