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Budgeting & Saving

3 Affordable Music Festivals under $200

Music festivals are largely held during the summer. However, if you are wanting to attend one, it is best to start planning well in advance. By doing this, you can more effectively budget for them and get your tickets in advance. Even when you do this, many festivals are still so expensive that they are simply not doable for the average recent college graduate. For instance, passes for Coachella start at a massive $375, and that doesn’t include travel or lodging expenses.

Not all festivals are this way, though. There are many festivals around the country that offer both an incredible experience and very reasonable prices. What sets these festivals apart is a commitment to sound business practices that put their customers first, while keeping their goals centered on growth. If you want to attend a music festival, but do not have a large budget to work with, it is important for you to find one with these kinds of ideals.

Here are three music festivals that fit the bill, and won’t break the bank at under $200 each.

Treefort Music Festival (Boise, Idaho)

Treefort Music Festival is held yearly in Boise, Idaho over five days in March. Treefort’s regular 5-day pass price is incredibly affordable at $179, and featured over 400 bands in 2015. These range from local acts to big names. Treefort also offers many discounts for buying tickets early, including 200 incredibly limited $50 passes, as well as a discounted pass for people under 21 years old, making the festival even more affordable. During Treefort, Boise’s entire downtown area becomes part of Treefort, and the city’s friendly environment is worth the trip on its own.

Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, Illinois)

Held in July in Chicago’s Union Park, Pitchfork Music Festival has one of the best returns on your money of any festival in terms of the level of artists you will see. For $180, you get three days of some of the best up and coming artists, as well as more established ones. Pitchfork is incredibly dedicated to keeping prices low, and also works closely with local Chicago businesses, vendors, and the artistic community. This means that the money you spend by attending this festival contributes to growing local culture, while keeping it affordable.

Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)

One of the longest running festivals in the country, Bumbershoot is held every Labor Day weekend at Seattle, Washington’s Seattle Center.  The festival has national, as well as smaller Pacific Northwest acts. Of American music festivals, it has truly one of the best urban settings, with The Space Needle towering overhead, multiple museums adjacent to the festival’s grounds, and Puget Sound only blocks away. When you mix the setting with the incredible lineup they put together every year, Bumbershoot is an incredible festival, especially at its low price. Three day passes for Bumbershoot 2015 started at $163.50 and steadily increased to $209.50 leading up to the festival.  

Originally posted 2015-11-30 10:00:42.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Buy Nothing Day Challenge: Got the Urge to Spend? Save the Money Instead

Saving is the foundation for building financial stability and being able to reach any financial goal. Whether you want to buy a house, get out of debt, get married or go on vacation with your family, you’ll need to save your money.

If you feel like your budget and spending have both spiraled out of control, now is the perfect time to get back on track right before the holidays.

There are tons of tips, tricks and techniques out there will help you save money, but it’s no argument that the absolute best way to save money is to just do it. Once you commit to your cause and understand that spending money each day is not necessary, you’ll be ready to plan a no spend day, weekend, or undergo even a week without spending.

Buy Nothing Day is actually an official holiday in Canada that kicks off in the fall. There are plenty of ways to celebrate not spending no matter where you live. Here are some tips to help you get started with your Buy Nothing Day challenge.

Determine Your ‘Why’

Before you even get started with your challenge, determine why you are doing it and what you hope to get out of it. Of course your focus will be on saving more money, but do you want to change your spending habits, squeeze out more of your income to put toward debt, cut out emotional spending or work towards another goal?

Figuring out what your ‘why’ is will help give you a clear focus about what you’re doing and why it’s necessary.

Lay Down Some Ground Rules

The next step is to define your rules. While spending absolutely nothing the entire day or week would be ideal, you may have some mandatory bills due around that time or other commitments. If this will be your first Buy Nothing Day challenge, try to schedule it during a time where you don’t have any major events or commitments going on that would cause you to spend money.

Remove credit cards from your wallet, pack a lunch to bring to work and commit to doing free things with friends and family that will help you avoid having to spend money. Set stricter rules that won’t make it so easy for you. This is a challenge after all.

My rules generally consist of paying bills and putting gas in my car when I have to but spending on nothing else.

Ban Temptations

Temptations will sneak up quickly during your challenge. This is why it’s so important to define your ‘why’ and let it motivate you. To avoid being tempted to spend, ban your favorite stores and unsubscribe to all mailing lists for popular retailers. That way, you won’t be setting yourself up for failure.

[Tweet “When saving money, it’s important to define your ‘why’. It’ll keep you motivated!”]

Email coupons and offers can be super tempting so it’s best to just avoid receiving those types of emails altogether by temporarily unsubscribing (or sending them to a hidden folder). Whether your guilty pleasure is Target or Old Navy, spending all your extra money at retailers will not be helping your bottom line. The no spend challenge will maybe even help you develop a no-spending habit.

Get Creative and Involved

The Buy Nothing Day Challenge is not meant to be boring and dreadful. You can still do some of the things you love and have fun with your friends and family as long as it doesn’t require that you spend money. It will definitely call for some creativity though.

During your challenge, you might want to try out new recipes from items in your pantry and diversify your meal planning, make gifts for others, attend free neighborhood events or just invite a few people over to play cards.

Ask friends and family to join in on the challenge so you can all keep each other motivated. The creative ideas you come up with during the challenge will certainly continue to help you save more money in the future.

Calculate Your Savings

This is the best part. Since you most likely won’t have any spending to track, it should be easy to calculate how much money you were able to save along with the new money saving habits you developed during the challenge.

Imagine how much extra money you could have to build up your savings account, invest and pay off debt if you did a few no spend challenges throughout the year…

Have you ever gone a day or week without spending money?

Originally posted 2015-11-25 10:00:34.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

30+ Things Frugal People Don’t Do

Frugality is a lifestyle. Spending less so you can live more appeals to a lot of people. Practicing frugality often gets referred to as being cheap but there are distinct differences between the two.

Being frugal involves optimizing what you have by being creative. You want to establish a lifestyle that doesn’t revolve around spending and obtaining more things to be happy. Frugal people value experiences over things but don’t sacrifice the health or welfare of themselves or their family just to save a few dollars.

[Tweet “The most important things in life aren’t things.”]

Here are 30+ things frugal people usually don’t do.

1. Fail to Implement a Budget

Budgeting accurately helps keep your finances in order. This allows you to control where your money is going. Frugal people remain frugal and spend less because they implement a budget in some shape or form to remain on track.

2. Spend Money Every Single Day

There are some days when you don’t have to spend a dime. Having a ‘no spend day’ or a ‘no spend weekend’ is a financial challenge that requires creativity and a clear focus. But the more you do it, the easier it will become.

3. Choose Wants over Needs

Frugality helps put your needs before your wants by prioritizing what is most important to you. It’s also important to be content with what you have. Greed and frugality do not mix well.

4. Have Enormous Cable Bills

Cable doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint. If you don’t even have time to watch television nor the money to fork over for a rising bill each month, try going without cable and using a cheaper alternative to watch shows and movies. Consider Netflix ($8/month), Hulu ($8/month) or Amazon Prime (with free two-day shipping on items for $99/year).

5. Waste Food

Wasting food is something everyone should try to avoid. Food is a privilege in some countries. It’s important to be mindful of what you eat and the food you buy so you can avoid waste. Throwing away food is almost identical to throwing money in the garbage. Frugal people eat all of what they buy.

6. Make Impulse Purchases Based on Emotion

Frugal people try to keep their emotions in check. They realize that retailers tend to create a sense of urgency with their products and appeal to consumers’ emotions in order to increase sales. Asking yourself if you truly need the item can bring your shopping impulses to a halt.

7. Buy Brand Name Items and Clothes to Make an Impression

The idea of buying expensive name brand and designer clothes really serves no purpose in the life of a frugal person. Clothes that look nice, fit well, and are on sale (bonus) will suffice. Why spend money over and over again if you can buy timeless?

8. Shop as a Form of Entertainment

Shopping as a habit is expensive and is usually done to fill a void. Frugal people try not to associate spending money with fun and entertainment. Frugal consumers find more enjoyable ways to lighten their mood and have fun.

9. Drive Cars They Can’t Afford

Driving a car that you can barely afford to make payments on is not a wise decision and will often leave you drowning in debt. Frugal people practically despise debt and some even drive older, more economical cars to avoid going into debt over a depreciating asset.

10. Ignore Vehicle Maintenance

Failing to maintain your vehicle and schedule timely repairs can result in having to pay thousands of dollars to fix big things later on. The frugal way to keep your car running well for longer is not to avoid maintenance and repairs, but rather budget for these expenses ahead of time. This way, you can take care of them quickly without causing financial strain.

11. Go the Most Convenient Route

Convenient practices like ordering dinner to avoid cooking it, paying for valet parking, or driving when you can walk or bike will eventually start to add up and deplete your funds. This is why frugal people try to avoid ‘convenient’ money traps.

12. Avoid a Great Deal

Frugal people don’t sit around all day staring at their bank accounts and thinking of ways to avoid spending any money. They know how to spend. They just wait for a great deal and snatch it up as fast as possible!

13. Use Credit Cards To Inflate Their Lifestyle

Using credit cards to spend more than you can afford will lead to greater money problems. You can use credit cards frugally by optimizing them for points, spending on items you would normally purchase, and paying off the balance in full each month.

14. Ignore Giveaways and Freebies

Whether you consider yourself a frugal person or not, we all should appreciate an occasional freebie or giveaway. It only takes a few moments to enter a giveaway or respond to an advertised freebie offer. It’s typically a really good return on your invested time.

15. Run the AC or Heat When It’s Unnecessary

Frugal people are all about conserving energy and keeping utility costs low. They know that paying attention to the thermostat is worthwhile. There are several things you can do to avoid running the heat too soon and running your air conditioning too much.

16. Spend a lot on Gym Memberships

A gym membership can be a great source of motivation to help you get fit. However, a lot of people don’t fully utilize their gym membership given the amount of money they spend on it each month. On the low end, a gym membership generally costs around $58 or $696 per year. According to recent studies, about 67% of people with gym memberships don’t even use them. If you don’t go to the gym at least two or three times per week all year round you could be wasting quite a bit of money.

Whether you want a gym membership or not is your preference. But it would be wise to avoid a costly one and stick to free and natural workouts that you can do out in nature or in your home. There are plenty of mobile apps and YouTube videos to utilize. Used and affordable gym equipment is usually plentiful any time of year.

17. Believe Entertainment Is Expensive

A big part of being frugal is the ability to override the myth that you need to spend lots of money on entertainment. There are tons of free and low cost ways to entertain yourself and your family. Look around your neighborhood, research events and take advantage of deals.

18. Pass up a Thrift Store or Garage Sale

Garage sales and thrift shops are thrilling for the frugal shopper. Garage sale and consignment shop items that are in good condition beat department store prices every time.

19. Try to Overcompensate by Giving out Elaborate Gifts

This ties into the idea of trying to impress others with name brands. Sometimes it’s best to make gifts and provide the recipient with something they need instead of trying to impress them with a popular brand.

20. Purchase Work Lunches Each Day

When you work for an employer (especially in an office) lunch time can be a much anticipated release or break from the work day. If you go out and buy lunch each day though, you could easily waste more than $1,000 per year. Frugal people choose not to purchase work lunches each day. They bring a lunch from home to save that $1,000 for a vacation, home repair, or a memorable experience with loved ones.

21. Buy Snacks at the Movie Theatre, or Meals at Carnivals and Fairs

It’s not about being cheap. Who really wants to spend $5 on a soft drink, $4 on a box of candy and $7 on a bowl of popcorn that might be fresh? If you don’t want to avoid going broke just by snacking, it’s best to eat a large meal before you go out and drink water if you need a beverage. This allows you to focus more on the experience rather than the overpriced, subpar food.

22. Take Luxurious Vacations Without Reward Points

Many frugal people still go on vacations. Dropping $5,000-$10,000 on a vacation each year though is often not in the question. Instead of charging vacation expenses to your credit card and returning home with debt, you can churn credit cards and use the reward points and cashback to fund your travels.

23. Ignore Their Health Needs

Maintaining an adequate amount of medical coverage is very important, no matter the cost. Eating healthy foods and going to regular check-ups can help prevent costly medical problems in the future.

24. Spend Copious Amounts of Money on Summer Music Festivals

Frugal people might wonder why someone would pay hundreds of dollars to meet up with friends, camp outside and listen to music for a weekend. That’s because there are tons of free music festivals happening all over. Although frugal people may use credit card reward points to help pay for tickets to an occasional concert.

25. Buy Brand New Electronics Each Year

Keeping up with the newest versions of electronics is exhausting, not to mention financially draining. Frugal people try to keep up with their electronics for a few years at least instead of buying something new the moment it comes out.

26. Throw Away Broken or Old Electronics

When electronics break, instead of tossing them out and creating more waste, frugal people may try to fix up and sell older electronics for cheap or sell their parts if the item is broken. A broken iPhone is still worth a lot of money.

27. Put Off Investing

Putting off investing can put you in a rough financial situation when you get older. Some people who are nearing retirement age can’t even leave work because they failed to invest and save early. Frugal people love setting money aside for their future.

28. Buy Coffee Every Morning

Drinking coffee every day is normal. But buying it each day from a café or coffee shop is a bit much for frugal people. They usually make coffee at home and buy an occasional drink at Starbucks every now and then. This saves big money.

29. Pass up a Side Hustle

People who live frugally are always looking for more ways to earn money easily on the side. This is why it’s hard for a frugal person to pass up an opportunity to use their skills to earn extra money on the weekend, help a friend or start a side business.

30. Go on a Road Trip without Bringing Food

Road trips are very fun and they’re the perfect frugal getaway for a family or group of friends. To make the trip even more frugal and save money to use for attractions and other activities, bringing food along is a must. It’s also easier than stopping the car for a snack.

31. Compromise the Safety and Welfare of Others

Frugal people don’t opt to save money at all costs; especially when it comes to the expense of other people’s health or safety. They are not like the people you see on shows like Extreme Cheapskates. Since frugal people place needs and necessities above wants, it allows them to live a life that doesn’t compromise the safety and welfare of others.

32. Care What People Think about Them

Frugal people are judged a lot and sometimes negatively referred to as ‘cheapskates’ or ‘penny pinchers’. After you’ve been frugal for a while and you see the positive affects your choices have had on your lifestyle and your bank account, it won’t matter what other people think. Frugal people always have the last laugh. While others think they are cheap or poor for bringing lunch to work each day or living a different, simpler life, they are busy saving, investing, and living a fulfilling life.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Can you think of anything else that frugal people might not do?

Originally posted 2015-11-09 10:00:15.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Why You Should Buy a Used Car as a Young Adult

Buying a used car might not be the most glamorous thing, especially after you graduate college and start making real money. After all, most of your coworkers probably have new cars. You may feel like your old car needs an upgrade.
However, buying a used car makes a lot more sense. Not only will you likely save money upfront, a used car will save you money in the long run. With all the new expenses you have as a young adult, save your money on your vehicle and use your savings on things you really need. Here’s why buying a used car makes the most sense for young adults.

Avoiding Depreciation

The number one reason to buy a used car is you avoid a lot of the depreciation. New cars immediately lose value the minute you drive away with them. While used cars lose value too, they don’t do it as rapidly as new cars. According to Edmunds.com, a new car loses 11% of its value the minute you drive it off the lot!
Buying a used car allows you to save the most money without sacrificing much on quality. A 3 to 4 year old car will be significantly cheaper than a brand new car, and many of the same features in that 3-4 year old car will be similar to the new car. By purchasing a used car, you’ll save the most money and not feel the pain of immediate depreciation.

Reduce Your Insurance & Registration Costs

Car insurance for young adults usually is higher than it is for older adults. We’re seen as more of a risk. By purchasing a used car, your car insurance costs should be cheaper than for a new car. It’s a smart way for getting cheap insurance as a young adult.
The reason used cars are typically cheaper is that they’re not worth as much as brand new cars, making the cost to replace them cheaper for the insurance company. Your used car will also cost you less in state registration fees, too, as those fees are based on your car’s worth. All of these savings could add up to thousands of dollars. For that, don’t you think it’s worth by a slightly used car?

The Ability to Customize Your Car

One of the only things you used to lose when buying used versus new was the ability to personalize your car with specific upgrades. You can upgrade the navigation, the sound, the wheels… anything.
Or you can find one that’s already customized. There are many deals on cars that have already been customized. Websites such as Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader and Edmunds makes it easy to find the perfect car. With these sites, you can type in specifics and the search engine will do the rest. No longer does purchasing a used car mean you have to accept whatever comes along in your price range. If you want that sunroof, you can have it, as long as you have a little patience.
With the internet, it’s possible to still get the car of your dreams in a decent price range. If purchasing a newer car is important to you, you may have to wait a little until the right 2014 or used 2015 model comes back on the market. But you’ll eventually get what you want. No longer does buying a used car mean you have to take whatever is around in your city.
By purchasing a used car as a young adult, you’ll save money by avoiding depreciation, and paying less in fees and insurance costs. With all of the other expenses you face as a young adult, saving on transportation should be quite appealing.

Originally posted 2015-10-28 10:00:23.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

What’s the Deal with the New EMV Cards?

Whenever I shop in Target I always have a goal to spend less than $100.

I swear, I try to limit my purchases but I always seem to find something that I need!

I think it’s the bull’s-eye that draws me in.

On a recent trip to Target, I was in the self-checkout line and I swiped my credit card. Normally, as soon as I swipe my card, I see the receipt printed a few moments later and I’m on my way; my wallet approximately one hundred dollars lighter. However, this time, the screen prompted me to insert my card. “What?” I immediately thought. What if the machine eats my card? But I inserted my card and my transaction finalized a few moments later.

You might have had a similar experience in the recent months. On October 1, the U.S. credit card industry completed the formal migration to EMV chip-enabled credit cards. When I swiped my card at Target, I was prompted to insert my card in the terminal so that the chip could generate unique, dynamic data. So what is the deal with these EMV chip cards?

The implementation of enhanced security measures such as chip-enabled cards in the United States was prompted by the new “BuySecure” initiative, put into place by executive order. Identity theft is a serious issue. In 2014, the FTC reported identity theft as the top consumer complaint with a total of $16 billion stolen from 12.7 million fraud victims in 2014. The same 2015 Identity Fraud study found that in 2014 a new identity was stolen every 2 seconds. With such a prominent issue affecting Americans, President Obama signed an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft and a component of that “BuySecure” initiative includes implementation of the new chip technology.

Discover has created an EMV resource center to answer questions that you might have as a consumer. Here are a few questions that I had and answers that I learned from Discover.

How does the security of a chip-enabled card compare to a non-chip card?

  • The new chip cards have an extra layer of protection against fraud at point of sale. If you don’t have a chip card, or the merchant you are shopping at isn’t EMV ready, your magnetic strip card will still work the same way as it always has.

How does the chip-enabled card work?

  • Using a chip card is simple. At chip-enabled terminals, consumers can insert their cards into a terminal and follow the guided instructions on the terminal screen. In the case that a retailer does not have chip-enabled terminal, consumers can use the magnetic stripe on their card as they’ve always done before.

How are EMV cards more secure?

  • The microchip in chip cards generates unique, dynamic data every time a consumer completes a transaction in a store, making it harder for fraudsters to collect their card information. In turn, it is more difficult for hackers to copy and use credit card information.

While it might be an adjustment at first, ultimately, the EMV card technology aims to make each transaction more secure. And even though the technology can’t cure me of my Target shopping addiction, or change how much I spend on each visit, at least I will feel more secure knowing that those purchases are my own.

This post was created as a part of the Discover partnership program.

Originally posted 2015-10-26 10:00:30.