How to Save Money on Big Expenses in 2016

bigstock-Chinese-family-saving-money-fo-85083275We’ve finished the first quarter of the year and for many of us, our new years resolutions are now just a distant memory. According to data from StatisticBrain.com, 29 percent of resolutions don’t make it past the first 2 weeks. In order to help those still hanging in there with one of the most common resolutions — spending less, and saving more — we take a look at some of the things burning the biggest holes in American pockets and how to deal with them.

Save on Airfare.

A recent study by ValuePenguin.com found that Americans collectively stand to save $200 million their airfare expenditures by utilizing reward credit cards. By examining data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the research found that approximately 10 percent of all U.S. households reported airfare spending throughout the year, and a whopping 90 percent had gasoline expenses. While the price of oil has dropped in recent years, airfare prices are still burdened by heavy taxes and fees — making them as expensive as ever.

One of the easiest ways to save on airfare is to take advantage of loyalty miles/points and reward credit cards. You don’t have to be a travel hacker to qualify for savings on airfare and hotel stays. Most credit cards can get you 1 percent back on your expenditures, in the very minimum. In the long-haul this can add up to significant savings.

All you have to do is remember to actually use the reward points you earn. A few years ago, a joint study between Colloquy and Swift Exchange showed that $16 billion worth of loyalty program rewards go unredeemed each year. With how much banks have been upping bonuses and rewards since that study was published, that number is sure to be much higher in 2016.

Save on Housing.

Housing expenses make up the largest portion of the average household budget— a little over $10,000 is spent annually. Finding ways to reduce these costs can be tricky, and advice will usually vary depending on weather you own or rent your dwelling.

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The biggest way you can save, in both cases, is by taking on a roommate. While inconvenient, it is the fastest way to reduce your total costs down by as much as 50 percent. If you have a spare bedroom that isn’t being used, taking on a houseguest should be an option to consider.

Estimates state that nearly two-thirds of Americans have a mortgage — which can be bad news given the fact that the Fed has recently upped interest rates. In order to prepare themselves for increasing housing costs in 2016, homeowners should take a moment to familiarize themselves with their loan. If you have a variable interest rate, it may be a good time to lock into a fixed rate. However, you need to offset that with the new closing costs. Consider contacting a financial planner or consultant to determine the best cost-saving option for you.

Save on Entertainment and More Along the Way.

While the average U.S. household spends just 5.4 percent of their annual budget on entertainment, it’s a category worth mentioning due to the sheer reach it can have. If you plan accordingly, and pick up the right hobby, you can save yourself a lot of money on being entertained, while at the same time save a ton of money.

One of the best hobbies you can pick up for your wallet is cooking. Eating out, especially if you live in a big city, can be a massive drain on your wallet. While you eat that plate of fancy Italian pasta, it’s taking bigger bites out of your finances. While you may not end up as the next-iron chef, challenging yourself with new recipes can be a good way to get through a boring day.

Exercise can be another way to entertain yourself, fulfill another resolution, and it doesn’t require a gym membership. You’re one quick Google search away from finding thousands of free exercises you can do from home, with no equipment requirements. Plus, if you combine this with the above cooking suggestion — your new healthier lifestyle can help partially reduce down another major expense, healthcare.

*Original article source courtesy of Robert Harrow of the Huffington Post.

Money Saving Tips for the Week

bigstock-Money-8204584We often associate certain days of the week with particular activities. For example, Monday is generally considered the start of the work week. Perhaps Wednesday is the night your favorite show airs on TV, while Friday — well, thank goodness it’s Friday.

When it comes to our personal finances, we should consider following the same trend of associating days with various activities. Each day of the week offers an opportunity to save money or improve our finances. They key is to be aware of how to save money by knowing what steps to take on which day.

Here are some tips to save money each day of the week.

Monday: Set the Tone for the Week.

On Monday, you can set the tone for the week, helping to determine if you stick to your spending plan for the remaining days, said Tom Corley, author of the bestselling book, “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” For example, if you promised yourself that you would drink coffee from home and pack lunches to save money, you need to make it a habit starting on the first day of the week.

“The way to turn this into a habit is to make your five brown bag lunches the night before,” Corley said. “Those brown bags will then act as a trigger, reminding you to make your own coffee.”

You could even take it a step further and make Monday a no-spending day to start your week off on the right financial foot. Mark the day on your calendar and set up an alert, so you’ll get an email or message on your smartphone every Monday reminding you not to spend any money that day.

Tuesday: Get a Deal on a Flight.

If you need to book a flight, it’s wise to do so on a Tuesday, when U.S. airlines typically release flight sales, said Jeff Klee, founder and CEO of CheapAir.com. Browse fares early to mid-Tuesday to find the best deals.

“The caveat is that there are limited seats available at the sale price, so you have to be super quick to book when a sale is launched,” he said, adding that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are also the cheapest days to fly. Because fewer people travel mid-week, it’s smart to arrange your plans so you leave and return early in the week as opposed to on weekends.

Tuesday is also a good day to get deals on dining and entertainment because establishments tend to do less business then. As a result, many restaurants — including T.G.I Friday’s, Chick-fil-A and Denny’s — host kids-eat-free days on Tuesdays, said Howard Schaffer, vice president of deal site Offers.com.

Additionally, many movie theaters offer discounted tickets and concessions on Tuesdays, said CouponSherpa.com shopping expert Kendal Perez. For example, Perez said she pays $5.50 per ticket on discount days versus the regular matinee price of $7.50 or evening price of $9.25. To get discounts on concessions, consider joining your favorite theater’s rewards club.

Wednesday: Save Money on Groceries.

Saturday is the busiest grocery shopping day of the week, according to an article from The Street. However, it’s not the best day to go to the market if you want to save money.

“To save money on groceries, shop on a Wednesday,” said Kyle Taylor, founder of personal finance blog ThePennyHoarder.com. “That’s when most stores release their weekly discounts, but they’re also likely to honor the previous week’s coupons [on this day].”

Check your supermarket’s local sales ad, which you can generally find online or at the store’s entrance. In many cases, you can locate “buy one, get one free” deals or discounts of up to 50 percent, said Taylor. To maximize savings, craft your menu and shopping list for the coming week based on what’s on sale.

 

Friday: Build Your Savings.

If you typically get paid on Friday, then it’s a good day to boost your savings. Rather than give in to the temptation to indulge yourself by spending your entire paycheck, Corley recommends having a percentage of your pay automatically deposited into a separate savings account — ideally one without a debit card linked to it. Doing this forces you to live below your means because you won’t have easy access to those additional funds.

“It is hard at first to pay yourself first this way, but over time it gets easier,” Corley said.

In his new book, “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” the author writes that individuals should set a goal of saving up to 20 percent of their income. For best results, allocate your savings among four buckets — with half going to a retirement savings account, 20 percent for major future expenses, 15 percent for unexpected expenses and 15 percent for cyclical expenses, such as holidays and birthdays.

Saturday: Get Deals on Apparel.

Wait until the weekend to buy clothing, as that’s when you can typically get the deepest discounts. Retailers such as Kohl’s and Macy’s often have sales on Saturdays that feature better markdowns than customers would find during the week, said FatWallet.com‘s online shopping expert Brent Shelton.

Additionally, consumers can score extra discounts by using their mobile devices, he said. Download retailers’ apps to get exclusive deals and take advantage of all the best ways to save money.

Finally, weekend shoppers can take advantage of coupon codes, which are released from apparel merchants in the highest volume on Fridays, said Slickdeals.net shopping pro Regina Conway. “In some cases, you can apply the code on top of weekend sale pricing to save even more,” she said.

Sunday: Review Your Spending.

“Although Sunday is usually a day to relax, it’s also the perfect time to make sure you’re on track with your weekly and monthly spending plan,” said Holly Johnson, a credit expert and creator of ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson and her husband sit down every Sunday to review their budget and see how much they’ve spent in each category — such as food, gas and entertainment — and how much they have left for the remainder of the month. “This helps us ‘reset’ our spending and make sure we’re on track with our monthly spending goals,” she said.

On Sunday, the Johnsons also pay off their credit cards, which they use for all of their regular purchases to create a paper trail and maximize credit card rewards. Even if you don’t pay off your credit card balance each week, it’s a good idea to check your account regularly to ensure there aren’t any unnecessary fees or unrecognizable charges that could be the result of fraud.

Reconcile your spending on Sunday to start the week off on the right financing footing come Monday!

*Original article source by Cameron Huddleston of GoBankingRates.com.

4 Ways You Can Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Better Saver

bigstock-Closeup-of-hundred-dollar-bill-26175143For many people, the biggest hurdle to saving is creating the habit. While many financial advisers often recommend that clients take the work out of the process by having savings automatically deducted from each paycheck, plenty of people still struggle to get started. “We’re not seeing progress on the savings front,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, which found in a survey that 22 percent of consumers have more debt than emergency savings. “And it’s desperately needed.” Without savings, he adds, some consumers may pile on more debt when emergencies happen.

Some people need a bigger incentive, say the pressure of knowing someone else is counting on you or the chance to win money, to finally kick-start the habit. During America Saves Week, a campaign organized by nonprofit, government and private groups to encourage financial literacy, rounded up some creative ways to boost your savings. Here’s what they came up with…

1. Get your friends involved. If you struggle to have the self-discipline to save on your own, it might help to have some friends hold you accountable. Through so-called lending clubs, a group of people get together to pool their savings, giving the cash post to a different person each week. For example, say 10 people contribute $100 each for a total of $1,000. Over the course of 10 weeks, the cash pot goes to a different person each week until everyone has had a turn. For those early in the cycle, it can be like receiving a short-term loan, said Jonathan Morduch, economics professor at New York University’s Wagner school. For those who receive the cash toward the end of the cycle, it can feel like a forced savings program, he added.

In some cases, the pressure of knowing that other people are counting on you can be more effective than setting aside $100 a week into a savings account, said Morduch, who studied the approach as lead researcher for the U.S. Financial Diaries, a project that followed the weekly cash flow of 235 families for a year. “It’s different from the way we usually think about savings, as slow and steady,” he said. “This is something that works for a lot of folks.”

2. Make it a competition. Savings contests, such as the 52-week savings challenge, can make saving seem more approachable by breaking a larger goal down into small weekly sums. While it’s usually a system that’s talked about at the start of the year, the approach can work for any year-long period. Basically, consumers start small, saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, and so on all the way to $52 for the last week. At the end of the challenge, the account should have $1,378. Starting the challenge with friends who remind one another to make contributions each week can help some people find the motivation to keep saving, even as the amounts grow.

3. Save your change. You can do this the old-fashioned way, where you throw the singles and coins left in your bag at the end of the day into a jar, McBride said. At the end of the week or month, you can take the cash and deposit it in a savings account, he said. But if you’re like the many people more prone to using plastic than cash these days, you might want to check whether your bank offers a way for you to do this digitally.

First Financial’s Save Your Change Auto Program will help you save for your next vehicle! Make purchases using your First Financial Debit Card and they’ll be rounded to the nearest dollar. The difference between your purchase amount and the nearest dollar (the “change”) is transferred into a designated account the same day the transaction posts to your account. Finally, the “change” that accumulates in your designated account is saved for when you are ready to purchase a vehicle – when every penny counts, we’re here to help you!

4. Have an app do it for you. New smartphone apps are making it easier for people to save by automating the process. One app, Acorns, makes it possible for people to set aside their spare change from everyday purchases. But instead of going into a low-interest savings account, the money is stored in a portfolio that invests in exchange-traded funds. Savers need to pay $1 a month in management fees for accounts smaller than $5,000 and a fee that adds up to 0.25 percent of assets for accounts $5,000 or larger. Another app, Digit, studies users’ cash flow and makes automatic transfers to a savings account two or three times a week. The program, which doesn’t charge fees, analyzes when a person is paid, what bills he has to pay and how he generally spends. Then it moves cash that could be extra, typically ranging from $5 to $50, into a separate account. “You don’t actually feel the money missing,” said Ethan Bloch, chief executive of Digit.

*Original article source courtesy of Jonnelle Marte of The Chicago Tribune.

FREE Things 3: A First Scoop Blog Mini-Series

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Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. This is the final post in our Free Things Mini-Series – we hope you enjoy the last 25 freebies that are up for grabs. We’d love to hear your local free-finds – please comment below and we’ll be sure to share!

41. Movies

Hitbliss is an online marketing service that allows you to earn credits in exchange for watching selected commercials. You can then use the credits to rent on-demand movies on Hitbliss.com.

42. Microsoft Youth Spark Camps

Microsoft hosts free Youth Spark camps across the country to “get kids of all ages coding, creating games and apps, and having a blast in the process.” You can filter through a variety of programs by age, skill level and time frame.

43. Birthday Desserts

Many restaurants offer free dessert to customers celebrating their birthdays, including Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Chili’s. Most require you to sign up for their free e-clubs. In some cases a purchase is required, and other terms and conditions might apply.

44. Knitting, Sewing and Quilting Patterns

If you’re into any form of needle craft, or just want to give it a try, there’s no need to buy patterns. Many websites offer free patterns, including FreeNeedle.com, LoveKnitting.com and FreeQuiltPatterns.info.

45. Mulch and Woodchips

If you see a public highway crew cutting down trees, brush and limbs in your neighborhood, stop and ask if they’d like dump their load of wood chips at your house instead of hauling them all the way to a public dumpsite. Wood chips are great to use in the garden, flowerbeds and garden paths.

46. Lodging for Travelers

CouchSurfing.com is a worldwide network of more than a half-million folks who will let fellow travelers crash on their couches or in a spare bedroom — for free. The robust website lets hosts and travelers get to know each other in advance.

47. Savings Bonds

Every year, more than 15,000 savings bonds are returned to the U.S. Department of Treasury as undeliverable. You might be entitled to claim saving bonds from deceased loved ones or others. Search for free on TreasuryHunt.gov for savings bonds you might be able to claim.

48. National Park Admission

More than half of America’s national parks never charge admission. Now, to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2016, the National Park Service will open all of its properties for free on 16 days throughout the year.

49. Loaner Tools

Tool libraries are springing up across the country, sometimes as part of an existing public library, where you can borrow tools for free in most cases rather than purchase or rent them. You can find a nationwide directory at LocalTools.org.

50. Birthday Pretzel

If you join Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Perks Program, you’ll get one of their signature or classic pretzels for free for your birthday. Your freebie will be automatically loaded onto your account on the first day of your birthday month and will be available to you for 30 days.

51. Harper’s Bazaar Subscription

Get a free one-year subscription to this popular fashion and beauty magazine when you register on the website ValueMags.com. You’ll receive periodic promotional offers from ValueMags, but you won’t be billed for Harper’s Bazaar, even when the free subscription expires.

52. Wilderness Camping

If you’re into no-frills wilderness camping, try camping for free at national forests and on public lands managed by a number of other federal agencies. The only requirement is that you follow guidelines for dispersed camping.

53. RV Camping

If your idea of camping involves an RV with all the luxuries, there are various places where you can camp/park for the night for free, including the parking lots at most Walmart stores. You can find other free options for RV camping and parking on Allstays.com.

54. Jewelry

FreeJewelry.com offers over 50 pieces of free jewelry, but you need to pay a shipping and processing fee of $6.99 for each free piece you order. They also sell other jewelry at a significant discount.

55. Bagged Produce

You can always tell a cheapskate in the produce section at the grocery store, because they’re the folks taking a minute to weigh a few bags of pre-packaged produce — like bags of potatoes, apples and onions — before deciding which one to buy.

You see, the weight printed on bags of produce (such as a 5-pound bag of potatoes) is the minimum amount each bag must weigh, by law. With a little searching, you can almost always find a bag that weighs more than the minimum weight, but costs just the same.

56. Wi-Fi for Travelers

Getting online for free while you’re traveling is now easier than ever. Free apps, including iVanya, help you find free Wi-Fi service wherever you are, including restaurants, stores, hotels and so on.

57. Home Karaoke

Karaoke enthusiasts and newbies can download the free KaraFun Player software. That way, you can practice your karaoke mix in the privacy of your own home before your world debut at the local karaoke bar.

58. Apple Summer Camp for Kids

Looking for free things to do in the summer? Every summer, Apple Stores host a free three-day workshop for kids age 8-12, where they’ll learn the art of filmmaking by actually doing it. You can sign up to be notified when enrollment for the 2016 camp opens.

59. Birthday Burrito

Sign up for Moe’s Southwest Grill’s eWorld and get a free burrito on your birthday. Allow for a 48-hour processing time to receive your free-burrito coupon. If you need further incentive, you also get a free cup of queso for joining.

60. DIY Home Improvement Clinics

You can save money on home improvements by learning how to do more jobs yourself. Home Depot offers free in-store classes to help you master a wide range of DIY projects. Lowes also offers special workshops for kids.

61. Toys R Us Birthday Club

Sign your child up for Geoffrey’s Birthday Club at Toys R Us, and they’ll receive a birthday card, free gift and even a phone call from the Toys R Us mascot on their special day. If you come into the store on, or near, your child’s birthday, they’ll also get a birthday crown, Geoffrey balloon and a special announcement broadcast to the entire store.

62. Online Games

Cheapskate gamers will find no shortage of free games online. If you’re looking for a free new game fix, some of the most popular free online game sites include AddictingGames.com, Kongregate.com and FreeOnlineGames.com.

63. Senior Freebies

Age does have its privileges. Seniors — usually age 60 or older, but that can vary — are entitled to a wide range of discounts and free stuff at many restaurants, hotels, retail stores and elsewhere. Some of the best sites for staying on top of the ever-changing list of senior offers include Free4Seniors.com, SeniorDiscounts.com and TheSeniorList.com.

64. Bagels

Join Einstein Bros. Bagels’ Shmear Society — perhaps the best name ever for a restaurant e-club — and get a free bagel and shmear for signing up. You’ll also get a free egg sandwich on your birthday. A purchase is required for each offer.

65. Boating Safety Courses

Boating rules and laws vary by state, and the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation offers free online boating safety courses, based on the specific laws in each of the 50 states. You’ll learn a lot about staying safe on the water, and the online courses are pretty fun. You can find more info and take a course at BoatUS.org.

If you’re still looking for a freebie to meet your needs, be patient and keep your eyes open. Whatever you’re looking for will probably eventually pop up for free under the “free” category on Craigslist or on Freecycle.org. Remember: Free things come to those who wait.

Don’t miss our other freebies! Click here to view the first post and here for the second post of our Free Things Mini-Series. 

*Article source courtesy of GoBankingRates.com.

13 Things You Should Accomplish with Your Money Before Turning 30

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When it comes to managing money, time is on your side in your 20s. A head start on saving and investing could mean huge financial gains in the future. To help you optimize this decade, we’ve come up with 13 milestones to aim to achieve before hitting 30:

  1. Build an emergency fund. Life is full of unexpected — and, often, costly — surprises. That’s why it’s crucial to build an emergency fund.The amount of savings you need is highly personal, but a general rule is that it’s smart to have three to nine months’ worth of living expenses tucked away. Of course, you may need more or less depending on your situation. By 30, you should be at, or well on your way to, that three- to nine-month mark.
  2. Negotiate your salary. You can’t sit around and expect a raise or bonus to fall into your lap. Even if your boss notices your hard work and efficiency, he or she won’t necessarily pay you more. You have to ask for what you want.As personal-finance expert Farnoosh Torabi, who doubled her salary at 26, preaches, “You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.”There’s a right and a wrong way to go about this delicate conversation. Read up on things you should never say in a salary negotiation, know what you’re worth before heading into the meeting, and consider tips from a 28-year-old woman who made a $30,000 leap.
  3. Contribute at least 10% of your income to a retirement account. Retirement is never too far off to neglect, especially since time is on your side when you’re young. In fact, when you start to save outweighs how much you save, meaning your 20s are a critical decade.Many experts recommend putting aside at least 10% of your income. That may not be possible when you’re first starting out your career, but it’s a good goal to have by 30.Get in the habit of upping your contribution on a consistent basis — either every six months, at the end of each year, or whenever you get a pay raise — and work your way up to a 10% contribution or more.

    Set up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment with our Investment & Retirement Center at 732.312.1564, samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us to discuss your future savings goals.*

  4. Establish savings goals and start setting aside money for big purchases. There are bound to be big expenses in your future — a home, car, vacation, and kids, to name a few — that require diligent saving.The best way to prepare for these expenses is to create savings goals, and then set aside money as early as possible. You’ll want to adjust your budget so you can contribute a specific amount of money — depending on your upcoming purchases and time horizon — into a savings account each month. Treat this money like a fixed cost, meaning you must set it aside like you would do for rent or utilities.Pro tip: Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings accounts so you never even see this money and learn to live without it.
  5. Establish wealth goals. In addition to savings goals, you’ll want to establish goals for your annual income and net worth. Money won’t just appear — you have to work at it. If you want to eventually build wealth, you have to have a clear and specific goal in place before forming a financial plan to achieve that goal.Be realistic when setting a time frame to attain these bigger wealth goals, but at the same time, think big and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. A distinguishing characteristic of rich people is their commitment to setting high expectations.
  6. Buy the insurance you need. Nobody wants to deal with insurance — it’s complex and confusing — but by 30, you should have the coverage that’s right for you. That means health, renter’s (or homeowner’s if you have your own place), auto, and disability insurance. And depending on your situation, it may mean life or pet insurance.It’s also smart to make a habit out of reevaluating your insurance plans each year to ensure that your coverage is still working for your needs and budget.
  7. Set up a method to start tracking your expenses. By 30, you should have a very good idea of how much money is coming in and how much is going out.Apart from making sure you’re earning more than you’re spending, you’ll want to get a good idea of whether or not you’re on track with your savings and retirement goals. You’ll also want to see if there’s any room to reduce spending and up your saving.Strategies to track cash flow include recording each purchase you make in a spreadsheet or notebook, or downloading an app that will categorize and monitor your monthly and annual spending, such as Mint, You Need a Budget, or Personal Capital.
  8. Pay off some of your student debt. Student-loan debt in particular is often blamed for preventing young people from buying homes and growing their wealth, so the sooner you can start living debt-free, the better.Plus, the longer you wait to pay it down, the more you’ll owe, thanks to interest. Interest works in your favor with your savings and to your detriment with your debt, when it can build up over time and sometimes end up costing more than what you originally borrowed.
  9. Experiment with a side hustle. It’s easy to focus on cutting costs and forget about earning, but the wealthiest, most successful people develop multiple streams of income.Earning more money is often easier said than done, but most people have options. Read about 50 ways to bring in additional income, high-paying jobs you can do on the side, how you can earn passive income, and how to start a side hustle from a woman who earned up to $4,000 a month on the side.Plus, it’s good to experiment with being your own boss, rather than working for your money. After all, there is a significant difference between how rich people and average people choose to get paid.
  10. Invest in something other than your retirement savings plan. Many experts recommend using investment vehicles in addition to your employer’s retirement plan to ensure that you’ll have enough to fund your golden years.If you’re maxing out your 401(k) plan, consider contributing money toward a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, research low-cost index funds — which Warren Buffett recommends — and look into the online-investment platforms known as “robo-advisers.”Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your general finances are in order before you invest. But if you have a sound emergency fund, have prepared for future expenses, and are debt-free, then the quicker you put your money to work and jump start its growth, the better.
  11. Establish a strong credit score. Your credit score, which you can check as often as you want through free sites like Credit KarmaCredit.com, or Credit Sesame, is a three-digit number between 301 and 850 based on how you’ve used credit in the past.Generally, you don’t want your credit score to dip below 650, as potential creditors in the future will consider you less trustworthy and less deserving of the best rates.While often overlooked or forgotten about, building good credit early on is essential. It will allow you to make big purchases in the future, such as insurance, a car, or a home. Start by selecting a good credit card and then focus on establishing smart credit card habits.
  12. Make your payments automatic. In today’s technologically savvy world, there’s no excuse to ever miss a payment. Most bills can be paid online, and you often have the option of setting up automatic payments. If you automate consistent payments for fixed costs — cable, internet, Netflix, and insurance — you won’t have to think about them every month and will never miss a bill.You can do the same for variable costs such as credit-card bills, although you’ll want to check in on your account regularly to make sure that things are going smoothly and there aren’t any signs of fraud.For payments that can’t be made online, such as rent, set up calendar reminders and get in the habit of paying them around the same time each month so it becomes routine.
  13. Invest in yourself. The wealthiest, most successful people are constantly exercising their brains and looking for ways to continue learning long after college or any formal education is over.Self-educate by enrolling in a course, attending a work-related conference, or investing in books. On a similar note, invest in your health — consider pursuing an appealing form of exercise, or anything else that will better your health and strengthen your mind.As self-made millionaire Daniel Ally, who reached millionaire status by 24, emphasizes: “You must take your education into your own hands if you want to prosper. Invest in yourself.”

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Original article source courtesy of Kathleen Elkins of Business Insider.

FREE Things 2: A First Scoop Blog Mini-Series

free-stuff-onlineOur second segment of our Free Things Mini-Series continues with another batch of irresistible freebies for everyone!

21. Birthday at Benihana

Register for The Chef’s Table loyalty program at Benihana, and you’ll get a $30 gift certificate from the restaurant during the month of your birthday. There are some terms and restrictions — including the need to purchase a full-priced adult entrée when redeeming the certificate — but it’s still a tasty deal.

22. Coloring Pages for Adults

Coloring books have always been popular with kids, but now adults are using coloring as a way to reduce stress and anxiety, while satisfying their creative side. Download free coloring pages for adults on Coloring-Pages-Adults.com.

23. Coloring Pages for Kids

Adults don’t have to be the only ones who have fun. Kids can also find free coloring pages on a number of websites, including Coloring.ws and Crayola.com.

24. Free Samples

Websites offering free samples of everything from health and beauty products, to snack foods and ballpoint pens, abound on the internet. However, many require you to fill out a survey, send in receipts or clip coupons. According to couponing website KrazyCouponLady.com, three of the better free sample sites are WomanFreebies.com, FreeStuff.com and SampleADay.com.

25. 11 Eggs

Always open the carton at the grocery store to make sure that all 12 eggs are intact before you buy a dozen eggs. If you find a cracked egg, it could be good luck: If you alert the grocer to the imperfect dozen, they might just give you the damaged dozen for free, rather than discarding them.

26. Kids’ Meals

Just because you’re taking the family out to eat doesn’t mean you have to break your budget. In fact, many restaurants will let kids eat for free. MyKidsEatFree.com lists more than 5,000 restaurants where your kids can eat for free, or at a reduced rate, when accompanied by an adult.

27. Fishing Days

Most states have a Free Fishing Day, when anglers can cast their lines without needing to buy a fishing license. The exact dates vary by state — although in 2016, many states have declared June 4 Free Fishing Day. TakeMeFishing.org has a complete list of those dates in the U.S.

28. Pet Treats

Sign up for Petco’s Pals Rewards program — it’s free. You’ll receive special offers and discounts, earn reward dollars to use toward purchases — and your pet will even get some special free treats on their birthday.

29. Trade Your Old Things

If you have a bunch of things you want to get rid of, here’s one creative option. Listia.com lets you to give away things you no longer need in exchange for points that you can then use to bid on other things on the site.

30. E-Greeting Cards

Websites like 123Greetings.com and MyFunCards.com let you personalize and send e-greeting cards for any occasion and for free. Some e-cards now even allow you to include a personal voice message.

31. Kids’ Greeting Cards

American Greetings offers a really cool free tablet app — the Creatacard. It lets kids design their own greeting cards that the company can then professionally print and mail for them.

32. Foreign Language Courses

The BBC offers free audio and visual tools that can help you learn dozens of different languages. It also includes a helpful section on foreign language mishaps, so you can avoid making those same mistakes. The site has been archived and is no longer being updated, but the language learning resources are still available.

33. Birthday Ice Cream

Sign up for Baskin Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s e-clubs, and you’ll get a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday. If you join myTCBY’s eClub, you can get a free small cup of frozen yogurt at TCBY stores.

34. Free Cone Day

Ben & Jerry’s has a more than 35-year tradition of sponsoring Free Cone Day at all of its locations. The catch is that the exact date isn’t announced until closer to the annual spring/summer event, so keep an eye on BenJerry.com for the big announcement.

35. Annual Credit Reports

Under federal law, you can access your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — every 12 months. There is only one website, AnnualCreditReport.com, that is authorized to provide the free annual credit report that you are entitled to receive by law. Other sites might offer a “free credit report” with strings attached, so make sure you go to the right site for the no-strings-attached offer.

36. Fly Fishing Lessons

Take a free fly fishing class at most Orvis stores and dealers across the country on select dates in April, May and June. Once you complete the classes, you also receive a complimentary membership to fishing conservation organization Trout Unlimited, as well as special in-store offers on Orvis products — a $35 value.

37. E-Books

If you own a Kindle or Nook, you can download tons of e-books for free through the parent companies behind those e-readers — Amazon and Barnes and Noble, respectively. The nonprofit Project Gutenberg, at Gutenberg.org, has more than 50,000 e-books available for free downloading. Of course, you can also borrow e-books through most public libraries.

38. Audio Books

If you prefer listening to audio books rather than reading, you can download thousands of free audio books from the nonprofit website LibriVox.org. These are books that are found in the public domain. The recordings are read by volunteers, but the quality is generally high.

39. Birthday Breakfast

Denny’s makes it super easy to score a free Grand Slam Breakfast on your birthday. You just show up with a valid I.D. and chow down.

40. Online College Courses

You won’t get college credit for participating in these online college courses, but many prestigious institutions of higher education give you free access to their various online courses, including Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkeley and Tufts.

Click here to view the first post of our Free Things Mini-Series. 

*Article source courtesy of GoBankingRates.com.