Six Personal Finance Podcasts You Should Listen To Right Now

Six Personal Finance Authors You Should Listen To

You’re busy. You’re always on the go. You want financial advice but you don’t have time to read (with the exception of this article). That’s where podcasts come in! We’ve gathered some of the best personal finance podcasts so you can gain money wisdom on the go.


Planet Money podcast

Planet Money

Planet Money (@planetmoney) is a twice-weekly podcast produced by NPR. If you have questions about money, and specifically how the economy works, then this is a great place to start. Here’s how they describe the podcast on their site: “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.”

Quick and Dirty Tips Podcast

Quick and Dirty Tips

Quick and Dirty Tips (@quickdirtytips) is a podcast network and website that offers just that: quick and dirty tips for financial success, time management, and other aspects of everyday life. Check it out for some great advice on becoming more successful in your career and in life.

Listen Money Matters PodcastListen Money Matters

Listen Money Matters (@MoneyMattersMan) is described as a podcast for all things money and for building better habits. The podcast, started by Andrew Fiebert, spends a majority of its time focused on the four big tenets of personal finance: budgeting, investing, paying off debt, and income growth.

Stacking Benjamins Podcast

Stacking Benjamins

Joe Saul-Sehy started the Stacking Benjamins Podcast (@SBenjaminsCast) after being a financial planner and giving money advice on the radio for 15 years. On the podcast, he interviews people who have conquered tremendous amounts of debt or have had success accumulating wealth. The personal stories make for great money advice! 

You Need a Budget Podcast

You Need A Budget

You Need A Budget (@ynab) is a budgeting app and podcast that zeroes in on the topic of budgeting. They’ll cover rules of budgeting, as well as interview people on a number of topics like student debt. If you need a little help understanding and planning your personal budget, then you’d be wise to subscribe to this podcast!

Consumerism Commentary Podcast

Consumerism Commentary

This is a podcast that covers many different aspects of personal finance, such as economics, living debt free, entrepreneurship, and living a minimalist life. You’ll hear interviews with personal finance experts, and hopefully learn how to save some money in the process! Give them a follow at @ConsumerismComm for updates on their latest episodes and for the great articles they publish on the Consumer Commentary website.

What’s your favorite personal finance podcast? Give us a ring over at @OppLoans on Twitter!

Budget Friendly Wedding Planning to Avoid Bad Credit

Budget Friendly Wedding

Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life. It could easily be one of the most expensive days of your life as well. You want to spend everything you have to make it feel like a dream you’ll never wake up from.

But you are going to wake up the next day and you don’t want to wake up with the kind of debt that comes from spending everything you have. That’s a recipe for the kind of bad credit that will haunt you for the rest of your new married life. Not a great way to start out.

Thankfully, you can have the most special day without burning through your entire future. We spoke to the matrimony masters to get you the tips you need to make sure the only tears at the reception are happy ones.


Budget and communicate.

The most important part of planning any wedding is communicating with your partner, and that’s all the more important when you’re working on a tight budget. You might not be able to get exactly everything you’d like in the dream wedding “infinite money” scenario, so it’s vital that you both figure out what the absolute essentials are.

Here’s what Natasha M. Campbell (@WealthStylist), financial educator, money coach, and realtor at www.wealthstylist.com, had to say on the matter:

“Determine who is paying for what and how much wedding you can afford. Communication is key! So, how should you approach the topic? Here are some guidelines to help you and your families determine an initial budget: Ask both parents to commit to a specific dollar amount or a particular aspect of the wedding such as the ceremony, decor, honeymoon or catering. Then add up all the contributions and determine the amount you and your fiancé will need to contribute to make up the difference.

“Create a detailed accountability spreadsheet that includes all your expected wedding expenses. Once you’ve pulled your wedding funds together, you’ll want to track your spending. Here’s a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay: reception, ceremony, attire, floral arrangements, entertainment, photography/videography, stationary, transportation, gifts, wedding cake, honeymoon, and miscellaneous. It’s also a good idea to add a small cushion of about five percent to your budget to cover any unplanned expenses.”

WeddingWire (@WeddingWire) trend expert Anne Chertoff also shared her thoughts on budgeting:

“Put money towards what’s important to you. Each couple will have specific wedding elements that are more essential to them. Some couples want a delicious menu, while others are all about the band. Discuss what elements are important to you and put more money towards those vendors and details. WeddingWire’s Budget Tracker is a great tool and guideline to help you create the budget for your wedding in addition to helping you track your spending, set up payment schedules, and redistribute and organize funds.

“Keep a cushion in place. There are always last minute purchases that brides and grooms may not think of when allocating their budget initially, such as the cost of the bride’s mani and pedi or ribbons to tie the favors or white umbrellas if the forecast calls for rain the day of the wedding.  Make sure to leave at least $500 to $1,000 for last minute purchases so they don’t catch you off guard.

“Don’t forget incidentals. Some purchases and vendors come with a flat fee, but there may be “accessories” that are charged separately. For example, you may pay your stationer for the invitations but then you have to pay for postage at the post office. Or the baker may supply the wedding cake but not the topper. When working with each vendor, draft a list of all the related items that they will be able to supply, as well as what you’re expected to purchase separately.”

Chertoff was also able to offer some more specific wedding wisdom.

Make the special day a special weekday.

The most convenient time to do anything, at least in the America, tends to be on the weekend. That includes weddings, but with weekend weddings in such high demand, you might have to sell your soul or something of equal value to get one.

Chertoff strongly recommends saving yourself money with a less popular wedding time: “Saving a lot of money on your wedding day can be as simple as just picking the right day. Avoid the spring and fall, and if you can, pick a date in January or February which are typically the least expensive months. And if that’s not a possibility, avoid getting married on a Saturday night—having a Friday and Sunday wedding can save you a bundle.”

Max Robinson, a photographer for Scotland Shop (@ScotlandShop), agreed about the need for flexible planning: “Although it might make it easier for friends and family to attend your wedding if it’s held at the weekend, you’ll save huge amounts of money if you have the wedding mid-week. Venues will generally charge much more for weekend events because they’ve usually had to turn down other offers, whereas fewer people want to hire a venue during the week which reduces the cost significantly. Even holding the wedding on a Friday could save huge amounts, and people will still be able to drink and stay out late!”

Flower power.

Have you ever looked up how much wedding flowers cost? No? Well, take a guess… NOPE. It’s more than that. We don’t know what you guessed, but we know it’s more than that.

Thankfully, Chertoff offered some tips for saving on the blooms:

“Choose seasonal flowers. Flowers that are in season typically cost less. Your florist is the expert—talk to him or her about which flowers will be least expensive at the time of year when you’re getting married.

“Mix with non-floral elements. Use candles, greenery and other non-floral elements, like seashells or fruit to decorate your ceremony and reception. These elements can make a big décor statement with little added cost.

“Try ‘nontraditional’ blooms. Baby’s breath and carnations are just two examples of inexpensive flowers that can look unique and modern when grouped together in floral arrangements.

“Reuse and recycle. Use flowers from your ceremony to decorate your reception. Bouquets can decorate your cake table, altar arrangements can look lovely on the escort card or buffet table, and aisle markers can be repurposed into small centerpieces for reception tables. Another idea is to consider using vessels that you already own, rather than renting them from your florist.

“Choose a naturally beautiful venue. Venues like gardens and beaches are already stunningly beautiful and don’t need as much added decoration. When looking for a wedding venue, think about how much decoration it will need on your wedding day.”

Eat, drink, and be frugal.

You might be too nervous to eat or drink too much, but your guests will probably be expecting a decent spread. And you can provide them with one and avoid financial ruin.

“Never assume a buffet will be cheaper,” Chertoff warns. “Some people think it will be but that’s not always the case. Once you know what you want to serve ask your caterer the least expensive way to serve it: plated, family style or buffet. Sometimes a buffet can be the same or almost the same cost as a plated meal because you have to have enough for everyone to get at least one and possibly two servings, and you still need a staff to work the buffet and clear tables.”

As with the date of the wedding, Chertoff also suggests timing can help you save: “Skip dinner. A brunch, luncheon or even cocktail style menus will be more affordable than a traditional dinner menu. Since catering is the most expensive part of the wedding, consider a daytime or cocktail-style reception to cut down on catering costs.”

And when it comes to booze? “Don’t go overboard on alcohol,” Chertoff cautions. Instead of offering a full, top-shelf bar, serve wine, beer, and a signature cocktail. It’s a major cost-saving move and your guests likely won’t mind. And if you have a relative or friend who simply must have a certain type of liquor, then you can have a single bottle available for him or her—just don’t overdo it.”

But there’s one thing everyone looks out for at any wedding. Here’s what Chertoff suggests when it comes to the cake:

“Choose a simple Design. Consider a simple, clean and streamlined design—avoid crazy shapes and intricate designs. The less labor-intensive your cake design is, the better for your budget. Be upfront and honest with your cake baker about your budget, and let him or her create a design that will work for both your price point and your style.

“Go Small. Even if you’re having a lot of guests, your cake doesn’t have to be an eight-tier tower. Regardless of your guest count, keep your wedding cake small and ask your baker to create sheet cake to serve, rather than display.

“Decorate your wedding cake with fresh flowers rather than intricate sugar blossoms. Again, creating sugar flowers can be quite labor-intensive—and fresh flowers can be just as pretty.

“Ice your wedding cake with buttercream rather than fondant–buttercream is much easier to work with and is a good deal less expensive than fondant.

“Instead of asking your cake baker to create a custom flavor combination just for your wedding, go with more basic flavors.”

One for the road.

If you’re planning to give your guests something to take home, why not feed two birds with one crumb (our pacifist twist on a common phrase)?

Creative writer Shelley Grieshop told us about how you can use products from Totally Promotional (@TPromotional) to offer table settings your guests can keep as a souvenir:

“It’s a good budget strategy to provide guests with wedding favors that serve a dual function. That’s why we often suggest using personalized wedding cups as favors and party supplies. Plastic cups are likely already on the list as a necessity for the wedding reception. Why not purchase customized cups that can be used by guests at the party and taken home as favors? We make it very simple to place the bride and groom’s names, wedding date and/or clever saying on reusable cups that friends and relatives can keep as mementos.”

What friends are for.

If your friends are getting to come to a fancy (but affordable wedding) they should be willing to help out a bit if they’re able to.

“What we did when we got married was we used our networks,” said Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie), CEO and founder of Uproar (@Uproar). “We had a vicar friend that we knew and managed to get him to officiate the wedding for free in their church. We also spoke to a family friend who had a high-end restaurant and wedding venue. We saved around $20,000 just in venue cost because we worked with people who already had an existing relationship with us. We handmade all the invites, gifts, bunting etc etc. I had a friend who a bunch of nice cars, so I asked if he would let us use them. He actually drove me to the church and to the reception, and it only cost us inviting him to the wedding and reception. We literally listed out everyone we thought could help then called in favors. That will be the biggest savings you can make.”

It IS easy being green.

If you’re concerned about the environment as well as your budget, Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste (@goingzerowaste) wants to help. She told us how she had a very affordable, very special wedding with no waste:

“I got married in May of this year with a $2,000 budget. With any small budget, thinking outside of the box is really important. We split our reception and ceremony. We had a big backyard bbq to celebrate with friends and family. I rented games like corn hole and borrowed tables from friends. I bought white sheets from the thrift store and used my extensive collection of mason jars from the kitchen for vases.

“The morning of the reception/party I walked to the farmers market where I bought a whole bunch of flowers. I bought bread to slice up for sandwiches. I went to the butcher and got brisket to go in my crock pot and I made a whole bunch of sangria! Then I asked everyone to bring a side in a reusable dish. I supplied cloth napkins, real plates, and cups. We danced and partied the night away. Not only was it AMAZING, it produced no trash. The average wedding produces 500 lbs of waste and I wanted to have an eco-friendly wedding.

“The party was on Saturday and we got married at SF city hall on Monday morning with our immediate family. We celebrated by going to a restaurant after and my wonderful mother got our wedding cake to-go in my own container to avoid that plastic disposable one. We had a cake cutting at our hotel and they were nice enough to set us up with a little room with real plates and silverware.”

Take all of this advice and the first day of the rest of your life won’t be filled with financial worry.

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Contributors
Natasha M. Campbell (@WealthStylist) is a financial empowerment educator, money coach, and realtor at wealthstylist.com
Anne Chertoff (@WeddingWire) is WeddingWire’s Trend Expert. She has more than fifteen years of experience in the wedding industry as a wedding editor for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings and BRIDES. Her wedding advice and expertise have been featured in The New York Times, FOX News, Good Morning America, InStyle, USA Today, and more.
Shelley Grieshop (@TPromotional) is a former newspaper reporter and copy editor who joined the team at Totally Promotional  as a creative writer in January 2016. She writes company blogs, product descriptions and other items for the company’s website and general correspondence.
Kathryn Kellogg (@goingzerowaste) All of my trash for the past two years fits in a 16 oz mason jar. I spend my time educating the public on the dangers of trash, plastic pollution, and fighting to end food waste. I’m a consultant and public speaker who blogs all about small, actionable tips we can all implement to make the world a little greener.
Charlie Meaden (@UproarCharlie) founded Uproar.gg (@Uproar) and launched their product into the market in October 2016. Uproar.gg is “Air Miles for Gaming”. Gamers come to Uproar.gg to win real life rewards for competing in quests and challenges related to the games they love. They have built major partnerships with some of the largest game publishers in the world and have thousands of new users signing up every day.
Max Robinson (@ScotlandShop) is a photographer and writer for Scotland Shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Credit Helper: Does Moving Back Home Make Sense.

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There’s a definite stigma against moving back home once you’ve left the house. It’s seen as setback or even total failure if an adult child moves back in with their parents, which is unfortunate, given that whether or not society approves of it, more and more college grads are moving back home.

But what if the alternative is getting behind on your payments? That would leave you with bad credit, and bad credit is not a great place to start your financial journey.

We talked to the experts to find out if a “failure to launch” might just be a chance to refuel. After all, getting more money in the bank and getting ahead of your payments so you aren’t haunted by bad credit for the rest of your life doesn’t sound so bad.

Ignore the haters.

We don’t have to tell you that there’s a stigma attached to moving back home, although we did anyway in the first line of this article. Other people’s opinions about the decision should be the last thing on your mind. The only important question is if it’s the right thing for you.

That’s what we think, and certified financial educator Maggie Germano (@MaggieGermano) agrees: “Sometimes when you fall on hard times financially, the only option is to move home. (Not everyone has this option, so it’s important to keep in mind the privilege of this opportunity.) I definitely think there is no shame in moving home if you need to. It’s a great opportunity to save money in rent and get back on your feet. If your parents don’t charge you any rent, you can end up saving thousands of dollars. You should take advantage of this time to pay off debt, build up savings, and work towards other financial goals. Once you feel more financially stable, it may be time to go back out on your own. There’s no right or wrong amount of time to stay home; whatever works for you and your parents is the right thing.”

Moving back home (if you have the privilege to do so, as Germano clarified) can indeed be a smart financial choice. And we even have the experts with the first-hand experiences to prove it!

Homeward bound.

Phil Risher is the founder of the Young Adult Survival Guide (@yasurvivalguide). He was kind enough to share his personal experience with us:

“I paid off 30k in student loans in 12 months making 48k. After, I saved up and bought my place with cash at the age of 25.

“Without moving back home after college I would not have been able to do these things.

“I always recommend for young adults to live somewhere inexpensive while they are building good financial foundations. If it isn’t at home, it could be a basement or a 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment.

“I never lived with my Dad until I asked him if I could move home after college. I sweetened the pot by telling him I would cut the grass, clean the gutters, and be an on call baby sitter for my younger siblings. (What a deal!)

“Some steps you can take to get back on your feet are to start budgeting and creating goals. A goal could be when you want to move out again. And a budget is imperative to control your money and reach your goal.”

Kelan Kline of The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) wrote about his experience moving back home at Millennial Money Man (@GenYMoneyMan): “We all know moving back home with your parents is not the most glamorous thing in the world. Reverting back to following their rules and having a chore list to complete was not an easy transition.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to remember it is temporary. Most things in life take time and sacrifice to reap the rewards. Be patient. The financial gain you can make while living at home is second to none, trust me!

“I was not only able pay off my student loans ($8,000), but save enough money for a down payment on our first house. My expenses were next to none living at home, and I have always been extremely frugal. You can’t beat free room and board! Almost all my income went straight towards my loans to get debt free as quick as possible. Then I focused on stacking the Benjamins in the bank. My net worth went from -$8,000 to +$12,000, a $20,000 swing!”

But what about the “landlord’s” perspective?

Meet the parent.

So we’ve got the “kids”’ perspectives, but what about a parent’s take on it? Financial coach and fiscally conscious father Brad Kingsley (@maximize_money) gave us the dad’s directive:

“When I’ve tackled this topic in the past it has always been an “it depends” situation.

“The first thing that comes to mind is a recent college graduate coming back home. Sometimes it takes a little longer than expected to land a job that aligns with their education. But working part-time somewhere just to bring in money can hurt them in the job search. In that case moving back in with their parents for a short transition period might be the best short term option.

“The second thing is an older child who wants to come back home. If there has been an unforeseen emergency or life situation outside of anyone’s control, then I’d certainly want to be sympathetic and support that child through the specific challenge.

“In either case there should be a plan though. Having a child move back home should never be an open-ended stay-as-long-as-you-want-for-free type of situation. It can be a bridge from one point to another, but it should not be the destination. And without a plan in place, it can quickly turn into the destination by default.

“I recommend the parents and child agree on timing, responsibilities, expectations, and ‘the plan.’ Yes, the child should share the plan because it impacts the parents and they have a right to know and agree – or disagree and encourage other options.”

In conclusion, moving back home for a while has helped other people and it could help you too. Some people might give you a side-eye, but as long as your parent(s) and or guardian(s) are on board, the side-eyers will be feeling silly when you’re in a better financial situation down the line.


Contributors
Maggie Germano (@MaggieGermano) is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her mission is to give women the support and tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, her weekly Money Monday newsletter, and speaking engagements. To learn more, or to schedule a free discovery call, visit MaggieGermano.com.
Brad Kingsley (@maximize_money) is a certified financial coach helping people create a plan for their finances to achieve big goals like becoming debt free, paying for college, and preparing for a comfortable retirement. Visit his site at MaximizeYourMoney.com.
Kelan and Brittany Kline aka The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) are two thriving millennials that are daring to live differently. They started their personal finance blog September 2016 to help others get money $avvy so they can live a frugal and free lifestyle. Brittany is a full-time 4th-grade teacher and Kelan runs The Savvy Couple full-time and works as a digital marketer. You can follow them here: FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.
Phil Risher is the founder of YoungAdultSurvivalGuide.com. Phil paid off $30,000 in student loans in 12 months making 48k. After, he saved up and bought his first place with cash at the age of 25. Phil now speaks with college students and young adults around the country about his 5-Step Guide to help them on their financial journey.

How to Avoid a Costly Breakdown On Your Summer Road Trip.

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Summer in America is the season of apple pie, baseball, pool parties, and the open road. Driving is cheaper than flying in most cases. Unless, of course, you have a breakdown.

There’s nothing better than driving with the windows down past beautiful, remote scenery, and there’s nothing worse than feeling the car slow down in the middle of nowhere, puffs of smoke seeping out from beneath the hood as your engine gives up its last dying breaths.

Repairing a busted car on the roadside is never fun and never cheap! You’re better off taking the proper steps so you won’t have a breakdown in the first place. That’s why we spoke to our favorite auto masters to find out how you can prepare your car for the journey, as well as the destination.


Beat the heat.

Much like an ice cream cone or a human being, cars can only handle so much heat. But whereas you might be able to get by with sunscreen, water, and an ice cream cone, your car has other needs.

“The summer months are hard on the engines of cars,” Jill Trotta (@RepairPal_Jill), director of the automotive group at RepairPal (@RepairPal), told us. “The extreme heat of summer causes wear on mechanical components of cars. Weather can also cause problems with tires, brakes and the engine. If you want your family to be safe on the summer road trips, it is important to do summer car maintenance.”

One heat-based issue your car can run into is oil breakdown. Trotta gave us the… breakdown:

“Viscosity breakdown is a common problem with engines during the summer months. The heat of an engine begins to cause the oil to breakdown, and it no longer lubricates the engine. As the friction causes wear on parts, eventually your car will breakdown. To avoid viscosity breakdown, it is important that the engine stays cool. The cooling maintenance and checks needed before a road trip includes:

If the radiator has a leak or any hoses are dry and cracked, have them replaced before traveling.”

If you know you’ll be driving under the hot, hot sun, you owe it to yourself and to your ride to make sure it’s prepared for the journey.

Feeling a little tired.

Unless you have a hover car (and if you do, please give us a ride) you’re going to need tires for any road trip.

“Having good tires is one of the most important safety checks that need to be done before summer travels,” Trotta warned us. “Check the air pressure of your tire and make sure it is at the recommended pressure rating. The pressure rating is printed on the sidewall of the tire and will be measured in PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch).  It is also important to check the tire treads using the coin test, which tells you if it is time for new tires. Here are some of the items needed for tire maintenance on the road:

  • Tire Gauge
  • 12-Volt Portable Compressor

Problems with tires often start with a small puncture due to a nail, screw or road debris and here’s what to do about it. Always check the tire pressure and keep an eye out for punctures that need to be repaired.”

Accredited financial counselor Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) echoed the tire concern: “Be sure that your tires are good i.e. proper amount of tread, air/tire pressure”

If your tires aren’t in order, you’ll risk having to “Flintstone” the entire distance of your trip, which is murder on the feet.

Manage the essential fluids.

Just as blood carries life throughout the body, your car has fluids that are also important. What are those fluids? Don’t ask us, we’re not a car doctor! But Trotta is:

“There are many fluids that need to be checked and changed before a road trip. Change the oil and check the levels of the transmission and brake fluid before you go on a road trip. It is also a good idea to pack extra fluids with the repair kit and tools. Here are the fluids that you want to have with the spare tire in case of an emergency:

  • Oil
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Brake Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Coolant

The spare tire compartment in most cars will have room for packing extra fluids. The only fluid that will take up room is the coolant that comes in a larger container. In addition to these fluids, keep an extra bottle of water with the other fluids for emergencies.”

Even though we aren’t a car doctor or a human doctor, we’ll back up Trotta’s water bottle suggestion. You want to keep at least as hydrated as your car is on these long trips.

Pump the brakes.

You could argue the brakes are the most important part of the car. The worst thing that’ll happen if you’re missing the wheels or engine is that you won’t go anywhere. The worst thing that’ll happen if you’re missing your brakes is…. well, let’s not get into it.

But we will let Trotta get into how you can make sure your brakes are ready for a road trip: “The brakes give you stopping power and aid in handling. Before traveling, the brakes of your car need to be inspected. Check the pads, change the fluid and bleed the lines. If the pads do not have much material left, they often begin to make noise due to a metal indicator built into them, which means they need to be changed. Here are the essential brake components that need to be checked before traveling:

  • Pads
  • Lines
  • Fluid

First, check the pads and have them changed if needed. A brake inspection is usually free at a RepairPal Certified shop near you. In addition to the brake pads, check all the lines for signs of wear or damage and bleed the brakes. Lastly, the fluid in the master cylinder needs to be checked and more brake fluid added if the level is low.”

So make sure you don’t pump the brakes… on proper brake maintenance.

Keeping cool.

Summer gets hot. The inside of your car shouldn’t be. That’s why you want to make sure your air conditioner is working properly.

“The maintenance for AC, wipers, and air filter are also important tasks to do before leaving on a road trip,” Trotta told us. Check the AC compressor and have an auto mechanic charge it if necessary. Change the air filters in your car too, which many modern cars have the air filter for the engine, as well as a cabin air filter. While you are checking the AC and changing air filters, check the wiper blades and make sure there is cleaning fluid in the deposit. Check these last few areas of your car before leaving on a road trip:

  • AC and Belts
  • Wiper Blades and Fluid
  • Air Filters

The AC compressor is connected to belts and pulleys on the engine. Turn on the engine and the AC to see if the belts make noise and visually inspect them for damage. It is a good idea to check the wiper blades as well as the wiper fluid. Wipers and wiper fluid aren’t just for rainy days – make sure you can clean off the bug graveyard your windshield turns into on long stretches of highway.

“To avoid car trouble and stay safe this summer, make sure you make a checklist. Before you pack the luggage, take care of any repairs before your next road trip. It is also important to protect against the summer heat. Make sure you have shades to prevent burns from hot car seats, steering wheels and other interior components that get hot in direct sun.”

Non-maintenance stuff too!

Of course, not all of your preparations will be car maintenance. There’s always a chance of a random incident, from an eagle dive bombing your car to some other animal attacking your car.

Karen E. (@Wanderlustingk), a travel blogger at Wanderlustingk.com, advises bringing tools, as well as financial protection: “My number one tip (after many disastrous) road trips is to have the highest level of triple AAA insurance. You have NO idea when you’ll be stranded and need be towed almost 200 miles just to find a mechanic that has the right parts. Similarly, have the right tools in your car, including a tow rope, so those driving by with pick-up trucks can help you if needed.”

Lash also suggests to: “be sure that you have a roadside assistance plan”

Take all of these precautions before your trip, and you’ll lessen the risk a breakdown that will ruin your vacation, as well as your financial life, especially if the repair costs leave you considering a payday loan or racking up credit card fees that could lead to bad credit. That’s one trip you don’t want to take.

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Contributors
Karen E. (@Wanderlustingk) is an American travel blogger and road trip addict who has taken road trips in 11 different countries.
Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) is an Accredited Financial Counselor. She specializes in financial education, adult coaching, and works virtually with adults helping them to navigate through their personal finances i.e. budgeting, debt, and credit repair. She is also the founder of Youth Smart Financial Education Services. Her advice has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, TIME, Huffington Post, NASDAQ, Los Angeles Times, and a host of other media outlets.
Jill Trotta (@RepairPal_Jill) is an automotive professional with over 25 years of professional experience. ASE Certified technician and consultant. She is currently working on the Automotive Professional Team at RepairPal. They do the hard work of identifying technically qualified, customer friendly auto shops and presenting them to consumers. They are working to develop transparency in the Automotive Industry. They also have a very accurate automotive repair price estimator that is available to shops and consumers.

Need Cash Fast? Try These 10 Great Side Hustles

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When you’re in a pinch, earning some extra money is a much better option than a predatory payday loan.

The thing about surprise expenses is that they’re impossible to anticipate. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be surprises. One second your car is working fine, the next it’s stalled out on the side of the road. One second your boiler is humming along, the next your basement is filled with smelly, black smoke. Life comes at you fast and it often leaves behind a hefty bill.

The best way to handle these kinds of emergency expenses is to have a dedicated emergency fund. But for some folks, those kinds of savings just aren’t a possibility. Taking out a loan is always an option—but folks whose credit is less-than-great might find themselves at the mercy of predatory payday and title lenders. And while OppLoans offers affordable installment loans that give you a safer, more responsible alternative to payday and title loans, getting any loan isn’t the only option available.

A great way to deal with emergency expenses is to go out and earn the cash to pay for them. That could mean taking a second job with a maid service or your local fast food joint, but there are also tons of side hustles out there that give you a lot more independence.

That’s why we reached out to a bunch of experts for some great ways to earn fast cash. We’ve got recommendations from:

Here are 10 of their top recommendations…

1.   Mystery shopping

If you are great with acting/pretending, this will be a great one for you. You essentially are an independent contractor for market research companies that hire you to go into particular stores, pose as a shopper using a specified scenario script so you can gather information for them. Mystery shopping pays anywhere from $10 to $50 per shop depending on the scenario. All you’re doing is asking questions and noting the answers so you can report back. You can even make it a part of your weekly shopping trips.” – Gertrude Nonterah

2. Moving services

“Make up some business cards ($20 if you get them done) and leave them with local Storage Facilities if people are looking for movers (they always are). You don’t even need a truck. Most people rent trucks from U-Haul and need drivers and loaders.” – Becky Blanton

3. Drop shipping

Kelan Kline (The Savvy Couple) shares this story about the $50K drop shipping (fulfilling retail orders from home) business he started in college…

“When I was fourteen years old going into my freshman year my parents told me to get a job. The three words no high school kid wants to hear. Instead of getting a job I decided I would start selling things on eBay to make enough to make my parents happy.

“After selling anything I could get my hands-on, including things I should not have, I started looking into drop shipping.  I had tried a few drop shipping companies even a couple that provided a free website to sell from with very little luck.

“I kept searching and finally came across Doba.com, it changed everything! I bought a lifetime membership for $1,000 (which they no longer offer). I now had hundreds of thousands of products at my fingertips that I could increase the price and keep the profit from.

“I found that Amazon was the bestselling platform due to their high-volume traffic and deep trust.

“I continued to work on my drop shipping business EpicBuyz throughout high school and got very good at it. In college, my drop shipping business on average took in $50,000 a year in revenue. My profit on my sales would range anywhere from 8—15%, not a bad side hustle for a college student!

“I still continue to sell our used items on eBay and Amazon. I have the mindset if it’s not being used it’s worth money to someone else.

“My drop shipping side hustle really set us up for success in running our blog. We started our blog TheSavvyCouple.com 10 months ago and will reach over 20,000 page views this month. Affiliate marketing is another very exciting online business with unlimited income potential.”

(Check out Kelan’s interview with Doba’s CEO.)

4. Become a lumper

“A lumper is anyone who manually handles freight in a warehouse. They make from $60 to $350 per hour or job depending on the freight. Same day pay. Lots of articles online debate lumping, say you have to register, but most strong, healthy looking hard working men or women can generally find work lumping, and repeat work if they’re good and dependable.” – Becky Blanton

5. Selling on Craigslist

“Old items around my house have brought me around $400 a month before. The key here is to take multiple pictures of the item and describe the item as thoroughly as possible. To find a fair but good price to make it worth your while, you can check out store websites like Walmart.com to gain a good idea of what the item costs at full price.” – Gertrude Nonterah

6. Lawn care with GreenPal

If you have knack for yard work, you could earn money on the side through GreenPal, often described as “Uber for Lawn Care.”

Bryan Clayton CEO of GreenPal, explains:

“Our system has over 500 vendor partners in seven states throughout the county.”

“Many of our lawn care vendors are part-timers. Some are  firemen, some teachers that use our app in the summer to make extra money, others are college students that work afternoons and weekends, and it is the perfect way for them to make extra money.”

“Our average vendor makes around $55 per hour mowing lawns on our system They set their own hours and pick the clients they want to work for,  it is the perfect side job.”

7. Be a driver

“If you have a CDL license you can make money fast moving cars, trucks, rentals etc. around the country. There’s always Uber, Left and other taxi services, but I know people who charge $10-$20 an hour to run errands, deliver groceries, etc. using their personal vehicle. Check your insurance first if you’re hauling people around, but many businesses need delivery for small items.”  – Becky Blanton

8. Avon sales

Brittany Kline had a great experience working as a salesperson for Avon…

“Similar to Kelan, I was told to get a job out of high school as well. After doing research, I decided to join Avon and start selling. I went through the training they provided, but I was never someone who pushed my business on to others. I started with ordering extra catalogs and going around on my bike hanging up bags on my neighbor’s mailboxes. It slowly took off.

“When a woman at my mom’s work stopped selling Avon, it was the perfect in for me. My mom would bring catalogs to work with her and she would collect the orders from her co-workers. When the orders came in, we would bag them together and she would deliver and receive payment. We were a great team.

“I sold to a close circle of friends and their family members for a long time. It was the perfect side hustle to cover my gas commuting to college or to cover my cell phone bill. Selling as a direct sales representative for 9 years was the perfect side hustle for me.”

9. Online yard sales

Yard sales used to be on weekends and you had to drive there, look through crap and hope to find something you wanted or needed. Now you can go on Facebook, search on classifieds or yard sales and your area and find, OR SELL anything online. I make $200 + a month for less than an hour’s work uploading and selling clothes, books, furniture etc. online. ALWAYS meet the buyer at a public place – a grocery store parking lot, etc.someplace where there are people around. If you’re selling electronics, watches, coins or cameras, phones etc. meet INSIDE a store. You’re less likely to be mugged or robbed.”  – Becky Blanton

10) Amazon Flex

“This is something my husband actually started recently and he makes between $200-$400 per week. Amazon Flex is a service that gives people the opportunity to quickly deliver items people have ordered from Amazon’s website (and indicated that wanted same/1-day delivery) from a regional Amazon location. The deliveries are local and so you will not spend a ton on gas. For something that brings in $1000-$2000 per month for my family, I’d say this one is a winner!” – Gertrude Nonterah

If you have a great fast cash side gig that isn’t on this list, we’d love to hear about! You can get in touch with us on Twitter at @OppLoans.

Visit OppLoans on YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIN | Google+


Contributors
Becky Blanton (@BeckyBlanton_) is a TED Global speaker, blogger, ghostwriter, and founder of The Homeless Entrepreneur – a nonprofit that offers Suitcase to Briefcase, a training program that teaches those experiencing homelessness how to start their own business.
Bryan Clayton (@YourGreenPal) is the CEO of GreenPal, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with local lawn care professionals. Bryan is a serial entrepreneur in the lawn and landscaping industry having built and sold Peach Tree Inc., a Nashville based landscape group, growing the firm to over 120 employees to ultimate acquisition by Landscapes USA.
Kelan and Brittany Kline aka The Savvy Couple (@TheSavvyCouple) are two thriving millennials that are daring to live differently. They started their personal finance blog September 2016 to help others get money $avvy so they can live a frugal and free lifestyle. Brittany is a full-time 4th-grade teacher and Kelan runs The Savvy Couple full-time and works as a digital marketer. You can follow them here: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Gertrude Nonterah (@GeeNonterah) is a research scientist trying to save premature infants by day and blogger/freelance writer by night. She is also the founder of MyOnlineBizJourney.com – an educational website that focusses on teaching people how to plan and launch their own side hustles using online tools and skills they already have.

3 Tips to Save (or Make) Money on Your Next Move

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What do moving and a march through the Sahara have in common? There’s muscle exhaustion, lots of sweat, and the illusion that you’re closer to finishing than you are. So basically a lot.


But there is one big difference: moving can take a pretty hefty toll on your wallet.

From hiring movers to buying boxes and packing tape, moving can be expensive. And the cost comes at the worst time. You just paid your security deposit or mortgage down payment, so you’re especially low on cash.

So what do you do? Strong-arm a friend into helping out? (Maybe, but don’t forget to buy a pizza in return.) Take out a payday loan to cover the costs? (Definitely not.)

But don’t worry, because there are lots of ways to make a move easier on your back AND your wallet. And if you do it right, you could even earn money in the process.

We reached out and asked the experts for tips. Here’s their advice for a cheap move.

1. Downsize to Save Big!

This one is common sense. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to move. And while you may be reluctant to part with your beloved collection of ugly holiday sweaters, believe us, it’s for the best.

By getting rid of unwanted clutter, at the very least you’ll save yourself a few trips up and down the stairs. But having lots of stuff comes with extra costs if you opt for anything beyond a total DIY move. You’ll have to rent a bigger truck, hire more movers, and pay them to work longer.

So what’s the solution? Andrea Woroch (@AndreaWoroch), a consumer-finance expert, says it’s simple: downsize.

“Moving costs depend largely on how much stuff you have to move,” she says. “It’s a good idea to host a moving sale, post items on eBay and Craigslist, or otherwise donate unwanted stuff to avoid moving those items.”

Ryan Alfson (@AnotherDollarRy), owner of Just Another Dollar, can attest to this. He and his girlfriend moved from Minnesota to Colorado in 2016 and saved tons of money by getting rid of unnecessary belongings.

“As soon as we had determined we were planning to move,” he says, “we began looking at everything in our apartment and deciding whether we liked that particular piece enough to pay to move it 1,000 miles.”

And not only did he bring down his moving costs, he actually made money—both by selling items and by getting a tax write-off for donations.

“I sold our old books, movies, and video game collections through websites like Decluttr.com, Amazon trade-in, and eBay,” he says. “We sold and gave away some bulky furniture that we weren’t overly attached to to family and friends. Our old clothes, mismatched kitchen items, and other unwanted household goods were donated to our local thrift stores. Side note: the benefit of the tax write-off for many of these charitable contributions is probably higher than any garage sale proceeds we could’ve made.” Learn more about downsizing your stuff in our blog 12 Tips for Getting Rid of (and Selling) Your Extra Clutter.

2. Pack Creatively

Once you trim down your possessions, you’re ready to pack up your essentials. And you might think that buying cardboard boxes wouldn’t come with a big price tag, but they can get pretty expensive, especially if you need a lot of them. Oksana Tunikova, with the real estate company Rentberry (@Rentberry_), says this is a prime place for cost-cutting.

“One of the least reasonable moving spendings is paying for empty boxes,” she says. “Hunt online with services like Freecycle, U-Haul Box Exchanger or FreeCardBoardBoxes—they will give away boxes for free. Alternatively, ask your office manager or your friend’s office manager about boxes of printer paper. Big companies have plenty of boxes they don’t need, so chances are good they will be glad to give them away.”

Tunikova also suggests getting creative with packing materials.

“The vast majority of moving companies offer a packing service of their own,” she says. “If you have fragile or breakable belongings, you’ll sure want them to pack your stuff safely. The truth is that your tiptop bags, liners, clothes, and pillows can be a great packing material too, so there’s no need to pay extra.”

3. Time It Right

There are good times to move, and there are bad times to move. Like moving during a snowstorm or the hottest day of the year? Not a good idea. Duh.

But picking the right time to move can save you money, too. Tunikova suggests avoiding the weekends.

“Oftentimes, moving services charge more during the busiest periods,” she says. “As these services usually have a limited number of trucks, busy days force them to rent trucks from partner companies. Given that weekends make the most popular time for moving, prices go up on Saturday and Sunday. Take a day off and move Monday through Friday, and you’ll surely save yourself some money.”

Woroch also has a suggestion about timing your move: avoid the end of the month.

“This is a popular time for people to move and that means demand for trucks sends prices soaring. If possible, schedule your move for the beginning or middle of the month to find cheaper truck rental rates as well as savings on professional services. While comparing rates online for truck rentals, try adjusting dates to find the least expensive days.”

Another tip? If you go with professional movers, request a morning slot.

“This is especially true in the summer when moving crews are slotted for up to five or six move jobs in one day,” says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of HireAHelper, (@hireahelper). “If your loading request ends up as their fifth move, even if you get the best crew in town, they’re going to be exhausted, work slower, and might even drop a thing or two. This is going to end up costing you in the end.”

4. Straight from a Mover’s Mouth

These are all great tips, but what does a moving company think about them? Well, Lavi Brill and Nimrod Sheinberg, two managers with NYC Movers Oz Moving & Storage (@OzMovingNYC), agree with quite a few.

6 tips for keeping moving costs down:
  1. By packing yourself, rather than having professionals pack for you, you’ll save money.
  2. Boxes can be found for cheaper than your moving company will provide them for you—look around.
  3. If you’re using movers, your goal should be to use their time as efficiently as possible. Most are paid by the hour so the less time they work the more you save.
  4. Be organized—the less movers have to organize things the better.
  5. Disassemble anything that won’t fit out the door so your movers won’t have to.
  6. Get out of the way—your help is well-meant but the movers have their own routine and you’ll likely just get in their way.
  7. The less you move, the better. Get rid of anything you can sell or donate that won’t break your heart to lose.
  8. Be flexible on dates—moving supply rentals and movers definitely are a supply-demand industry. Find a soft period of demand and you’ll find a great deal.
  9. Keep risk in mind. A totally DIY move is the cheapest, but amateurs can get a plethora of mistakes leading to increased costs. These include parking tickets, damages to their own items, damages to either building, supply rental fees, personal injuries, etc.

Bottom Line:

Moving doesn’t have to be something to dread. (It certainly isn’t worse than a water-deprived trek across scalding sand.) By preparing right and moving smart, you can save money—or even make it. Follow these expert tips and give your wallet and your back a break.

Visit OppLoans on YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIN | Google+


Contributors
Ryan Alfson (@anotherdollarry) is a CPA living in Denver, Colorado. Ryan and his girlfriend, Alyssa, own and write for the personal finance blog website Just Another Dollar. Our site focuses on guiding millennials to make smart financial decisions in their 20’s and 30’s. We aim to inspire readers by sharing our own in-progress journey to pay off over $100k in debt. We hope to see you there!
Lavi Brill (@OzMovingNYC) is the Director of On-site sales at Oz Moving & Storage. Lavi directs a staff of on-site estimators responsible for evaluating potential customers’ inventory and providing them with an accurate estimate.
Mike Glanz (@hireahelper) is the Founder & CEO of HireAHelper.com, a moving labor marketplace that debuted in 2007. Having worked in the moving industry for a number of years, Mike launched HireAHelper to provide consumers with a new way to move called Hybrid™ Moving – a cross between the affordability of moving yourself and the ease of paying movers to do it for you.
Nimrod Sheinberg (@OzMovingNYC) is the Vice President of Sales at Oz Moving & Storage. An experienced figure in the moving industry, Nimrod is responsible for day to day management of all residential moving sales operations.
Oksana Tunikova (@Rentberry_) works for a real estate startup Rentberry. She writes educational materials for landlords and tenants as well as articles about major trends in real estate. She is a guest author for HelloSign, Dwolla, CarpeDaily, and Miss Millennia Magazine.
Andrea Woroch (@AndreaWoroch) is a nationally-recognized consumer-savings expert, writer and TV personality who is dedicated to helping Americans find simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyle. She is a regularly-featured contributor for popular shows like Today, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends and KTLA Morning News. In print and online, her advice has appeared in popular media such as New York Times, USA Today, Money Magazine, Cosmopolitan, People, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest and many, many more. Read more about Andrea at AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter.

What Does “Pay Yourself First” Mean?

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Do you ever feel like your paycheck is a magician performing a disappearing act? One second you have a nice new chunk of money in your bank account, and the next you’re scrounging under the couch cushions for change to pay your electric bill.
If you’re someone with low income and bad credit, this “disappearing paycheck” act can feel like an especially cruel joke. Between bills, groceries, and debt payments, it just seems like you can never get ahead!
Unless…you decide to pay yourself first.
Heard that phrase before? It’s pretty popular these days with personal finance-types. And it could be the key to cutting your paycheck’s disappearing magic trick off at the knees.

Okay, but what does “pay yourself first” mean?

Gaby Lumby is a CPA and part of the team behind the popular personal finance website Cash Cow Couple (@CashCowCouple).

“The “pay yourself first” philosophy is a pretty simple concept,” says Lumby. “Whenever you receive income (from a job or business), you pay yourself first by investing/saving a certain percentage right off the top. So if my goal is to save 20 percent of my income, I take 20 percent of my net pay each paycheck and invest that in the best way I see fit.”

Lumby says that “The reasoning/thinking behind saving/paying yourself is this: if you wait to pay all your bills and all the other odds and ends that go into life, you will never have enough money to save. There is always something that comes up that gets in the way of saving.”

“But, if you automate the savings by paying yourself first each time you get income, then you will have to only spend what is left over. It is amazing how much easier it is to live on a portion of your total income when you don’t give yourself the option of spending all of it in the first place,” he says.

“The Richest Man in Babylon”

Justin Goodbread (@jgbread) is a Certified Financial Planner and the owner of Heritage Investors (@Knoxadvisor). He also blogs about personal finance at FinanciallySimple.com.

I personally subscribe to the pay yourself first method because I believe it adds the most long-term net worth to a client’s financial position,” says Goodbread.

“I first read this concept in the old book called the Richest Man in Babylon which is perhaps but most favorite Finance book today still.”

First published in 1926, “The Richest Man in Babylon” was a book of financial advice written by Samuel George Clason. The book presents its advice through a series of parables about characters in ancient Babylon.

Instead of “pay yourself first,” the advice is presented here as “a part of all you earn is yours to keep.” The book specifically states that a person should keep 10 percent of everything they earn for themselves.

While many stick to that 10 percent mark when talking about “pay yourself first”, a person can certainly “pay” themselves more if they can afford it.

The cobbler’s kids shoes are never shod…

The idea behind this pay yourself first method is to set up a budget where 10 percent of your earnings goes into an investment account or into alternative investments to build long-term net worth.”

“The reason why I like the pay yourself first method is because in today’s society it seems like our dollars are often stretch too many different ways and if we leave ourselves till last many times we don’t take care of ourselves,” says Goodbread.

“There’s an old saying that ‘the cobbler’s kids shoes are never shod.’ The idea behind this is that many times we get so busy taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. So whenever I meet with a client I often work with him to develop a budget to where the first 10 percent of their earnings goes into an investment account like a Roth IRA or a 401k.”

He adds, “This is not to say this is the same money which should go to pay down debt. Obviously, debt is a big burden for many Millennials and Gen-Xers but we still must set aside the first ten percent to pay ourselves.”

Give yourself options

Robert R. Johnson (@BobAmericanColl) is the president and CEO of The American College of Financial Services (@TheAmerCol). He says, “Pay yourself first is important because if people don’t do so, they will find themselves with too little in savings to sustain themselves in retirement.”

“We all have many worthy competing financial goals in life. For instance, purchasing a home, saving for a child’s college education, etc.  The difference with the retirement savings goal is that if one falls short, one has only two options and neither are attractive—that is, having a lower standard of living or working longer.”

“One has options with other goals,” says Johnson. “For instance, one can continue to rent or buy a less expensive home. With college, a child can attend a less expensive school, attend community college, or work during school. One can also take out student loans.”

“Options are valuable, and having adequate retirement savings affords an individual options. When faced with retirement and a lack of savings, the only options are to work longer or to accept a lower standard of living in retirement. And, oftentimes the option of working longer isn’t available because of health reasons—a person’s own health or that of a loved one.”

“Too often one thinks about saving what is left over after current spending needs are exhausted. The proper way to look at it is to pay yourself first, and then spend what is left over,” he says.

Create a System

According to Johnson, “Developing systematic behavior is the key” when it comes to paying yourself first.

“People should first have the maximum amount they can put into a tax deferred investment plan done so via payroll deduction,” says Johnson.

“In effect, if you don’t see the money you can’t spend it. Some people make the mistake of feeling that once they have maxed out their tax-advantaged plan they are done. Individuals should supplement their tax-advantaged plan with additional savings.”

We’ve written before about the importance of creating a budget if you want to save money and pay down debt. Creating systematic behavior through a budget—deciding what expenses are “needs” versus “wants”—is the same kind of discipline that will help you “pay yourself first.”

So if you want to pay yourself first, then our advice is simple: make yourself a budget. Paying yourself first is going to be easier than you think it is, but it does require some planning up front.

Just remember: you’re paying yourself first because you’ve dang well earned it!


Contributors
Justin Goodbread (@jgbread) is the owner Heritage Investors (@Knoxadvisor), a wealth management company located in Knoxville, TN.  After several years of working in a large wealth management firm, Justin and his business partner and I ventured out on their own in 2009. He writes a blog FinanciallySimple.com and is a contributing author for many nationally recognized publications. To learn more about Justin, visit financiallysimple.com/justingoodbread/.
Robert R. Johnson (@BobAmericanColl), Ph.D., CFA ® , CAIA ® , CLF ® , is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The American College of Financial Services (@TheAmerCol). Bob is the author of multiple books and scholarly articles. He is co-author of the books Invest With the Fed, Strategic Value Investing, The Tools and Techniques of Investment Planning, and Investment Banking for Dummies. His articles have appeared in The Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Financial Analysts Journal, and Journal of Portfolio Management.
Gabe Lumby is an accomplished CPA who owns a successful accounting practice built from scratch. He is also the marketing director for CashCowCouple.com (@CashCowCouple), a popular personal finance website.

Avoiding Payday Loans: How to Deal With a Bounced Paycheck

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Can a paycheck bounce? Unfortunately, yep. It does happen.
If your paycheck bounces or your employer is late with a payment, it can mean financial disaster. Here are the steps you can take to fix the situation, as well as savings strategies to make sure you have the funds to make it through.

If you’re one of the millions living paycheck-to-paycheck, then what would you do if your next paycheck happened to, well, just not show up. Or worse, it does show up, but when you go to cash it, you get the four worst words in the English language: “Transaction Failed, Insufficient Funds.”

What are you going to do now? Do you have enough money in your savings account to deal with a delayed paycheck?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, don’t worry. There’s no need for you to run over to your local payday lender and take out a short-term, high-interest loan that’ll put you in an even deeper financial hole.

Instead, just keep reading.

1. Talk to your employer

“Nothing shakes your faith in the American enterprise system like a bounced paycheck,” says Howard Dvorkin (@HowardDvorkin), CPA and Chairman of Debt.com (@debtcom).

“It happens most often in small businesses, and many times, it’s not only unintentional, the employer is rightfully embarrassed as hell.”

Dvorkin says that your first step should be to “call your employer and politely inquire. You just might get a horrified apology because someone forgot to do something important.”

According to Roslyn Lash (@RosLash), an Accredited Financial Counselor and the founder of Youth Smart Financial Education Services, you should want to “make sure that the money wasn’t incorrectly transferred or some type of computer glitch.”

“Therefore,” she says, “you need to call your employer and explain the situation and inquire about a reissue date.”

2. Start a Paper Trail

If your bounced paycheck does turn out to be a simple error, then you’ll probably be fine. But if it’s something else—if your employer is maybe up to something—then you’re going to need documentation. You’ll need to not only document your lack of a paycheck, but your efforts to resolve the issue.

“If you contact your employer and you get an attitude, start a paper trail,” says Dvorkin. “Get a copy of the returned check, and keep copies showing if you had to pay overdraft fees.”

According to Lash, when people with a bounced paycheck contact their employer, they should “be sure to document the name, location of the representative that they speak with. This will be the beginning of the paper trail,” she says. “From this point forward, every conversation and everything… and I mean everything should be documented.”

3. Call Your Bank

Most people plan their bill payments around their paycheck. But when a paycheck bounces, that plan has got to change.

“Contact your bank to have all drafted automatic payments from your account canceled.” says Lash.  “Explain the situation to the bank representative and request proof that your paycheck was not deposited into your account.”

“Any documentation that they can provide proofing that the employer had insufficient funds or that the check bounced would be helpful,” she says.

Lash also recommends that “if you have an emergency savings, transfer some funds into this account to cover any outstanding bills.”

“Ask your lender if there are any provisions made for NSF fees that you may incur,” she says.

4. Contact your creditors

People tend to think that lenders are totally inflexible when it comes to your payments. And while it’s true that most lenders aren’t pushovers, and they don’t like it when people are constantly calling in about insufficient funds, they do understand that (and this a very technical banking term) “stuff happens.” The same goes for utility companies.

Lash says that you should call your lenders and “Advise them of the situation and request a payment date change.”

“Explain that you expect to be paid by date (whatever date that the employer advised you) but you will keep them abreast of any changes.”

If you have already incurred a delinquent fee, she adds, “request a courtesy removal.”

5. If you need to, then lawyer up

In cases where you aren’t able to get the situation resolved immediately, then you’re probably going to need an attorney. (Also: a new job.)

Lawyers can be expensive. For someone with a low-income, especially someone who’s now not even receiving that income, a traditional lawyer might be out of the price range.

This is is why both Lash and Dvorkin recommends contacting your local Legal Aid office. If you qualify for free legal aid, they should be able to set you up with a lawyer.

“Meanwhile, if you want to get your employer’s attention, report him to the Department of Labor in your state,” says Dvorkin. “There are laws about these things, and you can file a complaint.”

Try These Savings Strategies

Of course, if you aren’t able to get your paycheck issue resolved quickly, then you’re still going to need money. Even if you are able to find another job, it’ll probably be a few weeks before your paid. In the meantime, how are you gonna eat?

This is where a payday loan might start looking like a pretty good option. But stay away. The extremely high APRs and the short repayment terms can all too easily lead to you rolling the loan over instead of paying it off on time. That’s how the dangerous cycle of debt begins.

Instead, the best way to manage this situation is to have money in your savings. This way, you can bridge the gap without having to pay any additional fees or interest.

Saving money does take some extra work and discipline—especially if you’re someone with a low-income, but there are definitely ways you can make it work.

Kendal Perez (@HassleFreeSaver)is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa). Here are some of her tips for building your savings…

 Hack your recurring expenses: “The most effective way to build your savings or emergency fund is to reduce your monthly payments and direct the difference to your savings accounts. It’s a good idea to regularly review these expenses anyway to ensure you’re not overpaying. Good candidates for review include cable TV and internet bills, mobile plans, auto insurance policies, and subscriptions. You can opt to swap your cable TV for a Netflix and/or Hulu subscription; decrease your data plan based on usage; increase the deductible on your auto insurance policies to drop your monthly premium, and review the subscriptions you pay for and start making cuts. You can also use a service called Trim to review and cancel unused subscriptions on your behalf.”

Limit your splurges: “If you’re prone to buying coffee or dining out for lunch each week, start cutting back on these treats and deposit what you save into your emergency fund. Cutting out these purchases entirely may lead to burnout, so select a day or two during the week or month to treat yourself. Limiting your splurges to Fridays and paydays only, for example, strikes a nice balance between enjoying your money now and saving for the future.”

Automate your savings: “Paying yourself first means placing a priority on your financial wellness and security. This can be accomplished by setting up an automatic transfer of funds between checking and savings every time you receive a paycheck, or at any increment you choose. You can also use a tool like Digit which reviews your daily spending and makes small, incremental transfers from your checking to an online, FDIC-insured account.”

Sell your stuff: “While reducing your spending and saving money is an important part of building an emergency fund, so too is adding to your income. ‘Tis the season to spring clean and declutter, so consider selling your stuff at a garage sale, or through Craigslist or Facebook community groups, and deposit your profits into savings.”

Attempt a no-spend challenge: “The more adventurous savers can try a no-spend challenge, whereby you try to purchase nothing for a certain period of time (one week, one month or even one year). The money you save by limiting your spending can go toward building your emergency fund.”

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with a bounced paycheck. But if you do, follow these steps and you’ll weather the storm just fine.

Have your own tips for dealing with bounced paycheck (and avoiding dangerous payday or bad credit loans)? Let us know! You can find us on Twitter at @OppLoans.


Contributors
Howard S. Dvorkin (@HowardDvorkin)  is a two-time author, personal finance expert, community service champion and Chairman of Debt.com (@debtcom). As one of the most highly regarded debt and credit expert in the United States and has played an instrumental role in drafting both State and Federal Legislation. Howard’s latest book “Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny” provides consumers with the detailed tools that they need to live debt free and regain their financial freedom. Howard has appeared as a finance expert on CBS Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, The Early Show, Fox News, and CNN.
Roslyn Lash (@RosLash) is an Accredited Financial Counselor and the founder of Youth Smart Financial Education Services.  She specializes in youth financial education, adult coaching and works virtually with adults helping them navigate through their personal finances i.e. budgeting, debt, and credit repair.  Her advice has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, TIME, Huffington Post, NASDAQ, Los Angeles Times, and a host of other media outlets.
Kendal Perez is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa), a popular source for online, in-store and grocery coupons. Her money-saving tips are often featured on Bankrate, GOBankingRates, US News & World Report, Wisebread and more. Kendal can be found on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.

How Not to Get Ripped off by Your Mechanic

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If you’re a mechanic, we have some bad news for you. Only 29% of Americans have a high level of trust in your profession.
And while we’re sure that you’re totally trustworthy, we hope you won’t mind if we give all the non-mechanics out there some tips to make sure they’re really getting their money’s worth!

Don’t get tricked into paying for services your car doesn’t need!

Mechanics may try to get you to purchase services more frequently than you need them. It’s tough to blame them—we all have to eat, after all—but you’d probably rather spend the money on say, food for yourself, than unnecessary tune-ups.

Richard Reina, product training director at CARiD.com (@CARiD_com), has spoken to us before about car maintenance. He let us know that many services mechanics offer aren’t needed quite as often as they might suggest: “Car ownership is an expensive task (more than $8,500 a year) so it is important that drivers are vigilant about maintenance to avoid any unnecessary spending. Here are some maintenance tips to avoid a rip-off at the mechanic:

“Changing the oil every 3,000 miles. This is very common advice in the auto industry today, but it doesn’t necessarily hold true for new model vehicles. If your mechanic suggests this, remember that new cars can run smoothly with an oil change every 5,000-7,500 miles, which can significantly cut expenses as you wait longer for servicing. You can also save on this process by performing the oil change yourself—this ensures that you are putting high-quality oil into your vehicle and saves both time and money that would have been spent at a shop.

“Recommended tune-ups for engines/air conditioners. This is often an unnecessary, though typical, add-on suggestion from a mechanic or auto shop. If you own a new vehicle, it is monitored by technology that will alert you when an issue arises with your engine that needs to be fixed, so there is no need to perform work prematurely. When it comes to your air conditioner, use your best judgment before spending extra money on a tune-up. If your air is coming out cold and you have no other complaints, it’s better left alone.

“Changing your brake pads. Many drivers believe that this task—which shops will often charge hundreds of dollars for—is too complex to do themselves. However, changing your own brake pads is fairly straight forward as all drivers need is a wheel lug wrench, basic wrenches, pliers and a jack to prop the car up. A DIY job costs about $40, while the average dealer price per axle can land around $250.

“Basic auto tune-up.  Similar to the point above about an engine tune-up, an overall vehicle tune-up is often not essential to the basic functioning of your vehicle because of the advanced technology available in new cars. In addition to an oil and filter change, a “tune-up” consists of changing the air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs (today, spark plugs are designed to last 100,000 miles on average) and a check of all fluids. In the past, it was often recommended to have a basic tune-up done every year, but the safer (and more economical) bet today is to have a tune-up based on mileage manufacturer’s recommendations.”

It probably goes without saying, but paying for maintenance you don’t need is not a great experience for your bank account and should, therefore, be avoided.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to show you what they’re doing.

Most mechanics aren’t trying to rip you off, and if they have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t be afraid to walk you through exactly what they’re doing.

Jill Trotta (@RepairPal_Jill), director of the automotive group at RepairPal (@RepairPal), emphasized the importance of transparency in the mechanic-customer relationship: “Transparency is key. A mechanic should always be willing to fully explain your repairs and show you (if possible) what is needed and why. Asking questions, playing show and tell, and paying a fair price to have the work completed right the first time by a trusted shop is your best defense.”

Mike Scanlin, CEO of BorntoSell.com (@borntosell), offered one important reason to be vigilant: “Sometimes they charge you for parts they didn’t replace… always ask for your old parts before you pay.”

Like we said, most mechanics aren’t trying to rip you off, but you owe it to your wallet to remain vigilant.

Shop around (shop, shop, and shop some more)!

Finally, unless you have a major emergency on your hands, it’s always worth taking the time to find out what your options are. And the absolute cheapest isn’t always the best. Here’s what Trotta told us:

“Shopping price and going with the lowest quote isn’t going to prevent you from being ripped-off, this is putting you in a vulnerable position. Shops who dropped their prices to get you in the door will often cut corners or recommend additional repairs to make up the margins they are losing on the low quote. The lowest price in the door is most often not the lowest price in the end. A shop with qualified mechanics, the right tools, and fair prices (not cheap) is your best option. Building a relationship with your mechanic or using a shop that is part of an organization, like RepairPal, is the best way to find a great shop that uses transparent practices. RepairPal thoroughly vets the shops they list, so consumers don’t have too.”

Use all this advice to make sure your money is going the extra mile (heh). Then you’ll have dollars left over for fixing bad credit (if you’re dealing with that), or purchasing a super cool air freshener to put inside your newly repaired car.


Contributors
Richard Reina is the Product Training Director at CARiD.com (@CARiD_com) and a life-long car enthusiast.
Mike Scanlin is the CEO of BornToSell.com (@borntosell), a website for covered call investors. During his 30-year career, he has worked as a software engineer, investment banker, and venture capitalist.
Jill Trotta (@RepairPal_Jill) is an automotive professional with over 25 years of professional experience. ASE Certified technician and consultant. She is currently working on the Automotive Professional Team at RepairPal. They do the hard work of identifying technically qualified, customer friendly auto shops and presenting them to consumers. They are working to develop transparency in the Automotive Industry. They also have a very accurate automotive repair price estimator that is available to shops and consumers.

5 Tips for Mastering the Job Hunt

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If you need a job, then you don’t have time to waste on common job-hunting mistakes. Here are 5 tips that can make for a better hunting experience and a more positive outcome! 

Getting a job used to be easy—if our grandparents are to be believed. You would walk into the first tall building you saw, get the attention of the first person in there, and tell them you’ll take the first job they have available. Whether it was mopping the floors or the always popular “starting in the mail room”, getting an entry level position was just a matter of showing up. Once you got that job, you just had to work hard enough and you’d be running the whole company in five years, tops.

Whether that was ever true or just a movie someone misremembered as real life, it certainly isn’t the case these days. Every job posting seems to have a zillion applicants and submitting your resume feels like tossing a message in a bottle into the mouth of a black hole.

That’s why we spoke to the experts to get you the tips you need to conquer the job hunt and capture your prey (the job is your prey).

1. Evaluate what went wrong last time.

If you’re looking for a job because you either lost your previous job or don’t want to remain at your current one, then it’s important to evaluate precisely the reasons you’re in this situation.

As Jeff Altman (@TheBigGameHuntr), life coach and “big game hunter,” told us: “The first place to start a job search is by figuring out what went wrong in your current position. By that, I don’t mean the final straw that has prompted you to decide to look. I’m referring to deconstructing your job and all the little things that you tolerated that caused the final straw to break the camel’s back and made you decide to look. Doing this will allow you to look for potential rough edges in the next organization and reduce the possibility of making the same mistake again.”

Even if you’re moving or just looking for a change of pace, there are likely lessons from your last job you can keep in mind as you begin a new job hunt.

2. Determine exactly what you’re looking for.

Applying for jobs is so time-consuming, it’s essentially a job in and of itself. That’s why it’s important to narrow your search so you don’t waste any time applying for jobs that won’t fit your needs.

“Every scenario is different, but I always recommend a bit of self evaluation first—what’s important to you, what are you skilled at and how might those skills transfer, what kind of working environment do you want, and of course, how much money do you need to sustain your lifestyle,” explained leadership coach Elizabeth McCourt (@ecmccourt). “Oftentimes there’s a timeline, but I’ve found that really articulating these things can add both vision and clarity on a search.”

Fellow leadership coach Jennifer Davis (@jenmaydavis) agrees: “When first looking for a job, the most important question to ask yourself is ‘what do I want?’ We are so used to focusing on what we’re good at, what’s currently available, who we might know. All of these factors are important in the networking and application phase, yet it is critical to take a step back and start with a sense of purpose. Those who operate inside-out, i.e. figuring out what they want versus what is already out there or what they ‘should’ be doing, will be both more fulfilled and successful.”

3. Get your digital house in order.

These days everything happens online, including the entirety of the hiring process. That’s why you’ll want to make sure your resume is updated and uploaded at as many places as possible. Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation.com (@MyCorporation) offers this tech savvy tip: “One of the first things you should do when looking for a job is set up your Craigslist account to email you an alert any time a job is posted with the particular buzzwords you’re looking for. There are often hidden career gems among all of the Craigslist job postings. Setting up an alert helps you sift through all of the stuff you don’t need.”  

4. Attend networking events if you can.

Unfortunately, many networking events are closed off by alma matter or other elite considerations. Still, there are events you can find that are open to everyone. Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications (@Feathercomm), offered this advice: “Once you have an updated resume, start attending various networking events to let others know of your job search. Consider attending Chambers of Commerce events, industry workshops, and ongoing connection opportunities. It is vital that you connect with as many people as possible to broaden your circle and network of influencers.”

5. Remember to follow up!

With so many people applying for each position, even simple small steps can help you stand out. That’s why Serena Holmes (@serena_holmes), CEO of Tigris Events (@TigrisEventsInc), urges job seekers to always follow-up: “I recommend candidates follow-up with businesses they apply to. Most applicants send an email with a resume and possibly a cover letter and hope for the best. One way to distinguish yourself from the competition is by simply following-up after you have applied for a position. Companies want to know you are interested, and going the extra mile by reaching out with a personalized email or phone call does just that. It demonstrates initiative, and also can be a great way to get feedback from human resources on the status of your application.”

A lot of these rules may seem basic, but it’s important to give yourself every advantage you can, as many applicants won’t even be diligent enough to take these basic steps. We’ll leave you with one last tip from Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish: “Finally, remember that it is imperative you display professionalism at all times. Even if you are leaving a less-than-stellar job situation, never bad-mouth the company or its workers. This only makes you look like a disgruntled worker while also demonstrating the perception that you are a non-team player.”


Contributors

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, has helped organizations achieve their objectives by hunting down leaders and staff as employees or consultants since 1971.

Dana Case is the Director of Operations of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Jennifer Davis received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and trained at the Coaches Training Institute, through which she became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). She is also an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation. She is certified in the Leadership Circle Profile 360 assessment and development tool and leadership culture survey. She holds a BA from Tufts University, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa member and graduated Summa cum laude. Her website is JenniferDavisCoaching.com

Serena Holmes (formerly Schwab) is the President & CEO of Tigris Incorporated. She is a Broadcast Journalism graduate from Ryerson University. She began working in events in 2000 and started with Tigris as an events staff in 2004, was promoted to management and later accepted partnership. Serena took over operations of the company in 2008. Since that time the roster has tripled and the company continues to grow at a healthy pace. Some keynote clients include Rogers, Motorola, GTAA, CHIN Radio, Appleton Rum and many others.

Elizabeth McCourt, JD, MFA, CPCC, ACC is the President of McCourt Leadership Group.  She has been a financial services recruiter for 17 years and is also an executive coach, certified by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), in addition to certifications in the Hogan Leadership Assessment and in Systemic Team Coaching. She works with high level individuals looking for both a practical and holistic approach to advancing their communication and leadership capabilities by harnessing their strengths and identifying their triggers so they can effectively achieve their goals.Prior, she was a trial lawyer in New Mexico with a JD from Loyola University and an undergraduate degree in Finance from University of Maryland.

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish has a BBA in management from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, an MBA from Lakeland College, and a Ph.D. in Organization and Management from Capella University. She LOVES helping people position themselves for today’s job market. She can help boost your confidence by creating a resume that helps you land your DREAM JOB.