Resolving to Save in 2017? Maybe You Shouldn’t…

save

About 45 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution each year and only 8 percent of those people are successful in achieving their resolutions during the new year. So, is it worth it? Should you make a new year’s resolution?

New Year’s Resolution Break Down

Obviously the 45 percent of Americans and only the 8 percent who succeed seems like a bit of a let down. However, there are a number of factors at work like age, type of resolution and how long they last with their initial goal.

How age affects New Year’s Resolutions

One of the more surprising factors of whether or not you’ll succeed with your new year’s resolution is age. As it turns out, people in their twenties and early thirties are more likely to be successful. Thirty-nine percent of people in their twenties achieve their resolution each year while only 14 percent of people over 50 achieve their goal. Many people think this is because they are still very hopeful, goal-oriented and have plenty of room for changes to make their resolutions work.

What kind of resolution are you making? 

According to Statistic Brain, the top 10 resolutions each year are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Save more money (spend less)
  4. Enjoy life
  5. Staying fit/healthy
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend time with family

Almost half (47%) of people make self improvement resolutions each year. Thirty-eight percent make weight-related resolutions and 34 percent of Americans make finance-related resolutions. But, still, what are the chances of being successful with your plans? “Most people don’t make it through the first month.”

How long do resolutions last? 

Well, that’s not entirely true. Seventy-five percent of people that make resolutions make it through the first week (small feat). Sixty-four percent of Americans who make resolutions make it through the first month (more than you thought, right?). Even more surprising a statistic is that 46 percent of Americans who make resolutions every year stick to their resolutions for six months.

That’s still not 100 percent though so if you’re still skeptical of setting a resolution in 2017, you’re right to be so. There are ways to be successful with your goals though.

Successful New Year’s Resolutions

In all reality, people who explicitly make resolutions each year are 10 times more likely to reach their goals. If you are planning to save more in 2017 (or whatever your goals may be) you’ll need to explicitly say so and draw up a plan to do so.

You’ll need to make a goal-setting worksheet for yourself, set deadlines and come up with a program. If you are looking to save more money in 2017 you may want to have dates where you want to have a certain amount saved ($600 by July, for example). You may also want to try out a money challenge of sorts to save more cash in the new year.

Whatever your goals or resolutions may be you won’t meet them unless you set your mind to it, set deadlines and be determined.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and success in your endeavors in 2017. 

Photo: mt 23

Personal Finance Apps for Christmas

Personal Finance Apps

Do you know someone trying to get control of their finances? How about someone with a strict budget or just beginning to budget? Well, good news! You can give the gift of organization and planning for your personal finance-minded friends and family this year.

Personal Finance Apps as Gifts

A lot of personal finance apps are free, which makes it hard to gift them. However, there are a few great personal finance apps that cost a little money but are GREAT:

LearnVest – You can get started with LearnVest for free. Set up an account, get an assessment of your finances and get a financial plan for yourself. Through LearnVest you can also access a number of online classes and other tools. However, if you want some of the more advanced services offered by LearnVest you will have to pay a $299 initiation fee and $19 a per month after that. If you know someone who would use the services it could make as a great gift though!

Budget Boss – Unlike LearnVest, Budget Boss is not free to download or sign up. The cost of the app is $0.99, however, that is a one-time fee. Much like the name suggests Budget Boss helps you with budgeting and that is about it. It won’t help you with other parts of your finances nor is there a financial team available for advice. It can, however, make a good gift for someone learning to budget.

Stash Invest – Stash Invest helps people start investing with as little as $5. The app only costs $1 per month and you could gift someone an entire year subscription to Stash Invest for only $12. If you know someone interested in investing this would be a perfect and inexpensive gift.

Free Personal Finance Apps

Additionally there are some free personal finance apps out there that you may want to suggest to your finance-minded friends and family. Here are three of the best:

MintMint, like Budget Boss, is a budgeting app. It will take all of your money across all of your accounts and give you a snapshot of your overall finances (including debt). Use the app to budget your monthly expenses as well as entertainment. You can set savings goals and debt-payoff goals within the Mint app. It is truly great for anyone starting to budget!

Level MoneyLevel Money is another budgeting app (sort of). Instead of giving you a snapshot of all of your money Level Money lets you know what money you can really afford to spend. It replaces you account balance with that spendable amount based on your bills and savings goals.

AcornsAcorns is another great investing app for beginners. Like Stash Invest, you can start investing with small amounts of money. The best part about Acorns is that it allowsPersonal Finance Apps you to connect cards to the account and use the “spare change” to invest. For instance, if you spent $4.75 on something with your debit or credit card $0.25 would go to your Acorns investing account. You can also set up monthly withdrawals and investing goals through the app.

How to ‘Package’ an App

There are a few ways you can “package” an app for Christmas (or any other holiday or celebration). Here are a few crafty ways of packaging a personal finance app:

  • Write them a note. If you and the person you are giving the app to are close and you know why they would want this app, write them a note. You can even tell them that they can pick the app themselves (with a cash limit, of course). This makes it more personal. Then you can purchase the app for them.
  • Give them a gift card. You can get gift cards for the PlayStore and iTunes at most stores. Give the gift-receiver a gift card for their phone’s store and tell them what you thought they’d use it for.
  • Package it with some personal finance materials. If you want to aim for free or cheap apps you may want to package your list of recommended personal finance apps with other items. Some good items to package the list with would be personal finance books, subscriptions to personal finance podcasts, a bill calendar, budgeting materials or even a set of money challenge print outs.

Gift-giving isn’t the easiest thing in the world but personal finance apps and personal finance presents can be the gift that keeps on giving, especially if it helps someone save or get better control of their finances. Happy gifting!

Photo: Esther Vargas

Have You Tried a Money Challenge?

Money Challenge
A few years ago 30-day challenges and money challenges became super popular. It was like the internet was trying to challenge everyone to do something to better themselves.

Some challenges had to do with fitness (i.e. the 30-day squat challenge). Others had to do with blogging or writing or other career-specific challenges. And, the most popular had to do with saving money.

The 365 Day Money Challenge

All of the money challenges seemed to have stemmed from the 365 Day Money Challenge. Ultimately this money challenge would challenge you to save a penny a day, increasing by one penny each day. For example, on January 1 you would save $0.01, January 2: $0.02, January 3: $0.03 and so on.

At the end of the year (or 365 days) you will have saved $668. You can see a print out of the money challenge here. The money challenge has been adapted so that you can save nickels, dimes and quarters as well.

The 52-Week Money Challenge

The 52-Week Money Challenge is another great way to save money as well. Like the 365-Day Money Challenge the 52-Week Money Challenge saves a little bit of money at a time. You save money each week, increasing the amount by $1. The first week you’ll save $1, week two: $2, week three: $3 and so on. By the end of the year you’ll have saved $1,400.

You can print out the 52-Week Money Challenge here. There are also a number of alternative challenges you can try, including doing the challenge in reverse.

The Biweekly Money Challenge

Many people get paid biweekly and not weekly. For those who get paid biweekly, an alternative money challenge has been made. The Biweekly Money Challenge is like the 52-Week Money Challenge except it is only on the span of 26 weeks (half a year or biweekly over the year). You simply increase the amount you save every-other-week by $4. Week one you save $3, week two: $7, week three: $11 and so on. You save $1,378 over the span of the year with this money challenge.

If you want to try the biweekly money challenge you can print it out here. You can also alter the plan to suite your own needs.

Creating Your Own Money Challenge

In fact, you don’t have to go by any of these specific money challenges. You can make your own. Saving isn’t easy by any means, however, making a plan and setting out how much money you’ll save and when can really help.

Whether you want to save a certain amount of money per week, biweekly or per month you can lay out a plan that can really help. The internet also has a huge amount of printable money challenge charts out there for you to create your own or follow someone else’s.

The new year is just around the corner and many people will be pledging to save more money and gain control of their finances. There are plenty of money challenges out there for you to try and aid you through your financial journey.

With a new year comes a new challenge. Will you take the money challenge? 

Photo: 401(K) 2012

Holiday Gas Prices: How to Save

Holiday Gas Prices
The holiday season has begun and many people will be traveling to see friends and family for Christmas. That being said, with the average American spending close to $830 celebrating Christmas every year, you’ll want to trim cost wherever you can.

Holiday gas prices can be ridiculous. Many oil companies and gas stations will bump their prices for gas up around the holidays because more people are traveling (just like they do over the summer). This year gas prices aren’t as high as they have been in recent years but they aren’t extremely low either.

Higher Holiday Gas Prices

Holiday Gas Prices
According to this chart from GasBuddy.com, holiday gas prices last year were just slightly below what they are now. At this time last year gas prices sat right around $2 a gallon nationwide. This year the national average gas price is between $2.14 and $2.25 per gallon.

While holiday gas prices are a bit higher this year, they are much lower than they were a year and a half ago. In June of 2015 gas price peaked at nearly $3 a gallon. Comparably, traveling this year may be more expensive than last but you can cut your holiday gas prices by using the GasBuddy app.

Discovering Holiday Gas Prices With GasBuddy

Approximately 100 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Christmas to visit friends or family. Holiday gas prices being a bit higher can hurt your Christmas budget this year. However, there is a tool that can help you save on gas this holiday.

As my boyfriend and I sat down and discussed some holiday-related expenses we thought about the possibility of visiting some of our family over Christmas. His mother lives in Minnesota, grandmother in Tennessee and other family members live in West Virginia. My out-of-town family lives in Florida and Pennsylvania. We both live in North Carolina. We didn’t want to spend money flying so Minnesota was out almost immediately (a 23 hour drive that would take at least two days). That is when I discovered GasBuddy.

GasBuddy is a website and smartphone app that you can use to discover the cheapest gas prices in your area. You can also use it to map out a trip and estimate how much money you’ll need for gas to drive there and back based on average gas prices in the places you’ll drive through.

The app and website will give you average price-per-gallon by state and city. Additionally, the app will also let you map out a trip and give you an estimated overall cost for your trip. The app will also alert you when you are getting close to a gas station with cheaper gas prices.

Safe Holiday Travels

Although saving money on gas when traveling for the holidays is important, it is not more important than your safety. If you want to travel by car to save money on flying be sure that the driving conditions are safe enough for travel. Additionally, check to be sure that fuel stations on your route will be open over the holidays to insure you don’t run out of gas and don’t forget to carry a blanket, flashlight and other emergency items in your car just in case.

Here’s to safe and cheap holiday travels!

Photo:  TORLEY 

ps_menu_class_0

Resolving to Save in 2017? Maybe You Shouldn’t…

save

About 45 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution each year and only 8 percent of those people are successful in achieving their resolutions during the new year. So, is it worth it? Should you make a new year’s resolution?

New Year’s Resolution Break Down

Obviously the 45 percent of Americans and only the 8 percent who succeed seems like a bit of a let down. However, there are a number of factors at work like age, type of resolution and how long they last with their initial goal.

How age affects New Year’s Resolutions

One of the more surprising factors of whether or not you’ll succeed with your new year’s resolution is age. As it turns out, people in their twenties and early thirties are more likely to be successful. Thirty-nine percent of people in their twenties achieve their resolution each year while only 14 percent of people over 50 achieve their goal. Many people think this is because they are still very hopeful, goal-oriented and have plenty of room for changes to make their resolutions work.

What kind of resolution are you making? 

According to Statistic Brain, the top 10 resolutions each year are:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Save more money (spend less)
  4. Enjoy life
  5. Staying fit/healthy
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend time with family

Almost half (47%) of people make self improvement resolutions each year. Thirty-eight percent make weight-related resolutions and 34 percent of Americans make finance-related resolutions. But, still, what are the chances of being successful with your plans? “Most people don’t make it through the first month.”

How long do resolutions last? 

Well, that’s not entirely true. Seventy-five percent of people that make resolutions make it through the first week (small feat). Sixty-four percent of Americans who make resolutions make it through the first month (more than you thought, right?). Even more surprising a statistic is that 46 percent of Americans who make resolutions every year stick to their resolutions for six months.

That’s still not 100 percent though so if you’re still skeptical of setting a resolution in 2017, you’re right to be so. There are ways to be successful with your goals though.

Successful New Year’s Resolutions

In all reality, people who explicitly make resolutions each year are 10 times more likely to reach their goals. If you are planning to save more in 2017 (or whatever your goals may be) you’ll need to explicitly say so and draw up a plan to do so.

You’ll need to make a goal-setting worksheet for yourself, set deadlines and come up with a program. If you are looking to save more money in 2017 you may want to have dates where you want to have a certain amount saved ($600 by July, for example). You may also want to try out a money challenge of sorts to save more cash in the new year.

Whatever your goals or resolutions may be you won’t meet them unless you set your mind to it, set deadlines and be determined.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and success in your endeavors in 2017. 

Photo: mt 23

Personal Finance Apps for Christmas

Personal Finance Apps

Do you know someone trying to get control of their finances? How about someone with a strict budget or just beginning to budget? Well, good news! You can give the gift of organization and planning for your personal finance-minded friends and family this year.

Personal Finance Apps as Gifts

A lot of personal finance apps are free, which makes it hard to gift them. However, there are a few great personal finance apps that cost a little money but are GREAT:

LearnVest – You can get started with LearnVest for free. Set up an account, get an assessment of your finances and get a financial plan for yourself. Through LearnVest you can also access a number of online classes and other tools. However, if you want some of the more advanced services offered by LearnVest you will have to pay a $299 initiation fee and $19 a per month after that. If you know someone who would use the services it could make as a great gift though!

Budget Boss – Unlike LearnVest, Budget Boss is not free to download or sign up. The cost of the app is $0.99, however, that is a one-time fee. Much like the name suggests Budget Boss helps you with budgeting and that is about it. It won’t help you with other parts of your finances nor is there a financial team available for advice. It can, however, make a good gift for someone learning to budget.

Stash Invest – Stash Invest helps people start investing with as little as $5. The app only costs $1 per month and you could gift someone an entire year subscription to Stash Invest for only $12. If you know someone interested in investing this would be a perfect and inexpensive gift.

Free Personal Finance Apps

Additionally there are some free personal finance apps out there that you may want to suggest to your finance-minded friends and family. Here are three of the best:

MintMint, like Budget Boss, is a budgeting app. It will take all of your money across all of your accounts and give you a snapshot of your overall finances (including debt). Use the app to budget your monthly expenses as well as entertainment. You can set savings goals and debt-payoff goals within the Mint app. It is truly great for anyone starting to budget!

Level MoneyLevel Money is another budgeting app (sort of). Instead of giving you a snapshot of all of your money Level Money lets you know what money you can really afford to spend. It replaces you account balance with that spendable amount based on your bills and savings goals.

AcornsAcorns is another great investing app for beginners. Like Stash Invest, you can start investing with small amounts of money. The best part about Acorns is that it allowsPersonal Finance Apps you to connect cards to the account and use the “spare change” to invest. For instance, if you spent $4.75 on something with your debit or credit card $0.25 would go to your Acorns investing account. You can also set up monthly withdrawals and investing goals through the app.

How to ‘Package’ an App

There are a few ways you can “package” an app for Christmas (or any other holiday or celebration). Here are a few crafty ways of packaging a personal finance app:

  • Write them a note. If you and the person you are giving the app to are close and you know why they would want this app, write them a note. You can even tell them that they can pick the app themselves (with a cash limit, of course). This makes it more personal. Then you can purchase the app for them.
  • Give them a gift card. You can get gift cards for the PlayStore and iTunes at most stores. Give the gift-receiver a gift card for their phone’s store and tell them what you thought they’d use it for.
  • Package it with some personal finance materials. If you want to aim for free or cheap apps you may want to package your list of recommended personal finance apps with other items. Some good items to package the list with would be personal finance books, subscriptions to personal finance podcasts, a bill calendar, budgeting materials or even a set of money challenge print outs.

Gift-giving isn’t the easiest thing in the world but personal finance apps and personal finance presents can be the gift that keeps on giving, especially if it helps someone save or get better control of their finances. Happy gifting!

Photo: Esther Vargas

Have You Tried a Money Challenge?

Money Challenge
A few years ago 30-day challenges and money challenges became super popular. It was like the internet was trying to challenge everyone to do something to better themselves.

Some challenges had to do with fitness (i.e. the 30-day squat challenge). Others had to do with blogging or writing or other career-specific challenges. And, the most popular had to do with saving money.

The 365 Day Money Challenge

All of the money challenges seemed to have stemmed from the 365 Day Money Challenge. Ultimately this money challenge would challenge you to save a penny a day, increasing by one penny each day. For example, on January 1 you would save $0.01, January 2: $0.02, January 3: $0.03 and so on.

At the end of the year (or 365 days) you will have saved $668. You can see a print out of the money challenge here. The money challenge has been adapted so that you can save nickels, dimes and quarters as well.

The 52-Week Money Challenge

The 52-Week Money Challenge is another great way to save money as well. Like the 365-Day Money Challenge the 52-Week Money Challenge saves a little bit of money at a time. You save money each week, increasing the amount by $1. The first week you’ll save $1, week two: $2, week three: $3 and so on. By the end of the year you’ll have saved $1,400.

You can print out the 52-Week Money Challenge here. There are also a number of alternative challenges you can try, including doing the challenge in reverse.

The Biweekly Money Challenge

Many people get paid biweekly and not weekly. For those who get paid biweekly, an alternative money challenge has been made. The Biweekly Money Challenge is like the 52-Week Money Challenge except it is only on the span of 26 weeks (half a year or biweekly over the year). You simply increase the amount you save every-other-week by $4. Week one you save $3, week two: $7, week three: $11 and so on. You save $1,378 over the span of the year with this money challenge.

If you want to try the biweekly money challenge you can print it out here. You can also alter the plan to suite your own needs.

Creating Your Own Money Challenge

In fact, you don’t have to go by any of these specific money challenges. You can make your own. Saving isn’t easy by any means, however, making a plan and setting out how much money you’ll save and when can really help.

Whether you want to save a certain amount of money per week, biweekly or per month you can lay out a plan that can really help. The internet also has a huge amount of printable money challenge charts out there for you to create your own or follow someone else’s.

The new year is just around the corner and many people will be pledging to save more money and gain control of their finances. There are plenty of money challenges out there for you to try and aid you through your financial journey.

With a new year comes a new challenge. Will you take the money challenge? 

Photo: 401(K) 2012

Holiday Gas Prices: How to Save

Holiday Gas Prices
The holiday season has begun and many people will be traveling to see friends and family for Christmas. That being said, with the average American spending close to $830 celebrating Christmas every year, you’ll want to trim cost wherever you can.

Holiday gas prices can be ridiculous. Many oil companies and gas stations will bump their prices for gas up around the holidays because more people are traveling (just like they do over the summer). This year gas prices aren’t as high as they have been in recent years but they aren’t extremely low either.

Higher Holiday Gas Prices

Holiday Gas Prices
According to this chart from GasBuddy.com, holiday gas prices last year were just slightly below what they are now. At this time last year gas prices sat right around $2 a gallon nationwide. This year the national average gas price is between $2.14 and $2.25 per gallon.

While holiday gas prices are a bit higher this year, they are much lower than they were a year and a half ago. In June of 2015 gas price peaked at nearly $3 a gallon. Comparably, traveling this year may be more expensive than last but you can cut your holiday gas prices by using the GasBuddy app.

Discovering Holiday Gas Prices With GasBuddy

Approximately 100 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Christmas to visit friends or family. Holiday gas prices being a bit higher can hurt your Christmas budget this year. However, there is a tool that can help you save on gas this holiday.

As my boyfriend and I sat down and discussed some holiday-related expenses we thought about the possibility of visiting some of our family over Christmas. His mother lives in Minnesota, grandmother in Tennessee and other family members live in West Virginia. My out-of-town family lives in Florida and Pennsylvania. We both live in North Carolina. We didn’t want to spend money flying so Minnesota was out almost immediately (a 23 hour drive that would take at least two days). That is when I discovered GasBuddy.

GasBuddy is a website and smartphone app that you can use to discover the cheapest gas prices in your area. You can also use it to map out a trip and estimate how much money you’ll need for gas to drive there and back based on average gas prices in the places you’ll drive through.

The app and website will give you average price-per-gallon by state and city. Additionally, the app will also let you map out a trip and give you an estimated overall cost for your trip. The app will also alert you when you are getting close to a gas station with cheaper gas prices.

Safe Holiday Travels

Although saving money on gas when traveling for the holidays is important, it is not more important than your safety. If you want to travel by car to save money on flying be sure that the driving conditions are safe enough for travel. Additionally, check to be sure that fuel stations on your route will be open over the holidays to insure you don’t run out of gas and don’t forget to carry a blanket, flashlight and other emergency items in your car just in case.

Here’s to safe and cheap holiday travels!

Photo:  TORLEY