More

Folks aiming to up their money game should check out these 9 easy ways to save.

Thinking about setting some financial goals? Here are some tools that could make reaching them easier.

Folks aiming to up their money game should check out these 9 easy ways to save.

Hey, remember The American DreamTM?

Photo via Unsplash/Pixabay.


Just work hard, go to college, graduate ... and next thing you know, you've got a nice job, spouse, car, and beautiful house.

Yeah ... not so much.

While that may never have been a real possibility for some Americans for a multitude of reasons — including systemic discrimination based on one's race, country of origin, or gender to achieve The Dream — one thing is absolutely true: It's harder than ever for millennials to get there. There are countless articles detailing their shrinking salaries, ballooning student debt, and a history of high unemployment rates. Not exactly the most encouraging set of financial circumstances.

GIF via "Finding Nemo."

OK, so a house with a white picket fence might not be in the cards any time soon. But that doesn't mean we're going to let our shrinking wages get in the way of carving out the kind of life we want to live.

And luckily, there are some great innovations in the world of personal finance. We're talking about tools that'll help us save and, you know, still pay the rent.

Here are some things to try that'll have you feeling like Scrooge McDuck in no time.

GIF via "Duck Tales."

1. Did you really get the best deal online? This service automatically tracks — and requests — refunds for you if the price drops.

Image via Paribus/YouTube.

A penny saved is a penny earned and Paribus will help you earn a lot of pennies with no effort. This startup automatically tracks your online purchases and monitors any price changes. If they see that that cat toy you ordered from Amazon dropped in price or you forgot a coupon you could have used during checkout, it automatically requests a refund for you! Sit back and watch the extra pennies roll in.

2. Stuff your savings account — one debit card swipe at a time.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Apps like Digit and Qapital automatically put aside savings for you in different ways:

Qapital's approach is pretty straightforward: It tacks a little cash onto your everyday transactions — like that morning does of caffeine — and puts it away for you in an account. Picked up a 75-cent pack of gum? It'll round the transaction to a full dollar and put that sweet, sweet quarter away for a rainy day.

For folks who aren't fans of rounded up, there's Digit. After signing up, it looks at your spending patterns over a period of time to see how much it could put away without you noticing. This might be a more comfortable technique for people with inconsistent incomes, like freelancers or small-business owners.

3. Dip your toe into the investment pool.

Results may vary. GIF via "Wolf of Wall Street."

I dunno about you, but the idea of investing makes my head hurt. I sometimes have to breathe into a paper bag when I make my 401k selections. I'm told it's a big decision, but I don't know what the best selection is. WHAT IF I CHOOSE THE WRONG COMPANIES FOR MY PORTFOLIO?!

Apps like Acorns make the process a lot less scary, and it's a huge hit. It takes your spare change when you want (daily, weekly, or monthly) and invests it into startup companies. Then you sit back and watch your investment account grow. The simple approach has been really attractive to young folk: So far, it's helped millennials save $25 million and counting.

4. Track your spending.

Warning: Seeing the numbers might make you want to resort to drastic measures. Photo by stevepb/Pixabay.

Have you ever gone to the ATM only to find your account overdrawn? And you seriously wonder "where in the world did all my money go?!" Services like Mint and Wave break it down for you by tracking your accounts and categorizing your purchases. If you're really in the mood for an automated killjoy, you can get email alerts when it notices you're spending more than usual — Thanks, Mint. I do know I spent more on clothes this month. Wait ... that's how much of my income? Now I know why they say "Ignorance is bliss" — or get texts to remind you when that bill due date is coming up.

5. Create some financial goals.

I mean, you do you ... but be a bit more specific. GIF via "The Fear."

Now that you know where your money is going, it'll be easier to know what sort of goals you want to set. There are a lot of different guidelines out there for saving — from Dave Ramsey's envelope system which doesn't allow ATM visits and requires only spending the cash you have in a categorized envelope to the 50/20/30 rule that prioritizes knowing your fixed costs, figuring out goals, and setting aside some cash for flexible spending. Using that info from a spending tracker, you can figure out which system would work best for you.

Let's say that you hypothetically spend too much of your money on new clothes. You might find Ramsey's envelope system useful because once you spend the cash in your wardrobe budget, you have to wait until next month to indulge ... no matter how great a sale Nordstrom has right now.

6. Make a budget.

Divvy up those monies! Photo by Chris Potter/Flickr.

The thought of making a budget can be daunting because it probably seems so complicated. There are some old-school ways like filling out a Google spreadsheet (there are several great free templates available). Or if you live on the Internet like me, you can try an app called You Need a Budget. It offers a hard-to-ignore way to look at your finances and spending habits in one fell swoop. A spreadsheet would take longer because you have to look up everything and enter it yourself while YNAB is automated after analyzing your spending habits and bills.

You can also stick with the money tracker Mint, which offers to help you establish a goal based on your spending history (or hopeful future) and gives you regular email updates about whether you're overspending in some areas..

7. Up your financial literacy game.

Then maybe we can understand what Nicki is doing here. GIF via VEVO/YouTube.

Knowledge is power — especially when it comes to money. If you've been wanting to know what the heck an investment portfolio is or why should someone should open a checking and a savings account, check out sites like NerdWallet, LearnVest, or MyMoney.Gov. They all provide a space that answers frequently asked questions about different financial terms, offer best practices on borrowing money, and give tips on achieving financial goals like building a savings account. They can make even the least math-inclined person able to become an investor and saver.

8. Find a bank that doesn't make you want to pull your hair out.

Photo by Poster Boy/Flickr.

I still have nightmares from my time as a college student when I was a member of Bank of America. I never understood why they kept charging me fees for being so poor. Didn't they understand that my low account balance meant that an extra $35 meant a lot to me?! I didn't know that using credit unions was even an option.

Sites like A Smarter Choice can help you find the bank that's just right for you. Just put in your location to find branches near you and look for the ones that you're eligible to join — some don't require more than proof that you live in your hometown.

9. Follow a personal finance blog to pick up tips that will work for you.

GIF via "New Girl."

When I decided to be more money-conscious, I was so overwhelmed by all the information out there. I was too busy to read a finance book (or even pick the right one, to be honest), so I found that taking in a little bit at a time was more manageable and useful. Following personal finance blogs like Lifehacker's Two Cents are helpful because they can give you intel on the latest app or offer an easy-to-understand explanation of that financial term you keep hearing but never understood. Even if I'm not able to do anything more than just live paycheck to paycheck, I find the regular visits helpful at least to help me keep my money goals in mind.

I get it: This is a lot of information, but don't feel bad if you don't feel ready to take on all of these tasks. Getting your personal finances in order can be a long journey, so don't get discouraged.

The leading cause of bankruptcy isn't overspending or lack of planning, but health care debt. So it's important to keep things in perspective. These recommendations aren't foolproof measures.


Photo by Olichel/Pixabay.

Here's to a 2016 where you can feel more confident and comfortable with working with what you have. Slowly but surely. One penny at a time.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less
True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

Keep Reading Show less
via Seresto

A disturbing joint report by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that tens of thousands of pets have been harmed by Seresto flea and tick collars. Seresto was developed by Bayer and is now sold by Elanco.

Since Seresto flea collars were introduced in 2012, the EPA has received incident reports of at least 1,698 pet deaths linked to the product. Through June 2020, the EPA has received over 75,000 incident reports relating to the collars with over 1,000 involving human harm.

The EPA has known the collars are harming humans and their pets but failed to tell the public about the dangers.

Keep Reading Show less