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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.

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 genderto 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 ourshrinking 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 Acornsmake 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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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