Be honest. Sometimes finances get away from you, especially during the summer months. The weather’s nice, everything worth experiencing is finally happening, and summer sales are hot, hot, hot. Unfortunately, that means summertime can drain your bank account faster than you can drain a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at your uncle’s barbecue.
We’ve all been there. Thankfully, we have all of this technology floating around to lend a hand. Since there’s an app for everything, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are apps that help you budget your finances and save money.
Let’s start with the most well-rounded app: the Mint financial planning app. It’s available on the iPhone, Android, and Windows mobile operating systems, and it’s completely free to use.
The app gives you a visual of all your spending, lets you set financial goals for yourself, and plans out a budget based on your lifestyle with bill reminders and mobile alerts.
Images via itunes.apple.com
Mint likes to claim that its incredibly detailed spending reports make you feel good about where your money goes, but that’s only after you feel great shame at looking at a pie chart that is 75% McDonald’s, 20% Netflix, and only 5% grownup things, like your or underwear. That’s okay, though. We need a starting point.
RetailMeNot is a great little app for Android and iPhone that serves no other function than being a treasure trove of promo codes and coupons for thousands of businesses. You can get anything from a half-price pizza to discounted airfare, and anything in between. Scrolling through this app’s deals is more addictive than browsing related YouTube videos. Trust.
Image via itunes.apple.com
All jokes aside, RetailMeNot is a lifesaver. We can’t always resist the seductive gaze of online shopping (FREE two-day shipping–how could we not?), so this app serves as a great buffer between our weakness and the poorhouse. This app can use quite a bit of data when you’re on the go, though, so you may want to look at getting a T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan or something similar that has generous data allowances for users.
3. Hotel Tonight
What good is summertime without an unforgettable road trip? Not much of a summer, is it? Money shouldn’t hold you back from visiting places you’ve dreamed of visiting.
So, when you find yourself in a strange city, and your back seat smells like feet, you’re going to want a nice bed to sleep in. News flash: hotels are a huge money sink. Unless, of course, you pick up Hotel Tonight, available on iPhone, Android, and Windows.
Images via itunes.apple.com
Every day at noon, the good people at Hotel Tonight post unsold rooms at ridiculously discounted rates. What ensues is a feeding frenzy of last-minute bookings, but you’re sure to snag a great deal with this app. You’ll enjoy a comfy bed, complimentary WiFi, and more money in your pocket than if you had booked a hotel the archaic way.
Here’s another budget app, but this one takes things to a different level. If you’re feeling particularly grown up, check out Manilla for iPhone and Android.
Manilla is a versatile financial app that lets you sync up every single account you pay into, keeps track of your bank accounts, and gathers up all of your account documents to store for safekeeping. Basically it’s a filing cabinet without the cabinet and an awesome way to keep your money in order.
Images via itunes.apple.com
If you have tons of different bills, even things like babysitters or dog walkers, you’ll love being able to keep track of them all in one place. Late fees are friends to no one, so let them know they aren’t invited to the party by downloading this app.
Everyone has experienced it at least once. You go to one grocery store to pick up a few things. On the way home, you realize you forgot cheese and decide to stop at another store only to discover everything here is so much cheaper. Frustrating, right?
Well, with RedLaser for your iPhone, Android, or Windows device, that level of rage becomes a thing of the past. Scan a barcode, and the app looks up prices online and at local stores to find the best deal available.
Image via itunes.apple.com
You’ll know exactly where to go to save money, and the app even shows you reviews of products, nutritional values, and coupons.
Each of these suggestions offers users a unique way to budget and even save a little money. In this economy, every little bit helps. If your bank account starts looking a bit parched this summer, give these apps a try.
Want to find the perfect job? Whether your goal is to make lots of money, help others, or feel like a valued member of a team, today’s economy supports hundreds of thousands of workers in the careers they love. Read on to learn about some amazing vocational choices you can make today.
Image via Flickr photologue_np
If you’re a creative who loves gaming or tinkering with computers, you might enjoy a career as a software developer. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions in this field are opening up much faster than average. With a Bachelor’s degree, you can expect to earn up to $100,000 per year in this multifaceted field.
Software developers are fluent in different computer languages and platforms. They’re responsible for everything from developing popular games like Candy Crush to creating coding applications for today’s mobile phones. Within the field of software development, a professional can choose his/her area of interest and expertise.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of this health-minded career, but it’s growing right along with today’s medical and IT industries. We don’t just need doctors; we need people to help assimilate, store, and retrieve medical information. Physicians and emergency technicians often need quick access to a person’s medical history. An informatic combines his/her medical expertise with a working knowledge of IT to develop and deliver that information.
A Medical Informatic Degree qualifies you to work in this dynamic service field. It’s a popular advanced-study choice for doctors who want to use their IT skills to make a difference, but students without prior medical experience can pursue the degree as well.
Market Research Analysis
If you’re interested in how businesses work, you might enjoy the field of market research analysis. A Bachelor’s degree in a number of areas, including computer science, business, and communications, can get you in the door, but your training won’t stop there. Whatever area of sales and marketing you join, you’ll need to learn the ins, outs, and statistics of that field.
Depending on where you land a job, the pay can range between $43,000 – $85,000. For those interested in upward mobility, the job often boasts great career potential.
Customer service jobs get a bad rap, but some businesses offer their employees stellar benefits and working conditions. The following 4 well-known companies all offer their employees health care and other fringe benefits:
- Starbucks: Baristas now receive two years of online college tuition from their employer, as well as employer-matched 401K contributions and health insurance.
- Costco: Employees are eligible for health care and the employee stock purchase plan.
- Lowe’s: The hardware chain offers health benefits and the right to purchase company stock at a discount.
- Land’s End: The apparel giant offers health benefits even to seasonal workers who promise to return the next year.
Finding your niche in life can be difficult. It helps to know that jobs in customer service, business, IT, and the medical field can all serve you well in today’s tricky economy. It’s important to find a career that fills your social, emotional, and financial needs. Once you do, you’ll be set for life.
If you have recently been married, adopted a child, or just decided you cannot put up with your name any longer, it’s time to file for a name change. This can seem like a very daunting task with the protections put in place against people stealing another person’s identity, but this is still a pretty easy and straightforward process. As long as you’re getting the right help and you’re following the guidelines, you’re going to have an easy time of changing your name. So, whether it’s a joyous occasion to change your name, or you’re getting rid of something that’s bothered you for years, you can get the information you need to change your name quickly and easily.
Make Sure to State the Reason for Changing Your Name
If you want for your name change request to be approved, you’re going to need to provide your reason for it. If you are getting married or adopted, you have a great reason to change your name and your request is all but assured to be changed as soon as you file with a company like LegalZoom, according to The Knot. If you’re changing your name just because you don’t like your old name, you’re going to need to come up with a good reason why your name should be changed to the one you prefer. If you have a compelling argument about being teased relentlessly, or just that you’ve always looked up to the person for whose name your taking, or simply everyone already calls you by the name anyways, this can be a good reason to state you want to change your name. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have a good reason for changing your name. If you have any reason at all, you’re more than likely going to receive the name change you desire.
Make Sure You Know the State Laws
The main thing you’re interested in accomplishing is to have the legal ability to change your name on your social security card. Each state has different laws surrounding what has to be accomplished before this can happen, according to Baby Center. For instance, if you live in Minnesota, you have to be a resident for at least six months before you can legally change your name. This is why it is always recommended to contact a lawyer whenever you’re thinking about changing your name. While this may be a little more expensive than filling out all of the paperwork yourself, it’s the best way to be assured you’re complying with all the state laws so your name will be changed right away. Lawyers will review all the laws surrounding a name change and ask you questions prior to filling out the paperwork. This way, you’re assured you’re in complete compliance and that your name change request will be accepted with ease.
Know the Timing to Handle All Your Legal Documents
Changing your name on your social security card is one of the hardest parts of changing your name, but it is only part of the process, according to The New York Times. You will also have to change your name on your State Identification (i.e. Driver’s License), with your employer and with any other legal parties you work with (like your bank account, etc.). These all have different requirements in terms of timing you’re going to have to observe. If you’re not sure of the timing, you’ll either have to make several phone calls or defer to your lawyer. In most cases, the lawyer can take care of filing all the paperwork at the appropriate time for you. If you’re worried about delays in things like receiving your tax return, or obtaining a new license, you should consider the timing of when you file for your name change.
Posting Your Name Change in the Newspaper
Among the state laws you may have to abide by when going through a name change is posting your intent to change your name in the local newspaper. In the state of Georgia, according to the Georgia Government, you have to post the intended name change along with your old name, the court filed in and the date you filed. In the ad, you also have to mention anyone who has an objection can file a petition in the court. Only after 4 weeks have elapsed with no petitions can you legally change your name. This is just one example of a state law regarding changing your name. If you’re not aware of this kind of law, you may be caught off guard when you go to change your name. Talk with a lawyer about all the state laws to make sure you fully understand what you’re going to go through. If you still want to go through with it after you understand the process completely, you can go through with the name change.
It really is true: when it comes to designer clothes, you can exercise brand loyalty without breaking the bank. By utilizing special deals and cash back options, shopping smart lets you find high-quality apparel in your price range. Here are a few ideas and insider tips for making the most of your next shopping trip.
Seek Out Seasonal Deals and Essentials on Clearance
How many of us actually take the age-old advice of stocking up on things like sweaters in May and swimsuits in January? If you only buy new summer and winter pieces as you need them each season, you are likely missing out on huge savings. As stores must regularly clear space for new arrivals, tons of classic, high-quality, and designer clothes are deeply discounted simply for being out-of-season.
Keep an open mind while hunting for bargains, as sweaters and swimwear are not the only items to consider. Rain boots, little black dresses, jackets, dress pants, and jeans are all useful throughout the year. Online clearance sales may boast an even wider selection than what is available in store.
Finally, consider stocking up on essentials and year-round necessities. Designer shoes, belts, undergarments, and athletic wear are all worth picking up on sale. Build up your wardrobe’s essentials; then change your seasonal look around these with a change in color palette, style, or accessories.
Watch Out for Hidden Costs
Before you grab your latest paycheck and hit the clearance racks, however, ask yourself a few questions. Will those pants need more than just a quick hem? Is that suit deeply on sale but also severely out of style? Do I really need four hi-low skirts?
No matter how heavily discounted the clothes in front of you are, take a moment with each item to make sure it is the style, fit, and quality you need. A well-stocked, classic wardrobe with high quality garments will last longer, giving you the money for a trendy skirt or dry-clean-only dress. Plus, there are plenty of ways to help make your current wardrobe look more expensive.
Coupon Codes and Storewide Savings
Printable Kohl’s coupons and online Kohl’s coupon codes can equal huge savings when you check out. One simple code could give you a percentage of the cost off either one item or your entire order! Examples of other special codes include $5 off your total purchase over $50 or $10 off a $30 purchase in a certain department.
Check out weekly ads, the store’s website, or the store itself to see what other savings you might be interested in. Take advantage of periodic sale prices to stock up on classic clothing such as men’s dress shirts, in brands including Croft and Barrow, Haggar, Arrow, Apt. 9, and Van Heusen. Why would you pay full price later when you can enjoy savings now? Mashable offers more ideas to freshen up men’s fashions.
Similarly, pay attention to your current wardrobe and create a detailed inventory of what needs to be replaced. Are your running shoes wearing thin? Has your swimsuit seen better days? Stock up on polos, socks, underwear, shorts yoga pants, and more. Finally, consider adding more neutrals such as nude, hotly debated by the Huffington Post as a serious closet contender.
Earn Cash Back
Imagine earning cash back every time you shop for new clothes. Now, imagine that this cash back is on top of store offers like Kohl’s coupon codes and season sales. It’s true: with Kohls coupons from Ebates you can now earn 6.0% cash back (up from 3.0%!) on your purchases at Kohl’s. If you frequent the same store, why wouldn’t you want to earn cash back every time you shopped?
Some websites also have referral programs, where you can earn additional cash back every time a friend joins the site on your behalf. Check to see if any exclusions apply, such as to gift card purchases.
Store Credit Cards, Free Shipping, and More
Many stores such as Kohl’s offer a rewards credit card, which can give you multiple benefits throughout the year. There is typically an up-front savings of 15%-20% percent on your first purchase with a qualified account, then additional savings each time you use the card in store. Special or seasonal savings might also pop up, such as 20% any order with card.
When it comes to online shopping, keep an eye on the shipping cost. Only a few websites offer free shipping all the time, but almost all websites offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount. Similarly, examine your store’s return policy in case something is not the right fit or shade.
With overstock items, capsule collections, or dedicated, small boutique areas set aside for big-name designers, many stores offer great savings on high-quality looks. Multiply these savings with special codes and cash back, and your wardrobe will thank you!
Alicia Rades is a freelance writer and blogger. When she’s not working for clients, you can find her updating her blog at TheWritingRealm.com or working on other writing projects. Learn more on her website and connect with her on Google+.
With so many factors affecting your credit score, recognizing how they all work together is tough. Understanding these factors can help you make the right decisions and give you a better idea of how lenders use your credit score to determine your financial risk. Read on to learn about six factors that can affect your credit score.
Wells Fargo says your payment history accounts for about 35 percent of your credit score, making it the largest factor to influence your score. This category includes various types of credit, such as credit cars, utility bills, mortgages, and auto loans. If you pay your bills on time to the agreed amount, it positively impacts your score. If you miss payments or pay the bills late, it can hurt your credit score.
However, you shouldn’t fret too much over one missed payment, but if you can’t make ends meet and are consistently late, you may want to rethink your finances and put together a tighter budget to help you meet your deadlines.
The amount of money you owe also has a large impact on your credit score, as much as 30 percent says the UW Credit Union. This category factors in how much you owe compared to your available credit, which is calculated on an individual account and an overall basis.
The idea is that you don’t want to reach your credit limit, so if you have multiple credit cards, spread your purchases over different accounts so you don’t max out a single card. Ideally, you don’t want to borrow more than 50 percent of your credit limit on a single card, and you should avoid spending more than 1/3 of your total credit limit at any given time.
The length of your credit history has about a 15 percent impact on your credit score. This factor is important because lenders want to see that you’re responsible enough to handle your debt over time. This means the younger you are, the worse your credit score since you haven’t had time to establish it. About.com advises that individuals keep their accounts open for more than seven years to improve their score. Instead of closing your accounts, you can build your credit score by maintaining a small amount of activity and paying it off every month.
If you’re young and still confused about personal finance and your credit score, visit Fisher Investments on Goodreads.com for a list of materials to help you understand the subject.
Applying for a loan counts as an inquiry on your credit report. The more inquiries you have, the worse your credit score. This is because when you’re looking for credit, you’re considered a higher risk to lenders. However, if you’re serious about getting a home or car loan, you don’t have to worry as much about sending several inquiries in a short amount of time. All mortgage inquiries within 30 days of each other count as one inquiry. The same goes for auto loans except there’s a 14-day limit.
Type of Debt
While the type of debt you acquire has only about a 10 percent effect on your credit score, it can still impact it. Certain types of loans are more favorable to your credit score when they’re seen as more low-risk. For instance, installment loans are better for your score than credit card debt. The good news is that with a variety of debt — mortgage, auto loan, credit card debt, etc .– you can increase your score by showing you’re able to handle the variety.
The more accounts you open, the higher risk you are at, especially if you open several accounts in a short period. Generally, however, FICO scores make a distinction between obtaining new credit accounts to shopping around for the best price, and they won’t penalize you for looking for the best deal.
Now that you understand the factors that affect your credit score, you’ll have an easier time managing each variable to help improve your score. Still not sure why it matters? Learn more about it here.
Post from a reader.
Several millions of graduates are leaving the university walls this year. And if you are one of them, you should prepare for some serious competition to go through on your way to getting a decent job. And even though some report that the baby boom generation is now actively retiring, there is still too little job offers, especially the entry-ones, in comparison to the number of specialists. What to do in such case and how to stand out of the crowd? The following guide will teach you how and help find local jobs or whatever else you’d like to get.
As a young specialist, you will get a lot of advice from numerous job market specialists. Some pieces of advice might be useful, but don’t you listen to the jobs numbers – leave it to experts. No matter what are the numbers of offers or statistics, companies are still hiring, but the way they are doing this has changed a bit. If you know someone who is now working for their former summer camp counselor, or found a job over employees social networks – that is the way it is done today. So stop complaining and listening to numbers – turn off your TV and go handle your future.
Stake the Claim
Our country was always about staking claims, starting from California Gold Rush and continuing to the war with terrorism. These were hard tasks to accomplish, and in fact so is making a career. Imagine that you are a rock climber trying to climb the Everest – no one said it would be easy, right? The same with building a career – your career counselors and folks will not do it for you. It is your own responsibility to build your future and find a job, so when saying you’ve been looking for a job all day long, be true to yourself and count the hours you’ve really spent.
Know who you are and want to be
Finding a job is all about selling yourself, so being clear about what you can offer to the company and hiring managers, you will make people buy you as a brand.
To do this you should think what makes you different from other hungry job searchers, what skills do you have and what you can bring to the future employer. Discovering your personal career brand might be useful as well.
Take a break
Job search is fulfilling task that exhaust and sometimes demoralize searchers. Some say, their only desire during the search is lie on the bed and ignore the entire thing. That is why you should always take a break – watch a movie and give your brain a rest.
Post from reader.
As Europe prepares to embrace plain packaging for tobacco cigarettes, some of the continent’s largest tobacco companies are warning that the costs of the new regulations will be severe. British American Tobacco (BAT), for example, projects the company will spend upwards of £200 million just on the purchase and installation of new equipment needed to produce packages that comply with regulations. This will inevitably drive the retail price of tobacco cigarettes up as well. For smokers, now might be the time to think of a less expensive alternative – like electronic cigarettes.
The issue in Europe comes down to the fact that the new government packaging requirements need a larger footprint to accommodate the graphic warning labels the regulations require. Larger packaging means new machines to produce the new packaging – machines that can accommodate the larger size and make it possible to print the graphic images. All of this means additional expenses for tobacco companies.
Elsewhere in Europe, Imperial Tobacco says it will close its last plant in England at a loss of 540 jobs. The combination of regulations and falling tobacco sales means it is just not feasible to continue doing business in England. Imperial products that remain on the market will be subject to higher prices as well.
So what is a tobacco smoker to do? One option is to switch to an electronic cigarette product. Electronic cigarette makers market their products from many different angles; one of those angles is the fact that vaping (the act of using an electronic cigarette) is significantly less expensive than smoking. For a budget minded smoker, it is an option that needs to be seriously considered.
Contemplate this: if you smoke a pack every single day, you might be spending as much as 10% of your annual income on your habit, assuming your annual salary falls within the national average. Smoking is an incredibly expensive habit when you frame it in terms of your overall income.
Savings Are Significant
So just how much could you save by switching from traditional tobacco to the electric alternative? The makers of VAPESTICK, one of the fastest growing brands in Western Europe, suggests savings of approximately 70% are realistic for consumers using one of their popular rechargeable products. That is a lot of money.
The average UK smoker consuming 20 cigarettes per day spends about £2920 annually. If he experienced a 70% savings by making the switch, his total annual costs would be reduced to less than £900. It amounts to a savings of over £2000 every single year. If you intend to continue smoking, or you know you cannot quit, e-cigarettes provide a way for you to bring your habit more in line with your budget.
There are disposable e-cigarette devices you can choose if you do not want to have to worry about refilling and recharging. Disposables cost more than rechargeables, yet they are still 25% to 30% less expensive than combustible tobacco. You will save the money even if you are using disposables.
A Growing Industry
It is important to state that we do not make these recommendations lightly. There is a lot of ongoing debate over the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes for tobacco users. However, there is no denying the cigarette industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Recent estimates say the business is worth more than $3 billion annually, thanks to millions of users now buying the products around the world. What’s more, the devices might not be as bad as some of the critics are saying.
At last year’s 2013 E-Cigarette Summit in London, delegates representing the medical community, the tobacco control community, and the e-cigarette industry heard from a number of experts claiming e-cigarette products could save millions of lives every year. Those claims are based on the reality that e-cigarettes do not produce the cornucopia of toxic chemicals we already know exist tobacco smoke.
It stands to reason that removing those chemicals removes much of the danger of the smoking habit. That does not mean electronic cigarettes are 100% safe, but the experts at the 2013 E-cigarette Summit believe they are magnitudes safer. By making the switch, you will be saving money and possibly doing less damage to your health.
The take away for smokers here is one of switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes for financial reasons. You will have to decide for yourself about safety and efficacy. What we do know is that the price of tobacco continues to rise with every passing year, making the habit ever more expensive. If you are spending up to 10% of your annual income on smoking, consider either quitting entirely or switching to a less expensive e-cigarette option.