Personal Finance

  • Things To Stop Buying to Save Money

    There are plenty of ways to save money but one of the most effective is simply no longer buying items. Many of us buy things out of habit and convenience but letting these expenses go can save a lot of money. Here are some things to stop buying to save money and get ahead financially.

    Things I Don’t Buy To Save Money

    Things To Stop Buying To Save Money

    Saving money is critical to any financial goal from paying down debt to investing. To accomplish big financial goals you need money.

    Going generic, collecting coupons, searching for deals, using cash back apps, reducing bills and cutting out spending can really help save you money.

    Taking a close look at what you buy and cutting out things that you buy can make a huge difference for you financially.

    This list includes things you should stop buying to save money and ways you can fill that need instead. It covers both services and material goods so hopefully it inspires you to cut just one thing from your list.

    Laundry Dryer Sheets

    Laundry dryer sheets can make your clothes softer and smell nicer but in the end they aren’t a great use of your money. These disposable sheets are also a bad thing for the environment.

    With laundry dryer sheets you are buying them over and over again which adds up to a lot of money over time for something that is single use.

    As an alternative you can purchase laundry dryer balls that are a one time purchase and work just as well. These laundry balls keep your laundry nice and soft but don’t require you to spend money over and over again.

    Personally we purchased these dryer balls and I’ve heard good things about the wool dryer balls as well. For just over $10 you can eliminate the need to buy dryer sheets again which will save you money in the long run.

    Lawn Care Services

    Lawn care is one of those service people quickly outsource when they become homeowners.

    The argument is often that the amount of time spent managing your lawn care is not as much as you pay. However, the other side of that argument is even more compelling. By not spending money on lawn care services you are able to save money that could be used elsewhere.

    You also can consider lawn care to be a good source of exercise and time outside – both critical to good health. Your health is priceless and doing your own lawn care saves you money and improves your health at the same time.

    Plastic Containers

    Plastic one time use containers is a terrible use of money when you have so many great alternatives.

    Instead of buying plastic containers for food storage that eventually wear out and get thrown away, you can spend a tiny bit more to get good glass containers that will last for years or decades.

    We purchased a set of glass Pyrex food storage containers over 6 years ago and we continually use them to store food successfully. It’s been one of the best $30 purchases and has saved us a ton of money over the years.

    Shoes You Don’t Wear

    How many pairs of shoes do you own versus what you wear? Most of us tend to buy more than we actually need – shoes included.

    In my personal situation I’ve continued buying cute high heels even though I rarely if ever wear high heels. I love the **idea** of high heels more than the reality. So I’d buy more shoes that I ended up never wearing.

    Stopping yourself from buying shoes (or other clothing items) that you will never wear can save you a ton of money.

    how to save money shopping

    Fast Fashion

    Fast fashion seems cheap when you look at the price tag but the costs behind it are immense. Not only will you be purchasing more and more items as they go out of style and wear out quickly, but you will also be supporting problematic issues like bad working conditions.

    Because fast fashion items are not made well they often barely last a full season. This means you are replacing your whole wardrobe multiple times a year if you are continually buying fast fashion items. This can be expensive!

    A better alternative to save money is to pay a bit more upfront for quality items that will last longer. Another idea is to shop second hand and purchase items at thrift stores. Either way you’ll be saving money by avoiding the continual new fast fashion purchases.

    Dog Toys

    Do you buy your dogs a ton of toys? If you are like most dog moms and dads these days you do. People spending a lot of money on their pets.

    However, dogs are more than happy with natural items as toys. You can also make dog toys out of household items or free items. Dogs don’t need to get a shiny new toy with an expensive price tag to be happy. They love spending time with their owners and going on walks more than anything!

    Skipping out on buying your dog new toys all the time can save you a lot of money. Alternatively even just finding ways to purchase dog toys at a discount could help.

    Related: How To Save Money On Dog Food & Expenses

    Cable TV Service

    Cable TV is incredibly expensive and cutting this expenses is always on lists about how to save money. You can save hundreds or even thousands per year if you cut cable television out of your budget.

    Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ are much cheaper and provide as much entertainment as cable tv does but at much cheaper prices. By switching to these services instead of cable you will save a lot of money.

    One way we keep our streaming costs minimal is by switching out which services we pay for each month. We will go a few months using Netflix and when we get tired of that we will switch to Hulu and so on.

    Movie Theater Tickets

    Even before Covid I stopped buyiung movie tickets to watch a movie in theaters. The price was constantly rising without giving you a much more comfortable experience.

    Now movie theater tickets are more expensive than ever in order to make up for losses while they were closed. For the same price of taking your family to see one movie you can pay for multiple months of watching the movies on streaming services. Buying movie tickets is often a waste of money due to the inflated prices and you are better served by paying for the movies at home than in a theater.

    With kids especially it’s much easier and more fun to stream the movie at home where you can watch and pause in the comfort of your own home.

    Water Bottles

    Disposable water bottles are bad for the environment and for your budget. They rarely cost under $1 and can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00 for a single bottle of water.

    When you stop buying water bottles you’ll be able to save that money instead. You can purchase a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated without paying for single use bottles.

    Even factoring in the price of the reusable bottle and any filters you might need you will recoup that money in no time and then save much more over time. And as a side benefit you will feel great about also helping out the environment.

    save money by not spending money on buying coffee at coffee shops

    Coffee on the Go

    I spend a lot of money buying coffee at Starbucks and various local coffee shops – and so do many of my friends. A coffee shop habit can cost more than you think. The convenience price of buying coffee on the go can be incredibly high

    If you drink coffee in the morning five days a week, you’re spending a lot of money each month on coffee. Comparing this to how much it costs to buy the supplies to make coffee at home you can save a lot of money.

    One way to break your coffee convenience spending is to tally up what you are actually spending each month on coffee outside of your house. You can get your bank or credit card statements to check these numbers. One month when I did this I realized I had spent a couple hundred dollars at coffee shops – that inspired me to cut back drastically.

    Getting into the habit of making coffee in the morning can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

    If you’re pressed for time in the morning, you can buy a coffeemaker with a timer. You can set the timer the night before to brew your coffee the next morning. If you want to make your coffee “fancy” like the shops do then you can buy the extra tools and syrups to make similar coffees.

    Related: 13 Tips To Save Money Eating At Restaurants

    Light Bulbs

    Did you know certain light bulbs can cost you more money? The efficiency of light bulbs effects how much you are spending over time when buying lightbulbs.

    Switching one old incandescent bulb with a new energy efficient bulb saves you more than $40 over the bulb’s life, according to the U.S. Energy Star program website. If you’ve got three old bulbs and you replace all three with energy efficient bulbs, you’re saving over $120 for just a few minutes’ work.

    Not only do energy efficient bulbs last longer, but the bulbs also use less electricity, saving you money on your monthly utility bill.

    Paper Subscriptions

    This probably doesn’t apply to many people anymore, but stop subscribing to newspapers and magazines. You likely don’t even read these but they can be difficult to cancel.

    Subscription renewals often become habits, but you might as well be throwing your money in the trash because very few people read these. Most publications have online editions or apps or social media where you can follow along and get just what you want.

    Expensive Phone Plans

    Phone plans can be incredibly expensive with all of the additions, fees, and upgrades. These plans often don’t offer any better service than a pre-paid plan that is a fraction of the cost.

    In fact, I’ve used pre-paid plans for years now and have saved thousands of dollars each year.

    Instead of paying $200 a month for our phone plan we pay $50 with Mint Mobile. Ditching a full scale paid plan at a major carrier will save you a ton of money. That $150 difference adds up and is more than enough to buy new phones or save the difference.

    Related: 7 Money HABITS Keeping You Broke & In Debt

    Save Money By Buying Less

    The things listed here are just a few of the things you might want to consider not buying anymore. The things to stop buying to save money on this list are just for inspiration and you may have more ideas after reading this.

    When you buy less, you spend less, and that gives you a chance to save more money. It also has additional benefits like clearing out clutter from your home and providing a calmer environment and lifestyle.

    Most of us already have too much **stuff** in our lives and could benefit from buying less things. Saving money by doing it? Even better!

    Read More

  • Budget Categories List

    Are you a budgeting beginner? Trying to revamp your budget after time off? This budget categories list can help give your budget a refresh!

    Sometimes it helps to see a list of expenses and budgeting categories to help find all the expenses you might have in a month.

    The following is a long list of budgeting expense categories and even it is not comprehensive! Before you budget I highly recommend you sit down and try to write out every budget category you might use with this as a starting point. 

    Ideas For Budget Categories

    Income

    • Salary (paycheck)
    • Side hustle
    • Bonuses
    • Tips earned
    • Reimbursements
    • Alimony (received)
    • Child support (received)
    • Gifts (received)
    • Investment income
    • Passive income

    Housing

    • Mortgage
    • Rent
    • Home Owners Association (HOA) fees
    • Home improvements/upgrades
    • Property taxes
    • Home maintenance/repairs
    • Home warranty
    • Lawn care
    • Home security system

    Utilities

    • Electricity
    • Internet
    • Cable
    • Phone
    • Heating
    • Garbage
    • Recycling
    • Water
    • Sewer
    • Natural gas

    Food

    • Groceries
    • Restaurants
    • Fast food
    • Coffee shops
    • Alcohol
    • School lunches
    • Work lunches
    • Events
    • Costco membership
    • Grocery delivery service

    Transportation

    • Car payment
    • Gas 
    • Charging costs if electric
    • Car maintenance (oil changes, tire rotation)
    • Car repairs (when something breaks)
    • Annual car fees (registration, inspection)
    • Car tags
    • Car wash fees
    • Parking fees
    • Car taxes
    • Public transportation (subway, taxis)
    • Uber/Lyft ride sharing cosots
    • Tolls (EZ Pass)
    • Roadside assistance (AAA)

    Clothing

    • Adult clothing
    • Kids clothing
    • Dry cleaning
    • Alterations

    Kids

    • Daycare or Tuition
    • Babysitters
    • Extra-curricular activities
    • Toys
    • Kids sports gear
    • Allowance
    • Baby necessities (diapers, formula)
    • Tuition
    • School uniforms
    • School supplies
    • Child support

    Personal Care

    • Haircuts/barber
    • Hair coloring
    • Nail salon
    • Eyebrows
    • Massages/Spa
    • Makeup
    • Toiletries

    Medical 

    • Doctor visits
    • Dentist visits
    • Hospital visits
    • Prescriptions
    • Over the counter medication
    • Glasses, contacts, contact solution
    • Vitamins/Supplements

    Insurance

    • Medical insurance
    • Dental insurance
    • Vision insurance
    • Mortgage insurance
    • Renters insurance
    • Car insurance
    • Life insurance
    • Property insurance  
    • Disability insurance
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Identity theft insurance
    • Pet insurance

    Wellbeing

    • Gym memberships
    • Personal development
    • Therapy
    • Coaching
    • Conferences

    Household

    • Cleaning supplies
    • Laundry supplies
    • Paper products
    • Tools
    • Furniture
    • Appliances
    • Home decor
    • Pool supplies

    Subscriptions

    • Magazines
    • Professional Society annual fees
    • Netflix/Hulu
    • Amazon Prime
    • Music (Spotify, Pandora)
    • Sports TV subscription (like ESPN)
    • Software subscriptions
    • Identity theft protection

    Recreation

    • Bars
    • Movies
    • Concerts
    • Sporting Events
    • Hobbies
    • Hosting parties
    • Books
    • Family membership fees
    • Pocket Money

    Pets

    • Veterinarian visits
    • Pet food
    • Toys, accessories, beds
    • Pet clothes
    • Pet medication (i.e. flea shots, heart worm medication)

    Giving

    • Tithes
    • Offerings
    • Charity donations
    • Miscellaneous giving
    • Tips

    Gifts

    • Holiday gifts
    • Birthday gifts
    • Wedding/wedding shower gifts
    • Baby/baby shower gifts
    • Service gifts 
    • Other occasions

    Travel

    • Vacation
    • Trips to see family
    • Trips for weddings, 
    • bachelor/bachelorette parties
    • Souvenirs
    • Baggage fees
    • TSA Pre-check or Global Entry

    Services

    • Financial advisor
    • Lawyer
    • Tax professional
    • House cleaner
    • Yard care

    Miscellaneous

    • ATM fees
    • ID renewal fees
    • Postage
    • Holiday spending
    • Family pictures

    Taxes

    • Federal taxes
    • State taxes
    • City taxes
    • Property taxes (could be under Housing)

    Savings

    • Emergency Fund savings
    • College savings
    • Retirement savings
    • Car replacement savings
    • Health Savings Account/Plan
    • Long term savings goals 
    • Short term savings goals
    • Investments

    Debt Repayment

    • Credit card debt
    • Student loans
    • Medical debt
    • Personal loans
    • Auto loan payments
    • Extra mortgage payoff
    • Alimony

    How To Use The Budget Categories List

    This list. of budgeting categories should be used as inspiration to get you started with your first budget.

    First, look the list over and write down all the categories where you know you spend money or expect to spend soon. Not every category will apply to your budget.

    Next, use the list of budget categories you’ve written down to plan out your monthly budget. Give each category an assigned spending amount.

    Then, track your spending and assign each expense a budget category so it’s applied properly.

    Finally, reconcile actual spending to your budgeted amount. What categories were under budget? Which were over budget? Where do you need to make some changes?

    Evaluate what spending happened during the month that was outside of the categories you chose. Should you add a new budget category for this expense?

    Budgeting Tips

    Budgeting can be difficult to grasp at first but for many people it becomes second nature. It’s definitely a skill you can practice and improve over time.

    We have a lot of different budgeting tips and tricks here that can help.

    How To Create A Paycheck Budget

    Learn more from these budgeting guides:

    We also have multiple printable guides to help you write out a budget. Writing out budgets can help you process the information in a different way that helps you better stay on track financially.

    Practice your budgeting skills with these budget worksheets:

    Monthly Budget Planner

    This monthly budget printable is a grouping of everything you need to plan and track your monthly budget. These monthly budget worksheets are designed to help you keep your budget on track by writing it down each month and tracking where your money goes.


    Financial Bundle: Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff

    This financial planner bundle is a grouping of everything you need to plan your budget, grow your savings, and achieve your debt payoff. It is perfect for anyone who wants an all-in-one solution to get started and get organized!

    Budget Categories List Final Thoughts

    Budgeting is HIGHLY personal so this list has many things that do not and will never apply to your lifestyle. Your budget is going to be specific to you and how you want and need to spend your money. 

    Some people love to break down their budget into as many categories as possible. Others like to keep it super simple with just some big overarching categories.  It can be as complex or as simple as you want it.

    budget categories to try in your budget

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  • 13 Free Self Care Ideas

    Unfortunately we’ve been sold the idea that self care must cost money. Self care is shown as luxurious items, spa days, and things that often don’t fit in the budget. But honestly there are many free self care ideas that make more of an impact on your mental health than any luxurious purchase.

    If you are looking for free self care ideas to help improve your life and mental health then look no further.

    These free self care ideas will help you take care of yourself without spending money. 

    free self care ideas

    Free Relational Self Care Ideas

    These free self care ideas focus on dealing with other and the impact they have on you.

    Say no to something on your schedule.

    Most of us get super busy and overwhelm ourselves with our number of responsibilities and things to do. Pick one thing this week that you’ve got on your plate and say no to it. Wipe it off your planner and set yourself free from something you have been on the fence about doing. Saying no to things to give yourself more free time or bandwidth for things you really love is a great act of self care.

    Cull your social media and email lists.

    Chances are you currently follow some Instagram accounts or email newsletters that you thought might be great, but really don’t make you feel that good about yourself. It’s ok to let go. Go through your online feeds and cut out the accounts and sources that make you feel worse when you see them. This might include hiding friend’s feeds or unfollowing accounts that make you want things you can’t have in this moment. Cut out the things that invoke negative emotions and feelings when you scroll through.

    Send an encouraging message to someone you love.

    Sending positivity into the world helps you feel better so I find doing this an act of self-care, even though it is for someone else. This really means it is a win win. Write a letter or an email encouraging someone you love or telling them how much they mean to you. Many of us go through life without ever knowing our full impact so getting these kinds of messages can truly make a difference to someone. Use your time to let people around you know what they mean to you. 

    Free Emotional Self Care Ideas

    These free self care ideas focus on handling your emotions in healthy ways.

    Express your emotions freely.

    Pick up a journal or just make a voice not or video expressing the emotions you feel -whatever they are. It’s okay to be angry, sad, happy, depressed, joyful. Express those emotions and get them out into the world. You may want to do this with a trusted friend but try doing it on your own and being honest with your feelings before approaching someone else. Self-care is also learning how to be honest with our emotions and accepting the good ones and the bad ones.

    free self care ideas - express emotions in journal and keep gratitude lists - penniesnotperfection.com

    Make a gratitude list.

    Write down all the things you are grateful for or try writing down three things each day you are grateful for. I recently looked back at old notebooks where I started doing this back in 2013. I realized flipping through the pages that at my highest and lowest moments there was always at least 3 things a day I had gratitude for in my life. If you haven’t ever tried to start a gratitude habit then just try doing it for one day, like today! Write down all the things you have in life that you can be grateful for. 

    Compliment yourself.

    If you are like me then you generally have a very negative voice towards yourself. This negative self-talk is harsh and generally not how anyone else would ever speak to you. As an act of self-care, give yourself 1-2 compliments right now or when you are done watching this video. You might not even fully believe them but giving yourself compliments regularly helps build that positive self-talk habit and that my friends is a huge act of self-care. 

    Create an uplifting or soothing playlist for yourself.

    I have a couple YouTube playlists of my favorite songs I’ve put together that always put me in a good mood. I also have a playlist of my favorite calming songs and sounds like ocean waves. Creating these was an act of self-care and bringing them up to listen when I need it is a free way to take care of my emotional self. You can also do this with positive and uplifting videos or podcasts.   Replacing anything you are listening to that creates negative emotions will be a huge benefit.  Filling up that content consumption with positive and uplifting music or words will do  even more for you.

    Free Physical Self Care Ideas

    These free self care ideas focus on things you can physically do with your space or body.

    Tidy up your personal space.

    Most of us think of decluttering and cleaning as a chore, but honestly you guys it is an act of self-care. Clutter has been proven to cause negative feelings and emotions and those of us with fragile mental health need to do all we can in our physical environments to create a healthy mental space. Getting rid of clutter and keeping a tidy and clean space especially at home is a free way to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. 

    free self care ideas - go for a walk in nature - penniesnotperfection.com

    Take a walk outside.

    When the weather cooperates this is one of the best free self care options out there. Being outside in nature, even if it’s just around trees in your neighborhood park, is both very calming and invigorating. Even just a 10 minute walk outside can improve your mood and get your blood flowing. When I stopped looking at walking as a form of exercise and a form of self-care instead it was a huge game changer. 

    Do some stretching exercises.

    A lot of us think that if we can’t get a full workout in that it’s not beneficial, but stretching is one of the biggest things where a little goes a long way. Take a stretching break during your day and do some stretches. You can look up quick stretching or short yoga routines on YouTube if you don’t know where to start. Stretching and yoga are free and can be done really anywhere. You’ll definitely feel better after and your body will thank you. 

    Free Financial Self Care Ideas

    These free self care ideas focus on things you can do financially to take better care of yourself.

    Make a plan for your money.

    Disorganization with finances often leads to debt and stress. You don’t know if things are going in the right direction and often they are going the wrong way with money. Getting organized and making a plan for your money is a free way to practice financial self care. Take some time to create a budget and make sure your income will cover all of your expenses for the pay period.

    If you are new to budgeting you can check out these posts:

    Sell things you don’t need around the house.

    Clutter is obviously a detriment to most people. Selling extra items you don’t need is a way to eliminate clutter and also make a bit of money doing so. This activity is free to do and ultimately gives you some money back with whatever you earn from selling items. You can use this money to grow your savings, build an emergency fund, or invest for your future. These actions will further the benefit of this self-care activity.

    Create a debt repayment plan.

    For many people debt can be a burden that negatively affects their mental health. Sometimes it even causes catastrophic results. Even if you feel like debt isn’t that big of a deal you should make a plan to repay your debts. Paying off debts will lift the burden you might feel and it will also give you back more of your income every month. Making a debt payoff plan is easy and a great act of self care. Not fully convinced? Checked out 10 Best Reasons To Get Out Of Debt.

    Setting Up A $200,000 Debt Snowball + How To Set Up A Debt Snowball

    Focusing On Free Self Care

    These ideas can help you take care of yourself without spending money. Copy this list and save it for whenever you need to give yourself a little love but don’t have a huge budget to make it happen. 

    Remember that self-care isn’t just the vision you are sold of luxury and pampering. It’s also doing the hard stuff, building routines, and overcoming negative experiences. Reframing how you look at certain activities makes you realize that self care actually encompasses many different things and types of activities.

    Take care of yourself in every way. You deserve it!

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  • How To Get Free Baby Stuff ($100 Worth)

    I love free stuff. Who doesn’t enjoy getting things for free? Getting free stuff is even more important once you have a new baby and many new baby expenses. In this post I’m sharing how to get free baby stuff and showing the $100 worth of free stuff I got from the Amazon baby registry.

    Amazon Baby Registry

    Create an Amazon Baby Registry for surprise gifts, registry completion discounts and more.


    I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    Getting free baby stuff when it’s things I need? AMAZING. That’s why I loved the Amazon baby registry and it’s many, many perks – they give you $100 of free baby stuff for using it!

    If you’re expecting a baby then you need to be using the Amazon registry system to get as much free stuff as possible! Using the Amazon baby registry for most of your baby shower gifts is an easy strategy to use to maximize all the free baby stuff you can possibly get.

    My Experience Getting Free Baby Stuff

    In the video above I’m sharing my experience redeeming the $100 Baby Bucks bonus for the Amazon baby registry.

    I used this benefit to get a lot of free baby stuff like wipes, diapers, diaper genie refills and even a high chair!

    This is all stuff that would have had to come out of my normal budget but instead I was able to get it all for free!

    All of the items I got for free from using the Amazon registry were useful and things I would have bought anyway so it really did save us a lot of money using this strategy when planning for our baby’s arrival.

    Because I used the Amazon baby registry and loved it so much, the links I’m sharing in this post are affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you this site will make a commission. I only share links to actual items I’ve bought or used and recommend. I highly recommend this registry for getting free stuff!

    Why We Used The Amazon Baby Registry

    There are a lot of options for baby registries out there and many people use multiple.

    There is no real reason to exclusively use just one, but we focused on Amazon’s for a few reasons including the option to get $100 in free items.

    Other reasons why we used it:

    1. It’s easy. It’s super easy to setup, it’s easy to use, and it is easy for out of town friends and family to access. Since we had a lot of out of town family buying us gifts, Amazon was an easy choice.
    2. You get free stuff! Even if you don’t get the $100 you get a welcome box full of surprise items for parents and baby worth $35. You can see what came in my Amazon baby registry welcome box here.
    3. You get a registry completion discount. Every baby registry does this but it’s a nice perk nonetheless in case you didn’t get items you really need.
    4. You get $100 baby bucks which means you get $100 in free baby stuff! It’s an ever changing supply of items to choose from so you can’t buy anything you want, but we got a ton of great stuff we will use. – This awesome feature was stopped during Covid and has not returned, unfortunately!

    Here’s a look at what our registry dashboard looked like after we had claimed our item. Once you are eligible for the baby bucks you’ll be able to choose the items you want to redeem for free via the baby bucks bonus page.

    What We Bought With The Free $100 Bonus

    The baby bucks bonus is a specific page where you can buy an assortment of diapers, wipes, and other baby products.

    There is no guarantee of what will be included there when you visit the site. As an example, here’s what I got for free with my Amazon baby bucks:

    • Amazon elements baby wipes – One truth of baby life, you will use a lot of wipes! the 9 pack of baby wipes seemed like a great buy, especially when we have to supply wipes to daycare every so often.
    • Diaper genie refills  – The diaper genie has been great and we were just running out of refills from our first pack when this came up! Score!
    • Water wipes value pack – I loved the sample of these wipes I got so grabbing a few more packs of them was a great choice.
    • Fisher Price space save high chair – This high chair is a great example of the “other” baby items available through this bonus program. It was something we needed to buy anyway and we got it for free! It also saw the best baby rocker ever listed too!
    • Baby Aquafor – This got left out of our video because we were already using it. I stocked up on a few tubes of baby aqaufor because it is amazing for any type of skin issue. We’ve used it for preventing diaper rash, cradle cap, and other little skin problems. I’ve also heard it’s good for sunburn for adults!

    All of these items were high quality and things we needed! We used everything up and the high chair has lasted for multiple years now.

    Update: this perk for the Amazon registry was removed during the last couple years. I’m hoping it returns for people but currently it is not listed as a feature.

    How To Sign Up For The Amazon Baby Registry

    Signing up an Amazon baby registry is very easy. To start a registry takes less than five minutes from start to finish.

    how to sign up for amazon baby registry fast

    Of course, adding products and deciding on which ones are perfect for your baby can take much longer!

    Luckily they give you a guide to the most popular and wished for baby items on Amazon. This means you have a great start to highly rated products other moms and dads already trust.

    You can select these items quickly and create a fully stocked baby registry in less than ten minutes.

    free baby stuff from amazon

    Not only do you get $100 in free baby stuff with this registry when you purchase/receive $1,000 in items, but you also get a cute welcome box full of goodies for baby!

    How To Get The $100 Baby Bucks Bonus

    Update: Amazon has removed this and it is no longer available. This section is still here to show what they were giving with the hope that it returns!

    You can get $100 worth of baby stuff completely free with the Amazon baby registry. Free, free, FREE! Can you say free stuff?

    These baby bucks can be used for things like diapers, wipes, diaper creams, or anything in a certain section on the site.

    Sometimes there are bigger items included as well. We actually bought our high chair with it!

    However, there are a couple things you have to do to get this deal:

    1. Sign up for a baby registry on Amazon.
    2. Make sure your account is a prime membership account. Sign up for Prime if you haven’t already. You can also do a 30 day free trial of Prime.
    3. Complete $1,000 in purchases from your registry. Purchases can be made by you or others.
    4. Check to see your Baby Bucks completion is eligible in your account after you’ve hit the goal and had the baby.
    5. Use the link provided in the Baby Bucks section to complete your shopping.
    6. Do this within 90 days or you will lose out on the option!

    Some people have told me that they want to get the bonus items but would not hit the $1,000 spent. I understand we were blessed to have so many items gifted to us from the registry.

    However we still had a strategy in place to make sure we hit the amount. I wanted to make sure I would get $100 in free baby stuff.

    If you aren’t sure you’ll have a baby shower or have people purchase $1,000 in items then you can use the tips below to hit that number.

    Here are a few tips for how to hit the $1,000 spent on your baby registry:

    1. Start the registry early in the pregnancy. It’s a lot easier to accumulate $1,000 in purchases over many months than all at once at the end! You can also add items you need during pregnancy and buy them as needed from the registry.
    2. Use the registry to stock up on items you will need. You can add things like diapers and wipes that you will use for baby, but you can also add household items you will use and then buy those as well. There are many household items you will need stocked up once the baby arrives.
    3. Use Amazon as your only registry option. Most people have 2-3 baby registry options in order to give people options for their purchases. However, if you want to strategize in order to get the $100 in free items, then you should consolidate. For this use Amazon only so you will likely have higher spend amounts there.
    4. Tell people about your goal. If people are considering buying you a baby gift to help you out they will be likely to purchase it from Amazon if you tell them it will give you extra benefits. Being open and honest about the ability to get a $100 baby bucks bonus from your Amazon registry will motivate others to help you get to your goal.

    Those are just a few of the ways you can work with the baby registry to get the minimum spending amount you need for the extra bonus.

    Amazon Baby Registry Welcome Box

    One of the first free things I received with the Amazon baby registry was a free welcome box!

    The welcome box contained lots of free baby stuff that I used for months.

    Some of the items mentioned that I received in the box (affiliate links):

    Note on the video: it was missing the Avent bottle! I forgot I took it out to research it and then completely forgot it. Even more great stuff in the box than the video even covers!

    The registry box you receive will differ in items depending on when you start your Amazon baby registry and the time of year it is. They include a variety of items and the value is much much higher than I expected.

    Each season the items in the box differ slightly. This means if you have multiple babies then you’ll have the opportunity to get different items.

    If you haven’t signed up for an Amazon baby registry yet, what are you waiting for? Get started and enjoy your free stuff!

    How To Get Free Baby Stuff ($100 Worth)

    Read More

  • Free Crypto Sign Up Bonus Offers

    Free crypto might be the best crypto. When I started investing in cryptocurrency I did not have a lot of extra money so I got creative in how I stacked my crypto. Luckily many companies offer crypto sign up bonus offers to new customers.

    Yep, you can get free crypto just for signing up for various accounts.

    This isn’t the best long term strategy but it can give you a great boost to start.

    As you consider all of these offers you should take into account the platform but also remember that you can also transfer crypto between platforms and to your own cold storage.

    Free Crypto Sign Up Bonus Offers

    Below I’ve listed all of the free crypto sign up bonus offers I’m currently aware of and have used personally.

    These bonuses are either paid directly in crypto (often in Bitcoin) or in other assets that you can sell and then use the cash to buy crypto. I’ve listed as much information as I currently have at the time of writing this post in 2021. I’ll make updates but please remember the sign up bonuses may have changed.

    Free Bitcoin Sign Up Bonus on BlockFi

    BlockFi – Use this referral link to get $10 in Bitcoin free on BlockFi when you sign up, fund your account, and maintain a $100 balance for 30 days. 

    free crypto sign up bonus on blockfi

    BlockFi gives you the opportunity to earn at a minimum $10 worth of Bitcoin when you sign up for a new account. This is for just maintaining a balance of $100 for the necessary time period (usually one month – two months depending on the promotion).

    BlockFi also offers additional ways to earn free crypto paid out in BTC by referring friends to the platform. You can earn anywhere from $10 in BTC to $40 in BTC by getting people to sign up for BlockFi. (I’ll get a bonus if you use my link, so thanks!)

    Sign Up: Get the BlockFi crypto bonus here

    Learn MoreBlockFi Referral Code & Link details

    Free Bitcoin Sign Up Bonus on Coinbase 

    Coinbase – Use this referral link to get $10 of free Bitcoin on Coinbase when you buy or sell $100 in any crypto. 

    Coinbase-Referral-Link-sign-up-bonus

    Coinbase is an incredibly popular and secure cryptocurrency exchange used by millions worldwide. They offer a large number of cryptocurrencies on their platform and add more each month.

    You can get $5 in BTC by signing up for Coinbase normally but using this referral link will double that amount.

    Once you sign up and put in money and purchase ANY cryptocurrency Coinbase will send you a free Bitcoin bonus.

    Even better? Coinbase gives you multiple chances to earn additional crypto.

    They give you changes to earn various cryptocurrencies on the platform by watching educational videos.

    You can also earn free crypto by referring people to Coinbase. For each person you refer to use Coinbase you will get $10 free Bitcoin.

    Sign Up: Get the Coinbase crypto bonus here

    Learn MoreCoinbase Referral Link details

    Free Bitcoin On Celsius

    Celsius – Use this referral code 103458c044 to get $50 of Bitcoin free when you transfer $400 or more to Celsius to earn money. 

    celsius referral code for sign up bonus

    Celsius is a blockchain-based platform that started in 2017 and allows customers to earn interest on or borrow cash against their crypto portfolio.

    They offers a higher crypto bonus by paying $50 in BTC for signing up and depositing $400 or more. This is one of the best ways to get started since the bonus is 5 times what some others offer.

    Sign Up: Get the Celsius crypto bonus here with code 103458c044

    Learn MoreCelsius Referral Code + Sign Up Bonus details

    Free Crypto Sign Up Bonus On Voyager

    Voyager – Use referral code E4BA06ADB or this referral link to get $25 of crypto free when you sign up and make $100 in trades.

    With Voyager you can get a $25 crypto sign up bonus when you use a referral link. You have to download the app and make at least $100 in trades before you receive the bonus.

    Voyager is one of the best options for buying crypto with their commission-free pricing structure on trades. Their mission is to make crypto simple and they offer up to 12% interest and over 60 different cryptocurrencies.

    Sign Up: Get the Voyager crypto bonus here

    Free Crypto Sign Up Bonus On Cash App

    Cash App – Use this referral code RSJQKLK on this link to get $5 free on Cash App when you send $5 after signing up. Use that $5 to then buy Bitcoin (BTC) on the app.

    free crypto sign up bonus on cash app

    Sign Up: Get the Cash App crypto bonus here with code RSJQLK

    Learn MoreCash App Referral Code details + How To Use Cash App Tutorial & Review

    Final Crypto Sign Up Bonus Thoughts

    Getting a crypto bonus offer makes many accounts more appealing than they otherwise might be.

    Remember to always evaluate each platform and move your crypto if the platform with the bonus does not fit your needs.

    Most of these crypto sign up bonus offers are paid out in Bitcoin. If that’s not the coin you want to hold then you can always trade it for others on most of these platforms. (Cash App only has Bitcoin available.)

    Cryptocurrency is here to stay and developing a long term strategy that includes increasing your portfolio is a necessity. Pick the best cryptocurrency exchange platforms that will fit this need and your long term strategy.

    Read More

  • Home Mortgage Closing Costs Explained

    Do you understand home mortgage closing costs? Do you know what is included in these fees? Let’s look at an example of real life mortgage closing costs and what these fees cover.

    I love using real numbers to show how much things like real estate cost because it’s helpful for new home owners and soon to be first time home buyers. I hope this helps!

    $235,000 House Closing Costs Example

    $235,000 Home Mortgage Closing Costs Explained Video

    Do you know how much someone pays in closing costs when they buy a house for $235,000? In this video example I show you the real life example of $235,000 house closing costs explained.

    In the video above I share the real life loan paperwork for a house purchase of $235,000. The purchase price of the home was $235,000 but getting a mortgage is not free – there are costs.

    Here are the purchase details of this house:

    • $235,000 home purchase price
    • $11,750 down payment
    • Conventional mortgage loan
    • 4.375% interest rate on the mortgage loan
    • Home is located in Tennessee
    • $6,818 in closing costs

    Watch the video to see all the details from the paperwork and what they mean.

    Home Mortgage Closing Costs Explained

    I often get asked to explain closing costs whenever I share mortgage related videos on YouTube. People want to know:

    • what are closing costs?
    • how much is closing on a house?
    • what is included in closing costs?
    • can you save money on closing costs?
    • what are all these random fees?

    Obviously there is a lot of confusion about closing costs. If you don’t work in the real estate industry this can seem like a confusing mess of terms and fees, but the reality is pretty simple.

    Let’s break it down.

    Closing costs are the fees and charges due at the closing of a real estate transaction like buying your home.

    These closing costs can include fees related to the creation of the loan (origination) and the process the company goes through to guarantee you can pay the loan (underwriting).

    Closing costs can be for both buyers and sellers. The closing costs must be disclosed and clear in advances of the deal being completed. You should always know what the closing costs will be before you complete the home purchase.

    Home Mortgage Closing Costs Explained

    What Are Typical Home Mortgage Closing Costs?

    Once you understand what closing costs are for a house you likely want to know what typical closing costs are for homes.

    Closing costs will depend on the home’s purchase price. They are typically between 3% – 6% of the home’s purchase price.

    The factors that will influences your closing costs include:

    • your state
    • the type of loan
    • your mortgage lender

    Different loans will have larger closing costs and closing costs will vary between lenders. This means you should shop around for mortgage lenders to get the best deal.

    So what are the average closing costs in the US?

    Homebuyers in the U.S. pay $5,749 for closing costs on average, according to a 2019 survey from the real estate closing cost data firm ClosingCorp.

    Since your individual closing costs will be different based on many factors you will have to check your loan estimate for detailed information on your closing costs.

    Your lender legally must provide you with a closing disclosure form three days prior to closing. This allows you to compare the estimated closing costs they originally provided against the final closing costs. You can see how they

    rose or areas where you were able to save money.

    Home Mortgage Closing Costs Examples

    Fees Included In Mortgage Closing Costs

    While your individual closing costs will be unique to your home purchase price you are able to educate yourself about typical closing cost fees.

    Here are some standard fees you will see in most home mortgage closing cost explained:

    Application Fee

    The lender may charge a loan application fee in order to process your mortgage application. This is something you should ask the lender about before applying for a mortgage with them.

    Attorney Fee

    The real estate attorney will charge a fee to prepare and review your home purchase contracts. This is required in some states but not all so check your state to see if an attorney is required to handle a real estate transaction.

    Closing Fee

    The closing fee, which is also known as an escrow fee, is paid to the party who handles the closing. This will vary depending on your state so the closing fee could go to a title company, an escrow company, or an attorney.

    Courier Fee

    With the changes in 2020 this one is less common because most transactions are digital. However, if you’re signing paper documents this fee helps speed up their transportation to the correct location.

    Credit Report Fee

    Lenders have to pay to pull your credit report for the loan and sometimes they will charge this fee back to you. However, since lenders often get a discount from the three main reporting bureaus they sometimes do not charge you.

    Escrow Deposit

    You will likely have to deposit something to start your escrow account which pays your property tax and mortgage insurance. The amount will depend on your lender but could be two months of property tax and mortgage insurance payments.

    FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium

    If you are getting a FHA loan then you will have to pay upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75% of the base loan. This will be something you can roll into your mortgage. (It’s something we paid on our FHA mortgage for our starter home.)

    Flood Determination & Monitoring Fee

    This fee goes to a certified flood inspector to determine whether your property is in a flood zone. If it is in a flood zone then you have to purchase flood insurance separately from your homeowner’s insurance policy. This fee also includes ongoing monitoring of changes to the property’s flood status.

    Homeowners Association Transfer Fee

    This fee will only apply if you buy into a community that has an HOA. This transfer fee covers the switch in ownership and any work done for this transfer.

    Homeowners Insurance

    When you buy a home you will need homeowner’s insurance. Your lender will likely require prepayment of the first year’s homeowners insurance premium at closing.

    Lender’s title insurance

    This is an upfront, one-time fee paid to the title company that protects a lender if an ownership dispute or lien arises that was not found in the title search.9

    Points

    Points are an optional upfront payment to the lender to reduce the interest rate on the loan. These “discount points” result in a lower monthly payment. This doesn’t save much money when mortgage rates are very low so you’ll need to do the math to determine if it is worth doing. (The video above shows a loan with points paid in the closing costs.)

    Owner’s Title Insurance

    Buying a title insurance policy protects you if someone challenges your ownership of the home. This is an optional fee in your home mortgage closing costs but it’s something you’ll be glad you have if the unthinkable happens. It’s highly recommend by legal experts and costs 0.5-1% of the home purchase price.

    Origination Fee

    Your lender will charge an origination fee to cover the administrative costs to process and create your loan. Some lenders won’t charge this fee and make money in other ways so consider it carefully when shopping for lenders because many might have a higher rate if they don’t include this fee.

    Pest Inspection

    A pest inspection fee covers the cost of a professional pest inspection for termites, dry rot, or other pest-related damage. This may or may not be required based on your loan and your state. It’s not expensive and can be helpful even if not required.

    Prepaid Daily Interest Charges

    During the period from closing to your first mortgage payment your loan will be accruing interest. This closing cost covers any of the interest on your mortgage during this period.

    Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

    When your down payment is less than 20% you sometimes are required to have private mortgage insurance. This protects the lender in case of you defaulting on the loan. You might have to make. the first month’s PMI payment at closing.

    Property Appraisal Fee

    Your home will need to be appraised in order to get a mortgage and this fee is paid to the professional home appraisal company. This covers the assessment of the home’s fair market value.

    Property Tax

    At the closing of your property you will pay any pro rata property taxes due from the date of closing to the end of the tax year.

    Rate Lock Fee

    Sometimes you will pay this fee to a lender for guaranteeing a certain interest rate for a limited time period. Some lenders offer a rate lock to customers for free.

    Real Estate Commissions

    This fee is generally the biggest one for sellers since buyers don’t typically pay this fee. The real estate commission charged by a broker is usually 5-6% of the home’s purchase price. That amount is split between the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent.

    Recording Fee

    To create the official public land record the local recording office will charge a recording fee. This usually goes to a city clerk’s office or a county clerk’s office and is minimal.

    Survey Fee

    This fee goes to a surveying company who will check property lines and shared fences to confirm a property’s boundaries. It’s similar price wise to an appraisal fee but can be higher if the property is larger or has unusual boundary lines.

    Tax Monitoring & Tax Status Research Fees

    Someone has to monitor property tax payments to notify the lender of any potential issues. This fee goes to a third party to accomplish this and the fee will depend on location and the company employed.

    Title Search Fee

    The title search fee is charged by the title company in order to look through public property records for ownership discrepancies. For a couple hundred dollars the title company will search deed records to make sure there are no outstanding disputes or liens on the property.

    Transfer Tax

    This fee depends heavily on location and the cost will vary as well. The transfer tax can occur when the title is handed from the seller to the buyer.

    Underwriting Fees

    A lender charges underwriting fees for the work they do to evaluate your application, verify your financial information, and approve your mortgage loan. This fee will vary depending on your lender.

    VA Funding Fee

    This fee only applies for VA borrowers and is charged as a percentage of the loan amount. The amount of the VA funding fee will depend on your military service classification and the mortgage loan amount. Some military members are also exempt from paying the fee.9

    Those are the most common fees and items included in a mortgage closing costs. However, there may be more so read your paperwork and ask your lender questions!

    First Time Home Buyers

    Buying a house for the first time can be incredibly overwhelming. You have a lot of terminology to sort through and you “don’t know what you don’t know” about buying a house.

    Hopefully you have a good team to guide you through the process as a first time buyer.

    Here are some helpful posts to help you as well:

    Those posts give you a few ideas on what to do and what NOT to do when you are buying your first home. I hiope this helps you!

    Read More

  • 10 Ways To Take Control Of Your Finances

    When you are not in control of your finances things can feel very overwhelming. Struggles with money are very common but in your own situation things can feel daunting and depressing. Let’s look at 10 ways to take control of your finances and improve your life and money.

    take control of your finances

    Why Take Control Of Your Finances?

    When you struggle with money it makes everything feel harder.

    Being in survival mode with money means you are living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in debt, and thinking way too much about money. It often feels like no matter what happens you have very little control and are constantly losing ground. Bills pile up and decisions get harder and harder to make.

    This is no way to live.

    Getting control of your money does take work. It will likely take some sacrifices. But it’s worth it to get out of the negative place where you feel out of control with money.

    Taking control of your finances will lead to many positive benefits:

    • less stress over money
    • reduced worry and anxiety over money
    • more mental space for other things in life
    • freedom to pursue activities besides work

    Even if you only follow some of the money tips below, you will be making huge steps toward getting control of your finances.

    Once you do these beginning steps you can then reach toward bigger and more audacious goals. Want to be wealthy? Want to own multiple homes? It all starts with getting your finances in control.

    Each small step builds on the ones before it. Small actions compound with personal finance.

    10 Ways To Take Control Of Your Finances

    Now is the perfect time to take control of your finances. The following 10 tips are things you should do in order to get control and stay in control of your money.

    1. Change Your Money Mindset

    You have to take time to first change how you think about money.

    This means gain control of your finances you have to let go of the control money has over you. Money is important but it does not control you or your life.

    Stress about money probably consumes your thoughts if you are struggling financially. This makes it hard to think about other things. You have to let this go and free your mind from always worrying about money.

    Worrying about a problem gets you nowhere if it’s not combined with action. You have to let go of worry and get proactive!

    Decide right now that you will no longer worry and let money control you. Decide that money is simply a tool to achieve what you want in life. Make the decision that you are going to control your money and choose where it goes and what it does.

    Making the decision to stop letting money control you is the first step. Everything that follows will build from this place of empowerment.

    2. Track Your Spending

    In order to control your money you need to know where it is going. This is the very beginning of taking control of your finances.

    You probably feel powerless with your money because you have no idea where it is going! It’s hard to plan for savings and the future when you don’t know how much money you will have every month.

    Starting with tracking your spending is easy. It doesn’t require any actual changes yet unless you want to make them. You simply need to get aware of where your money is going.

    You can do this in many different ways:

    how to track your spending to take control of your finances
    Budgeting Bundle – All In One Financial Printable

    Regardless of how you choose to track your spending, this is a very important tool to use in gaining control over your finances.

    You’ll be able to make changes and improve your finances over time once you know what you are spending. If you are tracking what you spend for the first time it can be incredibly eye opening. Many people are shocked to discover how much they spend on food for example.

    Before you do anything else, track your spending for three months. You will learn a lot about money and your financial situation just by tracking what you spend.

    3. Create A Zero Based Budget

    After tracking your expenses you will have a general idea of where your money goes – and where it is wasted. Now you are ready to create a budget for your money.

    When you feel like you don’t have any money leftover each month, you definitely need to create a budget.

    Creating a budget with realistic expenses is necessary to succeed with budgeting. Take your income for the month and write out a spending plan for all your bills, spending, sinking funds, debt payments, etc. You will want to give each dollar of income a job so you are left with zero at the end.

    How To Budget For Beginners Video

    When you track your spending you might notice areas where you spend a lot. These are areas where you can improve but you should aim to do so gradually. Don’t completely cut these areas out of your budget – just adjust them to a more realistic number! Instead of spending $120 a month at Starbucks aim to spend $75 or $100.

    You can and should adjust your budget monthly as you go to improve on areas like this. Each month create a new budget that you fits your needs for the month.

    Here are some useful budgeting articles to help you:

    4. Ignore What Other People Do

    The concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” leads a lot of people into financial trouble.

    When you are watching other people and trying to keep up with their spending habits you can often overspend your income. This is the worst financial habit possible and something you need to avoid.

    Most of us have been guilty of this at some point, but gaining control of your money means you will have to stop looking to others to decide how to spend.

    Your spending needs to be based on your income and nothing else.

    Comparing yourself to others will lead you to feel less worthy and also spend more money. Many people get into deep debt because we are spending to keep up with other people. They want to buy a nicer car or bigger home or go on more vacations because they see others doing it.

    The best financial habit possible is to ignore what other people are doing.

    Focus on yourself. Focus on what you need and want and can afford based on your income.

    If you are cutting back and budgeting for the first time this is extremely important!

    money goals calculate budget and plan for financial goals

    5. Start Talking About Money

    Talking about money is a taboo for many people. Instead of talking about money people will keep their struggles silent so they appear more in control.

    Unfortunately not talking about money can put you at a disadvantage financially.

    When your family does not communicate about money you won’t be on the same page. This can lead to overspending and money fights.

    You must get on the same page with money as your spouse.

    Start having regular talks about money with yourself and your family. Schedule one monthly so that you can all sit down and discuss the budget, expenses, and plans for the future. It is critical to get everyone on the same page and focused on the same goals so you can get your money situation under control.

    In your money chats you can talk about:

    • your budget plan for the month
    • how you want to invest your money to grow
    • the feelings that money generate
    • how to make more money (try some side hustles!)

    And anything else on your mind! The more you discuss money the easier it will be.

    6. Make extra money.

    Once you know where your money is going and how to cut back, the next step is to earn more money.

    Making more money is one of the easiest ways to gain control over your finances because increased income can fix many things temporarily. Having more money won’t solve all your financial problems but it will help you a great deal.

    Earning extra income can help you achieve the rest of your financial goals.

    There are a lot of ways to earn extra income. Depending on your skill set and available time, you can choose a number of different ways to make money on the side.

    Here are a few ideas for making more money:

    Earning extra income will change your life and help you stop living paycheck to paycheck.

    It will also help you achieve all the steps listed below, like building an emergency fund and paying off debt.

    7. Build An Emergency Fund

    Many Americans have finances so out of control that they could not afford an emergency $1,000 expense.

    This means you are constantly living on the brink of a financial disaster.

    That is scary.

    The best way to change this is to build up a well-funded emergency fund. An emergency fund is a special savings account that you set aside and do not touch except for cases of emergency. It will cover you during disasters, unexpected repairs, job loss and more.

    Emergency Fund Savings Tracker – Track your savings visually!

    Your emergency fund savings will depend on a number of factors like how much you spend per month, how many income sources you have, how many dependents you have, and whether your income is stable or not.

    Experts recommend different amounts to collect in your emergency fund but they all start with at least 3 to 6 month’s worth of expenses. (See how important it is to know how much you spend?)

    If you have a big family, are the sole provider, or own a business it’s recommended to have up to a year’s worth of expenses tucked away.

    At the very least you should start saving a starter emergency fund of $1,000. Then move up to one months expenses. Next save up for two months worth of expenses. Then three months worth of expenses. It’s ok to start small but keep saving.

    8. Pay Off Your Debt

    Getting rid of debt is a good next step in taking control of youor finances.

    Paying off your debt eliminates things that take away your income each month. Every time you pay off a debt you get to keep more of your income every month. This can propel you toward financial freedom faster.

    If you have debt in the form of car loans, credit cards, student loans, or anything else, you should create a plan to pay off your debt.

    Debt Payoff Printable Bundle

    You can use this Debt Free Planner to help you create a debt payoff plan or any of the great apps.

    Ready for Zero will help you pay off loans faster. It can help you pay off credit cards or pay off car loans faster. Just making a slightly bigger debt payment each month will help you get closer to debt freedom.

    Having a plan for paying off your debt gives you so much more control over your finances.

    9. Improve Your Credit Score

    You credit score is key to helping you save money on big purchases.

    With a good credit score you will get a better interest rate on loans for things like houses and cars. This means you’ll save a lot on these purchases.

    It also can be checked by landlords and potential employers so it pays to have a good credit score.

    You can check your credit score for free online through many free online services.

    Here are a few ways to improve your score:

    • Check your score regularly and know what it is
    • Pay your bills on time
    • Lower your utilization rate on credit cards
    • Pay off credit cards but don’t close them

    And here are a few helpful posts with more information:

    A higher credit score will help you get future loans at a lower interest rate which will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

    10. Learn About Personal Finance

    Knowledge is power – especially with money.

    Many people suffer financially because they were never taught about money. Each generation repeats the same mistakes because no one learns about how to handle money.

    Learning about personal finance will help you feel more powerful and confident in your choices with money. Knowing more about finance will help you feel more in control and less likely to slip back into old habits.

    You can learn more about personal finance by subscribing to my personal finance blog or budget focused YouTube channel.

    You can also learn more by reading books about personal finance. There are a lot of different personal finance experts out there that write books, so find one that you can relate to and get inspired and educated.

    If you follow all of these steps your will undoubtedly gain control of your money and start working toward achieving big goals!

    Read More

  • 6 Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    Have you recently started a new job? Are you entering the workplace for the first time? If you want to make the most of your opportunity then these money tips for starting a new job are for you.

    Financial Tips For Starting A New Job

    Starting A New Job Off Well Financially

    When you are starting a new job you likely have a lot on your mind. You have to learn new systems, meet new coworkers, and find your groove in a new environment.

    It’s easy to push aside paperwork and not worry about your money.

    You will be getting a paycheck regardless, right?

    When you start a new job it’s the best time to evaluate your financial situation and make money moves. If you take the time follow these money tips you’ll be setting yourself up to win financially for a long time.

    6 Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    The following money tips are things I always suggest for people starting a new job.

    If it is your first job ever then it is even more important to do these things when you start working! This will change the course of your life if you start early.

    Sign up for your 401k.

    When you start a new job you are often eligible for contributing to a 401k plan. This is something you should sign up to do as soon as you are eligible, especially if your company offers a match.

    A 401k match is when your employer matches your 401(k) contributions by also contributing a certain amount to your account based on what you have contributed.

    The average 401k match is 4.3% of a person’s pay.

    When you start a new job you should immediately contribute enough to your 401k to get that employer contribution. Not doing so would be like saying you don’t want an additional 4% of pay from your employer.

    Many people call the match “free money” but it’s actually just part of your compensation package. Your employer offers it as long as you take the action of signing up and contributing to your 401k.

    You should always do this even if it feels like you can’t “afford” to at first. That employer 401k match is the best return you can get on your money.

    Set up auto-draft for savings from your paycheck.

    One thing that helps many people to save more money is to set up automatic drafts from their paycheck directly to savings accounts.

    Many employers offer the ability to set up direct deposits to multiple accounts. You can select a certain percentage like 10% of your paycheck to go directly into a savings account.

    Setting up auto-draft savings helps many people save money because the money they don’t see is money they don’t spend.

    If you can’t set up the direct deposit at your employer to do this then you can always set it up at your bank. Set up an automatic transfer for your payday to move money from your main checking account to a special savings account.

    This is so helpful to do as soon as you start a new job because you won’t miss that money. It will never be part of your regular spending and you’ll be able to save up money faster.

    Make a budget.

    When you start your new job you should make a budget for yourself.

    This budget should be based on the amount you will be bringing home after your taxes, 401k contributions, and your automated savings.

    If you’ve never budgeted before, here is a helpful video to show you the basics:

    How To Budget For Beginners

    There are a number of ways to budget including spreadsheets, apps, and by paper. I personally prefer writing my budget out on paper because of the benefits of achieving goals you write down. When you write out your budget your brain processes the information differently and that helps you better stick to your plan.

    You can check out my beginner budgeting bundle for worksheets to help create your budget.

    At the very least, plan to track your spending with an app like Personal Capital or Mint. Having an idea of what you are spending per month can help you avoid a financial mistake like spending more than you make.

    Research your benefits.

    Do you know all the benefits that your company offers? Most people don’t but taking time to research your benefits when you start can help you win big.

    You probably know about the health insurance or even life insurance offered with your new job. But do you know about all the other benefits?

    Here are some common job benefits your company might offer:

    • Health insurance
    • Disability insurance
    • Dental and vision insurance
    • Life insurance
    • PTO/paid holidays
    • Retirement planning
    • Paid family leave
    • Paid gym memberships or fitness equipment
    • Remote work or flexible schedules
    • Student loan repayment
    • Continued education and professional development

    There are many different potential benefits that your company may offer. It’s up to you to learn about these and take advantage of the ones that might benefit you the most.

    The best time to do this is when you start the job so you can get all the benefits as long as possible.

    Learn what your health insurance plan covers.

    Your health insurance is likely something you won’t think about until you need to use it. However, it’s a great idea to get acquainted with what your plan offers.

    Look over your health insurance benefits and ask some questions:

    • What is your monthly payment?
    • What is your yearly deductible?
    • How much do you need to pay if you go to the ER?
    • Which hospitals and doctors are covered by your insurance?
    • How much will your prescriptions cost?

    Figuring out these numbers will help you figure out how to budget. You’ll know if you will you need to save up a medical sinking fund or will be able to cash flow most expenses.

    It’s also helpful to know where your health insurance is and how to access it later when you do need the information.

    Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    Take your time making big purchases.

    The final thing on this list is perhaps the most important: take your time and don’t rush into big purchases.

    Do not go out and buy a car or a house as soon as you start a new job. Do not quickly rush into these decisions that will have ramifications for years to come.

    Doing anything that takes part of your income each month should be a big decision.

    If you are thinking about a big purchase like a home then do some research first. Learn as much as you can while you adjust to the new job and also build up savings with your new income.

    Here are a few helpful posts for potential home buyers:

    Whether it’s a new car or a new home just make sure you are being thoughtful and considering all the impacts on your new income.

    Hopefully these financial tips for starting a new job have you starting off on the right foot!

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  • How To Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    Do you want to get a sign up bonus for using a grocery app to save money? Fetch Rewards is an awesome way to save money on groceries and very easy to use. Let’s look at how to add a referral code on Fetch Rewards to get a bonus when you start!

    Use referral code MV7RR when you sign up for Fetch Rewards for minimum $2 toward your balance to get FREE gift cards.

    How To Use Fetch Rewards Referral Code

    Signing up for Fetch Rewards is easy!

    In this video tutorial I show you how to use sign up for a Fetch Rewards account and use a referral code. This referral code will give you points that you can use to get free gift cards to your favorite stores.

    Entering A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    This Fetch Rewards tutorial video shows:

    • how to open a new account on the Fetch Rewards app
    • where to enter this referral code (MV7RR) on the Fetch Rewards app
    • how to scan your first receipt in the Fetch Rewards apps to get points

    Please note: You must enter the referral code before scanning your first receipt in order to get the sign up bonus points. If you scan a receipt before you enter a referral code then you will not get the referral bonus points.

    How To Sign Up & Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    1. In the App store search for Fetch Rewards
    2. Download the app
    3. Open the Fetch Rewards app on your phone
    4. Click sign up with email button
    5. Enter personal info for your account details
    6. Click the orange sign up button
    7. Enter your birthday & gender
    8. Enter your phone number & state
    9. Tap the “Start saving” button next
    10. Click “Okay” or “Maybe later” to enable notifications
    11. Click “Okay” or “Maybe later” to enable location notifications
    12. Enter referral code MV7RR in the box
    13. Click the “Enter code” button
    14. To get your free points you will need to scan a receipt (points are rewarded after your first scan)
    15. Skip through the intro slide to go to the home screen
    16. Click the orange camera icon at the bottom right corner
    17. Grab any grocery receipt you have within the last 14 days
    18. Line up the receipt with the lines on screen
    19. Click the orange camera icon in the center of the screen
    20. Your receipt will upload while you wait
    21. Your points will automatically be added to your account

    And that’s how you sign up for a Fetch Rewards account and start off with enough points to redeem your first gift card!

    Want more? Read: How To Use Fetch Rewards For Beginners

    How to Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards When Already Signed In

    The most common question I get on my Fetch Rewards video is some variation of this question:

    • How do I redeem it when I already logged in?
    • How to I use the referral code if I already made my account?

    The easiest way to redeem the referral code on Fetch Rewards is when you first sign up. However, it is possible to still add a referral code even if you have created the account.

    If you skip the chance to enter upon signing up, here’s how to redeem it after:

    • tap on the Me tab
    • select Refer a friend
    • then entering code MV7RR.
    • You MUST do the referral code before scanning your first receipt. If you scan a receipt before entering a referral code then you will not get the bonus points.

    That’s how you enter it after signing up! You still have to do it before scanning any receipts, so if you have signed up and scanned receipts you are no longer eligible to get a referral code bonus.

    Fetch Rewards Referral Code

    This referral code will get you between$2 – $4 worth of free gift cards when you use it upon signing up.

    Fetch Rewards regularly changes the amount that new members can get but you’ll at least get $2 for using the code!

    You will enter the code when you sign up as shown in the video above. You have to enter the code before scanning your first receipt to get the free points.

    Learn more about Fetch Rewards in my review here.

    Find other great apps to save money and earn money with referral code bonuses.

    Earn More Points On Fetch Rewards

    Wnat to earn even more points on Fetch Rewards?

    Besides the referral bonus when you sign up for a new account there are multiple ways to earn more points.

    How To Earn Points On Fetch Rewards

    Some of the ways you can earn points with Fetch Rewards include:

    • scanning receipts
    • buying participating items
    • completing special offers
    • referring your friends to Fetch Rewards

    There are even more ways to earn points since I filmed the video above!

    Fetch Rewards FAQ

    Below are some of the questions I often get asked on videos about the Fetch Rewards app referral code program.

    Are there any Fetch Rewards hacks to earn points fast?

    Unfortunately there are not glitches or ways to cheat the system that you should use. Sometimes people will promote a “glitch” or “hack” to earn points fast on Fetch Rewards but these will often get your account banned and you will not be able to redeem gift cards.

    What’s the Fetch Rewards Referral code?

    Fetch referral code MV7RR will get you 2,000 bonus points when you download the app and enter this referral code.

    How much are points worth?

    Every 1,000 points on Fetch Rewards is equal to $1. For each 1,000 points you earn by scanning receipts or referring friends to the app you will get $1 of gift cards.

    What can I do with Fetch Rewards points?

    You can redeem Fetch Rewards points in the app in exchange for gift cards to hundreds of businesses. My personal favorites are Target, Amazon, and Starbucks gift cards.

    You can start redeeming gift cards for as little as 3,000 points for a $3 gift card.

    How can you get paid from Fetch Rewards?

    Fetch Rewards does not pay out in cash. They only offer gift card rewards but there are many different ways to redeem gift cards on Fetch Rewards and dozens of different companies.

    Use referral code MV7RR when you sign up for Fetch Rewards for minimum $2 toward your balance to get FREE gift cards.

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  • M1 Finance Free Stock

    Since I use M1 Finance every week on my personal finance YouTube channel people often ask, does m1 finance give free stock to new users?

    Some investing apps like Robinhood give out a random free stock when new users sign up. Does M1 Finance do this too? Can you get a free stock by signing up for M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance Referral Link (I also get a bonus!)

    M1 Finance Free Stock

    Technically M1 Finance does not give you a single stock when you sign up like Robinhood or some other apps do. Instead they give you a cash bonus that will invest in ANY stock slice you pick.

    Depending on the current M1 Finance promotion you can get anywhere from $10 to $50 in free stocks.

    The stocks you get will be whatever you pick to be in your M1 Finance pie.

    This is actually the best possible way to get free stocks from an investing platform because YOU get to pick what free stock you get. Instead of getting a throwaway stock from a company you’ve never heard of you can pick the stocks you want. If you get $30 when you sign up then you can by $30 of Apple stock or Tesla stock or an ETF of the whole market like VTI.

    Because M1 Finance allows for fractional share investing you can buy a fraction of whatever stock you want with the sign up bonus.

    What Is M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance started as an investment platform but their tagline now is M1 Finance: The Finance Super App™.

    You can invest, borrow, and spend your money in one easy-to-use platform. At M1 Finance they are striving to have all of your financial needs taken care of in one place.

    M1 blends the best of modern financial technology with personalization and automation. They allow you to take control so you can make your own money moves easily.

    It is designed for long term investors who want a simple design with powerful automation. M1 has been very clear that they are focused on long term investors not day traders. It’s a great place to invest long term and offers retirement accounts like Roth IRAs.

    M1 Finance is regulated and safe to use. Your investments are covered under Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in case of the firm’s insolvency or misconduct. You can feel secure that your M1 Finance investment account is covered.

    Feel free to read more about the details of SIPC insurance here.

    For all the details behind M1 Finance you can look them up on FINRA’s Broker Check.

    You can see my full M1 Finance review here.

    M1-Finance-Review
    Review of M1 Finance

    M1 Finance Free Stock Bonuses

    M1 Finance offers many different bonuses for people signing up to use their services.

    There is almost always a M1 Referral Bonus. These bonuses have ranged from $10 – $50 bonus when someone signs up and opens a new account through a referral link.

    The most common free stock sign up promotion is $30 for using a referral link. (It changes often so double check to see how much they offer at the moment.)

    M1 Finance has also offered rollover bonuses in the past. This is where you get a cash bonus for rolling over an account to M1 Finance. You can then use that cash that you get to buy stock for free. If you roll over an account to M1 Finance from another platform you could get up to $4,000 for their recent transfer bonus.

    You can check out there current bonuses and promotions on the website.

    How To Sign Up For M1 Finance

    How To Open A M1 Finance Account Via Referral Link

    Sign Up For M1 Finance

    Here are the steps you should to take to get the M1 Finance bonus:

    1. Click on this referral link to open M1 Finance
    2. Enter your email and password and then click “Sign up now”
    3. Follow the sign up instructions to open the account type of your choice (the video above walks through the setup if you want to watch how to do it)

    Account Funding Requirements

    You must contribute a specific amount per account type to get the referral bonus:

    • Individual brokerage – $100
    • Joint brokerage- $100
    • Custodial account – $100
    • Trust account – $5,000
    • Retirement (Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA) account – $500

    Important M1 Account Notes

    • You must fund the account after opening in order to get the bonus. Always double check the amount you must contribute to get the bonus to make sure the requirement hasn’t changed.
    • The bonus can take a few days to show up in your account. It will automatically drop into your investment account once it is processed. If you have auto invest on then it will automatically invest into your investment pies. Otherwise you can invest into the stock or ETF of your choosing.

    M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    How much will you get as a sign up bonus when you join M1 Finance with a referral link?

    The standard sign up bonus with a M1 Finance referral link is currently $50.

    You can only get this bonus if you are referred to M1 Finance. If you just go to the website without a referral link you will not get it.

    The referral has changed multiple times. It has been $10, $30, and $50. The have periods where the amount changes and increases.

    The same is accurate for how much you can earn by referring people with your own referral link within the app. The amount can range from $10-$50 for what you can earn when you refer your own friends.

    Get More Free Stocks & Cash Bonuses

    I love giving out free stocks and cash via app referral links. You can check out my full list of referral codes and links for free bonuses.

    referral codes for free stock bonuses
    Best Referral Code Bonuses

    M1 Finance is one of my favorite platforms to use and recommend because of their mission and how easy the app is to use. I also love that they have given out major amount of free money via sign up bonuses!

    I hope this M1 Finance review was helpful to you! If you’d like to support my work feel free to do one of the follow:

    1. Use my M1 Finance referral link
    2. Buy me a coffee

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