How to Start Investing: Terminology And Best Practices For Beginners

How to start investing, young man investing

Many people want to learn how to start investing their money. Investing is possible even on a modest budget. Start with low-risk investments and work your way up to more complex investments over time. Once you have mastered risk management techniques, you can consider adding other asset classes, such as commodities or real estate, to your portfolio.

There are many forms of investing, but we’ll focus on low-risk investing for this guide. Low-risk investing is a great way to grow your finances over the long term. The most common investment vehicles are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Each has its own risks as well as rewards. Keep reading below for some tips that will help you get started.

How Much Money Do You Need to Start Investing?

There’s no magic number regarding how much money you need to invest. But a good rule is to start with 10% of your income. That way, you can still cover your essentials and have some wiggle room in your budget. If you’re unsure where to begin, try starting with a low-risk investment like a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). As you get more comfortable, you can start venturing into higher-risk investments.

Remember that the amount of time invested will be the most important factor in how much you’ll earn. You’ll likely need to keep your money there for at least five years to make big bucks on investment. It takes time to see the rewards because most stocks take a while to fully appreciate. To beat inflation, which is generally about 3%, you want your return on investment (ROI) to be at least 6%. The best way to do this is by playing it safe with your initial strategy.

Once you have your investment plan in place, you need to determine how much of your money to put into it. Before deciding on a dollar amount, figure out what amount of risk you can tolerate and when you’d like to see a return on your investment. If you’re just getting started with investing, try starting small with just 1-2% of your income. It will help you understand how much money is needed while allowing room for growth.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Investing

Are you looking to make quick cash or grow your money over time? Your investment timeline will play a significant role in deciding which type of account is right for you. Short-term investing means getting the most return on your investments within the next year, while long-term investing typically means saving and growing your assets until retirement. If you want to invest in stocks or funds (see below), it’s usually best to do so through an IRA or employer-sponsored 401(k) account; this way, if you change jobs and don’t have access to these accounts anymore, the government won’t penalize you with penalties and taxes.

You can also open up a brokerage account (no tax benefits but no restrictions either) or choose to keep your investments in ultra-low-risk places like high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit. You’ll need to consider how much risk you’re willing to take on as well—higher risk yields higher potential returns, but also comes with serious potential losses.

Make sure you know what kinds of stocks or funds you want to invest in before opening any new accounts. Mutual funds are professionally managed by people who study different types of investments, which can lower the risk for investors just starting. ETFs are similar to mutual funds but trade more quickly on exchanges, making them easier to buy and sell than mutual fund shares.

When choosing where and how to invest your money, no one-size-fits-all solutions exist! Your risk tolerance level should be considered alongside your financial goals and timeline.

Investing vs. Savings Accounts

The main difference between investing and saving is that when you invest, you’re using your money to earn more money. With a savings account, you’re just keeping your money in a safe place where it will usually earn a bit of interest. You can still make pretty good returns with suitable investments, but those investments are inherently much riskier than a savings account.

In long-term investing, you generally can’t withdraw funds from your investment accounts without significant penalties, so you should consider building an emergency fund to make sure you have cash available if you need it. An emergency fund should have enough funds to cover at least 3-6 months of expenses.

Next Steps for New Investors

Investing is a great way to grow wealth and save for your long-term future. However, it can be daunting to get started if you don’t know the basics. This guide will give you the foundation you need to start investing today.

Join the CashFurther community today to learn more, and connect with others working to improve their financial future!

How to Create a Budget

How to create a budget in a calculator

There are many ways to create a budget, and it is important to choose the method that works best for you. Some people prefer to start with their income and expenses, while others like to list their goals and work backward. There are pros and cons to both methods.

No matter which method you choose, it is important to be completely honest with yourself throughout the budget process. Accurately track your spending, get clear on your goals, and make adjustments as needed based on your data. Here are some steps to create a budget that works for you.

1. Gather All Your Financial Information in One Place

Building your budget using all the information you gathered is critical for achieving financial goals. This includes your income, debts, expenses, and goals. If you’re unsure where to start, many budgeting templates are available online. Or, you can create your own spreadsheet.

Once you have a clear picture of your finances, you can start identifying areas where you can cut back or save more. If you find that your expenses are more than your income, it’s time to make some changes. Track your spending for some time to know where your money is going. Then, look for ways to reduce unnecessary expenses.

2. Set Goals for Your Budget


List what you want to achieve with your budget because your goals will help guide your spending decisions. Be sure to specify the short-term and long-term financial goals, how much you need to save each month to reach those goals, and set targets to help you stay on track.

If you’re unsure where to start, try the 50/30/20 rule: 50% of your income goes towards essentials, 30% is discretionary items, and 20% is savings and debt repayment. Adjust the percentages based on your financial situation.

Another way to set goals is the Debt Snowball method, which prioritizes paying off your debts from smallest to largest. Once you’ve paid off a debt, you roll that payment into the next debt on the list. This method can help you stay motivated as you see your debts shrinking.

3. Choose a Method That Requires a Realistic Amount of Maintenance

You need to plan how you will stick to your budget. This may involve setting up automatic payments to ensure bills are paid on time, making a list of necessary expenses each month, and tracking your progress so you can see how well you’re doing.

Ensure you choose an easy method to refer back to as your income or expenses change. The method should not be too difficult or time-consuming to maintain. By regularly reviewing and updating your budget, you can ensure that it always meets your needs. Be honest with yourself about how much time you’re willing to commit to this process on an ongoing basis.

4. Evaluate Your Spending Methods

Evaluating your spending methods is crucial in getting your finances in order. First, consider whether you’re spending money on things you truly need or spending money on impulse purchases. Second, consider whether you’re using cash, credit, or debit to make your purchases. Using only cash can potentially help you stay mindful of your spending and avoid accumulating debt.

In addition, consider whether you could be spending less by using coupons or discounts. By evaluating your spending methods, you can ensure that your money is going towards your stipulated expenses. If you have trouble sticking to a budget, try using apps or websites that help track your spending. Evaluate where you can make small changes that will have a big impact in the long run.

These are our tips about how to create a budget. We hope you found this blog helpful.

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The best budget for you is the budget you’re most likely to stick with. A budget gives you control over your finances and helps you make better spending choices. It also enables you to reach your financial goals more easily.

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Banking on a Budget

Banking on a budget, making important payments, and working towards greater financial stability and health can be incredibly difficult without the proper banking support. The problem? Some accounts or financial tools can end up taking money out of your account rather than keeping your money in it or even contributing to financial growth over time. Fortunately, for those on a budget or for those looking to make the most of their money, there are a ton of tools out there designed specifically for you. Let’s dive into some of the best tools and tips for banking on a budget that will help serve to improve your financial life.

Look for Bonus Offers and Promotions That Pay You for Banking

Getting paid to bank? It sounds like it wouldn’t be something that would be possible, but there are actually a ton of promotions and offers out there from physical and digital banks that will give you money if you open an account with them. Granted, it’s important to remember that there are always terms and conditions to these types of promotions. There will generally be a minimum amount that you will have to deposit into these accounts in order to get your bonus. That being said, here are a few offers that will help with your banking on a budget!

Discover Savings

Discover is not just a credit card company. They actually offer banking services as well, for which their online savings account is just one of their services. They’re currently running a promotion where if you deposit $15,000 or $25,000, you could get a $150 to $200 bonus, respectively. Discover makes banking on a budget easy.

SoFi Checking and Savings

SoFi offers its own checking and savings account that you can transfer money to so that you can earn a bonus. There are three different bonuses available: $50, $100, and $300. You can make direct deposits of $1,000-$1,999, $2,000-$4,999, and $5,000 to access these.

Chase Total Checking or Chase Secure Banking

Chase often offers a wide range of bonuses and promotions all the time, and two of these this year apply to Chase Total Checking (they’ll give you $200 after you make a qualified deposit within 90 days), and Chase Secure Banking (when you make 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days).

Citigold Checking Account or Citi Priority Checking Account

Are you thinking about opening an account with Citibank? Citibank is also offering several different promotions, including up to $2,000 when you open a Citigold Checking Account (you have to deposit anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000+) or a Citi Priority Checking Account (which has the same conditions).

U.S. Bank Checking

U.S. Bank is offering a $400 bonus when you deposit $4,000 into a checking account with them. You have 60 days to take advantage of this deal once you open the account!

Axos Rewards Checking

Having a rewards checking account can be an amazing way not to only effectively manage your money but grow your wealth over time. If you’re looking for something like this, an Axos Rewards Checking account can earn you $100 if you deposit $1,500 within one month (you have three months to take advantage of this offer).

TD Bank Checking

Looking to open a TD Convenience Checking account or a TD Beyond Checking account? TD Bank will offer you anywhere from $200 to $300 if you deposit $500 into your TD Convenience Checking account or $2,500 into your TD Beyond Checking account, respectively.

Bank of America Advantage Banking

There are multiple checking accounts over at Bank of America that will offer you a $100 bonus, including the Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking checking account, the Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking checking account, and the Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking® checking account. Each of these have different deposit thresholds to take advantage of the available bonus.

BMO Harris Checking

BMO Harris Smart Advantage or Premier accounts are offering $300 to $500 bonuses, with these bonuses being tied to which account you open. Once you open your account, all you have to do is deposit $4,000 or $7,500 to get your money!

Huntington Checking

Huntington is a pretty popular bank, and they’re currently giving bonuses of up to $200. Just sign up for the Asterisk-Free Checking account and deposit $1,000 within 60 days for $150 or sign up and deposit $1,000 to the Huntington 5 Checking for $200.

Alliant Savings

Many of the above are promotions for checking accounts. But what if you want to open a savings account? Alliant is here for you! If you open up The Ultimate Opportunity Savings account with Alliant and transfer $100 monthly to get a bonus of $100 at the end of the year.

If you happen to miss any of these, you can always continue to keep an eye out for special promotions as they do tend to crop up regularly! The only thing to note here is that you make sure any banking fees don’t eat up your cash and that you don’t sign up for overdraft protection!

Consider Opening Up a Credit Card With a Company That Offers Cash Back

Are you looking to make money from your purchases? Are you also looking to open up a credit card? If so, you’ll find that there are plenty of credit card companies out there that will pay you to use your card (even if just for a limited time). But which cards are those? More importantly, which cards are going to offer you the most cash back over time?

Some excellent cards worth looking further into include the Chase Freedom Unlimited card (       1.5%-6.5% cash back on purchases), the Discover it Cash Back card (1%-5% cash back), and the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (1.5%-5% cash back), just to name a few. Just make sure that you pay attention to all the terms and conditions on these cards before you sign an agreement or apply. The last thing you want is a card that will only become a financial burden for you over time!

Need to Start Investing? Find an App That Lets You Invest on Your Own Terms

Investing is part of financial success, and you don’t have to spend a lot to start making some money and saving for the future. Take, for example, apps like Acorns. Acorns allows you to establish your own investment schedule or round up your purchases to invest those extra cents, offers several different portfolio types based on your goals, and only costs $3 a month to use. If you not only want to save but hopefully earn a bit of money along the way, you can get started with an app like this.

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Saving Money For BIG Issues

piggy bank being smashed

Life happens, and some of the situations that we inevitably encounter can end up resulting in some major expenses. Everyone should practice saving money for big issues. For example, you might end up dealing with a flood in your home, a minor fender bender, or even a sick pet. While some people might be able to handle these expenses, many are left wondering, “how am I going to pay for this?”

Saving money for big issues can be a big problem, but there are strategies out there to help you address these developments without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at how you can save money and prepare for when life comes knocking at your door!

Make It a Priority to Contribute to an Emergency Fund Monthly

The best way to save money on major life events is to make sure that you’re ready ahead of time. While this may not pertain to the emergency you’re currently facing, it’s a strategy to employ now so that things aren’t so impactful in the future. An emergency fund is a fund that you regularly contribute to in anticipation of any emergencies that you might face later on.

No matter how much you’re able to contribute at this point in time, saving whenever possible means that you have more to dip into should you need it. For some, a sum of $1,000 is enough to feel safe, but the amount that you decide to save depends on your personal situation. As long as you’re saving, that’s all that matters!

If You Can Afford Insurance, Get It

Insurance can be expensive. However, the consequences of not having insurance can be even more so. For example, if you get into an accident and break a limb, paying out of pocket for all of the care that you receive can easily add up and put you in a precarious financial situation. This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s health insurance, car insurance, or something else entirely, paying for insurance will allow you some type of coverage to help you manage costs when an emergency arises. You will have to pay premiums and a deductible, but it’s better than paying for everything out-of-pocket. If you’re not currently covered, make sure to sit down and do some research to figure out which providers are the best fit for you and which plan fits into your budget. For certain types of insurance, like health insurance, you might even be able to take advantage of available tax credits to cut down on how much you’re spending monthly!

Check If You Can DIY the Problem Before You Enlist the Help of a Professional

Now, there are going to be certain situations where you’re going to have to reach out for help. If you’re facing a medical emergency, you can’t very well perform surgery or prescribe yourself medication. If you get into a car wreck, you won’t be able to fix your car. But let’s say something happens like your washer breaks down. This might not be so unmanageable with a willingness to learn and the right tools.

When life strikes, ask yourself, is this something that I might be able to fix on my own? Will it be cheaper to try to DIY this instead of reaching out to a professional? If so, do some research into what it takes to make the repairs or fix the problem (and how much it will cost to get everything you need to complete the project). Who knows? You might surprise yourself, learn a new skill, and save a big chunk of money all at the same time!

Look for Side Hustles to Supplement Your Income

When you’re facing down major expenses, you’re going to need some extra cash. This is especially true if the life situation you’re dealing with has made it so that you’re currently unable to work, either due to an injury or because you’ve been laid off from your job.

The good news? In the digital age, there are so many ways to develop additional income streams that you should experience very few issues finding a way to supplement your income or replace some of it. Of course, it’s important to filter out the noise. Rather than coming up with a full list of everything you can do, we’re going to separate some ideas into tasks that are easy to conduct and those that are a bit more difficult to get into.

Tasks That You Can Start Today

When you need cash and you don’t want to have to wait for applications and such, you’re going to need side hustle ideas that anyone can get into with ease and with little skill. Granted, these won’t pay as much as some side hustles, but something is always better than nothing. Some easy ways to bring in money include taking surveys (InboxDollars, Survey Junkie), evaluating websites and giving your feedback (UserTesting), or even doing easy tasks on a website like Fiverr (or even smaller tasks on websites like Clickworker). Just make sure that you know what you’re signing up for, what the work entails, and what the pay schedule is so that you’re generating and receiving income in a timely manner. These are all tasks that you can do during your free time with very little difficulty.

Tasks That Require More Skill

Now, there are side hustles out there that pay substantially more than some of the ideas above. However, these types of income-generating opportunities require you to either already have a specific skill set or be able to learn said skill set. They may also take a little more time. Are you looking for opportunities that will earn you far more income when you need it? If so, some effective side hustles include freelancing, becoming a virtual assistant, signing up for a transcription service (like Transcription Outsourcing), finding and flipping products online, dropshipping, and doing services for others (like dog walking or babysitting), and beyond. Some of these might only be temporary solutions. But who knows? You might end up starting your own business out of this side hustle that can make you more money than your current day job!

The more income you have coming in to pay for unexpected expenses and help you support yourself as you navigate them, the less stress that you’re going to have instead of worrying about whether or not you’re going to be able to pay for these costs moving forward. This will also help you save money because you won’t be relying on your singular income to support

Return to Your Budget to Cut Out Unnecessary Spending (and Look for Ways to Otherwise Make Things More Affordable)

In some cases, it’s important to return to your budget in order to figure out where you’re going to find the money to manage the costs of an emergency with ease. Take some time to look more closely at your spending habits and see if there are any areas where you can cut out unnecessary expenses until you’re able to incorporate them back into your budget again. This may not be the most desirable approach, but it will be necessary so that you can handle the emergency.

After you’ve seen where you can make room in your budget for these big life events, you should also look for ways to save money using resources that are available to you. Let’s imagine that you’ve recently undergone a major accident. You might need to take certain prescriptions as you heal. One way to better afford your prescription is to look for certain resources like GoodRx that can cut down the amount you have to spend on your medication. No matter the life emergency, there is generally a wide range of resources that you can turn to for financial support. Set aside some time to do some research into resources that you can rely on to help you navigate your specific situation and save money in the process!

Being Prepared, Taking Action, and Looking for Help Will Be the Ultimate Factors in How Life Emergencies Impact You

We can’t control everything about our lives. Accidents, sudden life changes, and other developments happen every day. We can, however, make sure that we act as soon as possible to deal with the financial repercussions of these life events. As long as you work to make sure that you’re prepared for potential emergencies ahead of time, take action immediately to deal with the situation, and look for resources designed to help you save money on various aspects of the problem, you should be able to work through these issues with less difficulty!

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Budgeting 101: How to Budget and Save Money

two people working on their budget at a computer

Budgeting is a skill that’s useful for everyone, especially for those that are interested in improving their financial literacy and credit score! Getting started can be overwhelming though, as there are so many factors to consider, including all varieties of your income, expenses, and savings goals. Creating a budget that’s personalized to you doesn’t have to be a struggle, and CashFurther can support you on your journey of budget creation and maintenance. To learn the steps to develop and implement a basic personal budget that’s a perfect fit for your life, read on!

Choose Which Type of Budget is Best for You

Make sure you start simple – if you try to include too many factors or use a complex organization method before you’re ready, you could discourage yourself from sticking to the budget. Explore the budgeting methods below and choose which one fits your lifestyle the best.

Envelope System: With the envelope system, you’ll need to have all of your money in cash. Each month, set aside a specific amount according to your budget for things like groceries, and place the exact amount of cash for that category in a corresponding envelope.

The 50/30/20 Budget: With this type of budget, you’ll break your expenses into three categories: Necessary expenses (50% of budget), discretionary expenses (30% of budget), and savings/debt payments (20% of budget). 

Pay-Yourself-First Budget: This method is particularly useful for those looking to pay off certain debts or put a significant amount towards savings each month. With this budget, you contribute a fixed amount towards your debt or savings, and then use the rest of your income for the month however you personally see fit.

Identify and Record All Relevant Income and Expenses

The spending area of your budget should be prioritized when creating your budget. All of your monthly expenses, including recurring ones like rent and phone bills, are listed in this area. Make sure you’ve kept thorough records of the expenses you’ve had over the past month that you can refer to before you begin writing down your spending habits. Examine your bank and credit card statements as well as any other monthly payment accounts, such as student loans.

You should also have detailed records of your income. Whether you work multiple contractor jobs or a singular W2, your budget style and capabilities aren’t limited by your employment status. When creating the income section of your budget, be sure to include all forms of income including any side hustles. If the money you earn tends to fluctuate each month, be honest with yourself and use the most realistic average to represent your income. Don’t include one-time payments like tax returns or gifts, because these won’t be replicated each month.

Implement Your Budget with Realistic Goals

To start putting a cap on any excessive spending, cut out any extraneous expenses from your budget. While it’s totally fine to indulge in an expensive purchase from now and then, sticking to your budget will require you to make sacrifices when it comes to the more frivolous financial things. Make sure to include in your monthly budget any costs that cannot be reduced, such as your grocery bill and utilities. Add realistic savings targets last. You’re more likely to save money if you say on your budget that you’ll set aside a little portion of your monthly income each time.

Check Your Budget Regularly and Remember Why You Started

As you progress with your budget, make sure you check in regularly. This means checking bank statements, credit card statements, and any other financial documents to see if your financial progress is in line with your budget. You can do this weekly or monthly, but it’s important to do it regularly to identify any issues and successes you’re experiencing. If you get discouraged with your budget, it’s helpful to remember why you started. You created this budget as your first step to financial literacy and freedom, and sticking to it every day will allow you to reach your goals quickly!

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Job Hunting 101: How to Get a Better Job

job candidate being selected

Do you want to land your dream job but don’t know where to start? Job hunting can be daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as many think. If you know the ins and outs of writing an irresistible resume, you can land your dream job easily. Here are tips to help you land a better job role.

Network with Professionals in Other Roles

Networking is among the best ways to connect with people in different industries. You learn about unadvertised vacancies in companies you’ve never heard of through networking. Getting a job through networking takes more nerve, but it’s more effective and rewarding in the long run.

When networking, inform your contacts that you’re looking for a job, and be specific about the type of job you’re looking for. Be authentic and considerate and ask for information and insights. Meet with leaders for informal interviews whenever possible to learn what skills and experience you might need to gain while you search.

You can also network through online platforms like LinkedIn. Update your social profile and join many discussion groups in line with the industries you’re interested in. You’ll learn about new opportunities through these discussion groups. Many employers prefer staff referrals because they’ll be comfortable hiring someone who their trusted employees recommend.

Write a Great Resume

Focus on creating a convincing resume that’s short and direct. Your cover letter and CVs should be accurate and up-to-date. Familiarize yourself with the standard resume formats, and use a professional email address when applying for a job. Those who don’t have enough time to customize a resume can use resume builders. Keep your formatting simple and clean.

Go through the job description of the targeted opening and add skills and experience relevant to the role you’re applying for. It qualifies your resume for the applicant tracking system because it will have all keywords that match the job description. After completing your resume, have someone else proofread and check your grammar.

Prepare for Your Interview

An interview mainly entails convincing the employers why they should hire you. When preparing for an interview, examine the job description; know why you’re interviewing and what your qualifications are. Although you can’t know the exact question you’ll be asked by the interviewer, you can practice answering common interview questions. For example, know what to answer when asked to describe yourself, what you want, and what you do.

Research the company and prepare questions you will ask the interviewer, even for a phone screening. Also, bring copies of your resume, and remember to send a thank-you note after the interview. Remember, your first impression matters, so try to understand each employer’s dress code expectations ahead of time.

Negotiate Your Salary

Whenever a company has a job offer, they present you with compensation. Start by researching the starting pay in that field. Consult your friends in the same industry as you and know what they’re earning to evaluate your offer.

You can negotiate the amount if you feel like your education level, skill set, and experience don’t match their proposed salary. Ask if there are other forms of compensation, such as stock options or extra vacation days. Knowing how to negotiate allows you to get fair compensation for the work done.

Final Thoughts

You might not get a job immediately after you apply and go for an interview. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Remember, the more interviews you attend, the more your performance will improve.

Continue applying for positions that interest you, and you’ll eventually land a better role. After landing a well-paying job, learn how to create and implement a basic personal budget.

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How to Do Labor Day Weekend on a Budget

You’re short on cash and want to have fun, but you don’t know how to do labor day weekend on a budget.

Fortunately, there are a ton of ways for you to plan a fantastic Labor Day. Follow these tips and ideas for how to do labor day weekend on a budget.

Ways to Do Labor Day Weekend on a Budget

Pick Budget-Friendly Outings

Spend a few minutes researching the true cost of a Labor Day trip or outing before committing to a plan. Don’t forget to include items like transportation expenses, food, beverages, parking, and entertainment.

For example, a free Labor Day festival sounds like a fun outing, but if the only free thing is the entrance fee, you’ll still need to budget for your transportation expenses, food and drinks, and additional festival activities. This seemingly “free” event can cost you hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re attending with your family.

However, a lake, pool, or beach that charges a fee for access may be a solid deal if you’re able to pack your own food and drinks and bring items for entertainment (like a beach game or floats).

Opting for activities that allow you to bring your own food and drinks helps you keep your expenses as low as possible.

Share Expenses with a Friend

If you want to get away for Labor Day weekend, travel with a friend so that you have someone to split your travel costs with. While you’ll still need to pay for your food, entertainment, and personal items, you can drastically reduce the amount that you spend on lodging and transportation.

Shop Around for the Best Price

When booking a hotel room or flight, make sure to check at least three or four websites to get the best price possible. You should also see if you qualify for any discounts (like a military discount, student discount, senior citizen discount, or discount for being a member of an organization like AAA).

You can even save a little more money if you’re willing to select a room or flight that’s non-refundable; just make sure you’re willing to commit to your travel plans before going this route.

Use Your Credit Card Points

If you have a credit card that gives you points or rewards for making purchases, you may be able to use these points to pay for a hotel room or purchase tickets or a gift certificate for a fun activity, like a movie or a nice meal out.

While you need some time to implement this tip, credit card points can be an excellent way to have fun without busting your budget.

Just make sure to pay your balance off each month to minimize interest expenses and look for a card with a low or no annual fee. You may also qualify for a sign-up bonus when opening a new card that gives you a lot of points upfront.

Drive a Little Further for Cheap Airfare or Transportation

Labor Day plans that involve flying or taking a train have the potential to become an expensive weekend away. Keep your travel costs low by comparing rates and fares at different airlines and train stations. Driving an extra hour to use a different carrier can save you hundreds of dollars.

Take Advantage of Free Hotel Perks

When staying at a hotel, see if they offer free breakfast or have complimentary snacks at a certain time of the day. Utilizing these free perks will help you lower your food costs while you’re away. You can even grab a couple of things to take with you for free snacks while you’re out and about.

Plan a Staycation

A staycation is an underrated option for celebrating Labor Day weekend. You’ll save a lot of money on travel expenses, and you’ll have access to your kitchen so that you can prepare delicious, budget-friendly meals.

Look for free or low-cost activities to celebrate the holiday, including public pools, state or national parks, and public parks. Be on the lookout for cheap community events or museum and zoo promotions that offer reduced entrance fees.

Since cheap destinations are popular on busy holiday weekends, try to arrive early to beat the crowds and ensure that you have a spot.

Or, cozy up at home for a terrific Labor Day weekend. Schedule a movie marathon that includes all those movies you’ve been meaning to watch. Make popcorn, grab some snacks, and invite a few friends over.

A game night is another fun, cheap way to celebrate Labor Day. Have each family member pick out their favorite game, prepare your favorite appetizers and dips, and spend an evening enjoying a little friendly competition.

Go Camping

If you want to get away for cheap, check out nearby campgrounds to see if they have any open camping sites. Tent camping makes for an affordable weekend away, and even if you need to purchase a tent and air mattress, the cost is still significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel.

Bring simple meals to grill or cook over the fire, or you can bring non-perishable items to minimize your food costs.

Don’t have a campground near you or want to cut your costs even more? Set up your tent in your backyard! You’ll save on campsite rental fees while having access to a few modern amenities for cooking and showering.

Schedule a Potluck-Style Gathering

Want to invite your friends and family over, but don’t have the funds to cover food and drinks for everyone? Invite everyone over for a potluck gathering where each person brings their favorite drink, snack, or dish.

You’ll have a variety of offerings without having to spend the money (and time) to prepare all the food and drinks yourself.

Plan a Road Trip

Even with the cost of gas, a road trip is still a budget-friendly way to see a lot of sights. Pick out a nearby town, and have each family member pick out a few sights and stops that they want to explore.

Be on the lookout for cheap excursions, like parks and other public spaces. A farmer’s market can also offer some great deals on fresh produce, flowers, and other food items.

Decorate for Fall

If you’re one of the people who like to celebrate fall immediately after Labor Day, Labor Day is a terrific time to prepare your home for the changing seasons. Sweep or hose down your front porch so that it’s clean, and break out your favorite fall decoration.

Want to add a few new pieces to your fall setup? Look for local farms and retailers with deals on pumpkins, gourds, and autumn flowers, like mums and black-eyed Susan’s.

Stretch Out with a Book

The warm summer days are a fantastic time to find a shady spot where you can relax with a great book. Pack a picnic basket with a few drinks and snacks to make the most of your reading time.

Stop by the local public library to borrow books to enjoy over the Labor Day weekend. Prefer to use a tablet or smartphone to read? Many public libraries have programs that permit you to borrow virtual book copies.

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The Best Websites with Money Saving Tips

Everyone loves money saving tips. In situations where your budget is getting tighter, it may be critical for you to take steps to reduce what you’re spending overall. Even if you monitor your spending and keep track of every purchase, it helps to have a few simple, effective tips to help you save wherever you can.

Top Money Saving Websites

There are some websites that are fantastic at money saving tips and strategies for reducing what you’re spending money on. These often include tips that you haven’t thought of but can implement into your daily life. If you want to get more out of your money, consider making the following websites your go-to locations to read each day.

#1: Rakuten

One of the ways Rakuten helps consumers is by providing discount codes, coupons, and other savings opportunities. If you know you need to make a purchase at a specific retailer, your first step should be to visit the Rakuten website. When you do, you can search for that retailer and find out if there are any discounts or other savings opportunities available. Sometimes, these savings can be as high as 40% off.

You can also use the site when you’re looking for a retailer that has the best price on a product you need. You don’t have to know where you plan to shop. Be sure to sign up for the browser extension, too. That way, any time you visit a website of a retailer with an available discount, the system picks it up for you and alerts you to that opportunity. There’s no cost to any of these services.

#2: Capital One Shopping

Capital One Shopping is a super easy to use tool. Just download it as a browser extension. When you do, it will provide you with ways to save as you go through your day, moving from one website to the next. You can also use the app when you are shopping at local stores. Pull up the code of a product you are looking for, and it will tell you how to save. It also helps you get loyalty credits and find trending deals.

#3: Ramsey Solutions

Even if you do not follow the Dave Ramsey method of reducing debt, the Ramsey Solutions website offers lots of information and insights into how to save money. There’s no cost to using it, but there are a lot of articles that offer ways to reduce your costs.

One of the key benefits is the list of free tools and resources for you to use. You can find ways to reduce your debt, get investing help, buy a home for less, and more.

#4: America Saves

Another excellent site for advice and guidance is America Saves. The website is designed to help encourage, teach, and manage online savings. With it, you may be able to learn real methods to reduce your debt and save money on everything you do throughout the day. One of the nice features of this website is that it offers a podcast that can provide an easy way for you to get some tips and develop some strategies without having to read a lot of content.

#5: Ibotta

The days of clipping coupons may be in your past (who has time to do that!) Many companies have realized that today’s consumers do not do paper coupons much anymore. Yet, they still want to encourage product purchases with discount offers. That’s where Ibotta comes in.

This website and app allow you to find digital coupons for many items you purchase daily. This is a good route to take if you are looking for ways to save money on things like groceries and clothing purchases. It links to over 300 retailers online and helps you to get cash in hand for the purchases that you make.

#6: AARP

For those who are older, especially those on a fixed budget, it may be critical to find ways to reduce your overall costs and spending. AARP offers a fantastic website to do this. One of the nice benefits of this website is that it also helps consumers to make better decisions about their spending, get advice on how to save, and reduce the risk of scams. They also often post articles on how to save money for a wide range of costs, such as this one. As an all-around informative tool for older Americans, it is an excellent resource for researched, high-quality content.

#7: KidsMealDeals.com

One of the most important ways to reduce costs is to reduce eating out. However, there are some reasons why you may want to enjoy a meal out every now and then. At KidsMealDeals.com, it is possible to learn about the various restaurants that offer free kid’s meals with the purchase of adult meals. You can download a simple-to-use app to help you find restaurants in your area (or use the website itself). It takes minutes, but when the need to enjoy a meal out happens, it’s nice to know which restaurants offer discounts on that day.

#8: Savings.com

For those looking for discounts at home improvement stores, savings on new phones, or even help reduce costs associated with travel, check out Savings.com. This is one of the best websites for money saving tips because it provides up to date information. The discounts and promo codes are all listed right on the site, so you can easily determine what the best offer for you is. For those who do a lot of purchasing, it helps to have a consistent way to monitor what’s available. This is a must-read site just about any time you plan to make a purchase.

#9: The Savvy Couple

What if you want to live a life that is more frugal? You want to find ways to reduce what you use and are spending while also making good decisions about money management. The Savvy Couple is a solid place to start. The website offers a lot of fantastic tips on how to reduce your everyday costs. Another nice feature about this website is that it offers ideas on side hustles and budgeting tools. You can even use their small business tools to help you to save money if you want to build your business. 

#10: The Penny Hoarder

Perhaps one of the biggest resources for articles for money saving tips is The Penny Hoarder. It is a helpful website that offers ways to save money on just about anything. Search for a topic that is important to you. Get ideas on how you can reduce what you are spending on the kids, travel, medical care, and school. You can also find articles to give you ideas on how to make money with a variety of financial incentives and ideas. There is also a lot of insight into saving money on home buying, taxes, bank accounts, and retirement.

Whether you want to save money on a specific purchase or want tips on how to create a budget that you can actually stick to, these websites offer the insight and support you need. Make sure you spend a bit of time reviewing these sites on a consistent basis for reliable help.

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Tips and Tricks on How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

As inflation continues to drive prices up on everyday goods like gas and groceries, more people are feeling its effects on their wallets. The dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. This has led modern consumers to look for ways to save money on all the day-to-day items that they rely on to feed themselves and their families. The good news? Even though your money may not have as much purchasing power as it did in previous years, that doesn’t mean that you can’t save money. One way to save money is learning how to grocery shop on a budget.

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

If you’ve noticed that money has been tighter when you go to the market, here are a few tips and tricks on how to grocery shop on a budget!

Look for Coupons (Print and Digital)

There are plenty of coupons that you can take advantage of to get better deals on the everyday items you use or the food you eat. Make sure to check your mail for paper ads from the grocery store to see what kind of coupons they’re offering weekly. If you don’t get paper ads or if you can’t always find what you need, many grocery stores will also have their own digital app you can check as well as possible perks like a rewards program or a membership that you can join to save more.

Buy in Bulk When There Are Great Deals on Items You Always Have in Your Home

Now, let’s be clear. Buying in bulk isn’t always the best option. For some, a tight budget might prevent them from splurging on bulk goods. That being said, you might be able to save money by purchasing certain goods in bulk. Let’s imagine that you love eating oatmeal. You might want to look around to see if you can find a large box of oatmeal that will cover you for the month or beyond. Not only might it be cheaper than purchasing several small boxes, but it will last you longer as well.

If you save more by spending more and you have room in your grocery budget, buy in bulk!

Purchase Certain Goods Online Rather Than From Your Local Grocery Store

There are certain items that you’re going to have to go to the grocery store for. For example, local produce is not something that you’re going to be able to purchase online. However, there are plenty of non-perishable items that can easily be purchased online, which might save you money if you manage to snag them when they’re on sale. If you’re looking for general retailers that might have what you’re looking for, you can always start with websites like Amazon, Target, or Walmart. If you’re looking for websites that specifically sell food, you can always try online grocery stores like Thrive Market, which will help you get better deals on some of the organic goods that you normally purchase from local health food stores.

Plan Out Your Meals and Skip the Pre-Prepared Items

There’s an argument to be made for convenience. It’s much easier to pop a meal into the microwave so that you can dedicate more time to whatever you have to take care of in your packed schedule. The problem? Convenience is often costly, and rarely do pre-prepared meals and similar ready-to-eat products provide you with the same quality or portion sizes that cooking your own meals would.

Instead of going to the grocery store and choosing out snacks and meals, create a meal plan prior to the store and stock up on meat, produce, and other ingredients. This way, you can save money by cooking at home rather than relying on more convenient products that cost more and offer you less.

Aim to Create Larger Meals That Offer More Leftovers

When you’re trying to cut down on your food spending, leftovers are a blessing. Granted, finding the right meals to help you make sure that you always have leftovers can be a difficult task. However, there are plenty of ideas out there. Whether you’re someone that loves making casseroles, cooking up sheet pan meals, or even making hearty soups or one-pan meals, you can save more money by stocking up on the right ingredients and creating giant meals that offer you several days’ worth of leftovers you can continue eating. This reduces the number of times you have to swing by the grocery store for more food!

Pay Close Attention to Sizes With Shrinkflation on the Rise

If you’ve been paying attention to certain products you normally buy over the past few months, you may have noticed something called shrinkflation. Some companies are shrinking their products while increasing the prices. You get smaller quantities of the same thing as a result. Not only are you spending more, but you’re getting less. The solution? Check to see if your favorite products are shrinking. If they are, look for alternatives that offer more of what you want at lower prices. The last thing that you want to do when you’re grocery shopping on a budget is continue to pay top dollar for items that no longer offer the same volume of said product as they used to.

Go With the Generic Store Brand When You Can

Brand names are often more popular with consumers, but that doesn’t mean that you have to buy them. In fact, brand-name products might be substantially more expensive without offering substantially better quality than other alternatives in the store. If you’re looking to save money when you’re shopping, you should always go with the generic store brand when you can. This is an easy way to save a few bucks without sacrificing some of the things that you enjoy having most in your home. Whether it’s cereal, ice cream, or even basic self-care products, most stores have a wide range of generic products that you can choose from!

Consider Visiting Multiple Grocery Stores for the Best Deals

The one downside that’s worth mentioning here is that gas is rather expensive now. If you have to travel further to go to multiple stores, this might not be the best recommendation for you. However, if your grocery stores are fairly close, you might want to shop at multiple stores in one day. Why? When you shop at one store, you’re limited to the selection and the prices at that one grocery store. However, when you strategically shop at multiple grocery stores, you can find the best deals for each of the food products you want and save money in the process.

Grocery shopping can be a major strain on those who are truly feeling the pain of inflation. But while it may seem difficult to navigate, there are ways to cut down on how much you’re spending at the grocery store each week. Are you looking to save more so that you have more money to put towards other needs? If so, the list of recommendations above will provide you with some excellent insights into how today’s consumers are saving money when they go on their weekly grocery runs!

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Back to School Shopping on a Budget

Back to school shopping will soon be upon us, and most wallets are weeping. Let’s be honest, sending kids back to school becomes more expensive each year which is why we have compiled the best tips to make school shopping as pain-free for your bank account as possible. From establishing a budget to raiding your home, these are the best tips save money on your school shopping.

1. Inventory What You Need for Back to School Shopping

This is a big one: figure out exactly what your kids need. Most schools will provide you with a back-to-school shopping list so you can figure out exactly what you need for your kids. This is an excellent time to see what each of your kids’ needs for class and if there is anything all of them need (e.g., pencils, binders, notebooks). Total everything to get a rough idea of what everything will cost to send the kids back to school.

2. Create a Budget

We all remember being a kid and wanting the super pack of gel pens or the latest Lisa Frank binder, and your kids likely have some frivolous purchases they want to make for the school year as well. Here’s where creating a budget comes in handy. Total exactly what you need to spend on essentials and look to see if there is any wiggle room for those extra special school supplies your kids “desperately need.” If money is a little tight, tell your kids they can choose one deluxe item and look to see if you can get it on sale. Once you have your budget in mind, stick to it.

3. Look Around The House

As parents, we have a lot of loose crayons, pencils and pens floating around the house. Although there is an emphasis on everything being “new” for the school year, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to shop in your home to see what can be sent to school. From reusing last year’s backpack and binders to providing some extra writing instruments, there’s nothing wrong with reusing what you already have for this school year.

4. Buy in Bulk

This tip is definitely geared towards people with more than one child, but it also applies to those who may want to go in on school supplies with another parent. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club offer great deals for those looking to buy a large number of school supplies, usually costing significantly less than other retail locations. Whether you have multiple children or want to go in on supplies with a couple friends, buying in bulk can save a lot of money.

5. Use Cash-back, Coupons and Rebates

We love a good rebate app and coupon, and back to school season is the perfect time to rip those items out and start saving large amounts of money. Comb your Sunday paper to find coupons on essentials or look to see if apps like Ibotta are offering rebates on your child’s school supplies. You’d be shocked by how many manufacturers are looking to cut prices, especially during the week before school when stores are trying to sell their remaining stock.

6. Compare Prices

It might feel tedious but comparing prices between stores truly can save you hundreds of dollars. Take the time to examine what each store is offering supplies at and make a shopping plan (don’t forget online retailers as well). Oftentimes, school supplies can be had for significantly less through certain retailers. Don’t be afraid to ask a cashier if a store will price match as well. Many will want to have your business and will match their competitor’s price points to give you the best deal.

7. See What You Can Delay

Certain things will need to be purchased before school, but other items can be put off. For example, your child likely doesn’t need their winter coat(s) or boots in the summer months. Stores will also discount their children’s clothing a few weeks after school starts as well. If you can, wait to take advantage of these sales to get the best deals for your kids and put off buying off-season clothing until you’re closer to the months you need them.

8. Look for Exchange Programs

Exchange programs are becoming more and more popular with families across the country. From school uniforms to supplies, many families are looking to donate and swap gently used or unused school supplies and clothing. If you don’t have a swap in your area, you can easily create one with some friends and neighbors to ensure your kids all get the school supplies they need for the new year.

9. Look for Sales

From tax-free days to back to school sales, many places are looking to attract as many customers as possible by hosting sales to attract parents. Take advantage of these days to get the most bang for your buck. You can find steep discounts on many common items as well as luxury or major purchases, like computers.  In the same vein, also look to see if your local retailers are offering specials on store brands. Oftentimes store brands will be part of the same sale as name brands, leading you to save significant amounts of money.

10. Check Out Discounts for Back to School Shopping

More and more businesses are offering discounts for students, especially when it comes to electronics. All you’ll need to do is have your student provide their ID card at checkout. Major brands like Apple, Dell and Hewett Packard offer student discounts as well as major retailers, including Amazon via their Amazon Prime membership for students. If you don’t know if a retailer offers a student discount, just ask! Many electronic retailers have college student discounts or specific days for college students to shop.

11. Pad for Surprises

We wish we could say that you can plan for everything, but the truth of the matter is that surprises do sneak up on us. From impulse purchases to items costing slightly more than we expected, sometimes we exceed our budgets. When looking to create your back to school shopping budget, make sure you leave a little wiggle room for surprises that may pop up.

12. Go to the Dollar Store

We’ve talked about dollar stores before, and back to school shopping is the perfect time to hit up your local Dollar Tree. You can get school staples for $1.00-$1.25 at most locations, with many carrying name brand items that are significantly more at other retailers. Many dollar stores will also offer generic items that work just as well as their counterparts, leading you to save money on a variety of items that would normally cost much more.

Back to school shopping doesn’t need to break the bank. By following the above tips, you can save hundreds of dollars this fall. From looking for sales to carefully planning a budget for what you’ll spend on supplies, taking the time to shop for school supplies while remaining price-conscious can save you both time and money this school season. Most importantly, enjoy spending time with your kids and creating shopping memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime.

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