3 Money Resolutions You Can Keep in 2016

 

Happy 2016! It’s January 6th which means you may have already set a New Year’s Resolution. It’s also possible that you have already broken it (no judgement if you did). New Year’s Resolutions can be tough to keep, especially if they take us out of comfort zone or force us to break a bad habit. Often the only resolutions that stick are ones that are small steps to long term change. So if your plans for 2016 include being smarter with your money, I came up with a few resolutions you might like. They’re easily to do and might help you change how you use your money. Here they are:

  1. Spend Money on an Experience – It sounds cheesy but it’s actually science – spending money on an experience makes you happier than buying material things. In 2016 plan a vacation, get tickets to a concert for your favorite band, or take a class to learn something new. A study done at San Francisco State University showed that while people tend to know that a life experience will make them happier than a physical purchase, it can be much more difficult to place an economic value on our memories. That’s probably why we keep buying stuff rather than investing in experiences. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely regretted dropping $100 on random stuff at Target. However, I have never for one second regretted spending $100 on One Direction tickets. Same amount of money, but while I cannot remember what I bought on that Target run, I will probably tell my grand-kids about Harry Styles’s weird dance moves and glorious hair. So do yourself a favor this year; skip the upgrade to the latest gadget or expensive clothing binge and use the money on creating a memory instead.

    1D OTRA

    If you can’t tell from our excited faces, it was worth the price of the tickets to have floor seats at 1D.

  2. Make Your Checking Account Work for You – Do you pay a fee if you don’t keep a minimum balance in your checking account? Do you pay a monthly service fee just to keep it open? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you need to switch financial institutions ASAP! It’s just plain silly to pay for something you can get for free.  According to BankRate.com, the average consumer who is charged for failing to maintain a minimum balance in their checking account pays their financial institution around $14.76 a month in fees. That means switching to a free checking account could save you over $175 a year. Sure it can be a pain to switch your direct deposit and automatic withdrawals, but your wallet will thank you for the effort. Plus why would you pay for a checking account when some financial institutions are paying YOU to bank there? My credit union offers free Kasasa® checking accounts that allow you to earn rewards for banking with us. What that means is if you use your debit card 12 times a month and check mobile banking, you could earn up to $6 cashback a month*. I use my debit card like 66 times a month and check my mobile app everyday so they’re basically giving me $6 for stuff I would do anyways. You can search for a financial institution near you that offers Kasasa here so you can start earning money on your checking account too. You won’t regret it!
  3. Donate to a Cause That’s Important to You – It could be $5, $50, or $500. The amount doesn’t matter, just the fact that you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself. We often think that just because we don’t have a lot to give we can’t make a difference. But nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to making positive change, a little goes a long way. So this year donate what you can to a cause you care about. Help out your local food pantry or contribute to a fundraiser for your high school’s athletic department. You could even go online to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to search around for a cause you feel passionate about. Whoever you chose to help out, I’m sure they’ll appreciate your support. And you’ll feel good about how you spent your money.

Hope your 2016 is happy, healthy, and financially fit!

 

*Terms and Conditions

Life Hack: Save Space, Fold Bags!

Bags s

To say that my apartment has a lot of plastic bags would be the understatement of the century. The picture above is only about 1/3 of the bags that are jam-packed into a small cupboard in my kitchen. My roommates and I tend to go grocery shopping, crumple the bags up, shove them in the cupboard, and pray that to door closes. We use some of them as liners for trash cans and one every few months I donate a bunch to the local food pantry, but for the most part they just take up storage space in our kitchen.

NOT ANY MORE! I recently discovered what can only be called “Plastic Bag Origami” on Pinterest. It seemed like an easy way for our bags to take up less space, but you can never trust something you see on Pinterest until you do it yourself. So I set out to see if I could turn our cupboard from something you might see on an episode of “Hoarders” into a functional cabinet. Here’s step-by-step instructions on how to fold your plastic bags:

Bags 1

1. Smooth out bag so it lays flat. FYI – this step can be time consuming if, like me, you previously crumpled a ton of plastic bags into a small space.

Bags 2

2. Fold the bag in half.

Bags 3

3. Then fold it in half a second time so you have one long rectangle.

Bags 4

4. From the bottom end of the bag (aka the end that’s not the handles) fold the bag into triangles.

Bags 5

5. Keep folding bag in triangles until just the end of the handles are sticking out.

Bags 7

6. Tuck handles into flap of triangle so you have one, neat football that you can use your fingers to kick at your roommate. Just kidding! Now your plastic bags are easy to store or carry and they take up WAY less space than before.

Bags 9

This is all 94 plastic bags I started with all neatly folded. It doesn’t even look like 94 bags. It’s crazy how much space this saves!

Bags B&A

The before and after shot is so visually pleasing. I couldn’t even get all the bags in the first photo without standing on my chair. Now look at them.

It was brought to my attention while I was sitting at my desk folding all 94 of these, that you can roll your plastic bags so they look like this.

Bags 10

This might work well, too. I even saw people on Pinterest putting rolls of bags in old Colorox wipe dispensers so they were easy to carry and , which is a neat idea. I personally had a much harder time keeping the roll neat while I was rolling it. Plus it kept coming unrolled while it sat on my desk. Also you cannot play finger football with a roll of bags.

You might be asking yourself, is it really worth the time and effort it probably took to fold all of these just to save a little space? And the answer is . . . no, it’s not if you fold 94 of them all at the same time like I did. But the folding honestly only took 15 or so seconds per bag. So if you did a week’s worth of grocery bags (say 4 or 5), it wouldn’t take long at all and therefore might be worth it. Plus I really like folding things so yea. Give it a try!

5 Inexpensive Things to Boost Your Mood

It snowed today. Snowed. It’s April 9th. It was 65 degrees last week. MAKE IT STOP!!!

WHHHHHHY?!

WHHHHHHY?!

If you couldn’t tell, I’m over the whole snow thing. I’m ready for spring and warm weather. So I’m a little grumpy this morning. To help get me out of my snow depression, I thought I would make this list of awesome inexpensive things that always make me happy. Because there’s nothing better to lift your mood than things that are both fun and thrifty. Here they are:

1. Discounted Holiday Candy: Never buy candy before the holiday. Always wait til just after it’s over. Easter candy is crazy cheap right now. I got a giant bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs yesterday for $1.99 at Rite Aid. Those are normally like $5.99. Bargain! Stock up my friends.

2. Jam Sessions: Some people (aka my dad) would say that my taste in music is questionable. I prefer to think of it as eclectic. But no matter what’s on your playlist, I think we can all agree that nothing lifts your mood faster than turning a favorite song up loud and dancing like no one is watching (which in my case I really hope they aren’t). Dance therapy is the best because at the most you’ve invested like $1.99 on your song of choice, which when you take into account the approximately 1 billion times I have listened to She Looks So Perfect by 5 Seconds of Summer makes for a really low cost per listen. #math

3. Theo and Beau: If you don’t already follow this toddler and his puppy on Instagram, do it now! They are adorable. They are best friends. They nap together and snuggle and it is impossible to look at their photos and not smile. Plus now they have a new little sister named Evie who joins their naps so their photos have gotten cuter, if that is even possible. Scrolling through their Instagram is the best free therapy there is.

4. Old Episodes of Lizzie McGuire: Were you aware that you can watch all the episodes of Lizzie McGuire online for free? WERE YOU?! This is a phenomenal fact that can make any bad day better. This show was my childhood. I wanted to be Lizzie McGuire. And re-watching old Lizzie episodes brings back all the things from the early 2000’s that today’s world is missing: weird multi-level ponytails, instant messaging, and saying “I’m outtie” when you leave a room. Watch it. I promise you will not regret it.

Remember cartoon Lizzie? She was so sassy.

Remember cartoon Lizzie? She was so sassy.

5. New Nail Polish: Bright finger nails make the world a happier place. Even if it’s still winter outside, you can bring a little spring into your life with pastel nail polish. Or skip right ahead to summer with neon pink. Go crazy! The best part is you can get super cheap nail polish for $2.99 at Rite Aid and paint it on yourself, saving you the cost of a professional manicure. Plus you can always ask your roommate to help you with your non-writing hand.

What are your favorite fun and thrifty things?

Funny Money

Happy April Fools Day! I’m not great at pranks. I think they’re really funny and I definitely always fall for them when someone else pulls one on me, but I’m not sneaky enough to ever successfully pull a prank on someone else. I am, however, particularly good at telling really bad jokes. So in the spirit of April Fools Day, here are some of my all time favorite money jokes:

bah dum tss

What does one penny say to another?

Let’s get together and make some sense.

Why didn’t the quarter roll down the hill with the nickel?

Because it had more cents.

Why can’t you borrow money from a leprechaun?

They’re always a little short.

What did the duck say when he went shopping?

Put it on my bill.

Why is money called dough?

Because we all knead it.

What do you get if you cross a sorceress with a millionaire? 

A very witch person.

Where do penguins keep their money?

The snow bank.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Robin.

Robin who?

Robin the piggy bank again.

And then to finish it off, here’s a One Direction knock knock joke just because One Direction.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Urine.

Urine who?

Urine secure, don’t know what for . . .

Happy April Fools Day!

3 Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

post-55971-Calvin-and-Hobbes-resolutions-t2LA

It’s January 7th, which means we are a week into the New Year and, if you’re like me, you might have given up on your New Year’s Resolution already. I had every intention of keeping a food diary but then I forgot to do it on the first and then … Yea … I haven’t started it yet. Statistics show that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit; if you’ve been good about following your resolution so far, you’re well on your to making it permanent. But if you’re like 92% of Americans, you might already be struggling to “read more” or “go to the gym.” Don’t give up! You can still commit to your resolution and make it work. Here are some tips:

1. Don’t quit cold turkey. 100% resolutions like “giving up coffee” or “never using your credit card again” rarely stick because they’re too absolute. Chances are you made a resolution like this to break a bad habit and that means temptation to fall back into that habit probably lurks around every corner. When you inevitably give in and eat a piece of candy or skip the gym you’ll feel guilty and defeated which will make you more likely to just give up altogether. Instead set resolutions that allow for some wiggle room. Instead of “I’m not drinking coffee any more,” try, “I’ll only drink coffee on the weekends.”

2. Be specific. Some resolutions sound good when you repeat them to everyone at a New Year’s Eve Party, but don’t work so well once January 1st actually rolls around and you have to put them into action. Stuff like “lose weight” sounds like a great idea, but how do you measure your success? How much weight? How are you going to do it? Focusing on a small, behavioral resolution increases your likelihood of achieving your goal. “I’m going to go to yoga class 3 times a week” is a resolution that will help you lose weight AND you will be able to definitively say if you stuck to it or not. Keep the goal small, realistic, and achievable.

3. Only say it if you mean it. Do you even really care about losing weight? Or do you even like going to the gym? Resolutions for resolutions sake are never effective. Make your resolution something you actually want to do, even if it seems small or insignificant. One year my boss’s resolution was to get a library card. Seems simple, but it was something she had been meaning to do for a long time and making it her resolution made her actually get herself to the local library. If your resolution is something you’re not enthusiastic about, you won’t commit to it.

Hope these tips help you stick to your resolution. Now if only I could find that notebook I meant to write my meals down in…

3 Quick Stress Relievers

Is there anything worse than someone telling you to, “Calm down” when you’re stressed out? I don’t know about you, but if I’m upset or angry or frustrated (or likely all 3 at the same time with some hungry mixed in there) nothing makes the situation go from a 5 to a 10 on the “I Can’t Handle It” scale like being told to, “Just relax. Take a deep breath.” If chilling out was as simple as just saying I should, I would have done that a long time ago!

The truth is, we all get stressed out from time to time, about school, work, relationships, or any number of other triggers. But how can you calm down if being told to, “Take a Chill Pill” doesn’t work for you? Here are 3 quick fixes that will help you relax and might make a stressful situation a little easier to handle.

1. The 3 Minute Rule. This is a trick a learned from a swim coach back in high school that I still use (or try to anyways). His rule was that you had 3 minutes after a race to talk about it, cry about it, yell about it, brag about it, or whatever about it. Then you had to zip it and move on to the next race. This taught me to spend a few minutes getting in touch with my feelings (whether good or bad), let them out, and then start focusing on the future. Dwelling on something, especially something negative, doesn’t do you any good. But neither does holding it in. If you’ve had a frustrating day at work or the cashier at the grocery store was rude to you, try putting a time limit on expressing your anger. Set a timer on your phone for 3 minutes, complain about your issue non-stop for your allotted time, and then when 3 minutes is up press stop. Let it out and then let it go.

Obligatory "Frozen" gif.

Obligatory “Frozen” gif.

2. Screenshot It. Every time you see a picture, quote, or just anything that makes you smile online snap a screenshot. It could be anything from cute puppy photos to something weird you saw on Twitter. Then when you’re feeling down, scroll through your photos for a little bit of instant inspiration. Nothing get rid of stress like a good giggle.

My friend snapchatted this to me, and I die laughing every time I see it. I don't know why.

My friend snapchatted this to me, and I die laughing every time I see it. I don’t know why.

3. Scrunch Your Toes. When I was little my mom taught me to do this weird thing to help me fall asleep. I still do it sometimes when I really need to chill out. You start by scrunching up your toes as tight as you can while you count to ten. Then you tighten all the muscles in your legs for ten, then your tummy, then your arms . . . all the way up your body to your forehead. Then, for the grand finale, you scrunch up every part of your body as tight as you can and count to ten. Then when you let go you take a big breath in and out. You will feel better. I promise.

I hope these tips help make your day a little more stress-free!

4 Things Nick Miller Taught Us About Money

If you don’t watch New Girl religiously every Tuesday like I do, you might not be familiar with it’s lovable curmudgeon Nick Miller. Nick is a 30-something every-man who dropped out of law school to work at a bar. But despite not having a lot of money, I think we could all learn a few lessons from Nick about finance. He might not know how to do a load of laundry or how to express his feelings, but Nick does know how to live life on the cheap. Here are 4 things Nick Miller taught us about money:

1. Don’t Pay for Things You Don’t Use.

wiffy

If you, like Nick Miller, are unsure what wifi is then why bother paying for it? Or say you have a gym membership but you never go to the gym. Or maybe you pay for cable but you only ever watch Netflix now-a-days. It’s not being cheap to stop paying for things you don’t use, it’s actually super smart.

2. Eating Out Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive.

nick dinner

One time I ate a $30 baby-back ribs at a fancy, hipster restaurant and they were no where near as good as the $14 ones at Applebee’s. The point is, if you’re more of a chain-restaurant-eating-with-your-hands kind of a guy like Nick, embrace it! You’ll save a few bucks.

3. “Wealth” is a Relative Term.

Nick Miller gas tank

We can’t all be Bill Gates. And Bill Gates certainly didn’t become a billionaire over night. Accumulating wealth takes time so it’s important to set realistic money goals for yourself. Maybe it’s filling your gas tank all the way up or maybe it’s buying a new car; whatever your goal, make sure it’s achievable on your budget.

And finally . . .

4. Money a complicated thing.

nick money

 

Money can control so much in our lives. Where we live. What we do for work. What we eat. How we spend our free time. But what is it really? It’s just paper and numbers and stuff. Obviously money has value, but it’s important not to give it too much value. If anyone is proof that you can be happy without being rich, it’s Nick Miller. And yes, he is a fictional character, but you get what I’m trying to say. Think of money simply as a tool to get you where you want to go – it will make managing it easier.