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The 12 Best Budget Apps (2020 Review)

The 12 Best Budget Apps (2020 Review)

The biggest part of budgeting is needing to get in control of your spending. But that can be nearly impossible to do on your own.

Expense tracker apps can make this a lot easier and even save you money. These budgeting tools can help you see your spending habits visually and see where your strengths and weaknesses are. As a management tool, it can help you spend your money the smart way and manage your cash flow.

All you need is a user-friendly spending tracker that works for you and you’re on your way to spending less and saving more.

Many expense apps also act as budgeting apps and can help you create your own budget. They make it easier to see all your spending in one place and manage all your monthly purchases and bills.

It can throw our finances out of balance for awhile when we go over budget one month. To get back on track you can take out a Check City Installment Loan and get your finances back in order in no time.

Here are some of the best rated expense tracker apps you can get for your phone today.

*All the information below was taken from Google Play on the day of posting.

1. Personal Capital

best budget app for investment portfolios

By Personal Capital Corporation

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 12,492 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Allows you to connect accounts: savings, checkings, investments, retirement, credit card accounts, mortgage. Designed primarily to track your net worth, cash flow, and investment portfolio.
Available financial advisors to offer recommendations backed by data. Not the most ideal option for personal, basic budgeting.
Tax optimization advice. Doesn’t allow you to share or link with other users.
Free analytics tool to track cash flow over a period of time. Less ideal if you don’t have a lot of money flow going different places.
Free analytics tool to track cash flow over a period of time.
Compatible with desktop and mobile devices.

With the Personal Capital app, you can do just about anything. You can sync the app to your personal bank accounts, your retirement funds, investments, IRA, and even debts, all in one seamless dashboard.

They even off their own high yield savings account called Personal Capital Cash. You can use Personal Capital’s saving account to keep any extra cash. It has no fees, no minimum balance requirements, and an Annual Personal Yield (APY) of 1.55%.

Overall,

the Personal Capital Budget App is great for individuals who want to grow their personal wealth and want to better keep track of all their investments. This app makes a great place to keep your full financial portfolio.

2. QuickBooks

best budget app for small businesses

By Intuit Inc

Reviewed 4.25 stars by 33,232 people

Free for 30 days

PROS
CONS
Plan specifically for small businesses, self-employed, and accountants. Not ideal for personal budget use.
Can keep track of all business expenses and keep them separate from personal expenses. Monthly subscriptions required from $15 to $35 a month.
Includes Turbo Tax features. Desktop pro costs $299.95
Automatically track miles. It costs an additional $250 to add other people onto your account.
Send professional invoices. You can only add up to 3 other people.
Compatible with desktop and mobile devices.
Ideal for all your business bookkeeping.

If you have frequent business expenses than QuickBooks is a good choice for you. This app includes the ability to track and earn up to 57.5 cents per mile, send and track your professional invoices, digitally keep track of receipts, and review how your business is doing financially in easy to read charts and graphs.

Overall,

Quickbooks is the perfect budgeting apps for small businesses and individuals who are self-employed. It’s a seamless place to do all your business bookkeeping.

3. Clarity Money

best free budget app

By Clarity Money, Inc

Reviewed 4.2 stars by 4,508 people

Free

PROS
CONS
100% free to use. Very simple features.
High-yield savings account with 1.70% APY. Involves creating an account with Marcus by Goldman Sachs Bank
Organize monthly expenses into categories. You can’t create groups.
Cancel unwanted subscriptions all in one place.
Make specific savings goals.
Free credit score checks.

The Clarity Money app has built-in AI that can help show you key information about your spending habits and help you automate your savings! Take care of your personal finance from month to month in this extremely simple budgeting app.

They also have a high yield savings account that’s highly customizable. You can decide to save specific amounts, at certain times each week or month, and even say what each savings plan is saving up for.

You can also cancel your subscriptions in one convenient location, organize all your bills, and check your credit score.

Overall,

the Clarity Money Budget App is a great app for anyone who wants a completely free, super easy to use money management app.

4. Mint Budgeting App

budget app android

By Intuit Inc

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 164,702 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Free unlimited credit score checks It’s not the most aestetically pleasing app.
Stay on top of your bills. There isn’t a desktop app, just a desktop website.
Stay on top of your spending.
See your financial analytics.
Make specific budget goals.

Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps. It’s made by the same people who brought you QuickBooks and TurboTax.

With the Mint app, you can create a budget that’s easy to stick to, keep track of your spending in neat spending categories, keep tabs on all your bills in one spot, and even get free credit score checks. Mint also has an easy to use web app that connects to your mobile app.

Overall,

the Mint Budgeting App is a great budgeting tool for those who want to improve their credit scores since Mint offers unlimited credit score checks and personalized tips and tricks on how you can improve your score.

5. YNAB

best budget app for desktop

By YouNeedABudget.com

Reviewed 4 stars by 5,669 people

Free for 34 days

PROS
CONS
34 day free trial. Pay $11.99 a month or $84 a year.
Track your personal budget goals. Not very customizable.
Optimized for the YNAB method of budgeting.
The YNAB app is compatible with your phone, desktop, Apple smartwatch, and even Alexa!

YNAB stands for You Need A Budget, which is a company that specializes in helping people use the YNAB budgeting method to make easy to follow monthly budgets. The YNAB app will take you through this easy process and help you to set goals.

Overall,

the YNAB Budget App is a good budget tool for anyone who is already invested in using the YNAB methods of budgeting. So if you need some more specific guidance when it comes to budgeting, then the YNAB Budget App is made for you.

6. Mvelopes Budget App

cash envelope budget system

By Finicity Corp

Reviewed 3.5 stars by 3,474 people

Free for 30 days

PROS
CONS
30 day free trial. Pay $6 to $59 a month.
Resources for debt.
Personal Financial Coaches available.
Digitally make use of the envelope budgeting system.

The envelope method for budgeting is popular for its incredible simplicity. If you have a very difficult time with budgeting, then the envelope method is where you should start.

The Mvelopes Budget App allows you to put money into digital envelopes that will notify when they’re empty so you don’t overspend on a specific category of your budget.

Overall,

Mvelopes is the best app for anyone who wants to digitally use the envelope system of budgeting without the hassle of taking out cash and using actual envelopes. This app is also ideal for people who need help getting out of debt.

7. Money Manager

budget app for couples

By Realbyte Inc

Reviewed 4.6 stars by 10,800 people

App Price: $4.99

PROS
CONS
Free version of the app. Premium version of the app only costs $4.99 on Google Play, and $3.99 on IOS.
You can save photos. Desktop version only available with Premium.
Allows dual entry booking.
Lets you budget monthly or weekly.

The Money Manager app lets you save photos along with photos of your receipt, so you can see what you bought, and how much it cost. It also allows dual entry booking and backs up your data to Google Drive or Excel files.

Overall,

the Money Manager Budget App can be extremely useful for both personal and professional use. And even though the premium version of the app costs money, it doesn’t require a monthly or yearly subscription as most other budgeting apps do.

8. Expensify

expense tracking apps

By Expensify Inc

Reviewed 4 stars by 13,989 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Put business expenses on the Expensify Card. Not very ideal for creating a personal budget.
Scan receipts with a smart scanner.

Expensify is an expense report app that comes with its own Expensify card. With this card, you can eliminate expense reports by simply using the Expensify card for all your business expenses.

Using the Expensify card also comes with lots of benefits. For instance, when you take a client out to dinner you help pay for a student’s lunch and every time you use the Expensify card to book a hotel for a business trip, you help someone else get a home.

Now you can make business expenses and feel good about the little ways the Expensify card helps you help others.

You can track and submit receipts with a receipt scanner that can automatically detect all the important information from the receipt for you. Then, you can categorize, code, and organize all your receipts in one easy to reach place.

Overall,

the Expensify app may not be ideal for budgeting, but it is the most ideal app for keeping track of business expenses and keeping track of all your receipts. If you want a safe place to keep and organize all your many receipts then Expensify is the best app for you.

9. Dave Ramsey Budget App: EveryDollar

spending apps

By Ramsey Solutions

Reviewed 4.2 stars by 6,092 people

Free without premium

PROS
CONS
You can plan your paychecks. You can only connect your financial accounts with the premium version.
It’s compatible with your desktop and mobile device. The sections aren’t very customizable.
It’s compatible with your desktop and mobile device. The premium version of the Dave Ramsey Budget app costs $129.99 every year.
The premium version is expensive but it does also offer courses from Financial Peace University.

The EveryDollar app was created by Dave Ramsey’s company to help you budget like Dave Ramsey.

Dave Ramsey’s main budgeting principle is to decide where every dollar you earn goes so that you have absolute control over every penny you earn. There’s also a premium version of this app available with EveryDollar Plus.

Overall,

the Dave Ramsey Budget App is a very simple budgeting app that might just be the easiest to use. Everything is effortlessly organized for you so you can start budgeting immediately.

The only major downside to the Dave Ramsey Budget App is that the premium versions cost a lot of money, $129.99 a year, and it’s only with this cost that you can sync your bank accounts to the app.

10. Zoho Expense Reporting

expense report app

By Zoho Corporation

Reviewed 4.5 stars by 2,659 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Dashboard helps you see the expense reports you have and haven’t sent. Not ideal for tracking personal expenses.
Can easily track your miles. No budget creation features.
Creates detailed expense reports.
Import your credit card statements all at once.

Zoho Corporation creates all kinds of useful apps for your business. One of them is an expense reporting app that lets you import credit card statements and helps you see the overall analytics for your business expenditures.

With this app, you can easily see how your business is doing financially in one place. With their easy to read graphs and charts, you can see how much your business is costing you in travel, office supplies, and client meetups.

Overall,

the Zoho Expense Reporting App is the best app for keeping track of all your business-related expenses. It’s also a very useful app if you’re an employee that needs to frequently send expense reports because you can quickly and painlessly send them to your boss from your phone!

11. Wally Budget App

best family budget app

By Wally Global Inc

Reviewed 2 stars by 200 people

Free, in-app purchases

PROS
CONS
Create groups and share budgets with the whole family. App is still in development.
Manage foreign accounts, investments, and your net worth. Wally Gold costs $26.99 a year.
Automatically tracks all your spending and give detailed insights into your spending habits. Coin earning system. Earn Wally coins every time a friend uses your invite code to download the app.

Don’t let this budgeting tool’s low rankings mislead you, Wally is an up and coming finance app that has been rated #1 over 40 times by places like NerdWallet, Forbes, and The Guardian. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular budget apps and it’s easy to see why.

The Wally app even lets you create group budgets for your family and household. It also lets you create shopping lists so you can see how much your grocery trip might cost you. And their basic version is 100% free!

Because the Wally Budget App is still new, they’re still working on creating features like desktop capability. But these features should soon be on their way. But already the basic Wally app has all the budget tool features you could ever want, with bank syncing, easy customization, and the ability to create multiple groups!

Overall,

the Wally app is the best overall budgeting app. It’s the perfect budget app for families and individuals and comes in a pleasant and friendly design you’re sure to love.

12. Albert Budget App

budget app for ios

By Albert Corp

Reviewed 4 stars by 3,146 people

Free

PROS
CONS
Get a $100 cash advance on your next paycheck. Cash advances cost up to $4.99 for instant delivery.
Customize your savings goals. Without the instant delivery fee, cash advances deposit in about 3 business days.
Get a 1% annual bonus for saving. Requirements apply.
Start an investment account with just $1. Requirements apply.

The Albert budgeting app has a sleek and simple design and allows you to easily take care of all your finances.

You can even text with a professional when you need financial advice, get real-time alerts about your finances, invest, and fully automate your savings. And these professionals aren’t just bots, they’re actual financial experts that work at Albert Corp to help you with your financial questions.

Overall,

the budget app by Albert Genius is a great portfolio for someone who wants easy access to some extra funds and an easy way to get started in the investment world.


Ways to Save Money with Low Waste Living

Ways to Save Money with Low Waste Living

Not only are there major health and environmental benefits to living a more low-waste lifestyle, but there are monetary benefits to take advantage of as well.

Taking care of our planet is important for many reasons. For example, air pollution has been linked to increases in cases of asthma. Even prenatal exposure to air pollution can increase the child’s risk of developing childhood wheezing and asthma.

Likewise, the benefits of recycling and lowering our wastes are great. It can help our environment, our health, conserve our natural resources, and provide more economic security.

Explore this Article

But one major benefit to recycling and living a more low waste lifestyle is that it’s also a way to save money in the long run. Instead of buying single-use items once or twice a month, replace these costs with higher quality products that can last you a number of years. And if you need help paying for these higher qualify single-purchase items, you can always take out a Check City Personal Loan to get you started on your low waste journey.

There are everyday expenses that you can reduce or eliminate entirely just by using a few low-waste living tips.

What is Recycling?

In 2017, the US generated over 260 million tons of waste. We recycled about 67 million tons and composted about 27 million tons.

In waste management, there are 2 types of waste disposal—the conventional method, recycling, and composting.

Recycling is a method of waste disposal that takes waste and makes it into other things. Instead of throwing things away, they are used to create new products. Recycling allows materials to continue to have use rather than piling up in landfills.

What is Composting?

Composting is the process used to turn organic waste, like food scraps, into usable compost, which can then be used as fertilizer. Composting gathers organic waste together and lets it decompose until it creates a soil conditioner (fertilizer) that is very rich in nutrients. You can then use this for soil as fertilizer to help plants grow better.

Composting is a great thing to do at home for your garden, flower bed, or herb garden. It is just another way you can help your household become more self-sufficient and help your plants and flowers grow more abundantly.

What is Greenwashing?

If you want to do your part to help the environment and your local community thrive then you’ll want to be aware of greenwashing.

Greenwashing is an advertising method meant to make products look organic or ecofriendly when in reality they aren’t. If a product or company’s ecofriendly claims are really true then they’ll usually tell you all about it—providing evidence, certificates, and details.

If their claims are vague or unspecific, then most likely they are greenwashing their product in the hopes it will help it sell better. When making purchases do your research and don’t be duped by false or shady advertising.

What is Low Waste Living?

Being environmentally minded comes in all kinds of ranges. You can strive to live the zero waste lifestyle or you can simply try and live a more low waste lifestyle. Either way can save you hundreds of dollars every year.

Low Waste Living is when you attempt to make less waste, be more self-sufficient, and buy products that are quality and long lasting rather than single use products you’ll have to buy over and over again.

All the Ways to Save Money Living Low Waste

You might think of low waste living as something crazy and intense people do or something you need to be really committed to in order to pull off. But there are actually plenty of really simple ways to make less waste and save yourself a ton of money along the way.

There are lots of frequent, recurring costs you could replace for a single purchase to you’re your monthly spending and use that money elsewhere. You just have to know what can be replaced.

1. Plastic Water Bottles

Save $100.00

Filtered water is just better, and many of us don’t live in areas with great tap water. But we need to drink lots of water every day and the cost of water bottles can really get out of hand. Instead you can buy a water filter pitcher, a really nice water filtration dispenser, or a really nice stainless steel faucet water filter so you don’t have to spend so much money on water bottles ever again.

2. Shop in Bulk

Save up to 83%

You can save a lot of money when you buy in bulk. Find the local stores near you that sell in bulk like Sam’s Club, Costco, and whole food stores where you can get basic foods from barrels.

The key with buying in bulk is that you save big on the price per unit and you buy amounts that can stock up your home and last a lot longer, which saves you gas money and time spent at the store. Some experts estimate that you can save up to 83% on your grocery bill by buying in bulk.

3. Make Homemade Cleaning Products

Save $600

We want to keep our homes clean and sanitized but the products we need to do so can get really expensive. Instead, you can just make your own homemade cleaning products with these simple homemade cleaning product recipes. You can also buy your favorite squirt bottles to reuse over and over again as well.

4. Reusable Grocery Bags

Save 10 cents per bag

Plastic bags are still free at most grocery stores but this might not always be the case. Many states have already begun banning single-use plastic bags at grocery and retail stores or created minimum 10 cent charges if you want to use plastic bags.

Save yourself the hassle by getting your own awesome reusable grocery shopping bags now that you can keep in your car and use at the grocery store instead of plastic bags.

You can also buy some tote bags to use when you make retail purchases at other stores, so that you can avoid the hassle of plastic bags there as well.

Getting your own shopping bags is also helpful because they won’t rip at the bottom and spill your items everywhere, they won’t squish your items together in small plastic bags, and they can even keep your food cold on the trip home. You can even get specific produce bags with some online shopping.

5. Reusable Straws

Using reusable straws instead of single-use plastic straws can be one of the easiest, and funnest ways to go green. Reusable straws come in all kinds of shapes and colors, and can even come in compact containers that fit on your keychain.

6. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Water bottles also come in all kinds of creative shapes, sizes, and colors. They can also come with unique functionalities. Instead of using the flimsy paper and plastic cups at restaurants you can use your own bottle instead! This will also keep your drink cold or hot longer and be more comfortable to hold in your hand or travel with you when you leave.

7. Install a Bidet

Save up to $120

The average American spends up to $120 each year on toilet paper alone. While you can’t really get rid of this cost, you can reduce the need by installing a bidet in your bathroom. You’ll save on toilet paper and actually be a cleaner and more hygienic person as well.

8. Start a Compost Bin

A compost bin can be a great way to put all your organic waste to better use. Your compost bin just needs 3 ingredients to function:

  1. Browns: like dead leaves, branches, twigs
  2. Greens: like grass, vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, coffee grounds
  3. Water

When you make your own compost you won’t need to spend money on chemical fertilizers and your garden will grow fuller and healthier. So a compost bin can save you money on gardening supplies and on groceries depending on what you decide to grow!

9. Plant a Garden

Save up to $600

Planting your own garden can both save and make you money. By planting your own herbs, vegetables, legumes, and even fruits you can save up to $600 on food costs each year. You could also make extra money each year by selling the produce from your garden at your local farmers market, or to your friends and neighbors.

10. Raise Chickens

Save up to $400

You can take your little farm one step further by getting a few farm animals of your own. Chickens are a good example for beginners and they can save you on the cost of eggs each year. You could even make money selling chicks to other households that would like to start raising their own chickens as well.

11. Make Your Own Clothes

Save up to $1,800

New clothes can be so expensive and with the rise of fast fashion many clothing brands don’t even provide quality clothes anymore. But you can take your wardrobe into your own hands by learning how to sew your own clothes!

12. Replace Paper Towels with Dish Rags

Save over $200

Paper towels can be nice and convenient but they might also be taking up more of your budget than you realize. Instead of spending extra money each month on the convenience of paper towels, buy a couple of kitchen towels for cleaning and wiping your hands.

13. Replace Paper Napkins with Cloth Napkins

Save over $200

You can also replace the paper napkins in your house with cloth napkins instead! Now your set table will look nicer and your family and guests will feel pampered and fancy when they come over for dinner.

14. Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues

Save up to $100

For instance, a pack of 4 flat box Kleenex costs about $6 while a pack of 6 basic handkerchiefs can cost $5.00 and last you for years to come. Meanwhile, tissue boxes only last a little while before you need to purchase them all over again.

So instead of buying box after box of tissues every year, just get yourself some nice handkerchiefs instead!

Replacing frequent costs with a single purchase is always the better choice. And handkerchiefs are going to be nicer on your nose, not chaff and dry out your nose the way paper tissues do. They’re also more useful because you can use them as a cloth too! If you need to wipe away some perspiration or wipe your hands throughout the day or anything.

15. Make Foods from Scratch

Save up to $4,109

Learn to make homemade things from scratch instead of instant and boxed foods. For example, two homemade pizza can cost as little as $3.25, while 2 pizzas from a pizza place can easily cost you over $20.

You can also learn to do your own canning and make preservatives. There are many things you can make yourself for less than half the cost it takes to buy it from the store. Here’s a short list of some other things you could learn to make from scratch instead of buying it in stores:

  • chicken or vegetable stock
  • peanut butter
  • macaroni and cheese
  • granola
  • baby food
  • spaghetti sauce
  • lunch meat
  • pizza
  • bread
16. Eat More Like a Vegetarian/Vegan

Save up to $700

You don’t have to commit to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle to take advantage of vegetarian and vegan meals. These meals can be tasty, full of nutrients, and cheaper than recipes that use lots of meats and dairy products.

17. Recycle

Make some spare change!

Get recycling bins for your home and start recycling! You can actually make money recycling certain items at your local recycling facility.

18. Don’t Waste Freezer Foods

You can create a lot of waste and waste a lot of food by not utilizing your freezer enough. Make foods last longer by storing them correctly in the freezer. You can even create a food expiration calendar for your fridge to help you keep track when you need to eat certain foods.

food storage expiration date calendars

There are also a surprising number of things you can make with overripe foods, like banana bread. So always check before you toss things whether you can give it a second life somehow.

19. Buy Used Instead of New

Not only does buying used items help recycle things and maintain the environment, but buying used can also save you a lot of money as well! If you need new furniture, you can find great deals on beautiful pieces at antique shops and on the Facebook Marketplace.

20. Support Local Farmers

By shopping at the local farmer’s market for food items instead of big chain grocery stores, you can support your local farmers, reduce consumption, and save money on cheaper and fresher produce.

21. Don’t Waste on Basic Bills

Save up to $2,060

Overdoing it on utilities can put a strain on the environment and your wallet. So take measures to reduce the use of your utilities like heating, cooling, electricity, and water.

For example, you could save your AC by opening windows to keep things cool instead. You could also make some homemade dry shampoo so you don’t have to wash your hair so frequently and conserve water that way. This will also help your shampoo last longer for when you do wash your hair. You could also put less use on your drier by hanging things up to dry instead.

22. Find a Local Tailor

Sometimes we get rid of clothes when they could be fixed! Find a local tailor and have them fix up your old clothes, pants, shoes, or even hats so you don’t have to replace them as often. You’ll also be supporting local businesses which is always a good thing.

23. Replace Plastic Loofahs

Save up to $120

Instead of rebuying plastic loofas over and over again throughout the course of your life find a more permanent solution. You can find bath brushes in all kinds of shapes and brush types and they’ll actually help exfoliate and clean you better than a loofah anyway.

24. Rechargeable Batteries

Save up to $20

Not many things still use batteries but our need for batteries is far from over. But instead of rebuying batteries every time they die, just buy a pack of rechargeable batteries that you can use for life! That way you won’t be throwing away harmful batteries all the time, and you won’t have to buy them all the time either.

25. Make Reusable Gift Bags

Save up to $240

We spend so much on wrapping paper each year for birthdays and holidays. It’s fun to give gifts and being able to open the gift is one of the best parts! But you can keep the surprise while getting rid of wrapping paper costs by crafting together some reusable gift bags or clothes of your own.

26. Ditch Sponges for Brushes

Save up to $40

Sponges are important for helping you wash dishes, but they can get gross and need replacing really fast. Ditch the cost of sponges all together by buying dish brushes instead.

27. Use Public Transit, Walk, or Bike

Save up to $2,000

The average American spends over $2,000 a year on gas. That’s a lot of money that could be going to other parts of your budget. By taking the bus, using a bike, or walking you can greatly reduce this cost and reduce your emissions.

How To Live a Low Waste Lifestyle

The above list doesn’t list all the things you can do to cut down on waste and costs, but just with the tips above you can potentially save up to $13,000 a year by becoming more self-sufficient and replacing single-use purchases with single-purchase items you only have to buy once.

What will you do with all this extra money? You could put it all into a savings account, a checking account, use it to help reach your savings goals, or pay off credit cards, or start an emergency fund. Start saving money today and make your future brighter and more waste free.

These are a lot of really helpful ideas, but most of them boil down to a few key tactics to living a more low waste lifestyle.

  1. Make things from scratch
  2. Be self-sufficient
  3. Support local businesses
  4. Choose quality over anything else

Now all you have to do is create your own master plan of attack for living the low-waste way and watch how much your budget grows with all those savings!


2020 Review: The Best Store Credit Cards

store credit cards review

Which credit card is best? With endless options, it can be hard to choose.

That’s why we’ve compiled a complete list of all the best department store credit cards so you can easily compare different credit card perks in one place! Here you can look at credit cards for bad credit, and some of the easiest department store credit card to get.

Our Store Credit Card Guide:

Credit cards can offer a lot of benefits. You can use them to better budget yourself, when you need extra funds to pay for something, or to accumulate cashback, points, and rewards.

If you need to pay for a larger purchase in installments, you can also take out a Check City Installment Loan and avoid any hassle with multiple credit cards.

Best Buy Credit Card

Get 5% back in rewards for Best Buy purchases and 6% back if you are an Elite Plus Cardmember. Gest the Best Buy Visa Card and also earn 3% back on gas, 2% back on dining and groceries, and 1% back on everything else.

Recommended Credit Score:

Average to Excellent (630 to 850)

Fees:

Annual fee of $0 to $59 depending on your level of creditworthiness

Cash advance fee of $10 or 5% depending on which is greater

Interest Rate:

at least $1

PROS CONS
flexible financing only on purchases of $199+
get 10% back in rewards on your first day of purchases application needs approval
offer both credit and visa cards credit card is for Best Buy purchases only
there are annual fees
there are cash advance fees

The Best Buy Cards are issued by Citibank. If you get the Best Buy Visa Card then you can also enjoy benefits like 3% back on gas, 2% back on dining and groceries, and 1% back on everything else. But the Best Buy Credit Card doesn’t have this option. It is only used for Best Buy purchases online and in stores.

Walmart Credit Card

Get 5% back at Walmart.com, the Walmart app, grocery pickup, and delivery. Get 2% back in Walmart stores, Walmart fuel stations, restaurants, and travel expenses. Get 1% back everywhere else.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (630 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fee

$0 fraud liability

3% balance transfer fee

3% or $10 cash advance fee, whichever is greater.

Interest Rates:

variable rate of 17.99%, 23.24% or 26.99% depending on the level of your creditworthiness.

PROS CONS
mobile friendly app only 2% back in stores
card lock available can only use Walmart fuel stations for the 2% back
get security alerts on your phone credit approval required
you are not liable for fraudulent purchases balance transfer fees

Walmart has 2 kinds of cards—the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard and the Walmart Rewards Card. Your credit score has to meet minimum credit approval requirements with Capital One before they will approve you for the Walmart Credit Card.

Credit Card for Children’s Place

Get 30% off your first purchase, 25% off on your children’s birthdays, 20% off just for getting the card, and get 2 points for every $1 you spend and 100 points for every $5 you spend.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (640 to 850)

Fees:

Shipping fees

Interest Rates:

27.24% APR

PROS CONS
can be used at the Children’s Place or Gymboree can’t be used outside the store
earn 100 points for every $5 you spend subject to credit approval
get birthday rewards can only register 4 of your children’s birthdays

The Children’s Place Credit Card is issued by Comenity Capital Bank. They specialize in branded credit cards. You can get lots of discounts by using a credit card from Children’s Place, but you can’t use it outside the store and there isn’t a lot of available information about the potential fees and interest rates.

Home Depot Credit Card

Get $25 off purchases of $25 to $299, $50 off purchases of $300 to $999, and $100 off purchases of $1,000 or higher.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (640 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

Interest Rates:

7.99% fixed APR for Project Loans

17.99% to 26.99% APR depending on your level of creditworthiness for the Consumer Card

PROS CONS
get up to $100 off your Home Depot purchases Home Depot Purchases only
financing terms of 6 to 84 months available only get other savings at participating fuel stations with the commercial cards
can borrow up to $55,000 for a Project Loan
no interest for the first 60 days after a purchase

Home depot has 4 major credit cards—the Home Depot Consumer Credit Card, the Home Depot Home Improver Card (the Project Loan Card), the Home Depot Commercial Revolving Charge, and the Home Depot Commercial Account. You can use the Consumer Card and the Project Loan for your own personal use and you can use the Commercial Cards for your business.

Lowe’s Credit Card

Get $5 off every day on all your Lowe’s purchases. You can also get 6 months of special financing, 84 months of fixed monthly payments, and credit cards for your business.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (640 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

Interest Rates:

7.99% APR on the Lowe’s Advantage Card

26.99% APR with a minimum interest charge of $2 on the Lowe’s Business Cards

PROS CONS
get 5% off on everything Lowe’s Purchases only
special 6 month financing terms available minimum purchase of $299
84 month terms available minimum purchase of $2,000

Lowe’s has one card for personal use called the Lowe’s Advantage Card. With it you can take part in exclusive events and discounts for cardholders and get 5% off on all your Lowe’s purchases. You can also use their 6 to 84 month financing on larger personal purchases.

Lowe’s also has 4 cards for your business—the Lowe’s Business Credit Cards and the Lowe’s Preload Card. These can also get your business 5% off every day, and get you discounts on deliveries and larger lines of credit.

Kohls Credit Card

Get $35 off your first Kohls purchase after getting the Kohls Credit Card. You can also enjoy extra savings, Kohls cash, anniversary offers, mobile payments, and Most Valued Customer benefits after spending $600 at Kohls in one year.

Recommended Credit Score:

Good to Excellent (680 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

Late fees up to $38

Interest Rates:

26.49% APR

PROS CONS
get exclusive offers throughout the year balance transfers aren’t allowed
get 15%, 20%, and 30% off coupons throughout the year savings aren’t consistent
special anniversary offer each year APR is a variable rate

The Kohls Charge Card is issued by Capital One. You can only use the Kohls Credit Card in their stores, but they do come with monthly discounts, and the ability to make returns without receipts. You can even become a Most Valued Customer (MVC) by spending $600 at Kohls in a single year. Then even more benefits will open up to you.

Get $20 off your first store purchase, get 5 points for every $1 you spend on their brands, get 1 point for every $1 you spend everywhere else, and get a $5 reward for every 500 points.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (600 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

$0 fraud liability

Interest Rates:

26.99% APR

PROS CONS
fraud prevention chip
extra 20% off
free shipping
free basic alterations on Banana Republic clothes
same benefits apply at all Gap stores
can be used anywhere that accepts Visa

The Old Navy Credit Card is a part of the Gap Brand. This means that Old Navy Credit Cards, Gap credit cards, Banana Republic Credit Cards, and Athleta Credit Cards all come with the same benefits and can be used interchangeably amongst these 4 stores.

The Gap brand credit cards are all issued by Visa, which means that they can all be used anywhere that accepts Visa cards, not just inside their stores. So you can use them for all your shopping, get 1 whole point for every $1 dollar you spend, and watch your clothes start paying for themselves.

TJ Maxx Credit Card

Get $10 off when you sign up for a TJ Maxx Rewards Card. Earn 5% back in the TJ Maxx family of stores, get 5 points for every $1 you spend in stores and 1 point for every $1 you spend anywhere else.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (620 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

Interest Rates:

27.24% APR

PROS CONS
same benefits apply at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Sierra Trading Post and Homesense can only redeem rewards in the TJ Maxx family of stores
earn 5% back in rewards when you shop in the family
get invites for exclusive offers
can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard

The TJ Maxx Rewards Credit Card is a part of a larger family of stores. You can also get these same discounts and points at Marshalls, Home Goods, Sierra Trading Post, and HomeSense.

The TJ Maxx Card is issued by Synchrony Bank and Mastercard. It can be used outside this family of stores so you can get 1 whole point for every $1 dollar you spend outside their stores. Rewards can only be redeemed inside their stores.

Amazon Credit Card

Get 5% back on all your Amazon purchases, get 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and get 1% back on everything else. The Amazon Credit Card also offers 6, 12, 24 month financing terms and 0% APR.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (640 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fees

Annual Prime Membership fee

$0 fraud liability

Interest Rates:

0% APR

PROS CONS
use financing terms to make purchases in installments you need an Amazon Prime membership
0% APR
you are protected against unauthorized purchases
can use anywhere that Visa is accepted

The Amazon.com Store Card can offer you financing, zero fees and interest rates, limited time offers, protection against fraud and money back on all your Amazon purchases. It can also get you a percentage back on all your other purchases.

Costco Credit Card

Get 4% back on gas, 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% back on Costco purchases, and 1% back on everything else.

Recommended Credit Score:

Very Good to Excellent (750 to 850)

Fees:

Yearly Costco Membership fees

$0 foreign transaction fees

Interest Rates:

16.74% APR variable

PROS CONS
earn back the most on gas and travel if you don’t travel a lot
can use anywhere that Visa is accepted you need a Costco membership
you can use this card in other countries if you don’t visit other countries

Your Costco Anywhere Card also doubles as your Costco membership ID. It can also get you an extended warranty on your purchases. Costco also offers cards for your business needs.

Target REDcard

Save 5% on all your Target purchases, enjoy free 2-day shipping, an extra 30 days on returns, and special gifts and offers throughout the year.

Recommended Credit Score:

Fair to Excellent (640 to 850)

Fees:

$0 annual fee

$40 cash withdrawal fee on the Target Debit Card

Interest Rates:

25.15% APR variable

PROS CONS
link Target Debit Card to existing checking account $40 cash withdrawal fee
10% discount coupon on your card’s anniversary can only be used at Target

Target has both a Target REDcard Credit Card and Target Debit Card. The Target Credit Card, however, can only be used at Target, so you can’t get points or cashback on other purchases.

How to Pick a Credit Card:

The key to picking out a credit card is knowing which one will most benefit you specifically.

First, think about where you shop the most. You’ll get the most benefit from that card because their best perks are usually for in-store or online purchases. If you don’t know where you shop the most then go to your bank account statements and look at your transaction history.


(Shopping Guide) Valentine’s Day

valentine's day shopping

Valentine’s Day occurs every year on February 14th.

Valentine’s day has been around for a very long time, though how it all got started is less known. Regardless of how Valentine’s day all began, it’s a holiday full of love and appreciation for those who are most important to us.

Explore this Article

Valentine’s Day History

The origins of Valentine’s Day are shrouded in long forgotten legends and stories. It either began as the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death or as a Christian adaption of an old Pagan holiday.

Saint Valentine was a priest during the era of Rome. It is said that the Roman emperor banned marriage for young men because he needed soldiers. But Saint Valentine continued to perform weddings in secret for young lovers. When his defiance was found out, he was killed.

Other legends say he was killed because he was helping Christian refugees escape Roman imprisonment. While imprisoned it’s said he fell in love and sent love letters from prison signed, “from your Valentine.” Now we use the name “Valentine” to refer to someone we care about or love dearly.

But Valentine’s Day could also have Pagan origins from the festival of Lupercalia. This Pagan festival was celebrated on February 15th. It was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus. As they did with many pagan holidays, the Catholic church made their own holiday during the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Whatever the true story is, the idea of valentine’s day is that it’s a day of romance, confessions, and affirmations.

valentines day gift

There are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that can be whatever you want it to be!

You can celebrate Valentine’s Day by practicing some self-love, buying yourself something you want, having a relaxing day at home, or going out with friends. It can also be spent with a special someone on a nice Valentine’s Day date, or with friends and family that you care about.

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, there might be Valentine’s Day gifts you’d like to buy to show your love and appreciation for those you care about. And if you really want to go all out this year, but need some financial help to do so, you can take out a Check City Personal Loan.

Below we’ll go over the most popular Valentine’s Day flowers and gift ideas for everyone!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Whether you need a special gift for your mother, your wife, or your girlfriend, these gift ideas are sure to wow the special woman in your life.

  • Jewelry
  • Clothes
  • Organizers
  • Makeup
  • Vanity mirror
  • Tech she wants
  • Beauty products
  • Spa gift basket
  • Personalized or custom made gifts

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Him

When buying a gift for a special someone in your life, the point is to show how much you cherish them. Sometimes this will mean getting them something they’ve been wanting, rather than something strictly romantic.

  • Massage gun or foam roller
  • Clothes
  • Custom made or custom engraved gifts
  • Beauty product gift baskets for men
  • Video games
  • Tech he wants

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

Nieces, nephews, cousins, and your own children are also great Valentine’s Day gift recipients. They’ll love getting little gifts to remind them how special they are.

  • Games
  • Toys
  • Fun shirts
  • Books
  • Craft kits
  • Stuffed animals
  • Candy

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Coworkers

Coworkers can be some of the most appreciative Valentine’s Day recipients. Many of them probably won’t expect anything from you, so getting a valentine’s gift from a fellow coworker can be a fun surprise to brighten up their workday.

  • Engraved wallet
  • Mugs
  • Socks
  • Calendar
  • Desk toys, decor, or plants
  • Games
  • Designer office supplies

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Friends

Your friends deserve some extra appreciation on Valentine’s Day as well. They’ve been there for you through thick and thin and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to thank them with a gift.

  • Games
  • Food
  • Puzzles
  • Gift box
  • Gift cards for restaurants
  • Custom friendship memorabilia

Gift Ideas for Galentine’s Day

As the world evolves we realize things like, having a boyfriend or a husband doesn’t determine a woman’s self-worth. That’s why Galentine’s Day was created, to remind women everywhere that self-love is just as important as romantic love.

For similar reasons, a day like Guyentine’s Day could be created! To let men everywhere know that their own self-love is just as important as the love they receive from others.

  • Funny shirts or socks
  • Book
  • Mug
  • Journal
  • Self-care gift basket
  • Trip to a salon
  • Lady’s night out
  • Guy’s night out

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Pets

As a society, our relationship with our pets is changing. We see them more as family members now and want to treat them as such. For this reason, Valentine’s Day is also a great day to buy something special for the furry friend in your life!

  • Fun clothes
  • Car seat
  • Blanket
  • New toy
  • New treat
  • Ball that rolls itself
  • Nanny cam for pets

Shop at Walmart by Clicking Here

At Walmart, you can get all kinds of Valentine’s Day goodies. They have chocolates, candies, stuffed animals, flowers, and even jewelry!

Shop at Target by Clicking Here

Target has stuff to help make your Valentine’s Day party a blast! You can find fun Valentine’s Day cards for the kids to pass out in class, exchange candies, and cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes to keep everything in!

Shop at Anthropologie by Clicking Here

Anthropologie is a popular place to get your Valentine something really nice. They have fragrant candles, beautiful dresses with Valentine’s Day colors, red jeweled earrings, and more!

Shop at Nordstrom Rack by Clicking Here

Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find quality items for your sweetheart at reasonable prices. You can get matching Valentine’s Day mugs, Valentino perfume, and deluxe candy boxes to make your lover swoon.

Shop on Amazon by Clicking Here

Right now you can watch Amazon Live, sponsored by Hallmark to see first hand the kind of great items you can get for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Some of the most popular items include a Dash mini heart-shaped waffle maker, a Hamilton Beach digital air fryer oven, and a Wilton chocolate fountain.

Shop at Hallmark by Clicking Here

Hallmark has been a staple brand for cards and gifts for a long time. At Hallmark, you can find thoughtful gifts for under $10, $20, or $30.

Valentine’s Day Flowers and Their Meanings

valentines day flowers

Here we’ll go over a complete guide to Valentine’s Day flowers, so you can figure out the perfect flower arrangement full of thoughtfulness and meaning.

Rose

Roses are by far, one of the most romantic flowers to receive on Valentine’s Day. They also come in a wide range of colors and meanings if you want to get poignant with your Valentine bouquet.

Rose Color Meaning
White Rose: innocence
Red Rose: love
Pink Rose: sweetness
Yellow Rose: friendship
Orange Rose: desire or admiration
Lavender Rose: love at first sight or enchantment
Tulip

Tulips are an elegant flower that can come in literally any color. They are the perfect flower to show sophistication along with simple beauty. Tulips generally signify perfect love, so you can easily just get a bouquet in the recipient’s favorite color.

Tulip Color Meaning
Red Tulip: true love
Purple Tulip: royalty
White Tulip: forgiveness
Yellow Tulip: cheerfulness
Lily

Lilies are a striking flower that can’t help but be noticed. As a whole, the lily flowers represents devotion and purity. They are also associated with motherhood and rebirth, so if you’re looking for a flower to give the mother of your children, this is the flower for you.

Lily Color Meaning
Calla Lily: faithfulness
Day Lily: a mother’s devotion
White Lily: virtue
Pink Stargazer Lily: prosperity
Red Lily: passion
Orange Tiger Lily: confidence
Carnation

Carnations are the perfect gift to get someone who was born in the month of January since carnations are the birth flower of that month. But they are a flower that also comes in many many colors with lots of different meanings you could use.

Carnation Color Meaning
Red Carnation: love
White Carnation: pure love
Pink Carnation: gratitude
Purple Carnation: impulsive
Orchid

Orchids are a wonderful plant to get someone who loves to decorate their home and who wants to keep their flower for a long time. When cared for orchids can continue to bloom for years to come.

Orchid Color Meaning
White Orchid: elegance
Purple Orchid: admiration
Yellow Orchid: friendship
Baby’s Breath

Though the baby’s breath flower doesn’t come in many colors, it is a common flower used to fill out beautiful flower arrangements. It is a symbol of everlasting love and the sincerity of someone’s feelings.

Daisy

The daisy is a bright and cheerful flower that stands for innocence, purity, and cheerfulness.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums are a popular flower. They make very full bouquets and can effortlessly adorn the inside and outside of your home.

Chrysanthemum Color Meaning
White Chrysanthemum: devoted love
Red Chrysanthemum: deep passion
Violet Chrysanthemum: get-well soon
Iris

The iris may be one of the most regal looking flowers. They have an elegant, royal look that can be perfect for representing your feelings this Valentine’s Day.

Iris Color Meaning
Purple Iris: wisdom
Yellow Iris: passion
Blue Iris: faith
White Iris: purity

The possibilities for how you can celebrate this day of love are vast. There are gifts and flowers for every situation. Use this guide to help you plan your Valentine’s Day to really make it special this year.


Amazon Deal of the Day

amazon daily deals

We often depend on sales to get the things we need for a more manageable price. But what happens when you don’t have the funds when the sales hit?

You apply for a Check City Payday Loan to get the funds you need now, so you can take advantage of sales today. You can also find sales every day of the week with Amazon’s Daily Deals!

Take a look at Amazon’s Deals of the Day by visiting the Today’s Deals tab when you go on Amazon. There you will find unique deals every single day of the week.

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

All-In-One Baby Lounger

Amazon prime deals

Current Sale Price: $136.91
Originally: $175.00
You Save: $38.09 (22% off!)

For all the new babies arriving this year, get the all-in-one baby lounger from Dock A Tot! This baby lounger has endless uses, like cosleeping and tummy time. It’s the perfect lounger to keep your baby safe and comfortable.

Women’s Waterproof Ski Jacket

Amazon deal of the day

Current Sale Price: $55.24
Originally: $64.99
You Save: $9.75 (15% off!)

For those of us braving the cold this winter, a stylish winter jacket! It’s even waterproof with a windbreaker to keep you as dry and warm as possible while you brave the elements.

Apple Watch Bands

Amazon lightning deals

Current Sale Price: $8.49 to $12.99
Originally: $49.99
You Can Save Up To $41.50!

Need a new strap for your Apple watch? Idon has packs of 3, with beautiful color palettes to choose from. They’re made of a soft, silicone material so you can easily wear them while doing any kind of sport or activity.

Kitchen Cleaning Drillbrush

Amazon wear house deals

Current Sale Price: $10.16
Originally: $18.95
You Save: $8.79 (46% off!)

For anyone starting spring cleaning early, get yourself a cleaning drill brush to really get the grime out of your house. This drill brush comes with 3 attachments so you can get all kinds of forgotten corners and crevices.

Shop Amazon Warehouse

Amazon warehouse deals

Where you can shop by any category for great, quality deals!

At Amazon’s warehouse, you can shop for used and refurbished products for yourself, for the home, or for the family. They have computers and tablets on sale, kitchen appliances, Amazon devices, video games and video game accessories, and so much more!


Cheap Weekend Getaways on a Budget

Weekend Getaways on a Budget

Sometimes a long vacation far away can actually be more exhausting than relaxing.

That’s why a weekend trip somewhere near you can actually be more rejuvenating.

Not only that but weekend trips are less expensive, you don’t have to take time off, and it can be just what you need to prevent burnout and keep your energies and spirits up.

The Best Weekend Getaways

The best weekend getaways cater to your personal preferences and desires so you can get the most out of your short trip.

Some people are looking for weekend getaways near me, where they can be close to home but still take a break from their lives. Others are looking for cheap weekend getaways, so they can enjoy a vacation without spending too much. Then there are people looking for group weekend getaways or the best weekend getaways for couples.

Different people look for different things in a vacation. Some people are history buffs and want to see some historical sites and go on tours. Others will want to go where there is lively music, or botanical gardens where they can walk and be with nature.

Other people have specific requirements for their vacation. If you have kids you might need a family-friendly option, or if you’re a couple you might want something more romantic.
Start asking yourself what kind of vacationer you are before you get started on any solid plans.

Take a moment to sit down and write a list of things you must have in a weekend getaway. This can help you decide the key elements of your weekend trip budget.

Make a Budget

weekend trip costs

The more days you stay away the more your trip will cost.

Which is why weekend trips are so great! You can vacation without breaking the bank simply by leaving for fewer days.

According to Budget Your Trip the average daily cost of a vacation for just one person comes to about $224. This means that a 2 day vacation would cost $448, a 3 day vacation would cost $672, and a longer 4 day vacation would cost $896.

But you can save even more on a weekend getaway by cutting areas of your budget and making smart, money-saving choices.

Download a Free Printable PDF for a Weekend Getaway Budget.

weekend trip budget

A vacation budget usually includes at least 4 categories.

Transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment.

According to ValuePenguin the average cost of transportation for 4 nights is $224, lodgings are $150, food is $155, and entertainment is $52. A 4 night trip, from Friday to Monday, can cost a total of $581.

These 4 budget sections are what you’ll need to figure out before going on vacation. Though there may be other things to consider depending on your personal preferences. For example, you might want to add a souvenir budget or create separate budgets for each person going on the trip.

Transportation

transportation

As with any trip, you’ll need to figure out what transportation you’ll use, how much it will cost, and how you can save in this category.

The farther from home you go the more expensive transportation costs are going to be. This doesn’t mean you can’t go far away for your weekend trip, it just means transportation will take up a larger portion of your budget if you do. You might have to make sacrifices in other areas of your budget, like which hotel you stay at if you want to go somewhere farther away.

Since it’s just a weekend trip, longer trips will also take up more of the little time you have to get away that weekend. But if you go somewhere close by, then you’ll have even more time to enjoy your destination. Try going on a road trip instead of flying since driving is generally cheaper than plane tickets.

You should also try and book accommodations that aren’t too far away from everything. That way you can easily walk, ride bikes, or use trails like the boardwalk or river walk to get wherever you want to go while on vacation.

Lodging

lodgings

If you book your accommodations well in advance then you are more likely to snag some deals.

If you want to get in the habit of taking weekend trips, then try getting into the habit of researching prices every so often. That way you’ll see when prices go up and down.

You can also save on lodgings by choosing Airbnbs, hostels, or campgrounds to stay at instead of expensive hotels. If you go on trips very often, then investing in a trailer or some quality camping gear could actually save you money in the long term.

Food

food

Eating out can easily become the most expensive part of a vacation. But you can save tons of money on food by packing your own meals and snacks.

No matter where you end up staying you can always bring your own food. If you’re going camping you can pack food bags and coolers full of nonperishable foods. If you’re going to a hotel or Airbnb you can find one with a kitchenette so you can make your own meals instead of spending tons of money eating out.

But remember to keep item number 1 in mind! Maybe eating out while traveling is a big part of a vacation for you. If this is the case, then just calculate restaurant expenses into your weekend getaway budget.

Entertainment

entertainment

There’s nothing more disappointing than coming back from a trip where you didn’t have time for everything you wanted to do.

You don’t want your weekend trip to feel like a waste of time. There might be specific things you want to do to entertain yourself while on vacation, like see a movie, go to a specific restaurant, see a show, go on a guided tour, or visit the zoo.

Create a vacation schedule for yourself so you don’t miss out on anything or unexpectedly spend money on tickets for something once you get there. By creating a schedule for entertainment ahead of time, you’ll know how you’re spending your weekend and how much each activity will cost. That way you can include your fun in your budget and not feel bad later for spending more than you thought you would.

Entertainment can also be the most flexible part of your budget and an easy place to cut costs. Maybe instead of paying for an expensive tour you pick up a cheaper tour guide booklet and see the sites yourself. Or maybe you can find free things to do like go to a public beach or nature park.

Download a Free Printable for a Weekend Getaway Schedule.

More Weekend Vacation Budget Tips

weekend getaway tips and tricks

Now that you know how to save on your 4 key weekend budget categories, let’s go over some other ways to trim your weekend budget.

1. Split the Costs

One great way to get the most out of a weekend vacation while still saving money is to bring a group of people and split the cost. By renting a cabin with a bunch of friends or family members, you can stay at a really nice place for a much more reasonable price.

Transportation costs can also be alleviated by inviting friends to tag along and help pay for gas.

2. Pack Light

Packing light will not only make your life easier, but it can save you in the long run. By not packing too much you won’t lose as many items in the hustle and bustle of traveling.

You also won’t have to pay extra traveling fees for having tons of luggage.

3. Don’t Spend Money Once You’re There

If you plan carefully and bring your own things, you can get away with not spending money once you reach your destination. Eat your own food and bring your own entertainment.

There are plenty of things you can do for free on vacation, like outdoor activities or going to state parks. You might actually enjoy just reading a good book by the poolside instead of filling your weekend with expensive and busy activities.

4. Look for All-Inclusive Options

Some resorts and cruises can be all-inclusive, meaning that you pay for your stay and they provide everything else. All-inclusive trips can also give you the best deal since one payment will pay for all categories of your budget. All you have to worry about is showing up.

5. Put Vacations in Your Budget Now

Planning ahead will always save you more, and that includes planning for your vacations now. Put away a little money each month into a fund just for trips. Then once you have enough to cover your vacation budget you can go, relax, have fun, and not worry about the money your spending because you saved it all up specifically for this.

6. Use a Prepaid Debit Card

Have trouble budgeting your spending once you’re there? Just get a Prepaid Debit Card and use that for spending on vacation. With a prepaid debit card, you won’t be able to go over budget and can protect yourself from your own money spending habits.

7. Long Weekends

Plan to go on vacation during a long weekend. That way you don’t have to use paid time off, and you can get an extra day or two of relaxation and fun into your weekend. Having a long weekend to look forward to can also make work more bearable, and give you a time frame for saving up.

8. Most Popular Weekend Getaway Locations

If you want to travel somewhere really popular, you definitely want to look for deals. You can use websites like kayak, travelocity, trivago, or airbnb to find deals on transportation, lodgings, and fun times. You can also use sites like the Crazy Tourist to see reviews about popular places and help you decide where to go and what to see on your trip.

Here are some examples of how you can use these sites to your advantage.

Getaways in San Diego

Trips to Santa Barbara

San Antonio Vacation Packages from $658

Las Vegas Weekend Break Hotels

15 Best Romantic (Weekend) Getaways in Rhode Island

New York City Weekend Breaks

Best Weekend Deals Los Angeles

San Francisco Cheap Vacations


How to Make and Keep New Year Resolutions this Year

Explore this Article

new year wishes

The New Year is a significant time for a lot of people. A whole new year is beginning with a whole new you waiting ahead!

The new year is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts for us all. Many of us will attempt to make new year resolutions to better ourselves and our lives this coming year. We see the new year holiday as an opportunity to celebrate the past year and look hopefully toward the year to come. New Years Eve may be one of the most hopeful nights of the year as we start over with the dawn of a whole new beginning.

New Year Resolution Ideas

Have you decided what your new year resolutions are going to be? If not, here are some common new year resolution ideas that you could choose from.

  1. Work on physical health
  2. Work on mental health
  3. Get more organized
  4. Save money
  5. Get out of debt
  6. Quit bad habits
  7. Stick to a budget
  8. Travel
  9. Read more
  10. Find a better job

new year goals

1. Work on physical health
Every body needs to learn good, healthy habits to keep their bodies fit and strong. This goal works for everyone since we can all do a little more to take care of our physical health, whether that means eating better, working out more, or both.

2. Work on mental health
This goal also works for everyone since we can all always do a little more to take care of our mental and emotional wellbeing. Self-care is important and can make accomplishing other goals a lot easier. Mental wellness goals can be anything from resolving to visit a therapist to doing morning yoga for a happier morning routine.

3. Get more organized
Organizing and decluttering your life is another goal that can make keeping other goals easier. Maybe you want to focus on planning more productive days. Or maybe your office space, bedroom, or garage could use a major cleaning and organizing overhaul. This can be a great goal to make as a family to rearrange and reorganize your home and your lives together.

keep new year resolutions guide

4. Save money
We’d all like to save more money, but making this an actual new year resolution might be the focus you need to really make it happen. You can save money in many ways: 1) reduce spending by getting rid of some monthly payments, 2) get a better paying job or a second job, or 3) learn to stick to a budget that allows you to save more money.

5. Get out of debt
Debt can bog down all aspects of our lives. It can keep us from getting the things we need and moving forward with important life steps. Resolve to get rid of debts this year and make an airtight financial plan for how you’ll do it. Maybe this year you can decide to go without certain things so you can afford the bigger payments to bring down your debts faster.

6. Quit bad habits
Bad habits come in all shapes and sizes. You might want to quit smoking this year, or maybe you just want to quit eating junk food. One key trick to quitting bad habits is figuring out how to replace bad habits with better habits to fill the void the bad habit was filling.

7. Stick to a budget
Creating a budget and sticking to it can be a really difficult goal to accomplish. To finally learn to stick to your budget, try focusing on one aspect of your budget at a time in order to more slowly learn how to live according to that budget. This way you’ll take things slower and not fail due to being overwhelmed.

8. Travel more
Traveling can be a great way to expand your views, learn about the world, and learn about yourself. Make sure that in your goal planning you remember to account for time and costs. You might need to use PTO days at work and plan accordingly. There will also be travel costs like gas, tickets, hotels, or whatever else you’ll need to make your traveling plans actually happen. You can also make use of a Check City Installment Loan in your travel budget to help with costs. Plan to prepare before you plan to travel.

9. Read more
Reading is an important hobby we often forget about in our busy lives. To remind yourself to read this coming year create your own reading list. Keep in mind your own reading pace and schedule out your planned reading for the year on a calendar. You can even form a book club and read together with friends.

10. Find a better job
Money might not buy happiness but a good job can make all the difference in your personal and financial life. Finding a better job might be an important goal this year if you’re struggling to not live paycheck to paycheck. It might also be an important goal if the environment at your current job is less than ideal, or if your commute is too long.

How to Set Goals

set goals
Making goals for yourself this new year is a worthy endeavor, but many of us start to fail in our goals around February and give up by March. Why is this? Generally, we fail in our goals because we lack the proper motivation and planning to keep our goals.

1. Don’t set too many goals
One of the main things that keep people from accomplishing their goals is setting too many goals at one time. Instead, stick to only one or two major goals for the year. You may have up to 50 goals you’d really like to accomplish this coming year, but if you want to be successful at keeping your goals, you’ll need to prioritize and focus on the most important ones first.

2. Make a step-by-step plan for your goals
Once you have your resolution in mind, break the goal up into manageable steps. For example, you may want to save up to buy a new car, but you know you can’t just put thousands of dollars aside. However, you do know you can put aside $10 this month, and $20 the next month. Make big goals more manageable by organizing them into small, easy to accomplish steps.

3. Expect and accept setbacks
When trying to accomplish great things you are going to experience setbacks. Don’t let them destroy all your efforts by recognizing that failure is a normal part of any process. But failure doesn’t have to mean absolute failure. You can fall off the horse and get right back on, and at the end of the day, it’s this kind of effort and resolve that gives you the most out of your goals.

How to Stay Motivated

new year resolutions
One way to keep yourself feeling excited about your goals is to make use of new year quotes. You can print out motivational quotes and hang them around your house or bedroom as a reminder of your goals. It’s also a great idea to have a motto of the year that you look to each morning to stay focused, positive, and motivated. Here are just a few of the many quotes you could use as your quote of the year:

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

—C. S. Lewis

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

—Karen Kaiser Clark

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.”

—Germany Kent

“Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it’s about doing, being and becoming.”

—Mike Dooley

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
—E.E. Cummings

You can also help yourself stay motivated and achieve your goals by helping others stay motivated and keep their goals. On new years we like to make resolutions for ourselves and give out new year wishes for others. Support your friends and family in their goals by reaching out to them in your new year wishes this year and offer your help and encouragement in their own endeavors.

Lending Tree Personal Loan

By using Lending Tree you can get a Personal Loan from $1,000 to $50,000. But since Lending Tree isn’t a direct lender, you’ll still have to research each loan option before picking an actual lender. For a more straightforward loan, check out the Check City Personal Loan and skip the go-between.

Does Lending Tree offer personal loans? No, Lending Tree does NOT offer personal loans. Instead, they offer services to connect customers to actual loan providers.

There are many loan providers out there that provide personal loans for all kinds of reasons. Each loan provider is different and has its own requirements, rates, and fees to consider. Lending Tree is an example of an indirect lender meaning they themselves don’t provide the loan, instead they connect you to loan providers after reviewing the information you give them so you can compare and choose a loan provider.

Lending Tree Personal Loans: A Quick Look

Lending Tree does not actually have personal loans. What they can do is connect loan customers to lenders that offer personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000. But this loan basic loan range is the most details Lending Tree can offer without more of your personal information to help them determine the kind of loan you could get. You also won’t know how much using Lending Trees services will cost you until after you give them enough personal information.

Maximum Personal Loan: $50,000

Minimum Personal Loan: $1,000

Rates: N/A

Fees: N/A

Terms: N/A

When: N/A

Basically, Lending Tree is a great place to go if you have no idea where to shop for a personal loan. They can give you a couple of loan options to go through and choose from. But it’s important to remember that Lending Tree isn’t an actual loan option, but an extra step in your search for a personal loan.

Who is Lending Tree Perfect For?

Lending Tree is a great place to go when you want some online research help in comparing loan providers. If you need a personal loan and are feeling especially lost in finding one, then Lending Tree can help you pick and choose between loans that could work for you.

Who Should NOT Use Lending Tree for a Personal Loan?

Since Lending Tree doesn’t have personal loans, it may not be the best option for those looking to get their loans quickly. If you need a personal loan fast, then Lending Tree might only make your loan process longer and more complicated. You’ll have to give them all kinds of information about yourself and your finances, then compare the loan options they provide, then go through the actual loan application process. That’s a long time to wait for the funds you need right now. If any of the items listed below sound like you, then you might want to consider skipping the Lending Tree route when searching for a loan.

  • If you need your personal loan money fast
  • If you only want to go through one application process
  • If you don’t want to give out your information to a third party
  • If you want to compare loans for free

An Alternative to Lending Tree

Instead of going through the added hassle of using Lending Tree to search for the perfect loan, take advantage of personal loan reviews like this one to sift out which loan is best for you. You can also skip the loan search entirely and take advantage of the easy to use Check City personal loan.

Reasons to Get a Check City Personal Loan:

personal  loan

  • Check City is a direct lender so you only have to deal with us.
  • Check City is a state licensed lender.
  • Our application process is quick and simple.
  • You can still apply, even if you have a low credit score.
  • We have no origination fees.
  • You can get your loan TODAY.
  • You can pay back your loan in as little as 6 months.
How to Apply for a Check City Personal Loan

Applying for a Check City personal loan is super easy to do. The process is quick and simple! All you have to do is go to our online Personal Loan Page and fill out the application form. It only takes a few minutes! You can also apply for a Check City personal loan over the phone or in the store. If you apply for your loan in the store, you can actually walk out with your money in that very same visit!

What You’ll Need to Apply:

  • A government ID
  • Proof of bank account
  • Proof of direct deposit
  • Proof of income
  • A valid phone number

Apply online.

Find a location near you and apply in the store.

Or call Check City’s Loans By Phone number: 800-404-0254

If this personal loan option sounds right for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call, visit our website, or visit our stores and get your funds now.

COMPARE SIMILAR LOAN OPTIONS

Check City Personal Loans Discover Personal Loans Wells Fargo Personal Loans

USAA Personal Loan Citibank Personal Loan
Amount $300 to $3,000 $2,500 to $35,000 $3,000 to $100,000 $2,500 to $50,000 $2,000 to $50,000
Rates lower APR than our payday loans 6.99% to 24.99% 5.49% to 22.99% 8.99% to 18.00% 7.99% to 23.99%
Fees no origination fees no origination fees, no closing costs no origination fees, no prepayment penalties no origination, application, or prepayment fees no origination fee
Terms 6 months 36 to 84 months 12 to 84 months 12 to 84 months 12 to 60 months
Min. Credit Score none 660 600 high credit score high credit score

 

Personal loans all come with their own requirements, but so do you! Everyone is looking for something different in a personal loan, like the ability to refinance the loan later, or the ability to get the loan right away. You can find all these key qualities with a Check City Personal Loan!

 

READ MORE
Learn more about the usefulness of loans, “The Usefulness of Loans from Large to Small.”

Budget like a boss by reading, “Budgeting in 4 Easy Steps.”

DIY Christmas Gifts

diy christmas gift ideas

Get your gift-giving organized this year, and start preparing now for next year by reading up on all our helpful gift-giving articles:

Shopping for holiday gifts can get expensive. One thing that can help with your holiday costs is to take out a small personal loan. Another way to mitigate holiday gift costs is to make some presents yourself! Let’s go over a few DIY gift ideas that are not only cheaper than buying gifts but some of the most thoughtful and personal gifts you could do.

1. Make Food

make food

You can make food for them! The great thing about this DIY gift idea is that the possibilities are endless. You can easily lean on your cooking and baking strengths to make them something yummy. If you love baking you can make them cookies or pumpkin bread. If you love cooking you can make them their favorite dinner. If you aren’t good at either, you can always make them an easy breakfast in bed.

2. Personal Cleaning Service

cleaning

Everyone appreciates a clean home, kitchen, bedroom, etc., but not everyone enjoys having to do the cleaning themselves. This DIY gift idea works especially well for a homemade coupon card. Your gift recipient might also have a specific area in their life that could use an especially good cleaning, like their car or garage. You can even send them away for a fun evening out to dinner or to see a movie while you clean the house for them.

3. Knit a Sweater

christmas sweater

You don’t necessarily have to knit something and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sweater either. You could also sew, cross-stitch, or crochet something for them. If you’re new to sewing-type crafts then you could knit a simple scarf for them. You could also make them a pillowcase, a blanket, a hat, or mittens. There are many great tutorials online and they’ll love having something you handmade for them.

4. Plan a Fun Activity

christmas date

This one may cost you a little, but it has the potential to save you some money in the short term if you just can’t afford them something right now. You could even hand-make an elegant invitation for them so they still have something to receive on Christmas day. Whoever you’re shopping for, a fun time going to the movies, or to dinner, or to see a performance will be loads of fun and leave them full of even more anticipation after opening your gift. You can also possibly find free or inexpensive shows and performances at your local community arts center or theater.

5. Make a Handmade Christmas Ornament

christmas ornament

With just a few inexpensive items from the craft store, you could make them a beautiful, hand-crafted, and personalized Christmas ornament. This may be one of the easiest and most inexpensive DIY ideas because you may already have what you need at home! With some paper, glue or tape, and some string, you can make a thoughtful gift with almost zero cost.

6. Make a Scrapbook

handmade gift

Scrapbooks are fun and easy to make because you can design them however you choose. They can also contain whatever you want them to! You can include photographs and captions to go over some special memories. Or if you don’ have photos you can recreate memories with drawings, or little items that will help them remember. You could even make a storybook instead of a scrapbook, and tell your own meaningful Christmas tale. You could also go over the things you admire about that person, or make a motivational booklet with your favorite quotes.

7. Make Some Art

handmade gift

Make use of your artistic skills and create something they can hang on their wall! Art is a form of expression and you can use art to express your feelings of love and gratitude this season. If you aren’t sure about your artistic abilities, you could find a free art class at the local library or community center and seek their aid in painting or drawing something special. You might even find another type of arts and crafts class you can take for free, like pottery, and make them something equally homemade and personal.

 

There is a lot of work, thought, and preparation that goes into the gifts we open on Christmas day. We should be able to enjoy buying and creating wonderful, personal gifts just as much as we enjoy opening them up together around the tree. Learn to have fun Christmas shopping by using lists like this one to brainstorm great ideas, and by planning gifts for next Christmas today.


How to Organize All Your Gift Giving This Year

gift organization tips

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with gift giving this year with these 8 gift organization tips:

  1. Gather Wish Lists
  2. Stick to a Budget
  3. Keep a Planning Journal
  4. Visit the Store’s Website First
  5. Shop for the Future
  6. Keep Wrapped Gifts Organized
  7. Create a Gift Exchange
  8. Free Gift Organization Apps

There are many reasons to be more organized about gift giving each year. The winter season is a time of many gift giving holidays, but the rest of the year has lots of gift giving occasions as well. There are numerous birthdays to remember, graduations, weddings, Easter, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, anniversaries, baby showers, and the list goes on and on.

You need to better organize your gift giving this year because if you don’t you’ll end up . . .

  • forgetting someone
  • going way over budget
  • doing last minute shopping
  • running into the problem where you’ve wrapped gifts and forget who gets what
  • accidentally getting one kid 5 gifts while the rest only have 3
  • confusing who asked for what while shopping

All of these things are pretty catastrophic gift-giving disasters that you do not want to happen to you. But don’t worry, if you just use these gift-giving organization tips you’ll avoid the chaos and have a whole new experience with gift giving.

Gather Wish Lists

The first thing you want to do each year is ask for everyone’s wish lists. Holidays that gather the whole family together are a good time to pass out a crafty wish list printout and have everyone write down what they’d love to receive for birthdays and holidays next year. That way when January comes around, you’ll already know what to start shopping for.

When you’re passing out wish list worksheets, you can also create a list of everyone on your nice list, or everyone you’ll be getting gifts for. That way you’ll have a master list of all your gift recipients so not a single person gets forgotten in the stress and turmoil of shopping and gift planning.

Free Downloadable Wish List Printable: Click Here

Stick to a Budget

After you’ve made a list of all your gift recipients, and gotten gift ideas from all of them, you can start creating a budget. It’s a good idea to create a budget specifically for gifts because unrecorded gift expenses can easily get out of hand. To help your gift spending not get out of hand, you can take out a small personal loan at your neighborhood Check City store.

Start by looking at your household budget and determining how much you can spend on gifts. Then divide that sum between individuals or events—whichever makes more sense for you. For example, if you have a $100 gift budget and you want to give gifts to John and Mary this year, then you can plan on spending $50 on gifts for each of them. If you want to divide your gift budget between events then you might decide to spend $50 on birthday presents, and $50 on Christmas presents for everyone that year.

Free Downloadable Christmas Gift Budget Printable: Click Here or Here

Keep a Planning Journal

Now you need a separate to do list just for gift giving. This will help you keep track of all that is expected of you throughout the year so that you don’t forget any important events. Try creating a separate folder on your computer just for all your lists. That way you can go to one place each year to find your task list for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and whatever other holidays and occasions you have to plan and prepare for. You can also keep all of this information in an event journal where you record all your tasks so that you can become more efficient at planning with every passing year.

You can use an event planner or folder to keep track of other to do lists like all the things you need to do to get your Christmas cards sent, or for your annual family Christmas party put together, or how you did that graduation party. You can also use it to keep track of gifts you’ve received so you’ll remember to send thank you notes to everyone.

You could also make all of this into a bullet journal if you want to get extra crafty. Then you could possibly keep it as a kind of Christmas journal to commemorate important moments as well as plans.

christmas gifts

Keep a Detailed Record

There is a lot to keep track of with gifts to give and holiday parties to plan. That’s why keeping a careful record is important if you don’t want to forget anything and create stress. One way you can easily do all your gift organizing is to use excel. You can make a spreadsheet on excel or create a table in a word or google doc to keep track of the following:

  • List of all the people you need to get gifts for
  • Your total gift budget
  • What you plan to spend on each person
  • What you bought for each person
  • How much each present cost
  • What Santa gift you got for each child
  • Whether each present has been wrapped yet
  • Whether each gift has been sent or given yet

Visit the Store’s Website First

Don’t just show up at your favorite stores and start shopping—this is how we quickly go over budget. Instead, visit the store’s website first. By going to the website before you go to the store, you can take an inventory of what the store has in stock, and easily compare prices between stores. This practice will save you time, energy, and money. Even if you still go to the store to buy your items rather than buying them online, by taking a look at the website first you’ll have a better idea of what everything will cost you and where it’ll fit in your budget. This way you can see ahead of time what you can get and what they cost to add up your gift totals and make adjustments from the comfort and ease of your couch before you even purchase your first gift.

Shop for the Future

In your gift giving journal or word doc you can keep track of all the events each year that include gift giving, and make your plans ahead of time for each holiday or occasion. This way you can have gifts ready well in advance and make better use of sales to save money. Shopping with the future in mind can also help you have a more relaxing experience while gift shopping, because you won’t be under any time constraints.

Free Downloadable Printout for Yearly Gift Giving Planner: Click Here

Keep Wrapped Gifts Organized

Once you’ve planned, recorded, and bought all of your gifts it’s time to start wrapping them! When undertaking the task of wrapping gifts it is important to stay organized by creating a system.

Pick a space (like your craft room or bedroom) that the kids can’t go into and use it as your base of operations for gift organizing and wrapping.

Use bins, boxes, or laundry baskets that have been marked with each kids name and put their gifts in their stack as you purchase them. This will keep their presents organized and you can even use the bins when you put the wrapped gifts under the tree. You can even decorate the boxes to look like one big present if you want to organize the gifts under the tree a bit and not lose anyone’s presents in the back or under a couch. You can also use the gift basket idea to help you stay organized while you’re wrapping. Keep wrapped gifts in their labeled boxes so there’s not confusion later on about what gift belongs to whom.

Lastly, don’t forget to put a clear name tag on each present once you’ve wrapped each one. This will keep your wrapped gifts even more organized and further keep them from getting confused.

Create a Gift Exchange

The one time having a lot of loved ones can become a burden is when it comes to giving gifts. You want to get everyone you love a gift, but that can be hard to do on a budget. One way to fix this problem is to organize gift exchanges. This is especially helpful for extended families that want to get gifts for their many loved ones but can’t afford getting gifts for both their immediate and extended families. christmas gift ideasYou can also do this with a group of your close friends so you all don’t have to get gifts for every friend you have.

Create your gift exchange groups and then designate a system for exchanging names each year. You can all draw names out of a hat, you can do a secret Santa, or you can do a name rotation. Then you can throw a party each year to exchange gifts with each other.

Free Gift Organization Apps

There are many free apps out there you can also use to keep all your gift giving organized. Here are a few free app ideas you can look into:

  • Giftster
  • Santa’s bag
  • Christmas gift list
  • Gift planner
  • Gift list diary
  • Christmas gift list

Planning out your gift purchases ahead of time is the most efficient way to stay organized and on budget this gift giving season. But the real reason to stay organized as possible this year is because the seasons are meant to be enjoyed, and if you have things planned and organized, then your holiday season will be much more stress free and enjoyable.


READ MORE

Read, “Ten of Our Top Tips for Organized Gift Giving” for even more great tips about staying organized this holiday season.

Visit “Organize Your Gift Giving” for more free holiday printable downloads!


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