• Budgeting

    Finances: The No. 1 Reason Americans are More Anxious Than Ever Before (+ How to Manage it)

    Written By: David Hessel

    As we get older, more and more expenses end up on our plate. From mortgages to car repairs, it can feel like there are endless bills to pay. And as we all know, with more bills, comes more pressure, anxiety and stress. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that money is Americans’ number one stressor.1 Finances have remained at the top of the list since the survey began in 2007.2

    When it comes to stress, the numbers don’t lie. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a study that evaluated heart health changes before, during and after a recent financial crisis and found that during the recession, both blood pressure and blood glucose levels increased in respondents, signaling a worsening in heart health.3

    While many of us dream of being financially secure, most of us can agree that traditional education in our public schools does not properly equip us with the knowledge and resources necessary to be effective financial decision-makers. There seems to be a growing gap between financial literacy and our population, causing many people to lose hope and get trapped in a deeper hole of debt.

    However, when it comes to money, there are four ways you can more effectively manage your finances so you remain in control of your spending habits.

    Tip #1: Automate Your Savings

    It can be difficult to set aside money every month, especially after you’ve been anxiously awaiting to get your paycheck. If you’re someone who struggles with putting money away, consider setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account each month to make sure that no matter what, you’re continuously growing your nest egg. Whether you want to be prepared for any emergencies that may come up or have a dream of buying a house one day, adding money to your savings account every month — even if it’s only $100 — can get you closer to the financial stability you need to feel confident about your future.

    Tip #2: Stay Away from Impulse Purchases

    With so many products out there — ranging from new gadgets to the latest ‘must-have’ accessories — it can be difficult to put a cap on your spending habits. Instead of putting yourself right in front of your guilty pleasures, consider putting your money towards experiences, rather than material items. If your favorite past-time is going to the mall, swap window shopping with a picnic out in the park or a day out at your local museum (some museums offer discounted prices over the weekend). While retail therapy may seem like the solution to your problems, oftentimes, you end up feeling worse than if you had spent your time making memories instead. With these memories, your craving for consumerism may gradually die down, leaving you with more time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

    Tip #3: Focus on What You Can Control

    While it’s difficult to effectively plan ahead for every single expense we’re going to have, you can at least have an initial game plan for where your money is going to go. Theoretically, every month, you know you’re going to have to pay rent or a mortgage, buy groceries, pay other utility bills and fill up on gas a few times. So, after you get your paycheck, subtract all of these expenses from your total amount. This will give you a clear idea of how much “fun” money you have to spend each month. And, if you plan to put some money into your savings account, you’ll want to make a note of that too.

    The purpose of this exercise is to make yourself more mindful of the money you’re spending each month. When you know — without a doubt — certain specific expenses are going to come up, you can start planning ahead to make sure you’re not spending more money than you have.

    Tip #4: Be More Goal-Oriented

    For some people, the thought of having a goal can be terrifying as it means there is a chance they might fail. However, if you never set goals for yourself, you’ll never have complete control over your financial life. To get started, begin with a realistic goal that can ideally be achieved in less than five years, such as paying off your credit card debt. Once you’ve identified what you want to accomplish, write it down.

    Oftentimes, the simple act of writing down your goals can make it feel more real, therefore making you more accountable. Next, create a rough timetable of how you are going to achieve your objectives. This timetable could include information such as how much money you’re going to save every month, as well as milestones for each payment you’re going to make. Over time, you’ll begin to gain more confidence about your finances, in turn leaving you feeling more in control — and capable — of managing your money on your own.

    Looking for more guidance on how to be financially stress-free? Schedule a 30-Minute Phone Call with David Hessel here or send him an email at dhessel@gvcaponline.com.

    You can find the original article here.

    1. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/02/money-stress
    2. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/one-big-reason-americans-are-so-stressed-and-unhealthy-2018-10-11
    3. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/13/3296

    GVCM is an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm, headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, WI 53188. PH: 262.650.1030. David Hessel is an Investment Adviser Representative (“Adviser”) with GVCM. Additional information can be found at: https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/IAPD/Global View Capital Insurance, LTD. (GVCI) insurance services offered through ASH Brokerage and PKS Financial. David Hessel is an Insurance Agent of GVCI. Global View Capital Advisors, LTD is an affiliate of Global View Capital Management, LTD (GVCM). This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

  • Budgeting,  Wedding

    7 Steps to Set and Follow a Wedding Budget

    Written By: David Hessel

    A wedding can be an exciting time, and sometimes it can be easy to let your emotions get the better of you and spend more than you anticipated on spending. While it is a special day in your life, it is important to set and stick to a budget you can afford so you do not have the stress of paying off excess debt when you are embarking on the next stage of your life. So how can you stay on track with your wedding budget and still have a day you’ll never forget? Take a look at these 7 tips.

    1. Take a Hard Look at Your Finances

    The first step, and most often the least exciting when planning an event, is taking a good, hard look at your current financial situation. You will need to come up with an amount that you will be able to save in time or that you can afford to cut from your budget or savings accounts. Once you have determined the most you can spend, a number 10 to 20 percent less, that will give you your budget range. While this can be an awkward conversation for many new couples starting out, it is a good way to build a strong foundation for discussing money matters throughout your marriage. 

    2. Create a Reasonable Guest List

    One of the largest expenses of a wedding is the food and drink, and the amount you will need to provide for your guests will have a direct effect on the total costs. While it can be tempting to invite everyone that you know, including distant family you may rarely contact, it is best to set an amount on your guest list that is reasonable and stick to it. Start out by determining numbers for close family and friends to make sure you have the most important guests on the lists before you begin adding more.  

    3. Determine Contribution Amounts From Others

    While some couples may tackle their wedding expenses all on their own, often times the bride’s and groom’s family will contribute to the wedding expenses. It can sometimes be awkward determining how much they plan to contribute or what items they plan on paying for, but it is an important discussion to have sooner rather than later. Just remember that if you accept monetary contributions from family, they will probably expect to be able to provide some input. 

    4. Create a Wedding Account to Stay on Budget

    The best way to stay on budget and keep track of your wedding spending is by opening a banking account and setting aside the money budgeted in it. Use the money in the account only for the wedding expenses. If you end up with some extra in the account at the end, you will have some spending money for your honeymoon or be able to pick up a couple of items from your registry.

    5. Decide What Parts of the Wedding Are Most Important to You

    There are primary parts of your wedding that will require a significantly larger expense than others such as the food and the venue rental. Though aside from the standard big-ticket items, wedding expenses can come with a wide range of price tags. Determine with your future spouse which items you are willing to splurge on and which items you care about less. You may be willing to choose a more reasonably priced dress to be able to have an open bar, or limit flower options to have a live band for music. Have some fun and plan a date night where you write a list of your wedding priorities.

    6. Set a Budget-Friendly Wedding Date

    Having flexibility in your wedding date is a great way to shave some bucks off of your budget as well as get the vendors you want most. Some of the most popular times of year to have weddings are around holidays so it is best to avoid these weeks as you may have problems securing a vendor or be required to pay an increased rate. Your specific area may also have seasonal trends with popular wedding months. If this is the case, choosing an off-month will give you the best bang for your buck.

    From personal experience, allowing yourself to enjoy your engagement and waiting 2-3 years before the big day gives so much flexibility with spending and discounts. One example here is, typically when you book a vendor, they will lock you in at current pricing. (ask if not clearly stated) Most are bound to increase over the next 2-3 years; so by giving yourself more time to plan, you end up saving a decent amount of cash too.

    7. Fight the Urge to Splurge

    It can be easy to get caught up in the money and excitement of unique items that will make your wedding perfect. Just remember that it is the wedding vendors job to upsell as much as possible to try and resist the temptation to have add-ons as they can cause your budget to quickly get out of control. It is also good practice to make sure you bring a list with you when picking up wedding items, so you do not find yourself distracted and purchase items you do not need. 

    Try following the seven tips above to give you a better chance of staying on budget while still having the wedding that you always dreamed of. 

    Looking for more guidance on how to budget for your big day? Schedule a 30-Minute Phone Call with David Hessel here or send him an email at dhessel@gvcaponline.com.

    You can find the original article here.

    Global View Capital Advisors, LTD is an affiliate of Global View Capital Management, LTD (GVCM).  GVCM is an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm, headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, WI 53188. PH: 262.650.1030. David Hessel is an Investment Adviser Representative (“Adviser”) with GVCM.  Additional information can be found at:https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/IAPD/

     Global View Capital Insurance, LTD. (GVCI) insurance services offered through ASH Brokerage and PKS Financial. GVCI is headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188-1126, PH: 262-650-1030. David Hessel is an Insurance Agent of GVCI.

  • Budgeting,  Podcast,  Wedding

    Face The Fear Podcast – Wedding Planning with Event Extraordinaire, Andi Jo Clark!

    Join us as we chat with Andi Jo Clark, Event Director at Union 12 about all things weddings, planning and budgeting for your big day! (We even dish out some non-financial wedding tips!) 🙂 

    Andi Jo Clark – Event Director at Union 12 (Event Center & Banquet Hall):

    Face The Fear: 

  • Budgeting,  Wedding

    Tips to Talk Finances With Your Spouse

    Do you talk finances with your spouse? No? Well, you should. As awkward as it maybe, it is so important to have regular discussions over your financial situation.

    Now, I know this might be tough if there is a dark cloud over your finances, and may cause disagreements, but sweeping it under the rug only makes it worse. I assume there is some sort of discussion related to this subject, but is it a quick “honey, did you pay the rent?” or is it a full-on conversation related to goal setting, where you are at, where you want to be, and the steps you are taking to get there? There is a HUGE difference. Don’t get me wrong, you can still ask if the rent is paid but having the actual in-depth discussion behind that question is what is so important.

    Finances are one of the biggest causes of divorce in the US. I don’t mean to be a Debby downer, but it is a fact. By having these discussions and putting the work into creating a successful financial future, this can help you to avoid being in that statistic.

    Awkward Andy Samberg GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Find & Share on GIPHY

    To make this a little less awkward, I have some tips to help lighten the load:

    • Icebreaker: That initial conversation is probably going to be the toughest to start. Make it comfortable. Schedule a time to sit down to a nice dinner or get in your pjs and talk money with pizza. Anything to make the situation more relaxed. Try to start by discussing the positives of your finances. Maybe you saved an extra $300 this month, or you raised your 401k contribution, literally anything positive. Doing this can help get you both in a good mood. If there is nothing positive to start off with, maybe bring in a solution to an issue. Say you have a massive medical bill due this month, instead of just looking at the fact that you are going to spend a ton of money that maybe you do not have, look on the bright side that at least after this month you won’t have that bill and you can put that money into savings next month. Get creative and try to keep the mood light. The discussion will be more productive if you are both happy.
    • Do not lie: This is probably THE most important tip I can share. Hiding items related to money is the easiest way to cause an argument and create issues. It is so much better to get everything out into the open so together you can take the steps to make it right. No matter how embarrassing it is, or how big of a burden it may be, you are in this together. In my opinion, I would much rather hear the bad news up front and work through it than be lied to about it as the problem is getting much bigger. Be open and communicate the issues. This is so important.
    Will Smith Truth GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
    • Use tools: There are so many resources out there to help you reach your financial goals. From budgeting websites, spreadsheets, templates, books, the list goes on and on. Find a tool that works best for you and your spouse. If you budget monthly and like apps there are sites such as Mint or Everydollar. If you budget weekly and like to have a paper copy, maybe you find a spreadsheet that you can fill in. Anything to help make it easier. This can also help make future conversations a breeze to get through. On top of that, you will visually be able to see how you are doing and stay on track.
    • Make goals: By setting financial goals you and your spouse will have something to work towards. Instead of waiting for the next paycheck to blow on food- guilty, say you made a goal to pay off your car 1 year quicker, now you have a purpose for the money that betters your future. These goals can be short term or long term, or even better a mix of both. Consider writing these down somewhere, your phone, computer, notebook, etc. Being able to see them will help make it harder to give up on them. Make sure they are goals you both agree on and benefit you both.
    • Make a plan and stick to it: Whether this is a budget, or a 5- year plan, make a plan. Discussing what you want to achieve and talking about how to get there is a great step, but really getting down deep and planning everything out will help you realize what you have to look forward to, what you can do right now, or where you are making mistakes. If you do not have a basic household budget yet, that might be a good place to start. Find a way that works best with your pay schedules and stick to the budget. From there, start making a longer-term plan. For example: In 5 years you and your spouse are going to build a house and to get there, year 1 you are going to cut the amount you eat out in half every month and put that money into savings, year 2 you are going to do so and so…and year 3 and 4 and so on until you build the house. Hang your plan on your fridge and talk about it frequently. Keep your budget, or plan in front of you so you can keep each other accountable if one of you starts to fall of track. Teamwork makes the dream work!
    Save Them All Best Friends GIF by Best Friends Animal Society - Find & Share on GIPHY

    Hopefully these tips help you and your spouse start the conversation for your financial future. Talking about money does not have to be awkward. If you take the time to create a more relaxed environment and discuss the positive things you have or can do, in my experience, it helps so much. This is the person you are stuck with forever, make sure you are both on the right page to have a successful future!

    Written By: Dakota Otis

  • Budgeting

    5 Apps That Make Cents

    Let’s take a poll. Do you have an iPhone (or other smartphone if you’ve somehow survived without biting into the Apple)? Do you want to make more money? I hope you’ve answered yes to both of these questions. (If not, who are you and ARE YOU OKAY?) Here are 5 apps to help you make (and save) a few extra cents:

    1. Stash

    Stash is an app built for investing newbies. In fact, 86% of the app’s users are first-time investors. Stash is basically the Planet Fitness of investing platforms — a Judgement-Free Zone where users are provided basic investing education in an easy-to-understand way without some of the complexities of other robo-advising platforms. The app allows you to create an account and begin investing with as little as $5. Investment choices include individual stocks and ETFs, categorized by features like market capitalization or social responsibility. Currently, three different subscription plan options are available, based on your investing goals: Beginner, Growth, and Stash Plus. The Beginner Plan ($1/month) allows you to open your own taxable brokerage account, receive financial education, and use the Stash debit card with Stock-Back (earn stock as a reward for shopping at certain companies, like Amazon or Starbucks). The Growth Plan ($3/month) offers all previous benefits, plus tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as a Traditional or Roth IRA. Finally, the Stash Plus plan ($9/month) adds the features of a UTMA/UGMA accounts (savings for children), double Stock-Back rewards, and monthly market insight reports. (Disclaimer: Stash is an investing platform. If you choose to invest, you will be subject to market risk and could lose money. Also, Face The Fear is not sponsored by Stash. We just genuinely like the app and think you will, too).

    2. Achievement

    Ever find yourself binging Netflix with ice cream tub in hand, wondering when you lost your motivation to workout and where you’re going to find it again? Achievement is here to help. For some people (aka me), the idea of strutting my “beach body” next summer isn’t enough to get me off the couch. Achievement knows money is a big motivator for many people, so it rewards you in cash for being active. The app synchronizes with various fitness apps you may already have on your phone, such as Apple Health, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Garmin, and even Twitter. You’ll earn points by completing exercises, logging food, measuring your heart rate, tweeting about your health, and reading health-related articles. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can “cash in” your points for a $10 reward sent to your PayPal, personal bank account, or a charity of your choice. Good for your health. Good for your wallet.

    3. Drop

    You spend money. I spend money. We all spend money. That’s a fact of life. Why not earn cash back on the money you’re already spending? Add an extra “drop” or two to the savings bucket, per say? Meet Drop – the cash back app. Drop allows you to link your credit or debit cards to the app, then gives you cash back points on purchases you make everyday at retailers such as Target, Starbucks, Lyft, AT&T, Apple, and more. You can also shop at certain retailers through the app to receive additional discounts on purchases you make and earn “boosted” cash back points. Once you’ve collected at least 5,000 cash back points, you can redeem them for gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores, airlines, and more. It’s an easy way to put some money back in your pocket without even thinking about it. (P.S. Drop is my personal favorite cash back app, due to ease of use and retailer options. However, if Drop doesn’t tickle your fancy, here are a few other highly-rated cash back apps you might enjoy: Rakuten, Ibotta, and Dosh).

    4. Hopper

    Have you ever spent hours online trying to book a flight, searching for the cheapest option available, and finally purchased the tickets – only to find out prices decreased a few days or weeks later? Same. That’s when I found Hopper. Hopper is a free app designed to solve this problem and – from personal experience – it works wonders. The app allows you to choose a departure and destination location, as well as preferred dates for your travels. It then tracks those flights, analyzes travel trends, and tells you the best time to buy the tickets at the cheapest price possible. When I recently used Hopper to book a flight to Bogota, Colombia, it suggested that I wait to purchase the tickets, because it predicted a better price in the future. In the meantime, Hopper tracked the flight over several weeks, notifying me when the prices increased or decreased. However, even when there was a decrease in ticket price, Hopper would tell me if the prices were expected to continue decreasing in the coming weeks (so I should keep waiting) or if this is the lowest predicted price (so I should purchase the flights now). I followed Hopper’s advice and secured the cheapest tickets possible before they jumped up in price again. If you’re a frequent flyer, Hopper will easily save you hundreds of dollars (and hours of stress) a year.

    5. Mint

    If you’ve been a Face The Fear follower for a while, you KNOW how we feel about Mint. Budgeting is tough. Keeping track of every penny that leaves your wallet can be tedious and time consuming. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a little accountant living in your phone, keeping track of your budget for you, cheering you on when your credit score increases, and letting you know when you need to cool it on your spending habits? Say hello to Mint – the free budgeting app that keeps tabs on your cash money all in one place. Mint allows you to sync your accounts to the app – everything from your checking and savings, credit cards, 401(k) and HSA, internet service, car payment, investments, and more. By consolidating all of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) in one place, it becomes much easier to assess your complete financial picture and determine if you are on track to reach your financial goals. You can create your own custom monthly budget, and Mint will let you know if you’re close to exceeding your budget in a particular category. It will also remind you when you have a bill due soon, and it will congratulate you when you’ve paid off debt. While Mint is really a one-stop-shop budgeting tool, it is most effective when credit/debit cards are your primary payment methods (vs. cash) and when you actually sync as many accounts as possible to provide a holistic financial picture. If you still frequently use cash for purchases or don’t want to bother connecting all of your accounts, Mint might not be the best fit for you. Overall, however, it’s an excellent resource to keep track of your finances in the palm of your hand (without becoming an Excel budgeting wizard – unless that’s your thing – then, you do you booboo).

    We hope you’ll find these 5 apps helpful to budget, save, and grow your cash money. Let us know your favorite money-saving or money-making apps in the comments below!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien

  • Budgeting

    What Is High Yield Savings?

    Are you a person that has a traditional savings account with your current bank? You know, the typical savings account that is paired with your checking account? Are you a person without a savings account at all? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please read on. If you have never heard of one, I am here to tell you a little bit about high yield savings accounts. It is essentially a normal savings account, only you get a higher interest rate. What is an interest rate? It is a percentage of your money that a bank will pay you just for having your funds housed with them. Free money — who doesn’t want that? Traditional savings accounts usually have a very low interest rate. For example, my interest rate through Chase bank is 0.01%. This is a common rate based on studies from Credit Karma. On my high yield savings account though, I have a 2.15% interest rate. This is a difference of 2.14%. Now, I am not here to tell you to get a high yield savings account, but I do think you should do some research into the benefits of opening one. NerdWallet is a great resource to research as well as find a bank that you are interested.

    I know this might sound too good to be true, like what’s the catch?  And there are some potential downfalls of a high yield savings account if you do not research. One of the biggest is service fees. These can sneak up on you and really bite you from behind if you are not aware of them. You also want to make sure that if there are service fees, they do not outweigh the interest you are receiving. There are plenty of banks that do not have fees on their accounts, but you just have to make sure you find the right one. You can also run into banks that require high minimum amounts that you must start with and not go below. If you are just starting your journey in savings this may not be practical for you. Another potential issue with this account is the transfers between accounts. If you are opening an account in a separate bank from your normal everyday bank, and an emergency arises, there may be an issue with getting your money in time. These are all items that you can avoid if you are paying attention to what money you are holding where and the banks you are going through. Talking to a representative is a great way to find out any hidden potentials that may not fit into your goals.

    If you are still interested in one of these accounts, make sure before you open one you research, research, research. There are so many to choose from and they all may offer different incentives, fees, and options. Don’t just pick the one with the highest rate. I have had an amazing experience with one of these savings accounts, and it is potentially an easy step to make a huge difference in your long term financial goals.

    Article Contributed By: Dakota Otis

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting

    Save Now, Live Later

    “It’s just money, you’ll make more,” is a fairly common phrase used by today’s millennials. In a world of instant gratification and two-day shipping, self-control has become nearly obsolete. We hardly bat an eye to make one click purchases or drop $300 for front row concert tickets, but putting money into a 401k or even a savings account seems like a total waste. At the ripe age of 23 I don’t have too many friends who are planning for retirement or even trying to save at all. While I do realize saving in your early twenties for something that seems like it will never come is hard, confusing, and completely overwhelming. However, being able to discover the importance of saving now versus later can impact many years of your life.

     For starters, let’s take a look at what now vs later actually looks like.  If you were to start saving at age 22 for retirement you probably wouldn’t have a ton of extra money to put in, but a little goes a long way. For example: you are 22 years old making $30,000 a year. If you were to put $225 per month (6% of your paycheck + $0.50 company match) at a 9% annual rate of return, it would give you $1,547,602 by the age of 67. That is not changing your contribution at all and assuming you started with $0 in your 401k account. Now let’s look at a 35-year-old making $60,000 a year. We are going to give them a $5,000 starting 401k balance and contribute amount of $450 a month until age 67. By the time they retire, they will have $1,044,338. In this scenario, the 22-year-old is going to retire with $500,000 more just from starting early! They were making less, contributing less, and starting with less, and still came out on top. Imagine where you could be with an increase in salary and a higher contribution amount each year. For the final scenario, let’s combine these two people. If the 22-year-old saved their $225 per month until age 35 and then their $450 a month until age 67, they would retire with $2,030,350.

    Time truly is money and these scenarios show the importance of beginning now. To run scenarios of your own, Dave Ramsey has a great online calculator which can be found at https://www.daveramsey.com/smartvestor/investment-calculator.

    Now after reading that, I am sure everyone is wanting to retire a millionaire, because… who wouldn’t want that? However, it’s a lot easier said than done. Finding the motivation and discipline can be a tough obstacle to overcome. Here are just a few tips to find your money motivation. The biggest thing is to surround yourself with it. Talk about, think about it, get excited about it. Grab a calendar and write out goals for where you want to be and when. Make short term achievable goals and stick to them. When you fall behind and don’t reach your goals, go back and write them again. Just keep doing this until it becomes a habit. Also, surround yourself with people who are wanting the same things. Being surrounded with friends who spend money as quick as they get it will make it that much harder to stay disciplined. Make sure to take advantage of any resources available to you (for example, everything Face The Fear has to offer!!). The more knowledge you are able to obtain, the better. One of my favorite things to do to motivate myself is to listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast. Hearing about other people overcoming their debt and saving big is a great way to motivate yourself to do the same. So start now, don’t give up, and get rich.

    Article Written By: Sydney Ford

    Disclosure: The numbers given above are examples and are not guaranteed results and the company match varies by company.

  • Budgeting

    Budgeting: 5 Tips & Tricks to Make the Budget Stick

    Have you ever spent an obscene amount of time researching and crafting the perfect budget, only to give up on it a week later like a poorly executed diet plan? Do you find yourself trying to stick to your budget but your inner Donna Meagle just won’t let you?

    If the answer is yes, you’re not alone! Only about a third of Americans actually make and maintain a budget (Yikes!). Being a college student newly introduced to the world of ‘adulting,’ I have tried countless methods in an attempt to set myself financially free. Here are some tips and tricks that have made my life easier (and hopefully yours, too).

    • Find an app or budgeting system that works for you.

    Mint and EveryDollar are great apps that allow you to budget and track your expenses. BUT, in case you want more options, Buzzfeed has already found, rated, and summarized 17 other apps to help you stay accountable. Other ways you can budget include Excel Spreadsheets, good old fashion pen and paper on templates like this template, journals, whiteboards, and more. You’ll want to make your budget before the month starts and adapt the budget to each month. Whether you’re picking up a side hustle in summer time or celebrating birthdays, you’ll need to account for everything! At the end of each month, see where you overspent and try to improve your budget for the next month ahead.

    • Get a calendar, find a place to hang it where you’ll see it, and fill in the boxes.

    Add your bills, the due dates, pricier events like birthdays, etc. to help you organize your expenses. It takes some time, but it’s totally worth it! If you have a fluctuating income, you could even add your day-to-day earnings on the calendar. This will help you visualize your month ahead and show you how much you need to have in your account by the next bill. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll have when you get to cross out that bill for the month! If you want a more private alternative to this, create events with this information in your phone’s calendar and set reminders for yourself.

    • If you can, try to pay cash!

    I’m not suggesting you carry your entire life savings on you but try to keep only what you budgeted to spend for the day. This will force you to stay on target, and you won’t have to deal with credit card interests if you use cash! People tend to spend more money when they use a debit or credit card compared to when they use cash. With cash, you can look directly at what you have left and adjust your spending habits accordingly.

    Another reason why paying with cash can be helpful is all the loose change you’ll accumulate! You can keep these coins to yourself and cash them in at a later time for cash, or gift cards if you want to avoid fees. If you choose the cash option, you can turn that coin fund into an extra savings fund for your personal goals. You’ll be surprised how quickly coins add up.

    • Find a way to organize your cash.

    Some people like Dave Ramsey’s method of using envelops, but that’s not the only way. Another easy way to organize cash is by purchasing a hanging shoe organizer and put labels on each pocket with different budget categories such as groceries, gas, rent, clothing, etc. You could hang this in your closet, your office, or anywhere you feel would be safe. This cash should be for short-term purchases, not for your emergency fund or savings goals. For that money, I recommend a safe savings account. You can find a good savings account here.

    • Lastly, don’t be afraid to say no.

    In the beginning, budgeting will be difficult because you’ll have to tell yourself no more often—especially compared to your friends that don’t budget. Does this mean you have stay home all day and watch re-runs of the Office instead of hanging out with your friends?

    Of course not! There are plenty of free-to-low-cost ways to have fun. If you’re running low on your recreational fund, try some of these. Not only will this help you stay on track, but it will challenge you to do something different. Also, saying no lets you say yes later. Instead of spending money on late night trips to Taco Bell, you can put that money towards a short-term savings goal like a road trip!

    These tips have made me perfect my budgeting habits, and they may help you conquer the budget! If you need more ideas, Pinterest and Google will be your best friends. Just remember that the hardest part about budgeting is keeping yourself accountable and accepting that you’ll make mistakes. You will fail. You will adapt. You will overcome. Be patient and find a system that works for you. Your current self and future self will thank you!

    Article Contributed By: Kianna Dalton

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting,  Student Loans

    Student Loans: How I Managed the Madness

    The choice to go to college is a big commitment.  It’s a commitment to yourself and it’s a commitment to the payment that accompanies this hope for a successful life.  Some people are lucky enough to have the financial burden of a college education taken off their shoulders by parents, family members, sponsors, etc. And some people are extremely diligent, work incredibly hard, save up, and pay for college themselves.

    I, however, am neither of those people. I am with the group that I would assume is the majority: the unfortunate souls who had to take out student loans to attend college. Through my own personal experience, I have learned a few lessons on how to avoid some of the student loan burden before you jump into college, as well as how to alleviate some of that burden once you’ve crossed the stage with diploma in hand.

    My first tip comes from something that I did not do enough: Be involved in the process of applying for student loans. Do your research. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is half the battle in being prepared when your loans finally come due.  My mother was nice enough to walk through the loan application process with me. Although I was fortunate to have her assistance at the time, I still did not fully understand what I was getting myself into or how much time it would take to repay the loans after graduation.

    Let me give you a snapshot of what my college expenses entailed. I attended a lovely private university in my home state of New Jersey. Fortunately, I was a good student in high school and received $12,000 per year in scholarships. I also commuted an hour to the university each day to save money. But even with scholarships and without the cost of on-campus housing, the tuition still added up to approximately $30,000 a year. And that’s not even counting the cost of textbooks, which amounted to $500-$1,000 each semester!  So how was this all paid for?  We took out student loans; sometimes per year, sometimes per semester.

    All the loans that I took out were fixed rate as opposed to variable. I didn’t know much, but knew I wanted to have a set payment. (Fixed rate means you have the same interest rate for the life of the loan and variable means the interest rate can move around). I consider myself to be mostly conservative, especially when it comes to my debt; so, for me, fixed rates were the better choice. With a variable rate, you are subjecting yourself to the possibility of rates changing, potentially increasing or decreasing throughout the life of your loan. One option is not better than the other; it simply depends on your financial outlook and how you want your future payments to be structured.  

    Fast forward four years and I am a college graduate! Thankfully, right after graduation, you are not expected to pay your loans immediately. So, go out and live it up! Because in a few months, it’s about to get real! 

    No, please don’t do that.  Plan for your payments and prepare yourself for the abuse you are about to take.

    After I graduated and my student loans came due, it was the biggest slap of adulthood I had ever received.  I had about eight separate loans, all at varying interest rates, coming to a grand total of around $100,000.  My monthly payment totaled out to approximately $950. Combine this payment size with the fact that the first job offer I received out of college was $28,000 per year as a junior business analyst. $28,000. You can imagine how I felt: COOMPLETELY DOOMED!

    I took a step back to figure out what steps I could take to reduce the financial burden and the feelings of doom. First, having eight separate payments is a nightmare. Secondly, all the varying interest rates made some payments seem like a good deal while others seemed to be a rip-off.  Finally, the biggest issue was obvious: paying $950 a month while making $28,000 a year was not going to work. 

    The solution I discovered was to consolidate and refinance my loans with a longer payment period. Consolidation, simply put, allowed me to take all my separate smaller loans and combine them into one larger loan.  Refinancing student loans is just like refinancing a mortgage. In ideal circumstances, a new loan at a better rate will replace your existing loan, although this might not always be the case.

    A plethora of private companies and banks promote assistance with student loans, such as College Ave, Earnest, and SoFi. Many of these organizations allow you to fill out a free online application to determine if you “pre-qualify” for their services. When I began searching the internet for a solution, SoFi and Earnest offered the best interest rates to consolidate and refinance my loans. Here’s the catch: unless you are either making close to $100,000 a year (aka making BANK) or have an extremely solid cosigner (someone who loves you very much and is willing to put their name on your loan so the lender feels more comfortable), the qualifications to be accepted by these companies are quite high. However, through diligent searching and applying, I was able to consolidate and refinance my loans through Citizens Bank. While the process of finding the right company to assist with your specific situation may take time and effort, it is fairly easy and well worth the effort.

    Once I was approved by Citizens Bank, the final step was to choose the term of my new loan. Ultimately, that’s what the consolidation and refinancing process is all about: taking out a new loan to pay off your inconvenient, higher-rated current loans. Here’s the basic principle when selecting the term of a loan: the shorter the term of the loan, the less you will pay in total interest, but the higher the monthly payments will be. The longer the term, the more you will pay in interest, but your monthly payment will be lower over an extended time period. In my case, I chose the longest term possible. As much as I want to pay off my loans quickly, I also need to keep my everyday living expenses in mind.  Also, the loan that I chose allows me to pay early without penalty. So, if I can contribute more than my required payment, I will be able to pay the loan down more quickly. Even if this is a rare occurrence, it’s a nice feature to have. Not all loans allow this, so it is worth asking if this feature is available when refinancing your own.  

    Ultimately, the consolidation process brought my number of payments down from eight to one. The refinancing process reduced my interest rates to a more realistic average, and the longer maturity allowed me to pay a lower monthly payment. Although I did extend the amount of time I will be making payments, the cost of the payment is much more manageable for my current situation, and it addressed the problems I needed to fix. I know I am not the first or the last college grad to feel the wrath of student loans. But, being able to share my experiences, ideas, and relate to others is an important step in finding solutions. 

    Article Contributed By: Christian Boyle

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com



  • Budgeting

    Budgeting: How to Crunch Those Numbers Like a Boss

    Like most folks who hear the term ‘budget’, I cringe, close my eyes and begin groaning inwardly like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers (No? Just me? Oh geez…).

    In the past, I would search for budget templates online, attempt to follow them, realize they didn’t fit my tastes or my lifestyle and I would walk away defeated. I would wonder what was so wrong with my finances that I couldn’t match exactly what some of these articles were telling me.

    But that’s the uniquely wonderful (and yes, incredibly frustrating) thing about budgets: they aren’t black & white or one-size-fits-all; they can be tailor-made to fit your specific lifestyle, needs, and wants. I say ‘incredibly frustrating’ because it does take time and a fair amount of effort to find a budget that works for you—your wants and needs are going to change and with that, so will your budget.

    At the end of each paycheck, for me, there’s a sense of strength that comes from knowing where each of my dollars are going and knowing what I’m left with to play with however I choose. Full disclosure: that’s my favorite part about budgeting because I love seeing what money I have left over and let’s admit it, we all want to have fun with our money—after all, we work hard for it!

    I’ve been creating a budget for the past 6 years or so and I have found a few things to be invaluable in my attempt to understand and control where each of my hard-earned dollars are going:

    1. Know your debt intimately. When I started creating a budget, I couldn’t tell you which of my debts had the highest interest rate or what their balances/minimum payments were; it honestly gave me a headache every time I tried to write it all out. Knowing this info gives me the opportunity to see where I am and where I can send extra cash. Small amounts add up over time & it feels so good to see $0 next to a debt I owe.

    2. Figure out some financial goals. These can be as little or broad as you would like them to be but I normally create small goals to feel encouraged in continuing to hit some of my larger goals. I ask myself where I’d like to be in 3 months, 6 months, and a year! And, as a side note: I treat myself when I accomplish a financial goal—it keeps me inspired and reminds me that even though ‘adulting’ and ‘budgeting’ aren’t exactly the most thrilling parts of life, they are necessary and we can make it as easy or hard as we want it to be.

    3. Be flexible. Always be open to changing whatever you feel isn’t quite working for you and your budget. Your goals are going to adjust over time and with that, your budget will too and that’s okay! I’ve tried several different budgeting techniques (the 80/20, the 50/15/5, etc) so be willing to try out different techniques until you find one that works for you. Your wants/needs change regularly, so why wouldn’t your budget?

    One last, small tip I’ll give to those preparing to create or change their budget is this : give yourself lots of grace. You’ll fall short, not reach certain goals, or get that call on a Friday night from your BFF who’s had a rough week and she wants to go out to eat and grab a few drinks—in those moments, it’s challenging. All you can do is adjust, pick yourself back up, and attempt to stick to it better next time.

    There are also tons (and I mean literal tons) of information and resources out on the world-wide web that can get you started on creating a budget or finding example budgets to follow and use as a rough outline for your own.

    Article Contributed By: Bethany Trosper

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com