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Wells Fargo Personal Loan

Wells Fargo offers Personal Loans up to $100,000. But if you don’t have a 600 Credit Score and you aren’t already a Wells Fargo customer is it the right loan for you?

Not all loans are created equal. Each loan has their own features and requirements. That is why it’s important to do a bit of research while you’re shopping for loans before you pick one, so you get the loan that makes the most sense for your own personal needs.

Wells Fargo Personal Loans: A Quick Look

Wells Fargo offers personal loans from $3,000 to $100,000 with an APR range from 5.49% to 22.99% with no origination fees or prepayment penalties. They also offer a wide range of payback periods from as little as 12 months up to 84 months. They also offer special benefits for loan customers that already have a Wells Fargo account.

Maximum Personal Loan: $100,000

Minimum Personal Loan: $3,000

Rates: 5.49% to 22.99% APR

Fees: There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties

Terms: 12 to 84 months (1 to 7 years)

When: The next business day, if your loan is approved.

Basically, the Wells Fargo personal loan is a larger loan with a short or long-term payment plan. This loan is often used to consolidate debts, to make a large purchase (like home improvements), or to cover emergency expenses. They also offer a competitive fixed rate, fixed term, and fixed monthly payments. Their loans also don’t require collateral.

Who are Wells Fargo Personal Loans Perfect For?

The Wells Fargo personal loan is great if you need to consolidate heavy debts with high interest rates. It’s also a good loan if you need a larger loan for things like major home improvements or college tuition. If you need a much larger loan and you meet the below requirements, then this loan may be perfect for you.

  • If you have a credit score of 600 or higher
  • If you need a large loan amount
  • If you need to consolidate larger debt amounts
  • If you need to make larger purchases
  • If you already have a Wells Fargo account

Who Should NOT Get a Wells Fargo Personal Loan?

If you don’t meet the above requirements, or you’re just looking for a quicker, smaller personal loan, then you may want to keep shopping for your perfect loan. If any of the listed items below represent you, then you should consider a different personal loan provider.

  • If you need a smaller loan
  • If you want to pay back the loan in less than a year
  • If you don’t already have a Wells Fargo account
  • If you need your loan quickly, or that same day
  • If you have a low credit score
  • If your credit score can’t afford a hard credit pull application
Wells Fargo Personal Loans Pros and Cons List

Though personal loans with Wells Fargo may be a great option for some, there are some reasons they may not be the best loan fit for others.

Pros Cons
You can get a really large loan of up to $100,000 You can’t get a small loan of less than $3,000
They offer secure loans Their secure loans have a $75 origination fee
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties You need a credit score of at least 600
Their loan application involves a heavy credit score check
The application requires a lot of information

An Alternative to Wells Fargo Personal Loans

Check City offers a different kind of personal loan. So if the features and requirements present in a Wells Fargo personal loan don’t work for you, a Check City personal loan might be your answer.

check city personal loan

Reasons to Get a Check City Personal Loan
  • Check City is a direct lender
  • Check City is also a state licensed lender
  • The application process is quick and simple
  • You don’t need a high credit score to apply
  • There are no origination fees
  • You can get your loan TODAY
How to Apply for a Check City Personal Loan

Check City personal loans are incredibly easy to use. Just visit the Check City Personal Loan Page and you can quickly apply for your loan online, at a nearby Check City store, or even over the phone!

All you need to apply for the loan is:

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

Apply for a Check City Loan Online by clicking HERE.

Find a conveniently located Check City Store by clicking HERE.

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

Check City personal loans have a fast and easy process, and if you go into a Check City store to apply, you can actually walk out with your personal loan funds that very same day! Check City personal loans are great for loan customers that need a quick, easy to use, smaller personal loan that they can pay back in a matter of months instead of years. They’re also a great loan option for customers with lower credit scores since Check City doesn’t pull a traditional credit report when processing your application.

LOAN COMPARISON CHART

Check City Personal Loans Discover Personal Loans Wells Fargo Personal Loans
Amount $300 to $3,000 $2,500 to $35,000 $3,000 to $100,000
Rates lower APR than our payday loans 6.99% to 24.99% APR 5.49% to 22.99% APR
Fees no origination fees no origination fees, no closing costs no origination fees, no prepayment penalties
Terms 6 months 36 to 84 months (3 to 7 years) 12 to 84 months (1 to 7 years)
Min. Credit Score Check City doesn’t pull a traditional credit check, and if you have a low credit score you can still apply for a Check City personal loan 660 600

 

When you think of loans you often think about the requirements you need to meet in order for you application to get approved. But you have loan requirements too! 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!

Whatever your own personal loan requirements might be, you should always study up on what features each loan provides before making a choice.

 
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.”

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

book review

Dave Ramsey is a best selling author of many popular self-help books about getting your finances together. He’s inspired many with his simple, no-hassle philosophies on how to manage money. He also has a radio talk show called the Dave Ramsey Show, that you can listen to anywhere you listen to podcasts. He even started his own company built on his financial philosophies called Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey and his colleagues have loads of resources you can find helpful in your own personal money management journey. Whether you are managing a household or a small business, Dave Ramsey has the financial advice you need to be successful and smart with your funds.

Today we’re going to take a focused look into one of Dave Ramsey’s most prolific publications, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. You’ve heard of fitness journeys and makeovers that change your style into something fresh and new, but Dave Ramsey takes all that and puts a financial spin onto it. With Dave Ramsey’s baby step plan you can exercise your financial abilities in ways you never thought possible and finally get into shape where your wallet is concerned.

What Kind of Book is The Total Money Makeover?

book cover

The Total Money Makeover is written as a self-help book. It’s even been compared to popular self-help books like, Your Best Life Now and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because of the reader-friendly way it is written. It’s an engaging book with lots of real-world examples and stories from real people who have actually gone through Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and seen results. These short anecdotal stories throughout the book help all of Dave Ramsey’s concepts make clear common sense.

The book also includes a lot of motivational help along with the tips and advice. One of the biggest factors that holds people back from taking full control over their finances is the proper motivation and encouragement to make necessary changes to their lifestyle. Dave Ramsey helps with that too, giving you the fresh outlook you need to understand your goal and the rewards you can gain.

Dave Ramsey is also a Christian, so his books often have a religious undertone. So you may find him referencing Bible verses every so often in this book, and tackling religious views and practices with regard to money as well.

What’s in the Book?

The Total Money Makeover is essentially a step-by-step guide for how to go about your own personal money makeover journey. These steps are based on Dave Ramsey’s key money philosophies. Dave Ramsey has strict beliefs about not ever using debt, loans, or credit cards. He believes that our society today is too dependent on credit and that true financial freedom only comes when you live a completely debt free life. So the first steps in his plan are all about helping you get out of debt, and then setting you up to never get into debt again.

Simple and straightforward advice.

Dave Ramsey’s book became so popular probably because of how easy it is to follow his clearly set plan. Each step is specific enough to leave no doubts about what exactly you need to do, making his plan one that anyone can follow and find success. It also helps that he is never vague about his advice, but rather he is extremely straightforward, open, and honest.

Dave Ramsey has no get-rich-quick schemes. He’s more about using honest work, responsibility, and common sense to reach your goals. So you won’t find any crazy secrets to financial stability and success in his book, you’ll just finally learn to implement the basics in a way that really works.

A change in perspective.

Another reason people enjoy Dave Ramsey’s teachings is because he doesn’t pretend that money is what brings happiness. He’s realistic and believes that money is a tool to create stability and contentment in our lives, not the secret solution to all our problems.

He eloquently tackles many mental barriers and misconceptions many of us have about money, and works to not only change your behavior with money, but your perspective about money as well. One thing he talks about a lot is getting over the need to “keep up with the Joneses.” Often in life we compare ourselves to others in unhealthy ways, and sometimes those comparisons can lead us to make poor financial decisions for superficial reasons. So, when you read the Total Money Makeover be prepared to gain a whole new outlook on the purpose of money, and break free from comparing yourself to others.

The Money Makeover Baby Steps:

The main event of this self-help read are the baby steps the reader can take to reach financial peace and freedom. You can read a more detailed article about each of the 7 baby steps that Dave Ramsey will go through in this book, but we’ll go over a quick outline of those steps here too.

Emergency Fund

The first step in Dave Ramsey’s 7 step plan is to basically get your financial life in order. The road to stability starts by setting up your finance in a certain way. This begins with setting up an emergency fund. You can start with at least $1,000 in your emergency fund but eventually you’ll want to work your way toward having at least 6 months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund at all times.

Debts

Once you start getting your emergency fund in place, it’s time to focus all other monetary efforts toward annihilating all your debts. He goes into more detail about this in the book. For example, he suggests you start with your smallest debts first and work your way up to your larger ones. He also recommends you save paying off your mortgage for last. But eventually the idea is to throw everything you can at your debts until they are all completely wiped out.

Build Wealth

Now it’s time to build wealth and continue saving. Since Dave Ramsey argues you should pay for everything in cash, continually building up your financial stores is an important aspect of the Dave Ramsey lifestyle. You have to have enough in savings to cover all your costs completely with cash.

In the book Dave Ramsey goes into more detail about what savings you should prioritize. He advises that you first complete your 6 months’ worth emergency fund if you haven’t gotten there already. Then he suggests you work toward saving for retirement and (if you have kids or plan on having kids) your children’s college funds.

Things You Can Do Differently:

Dave Ramsey’s primary goal in all of this is to help people get out of crippling debt and stay out of it. But there are modifications you can make to his more rigorous financial plan.

You can choose how much you want in your emergency fund.

If you’re a college student then putting aside even $1,000 may be more difficult for you. But that’s ok! Just put aside what you can. Even just adding $5 to $10 a month into an emergency fund is better than having no emergency fund at all.

Likewise, if you’re more settled in life it might be easier for you to put even more than $1,000 aside into an emergency fund. It really doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters most is that you start accumulating that safety fund in order to be more prepared for surprise expenses in the future.

You can still use credit cards and loans.

Dave Ramsey may believe in using only cash to pay for things but there are advantages to using credit cards and installment loans. When used responsibly using credit can help boost your credit score and get you the things you need to have a comfortable life. Credit cards can also provide lots of perks outside of boosting credit scores. Some credit cards come with special points that can go toward paying for things like groceries and traveling. So long as you understand your limits and include loans and credit payments in your carefully calculated budget and financial plans, you’ll be just fine.

Should I Read This Book?

You may now be wondering whether you should give this book a read or not. You should definitely read this book if . . .

  • you are in debt
  • you have trouble managing your money or realizing where your money goes
  • you have trouble making a budget

If you are looking for a book with more specific details about financial topics (like investing, or small businesses) then you should check out Dave Ramsey’s other books that go more in depth on complex financial topics. The Total Money Makeover doesn’t expound upon these topics too much since it was written more as a beginners guide to Dave Ramsey’s financial baby steps.

 

READ MORE

Check out some other helpful reviews about Dave Ramsey’s book, the Total Money Makeover:

Review: The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover Review

Goodreads


The Best Books by Dave Ramsey

dave ramsey books

Table of Contents:

Dave Ramsey is a New York Times bestselling author, and a radio show host on the The Dave Ramsey Show. You can find his books wherever you buy books and you can listen to his radio show wherever you listen to podcasts or the radio. All of his books are also on Amazon, where you can find the kindle versions for your e-reader, or audiobook versions so you can learn all about finances on the go.

When getting into Dave Ramsey’s books people often wonder which book they should start with? If you want to read Dave Ramsey’s books in order there are a couple routes you can go. You can read them in the order he wrote them, or read them in order of the things you learn in each book.

Dave Ramsey’s Books in Chronological Order:

If you want to read all of Dave Ramsey’s books in order, you can follow this master list of all his books so far.

1992 – Financial Peace

1993 – Dumping Debt: Breaking the Chains of Debt

1998 – The Financial Peace Planner

1998 – More Than Enough

1999 – More Than Enough: The Ten Keys to Changing Your Financial Destiny

2000 – How to Have More Than Enough: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Abundance

2002 – Cash Flow Planning: The Nuts and Bolts of Budgeting

2002 – Financial Peace for the Next Generation

2003 – The Total Money Makeover

2003 – The Great Misunderstanding: Unleashing the Power of Generous Giving

2004 – The Money Answer Book

2008 – Relating with Money: Nerds and Free Spirits Unite!

2011 – Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money

2011 – Dave Ramsey’s High Performance Achievement: Accomplishing the Extraordinary

2011 – EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches

2014 – Smart Money Smart Kids

2014 – The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity

Dave Ramsey Kid Books: Life Lessons with Junior

kid books

4.38 stars on Goodreads

Life Lessons with Junior is a series of children’s books written by Dave Ramsey. In them he goes over all the most basic concepts of money management. Following Junior’s adventures can teach your kids all about monetary responsibility in clear simpler terms they’ll understand. He goes over everything from spending, debt, saving, work, giving, contentment, and integrity. Don’t miss out on gracing your household shelves with these great childhood reads with life lessons your kids will keep with them all their lives.

Smart Money Smart Kids

smart money smart kids

4.26 stars on Goodreads

Smart Money Smart Kids is a book that Dave Ramsey wrote with his daughter, Rachel Cruze. It is a book that teaches parents all about how to teach their kids about money. Part of good parenting is preparing your kids to be responsible, independent adults someday and a big part of being an adult is knowing how to manage your money. In this book Dave Ramsey and his daughter will tell you all about how to raise kids who are smart about their money.

If you’re looking for something from Dave Ramsey that can specifically help your teens, check out his article, “A Teenager’s Guide to Building Wealth.”

Dave Ramsey also has a great recommendation for a college 101 bundle that includes Debt-Free Degree by Anthony O’Neal and The Graduate Survival Guide by Anthony O’Neal and Rachel Cruze.

Financial Peace

financial peace

4.31 on Goodreads

Financial Peace is one of Dave Ramsey’s first books, but he has since revisted the book, renaming it, Financial Peace Revisited: New Chapters on Marriage, Singles, Kids, and Families. This newer edition of his first book now includes more information for married couples, singles, children, and families. This book is also where he introduces the KISS rule, which stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It’s about getting out of debt and staying out of debt and the idea that you should use contentment to make your financial decisions. It also goes over how to manage money flow and investing.

One of the primary keys to understanding your finances and being able to take control of them is to manage the flow of your money. A lot of people just let money flow as it does, not really thinking too much about where it’s coming from and where it disappears. But if you learn to take full control of where all your funds are going then the problem of disappearing funds won’t happen to you and you can find financial peace.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

total money makeover

4.28 stars on Goodreads

A large part of what makes makeovers so fun is the joy of reaching your goals and having a different life and a different you at the end of your journey. But have you ever thought about going on a similar makeover journey with your finances? Dave Ramsey will show you how.

The Total Money Makeover may be one of Dave Ramsey’s most popular books. He talks about some of his most famous money tips all while debunking myths about money. He brings a simpler, more straight forward approach to money management that anyone can understand and utilize in their life, no matter their financial situation. Dave Ramsey says that this book can work every time, all you have to do is follow his steps.

Complete Guide to Money

complete guide to money

4.44 stars on Goodreads

In this comprehensive guide Dave Ramsey goes over all his basic financial tips and lessons—How to Budget with Dave Ramsey, how to save, how to get out of debt, how to invest, mortgages, insurance, marketing, bargain hunting, and giving. Anything you want to know when it comes to money, you can find in this master guidebook.

The Money Answer Book

money answer book

3.82 stars on Goodreads

The Money Answer Book is a quick read with questions and answers to more than 100 common money questions! It’s a fast guide that goes over budget planning, retirement planning, shopping tips, saving for college, giving to charity, and so much more. If you need something you can quickly leaf through to find the answers you’re looking for.

How to Have More than Enough: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Abundance

more than enough

4.11 stars on Goodreads

How to Have More than Enough is the newest version of Dave Ramsey’s earlier book, More than Enough. Once you have gotten out of debt, he has more down to earth advice about building wealth. Dave Ramsey’s perspective is unique because he doesn’t just talk about monetary wealth, he talks about having a wealth of happiness. He takes it a step further by talking about finding wealth in relationships and in your family. In this book he goes through 10 traits you need to be prosperous in life beyond your financial situations.

EntreLeardership

entreleadership

4.21 stars on Goodreads

In EntreLeadership Dave Ramsey talks about how he built his company, and how to be a strong leader. He talks about how to grow as a leader and the questions you should ask yourself in order to develop yourself. This book has doable, step-by-step guidance to follow to become a better leader and watch your business grow as you do.

He talks about inspiring and unifying your team, handling your business finances, and reaching your business goals. If you are making your own business and you need some pro tips about leadership, this book is what you want. But you can find great insights in this book no matter what you are doing with your life right now. If you are a parent you can use it with your family or at work you can use it with your coworkers! This is because leadership is really all about functioning efficiently as a team and reaching your goals together.

What Books Does Dave Ramsey Recommend?

We’ve talked all about books that were written by Dave Ramsey, but what about books that Dave Ramsey recommends? There are many other great financial reads you can find on Dave Ramsey’s website. You can also read more about Dave Ramsey’s steps to reach financial steps by reading, “Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps.” Here are just a few book suggestions from Dave Ramsey:

Dave Ramsey’s Book Club

If you’re interested in really tackling your finances with Dave Ramsey’s sage wisdom you can actually join Dave Ramsey’s official book club! All you have to do is create an account on his website and then join the book club (fees may apply). Then, at the beginning of each month you’ll receive Dave Ramsey’s book club book of the month in the mail. You’ll also get an email with details about when the live book discussion will happen on the private book club Facebook page along with a study guide to use as you read.

For more answers to any questions you may have about the Dave Ramsey book club, just visit the book club’s FAQs Page.

 
Dave Ramsey along with his many inspiring books have helped a lot of people get back on their feet financially. You can take on his financial fitness challenge too and manage your money like never before.

Another way you can get some needed financial help is to take out an Installment Loan at Check City! Installment loans can help you stay on top of your bill payments and avoid late fees, which can really hurt your long-term financial goals.


Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps

dave ramsey baby steps

Are you trying to get out of debt? Do you want more financial stability and freedom? Are your finances one of the bigger stresses in your life right now? If any of these sentiments apply to you then Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps might be just what you need to cure your money blues.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund
Step 2: Focus on Debts
Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund
Step 4: Save for Retirement
Step 5: Start a College Fund
Step 6: Pay Off Your House
Step 7: Build Wealth

Dave Ramsey is a guy who, through personal experience, was able to get out of debt and find financial peace of mind. He is now a financial expert with courses and books to help the everyday person get in control of their finances.

The best place to start when trying to regain control over your finances and achieve a full “money makeover” is to start with his 7 step plan. This plan has 7 baby steps that you follow to reach more financial stability and get to the point where you can start building wealth.

Step 1: Start an Emergency Fund

car maintenance

The first step in Dave Ramsey’s 7 step plan is, “Save $1,000 for Your Starter Emergency Fund.”

One of the main reasons people struggle with money is because necessary emergency expenses (like medical bills, car bills, or home repairs) come out of nowhere and drag you deeper and deeper into debt. But if you are preemptively prepared for these surprise expenses then they won’t take you off guard again.

So the very first thing you should do when getting your money in line is to get an emergency fund started. Save up an emergency fund in a separate bank account, until you have at least $1,000 in the account. This will be the start of the emergency fund that will keep sudden necessary expenses from plunging you into deep debts because you weren’t prepared.

Step 2: Focus on Debts

debts

The second step in Dave Ramsey’s plan is to “Pay Off All Debt (Except the House) Using the Debt Snowball.”

The snowball method that Dave Ramsey refers to here means that you start by paying off small debts first, and work your way up to the bigger debts. Debts can include paying off your car, credit card debts, and student loans.

First, make a giant list of all your debts, every single one, except for your mortgage if you have a house. Then, put your list of debts in order from the smallest debt amount to the largest. Then you go through knocking out each debt by eliminating the smallest debts first and working your way up to the largest debt last.

Step 3: Complete Your Emergency Fund

medical bills

The third step is to “Save 3 to 6 Months of Expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund.”

Now that you’ve gotten all your debts out of the way, it’s time to finish your emergency fund. You can use the same money you were using to pay off debts each month and put it toward your emergency fund until it has enough to cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses and bills. Then you’ll really be prepared for anything.

Reasons to Have an Emergency Fund

  1. If you lose your job.
  2. You won’t have to worry because you’ll have enough to last you 6 months. This will give you the time you’ll need to find a new job.

  3. If your car breaks down.
  4. You’ll be able to pay for the necessary repairs, the tow truck, or even for a new car in some cases.

  5. Medical bills.
  6. Don’t let your health and necessary medical bills keep you from staying afloat financially.

  7. Home repairs.
  8. If something happens to your home you’ll be able to fix the problem rather than living with it.

Having an emergency fund is THE key to keeping you out of debt in the future. After getting yourself out of debt, an emergency fund is what will keep you from getting back into debt in the future.

Step 4: Save for Retirement

retirement

The fourth step in the Dave Ramsey plan is to, “Invest 15% of Your Household Income in Retirement.”

After your debts are gone and your emergency fund is taken care of, it’s time to start seeing to other important savings like a 401K. Dave Ramsey recommends you take 15% of your gross monthly income and put it toward a retirement fund each month. To figure out how much you should be putting into your retirement fund each month, take your monthly income and multiply that number by 0.15.

Step 5: Start a College Fund

college funds

The fifth step to Dave Ramsey’s plan is to, “Save for Your Children’s College Fund.”

Avoiding student loan debts can be one of the biggest factors in staying out debt as a young adult. If you can pay for your kids college tuition then you’ll ensure their financial security in the future, as they’ll better be able to stay out debt. Dave Ramsey recommends using either a 529 college savings plans, or an education savings accounts (ESA). Talk to your bank or credit union about setting up these accounts for these specific purposes.

Step 6: Pay Off Your House

mortgage

The next to last step in this 7 step plan is to, “Pay Off Your Home Early.”

Put all the extra monthly income you have into your mortgage so you can finish paying it off early. After this step you will officially have no debts whatsoever! All of your earnings will go to you instead of getting drained away in large debts and payments.

Step 7: Build Wealth

wealth and legacy

Finally, it is time to, “Build Wealth and Give.”

Congratulations! Once you’ve reached the 7th step in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, you can start focusing on building your wealth and leaving a legacy. Don’t forget to keep and maintain those financial safety nets like a healthy emergency fund, retirement account, savings account, and college funds.

Now you are officially in charge of your money rather than it being in charge of you.

Financial freedom is possible for you! Everyone can do it and Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps can help you get there. Dave Ramsey also has other resources that can help you implement this plan. You can participate in Dave Ramsey’s program, books, and podcasts.

You can take the actual course with Financial Peace University.

Dave Ramsey also has a free customized plan and assessment that you can do right now, in just 3 minutes!

Listen to the Dave Ramsey Show anywhere you listen to podcasts or radio.

 
Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps to financial freedom can help you with so many aspects of your life. They can help you decide when to buy a house or help you get situated for saving for a house. It’s a checklist program that can help you get rid of loans and debt (like student loans), or even help you get to where you can budget for a wedding.

Another way you can get some needed financial help is to take out an Installment Loan at Check City! Installment loans can help you stay on top of your bill payments and avoid late fees, which can really hurt your long-term financial goals.
 

READ MORE

Browse Dave Ramsey’s online store for more great financial resources to help you on your financial journey.

Read more helpful articles on the Dave Ramsey Blog

Learn more about the debt snowball, “How the Debt Snowball Method Works.”

Read Dave Ramsey’s full article on his 7 baby steps, “What Are the Baby Steps?

Stay out of debt through college by using these tips, “How to Stay Debt Free through Grad School.”


How to Write a Check

write checks

Not everyone uses checks on a frequent basis, so sometimes it helps to have a refresher on how to fill them out, just to make sure you get it right.

What is a Check?

Checks are a form of paper payment. They are a document that allows a bank to take money from the account of whoever wrote the check, to pay whoever is depositing the check.

Checks are a very useful financial resource. They come with their own unique properties and safety measures that make them a useful money tool to use more often.

How to Write a Check Out

check example
 

Listed below are all the different fields found on a check. You need to understand the purpose of each section in order to know how to fill each field out properly.

Field #1: Date

In the upper right hand corner you’ll find the date line. Usually you’ll just write the current date, but one of the great things about checks is that you can post-date it. This means you write a future date on the check to ensure it can only be deposited after the date you mark down.

So if you need to pay someone, but need them to wait until payday to deposit the check, you can still hand them the check now and just write a date after payday.

Field #2: Pay to the Order of

This line is where you write the name of who will be receiving the check. This might be the name of a person, or the name of a company or organization. For example, if you’re using a check to pay for groceries, then the name you’ll put here is the name of the grocery store.

Field #3: Dollar Box

In this box, you write the monetary amount of the check in numerals. So instead of writing “one hundred dollars” you write “100.00.”

Field #4: Dollars Line

Then there’s a line with the word “Dollars” at the end of it. Here is where you write the monetary amount of the check in words. So instead of writing “100.00” you write “one hundred and 0/100.”

Field #5: Memo Line

The memo is where you write a note about the check’s purpose. You can fill out this section for your own files, so that the check stub has what the check was used for written down. The memo section can also let the person receiving the check know what the check is meant to be used for.

You don’t have to fill out this section but it can be helpful to not forget why you wrote out the check in the first place.

Field #6: Signature Line

Here is where you sign the check.

Field #7: Numbers

The numbers at the bottom of the check are divided into 3 sections and show 3 different numbers. The first set of numbers is the routing number, the second set of numbers is the account number, and the final, shorter section of numbers is the check ID number for that individual check.

*Keep the check stub and use it for your files. The check stub is the thinner paper copy behind the check that gets written on as you write out the check. This gives you a hard copy of the check you wrote for your own checkbook.

How to Write a Check Amount

So how do you write numbers in words on a check? If you have any questions about how to write your specific amount you can take a look at the chart below. A printable number chart is also available by clicking here.

 
number word chart
 

Let’s quickly go over some frequently asked numbers to words questions:

How to spell 90: ninety

How to write a check for 1,000 dollars: In the Dollar box write, “1,000.00” and in the Dollars line write, “one thousand and 0/100.”

How to write a check for 1,500 dollars: In the Dollar box write, “1,500.00” and in the Dollars line write, “one thousand, five hundred and 0/100.”

How to write a check for 100 dollars: In the Dollar box write, “100.00” and in the Dollars line write, “one hundred and 0/100.”

How to write a check with cents

A lot of people have questions about how to write out cents for a check, but have no worries! This is the easiest part of the check because you can still write the cent amount out in numerals on the Dollars line:

After you write out the dollar amount in words, write “and” and then write the number of cents in numerals over 100. For example, if you want to write a check out for $100.50, you would write on the Dollar line, “one hundred and 50/100.”

How to Balance a Checkbook

checkbook
 

In the back of your checkbook there is a check registry—extra pages with a chart to record key information from each transaction. Whenever you write a check, keep the check stub. This will make it easier to fill out the check registry later.

Field #1: Write the date on the check in this column.

Field #2: In the description column write the same thing you would write on the “Pay to the Order of” and the memo line. This column helps you know who you paid and why.

Field #3: In the “Payment/Debit” column write down the amount you paid.

In the Deposit/Credit column record deposits to your own bank account. Keeping track of both payments from your account, and deposits made to your account, will help you keep track of how much is in your bank account at all times.

In the Balance column keep track of your total account balance, adding deposits to your account, and subtracting transactions you’ve paid.

Field #7: Write out the check ID number. It’s the last couple of numbers at the bottom of the check.

Common Questions About Checks

If you don’t use checks very often you probably have more than a few questions about checks and how they work.

What are the fees for cashing checks?

If you cash your check at Check City, then our fees are based on the type of check that is cashed. Our rates start as low as 1.99% for in-state payroll and government checks. That means for payroll and government checks it only cost about $2 per $100.

What information do you need to cash a check?

We have you fill out a quick application and you need a photo ID.

Do I have to wait for the check to clear to get all my cash?

No, once we have verified the check we give you all your money right then.

Is there a limit to the check amount?

No, as long as we can verify it, we can cash it.

When do you use a check?

You can use a check anytime check payments are permitted. If it is a personal transaction, you can always ask the recipient if they are ok with receiving their payment in the form of a check.

Where can I get checks?

You can get checks from almost any bank or credit union where you have an account.

How to write a check to yourself

Sometimes when you need to transfer your own money, you’ll need to write yourself a check to yourself. Writing a check to yourself is super simple. You just write your own name on the “Pay to the Order of” line.

 
Hopefully checks don’t feel as unfamiliar to you now as they did before reading this article. As you can see, checks are very simple to use, and easy to fill out correctly. You just have to know the purpose of each section on a check and you’re good to go!



READ MORE
Learn more about the benefits of checks, “6 Advantages of Using Checks.”

See how cashed checks can actually help your finances, “Cashed Checks Improve Your Financial Situation.”


How to Use an Instant Pot to Save You Money

use an instant pot

We’re always looking for ways to save on meals and groceries, but have you ever thought about how the way you cook food could also save you money?

How Does an Instant Pot Work?

An instant pot is basically the modernized version of a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker uses high pressure to cook the food inside. A pressure cooker is a pot that you use on the stove top, but the instant pot is an electric pressure cooker, so it doesn’t go on the stove top, it plugs into an outlet. It uses a strong clamp-down lid to seal in the contents of the pot and the heat, for some fast, efficient cooking. Now your water can boil at even higher temperatures because less heat is escaping into the air. The steam and building pressure inside the instant pot can also help your food get more moist, tender, and full of infused flavors.

In a really simple form, you can think of it as a crock pot, or a slow cooker. You put the ingredients inside, close the lid, and punch in your settings. But instead of letting your food stew in the crock pot for 4 to 8 hours, you can put ingredients inside the instant pot, close the lid, set the settings, and have your food ready in just 15 to 30 minutes.

When your food is done cooking there are two ways to release the steam inside. You can use a quick release by turning the valve at the top manually and letting all the steam out right away or you can let it go, and the steam will naturally release over time. You’ll want to use the quick release when your food is done cooking, and the natural release when you want your food to keep cooking a little longer while it cools down.

How to Use an Instant Pot
  1. heat up the pressure cooker
  2. place the food inside
  3. seal the lid
  4. set your pressure level and your cooking time
  5. release the pressure when the time goes off
  6. wait however long the recipe says for the pressure to release
  7. thoroughly clean the pressure cooker after your meal and put it away for next time

 
instant pot cooking
 

Hot Water Test

Understanding how an instant pot works is important if you’re going to start cooking with one. It is a different type of cooking since you aren’t just using heat from the stovetop or oven, you’re using pressurized heat and steam. Because of this instant pots come with their own science of cooking that you’ll want to become acquainted with before you begin using your new instant pot.

To help you understand what happens inside your instant pot while it’s cooking you can do the hot water test. The hot water test will show you how the pressure cooker works, and how much water evaporates as it cooks. Depending on what you’re cooking inside the pot, you will probably need less water than you’re used to.

  1. pour 3 cups of water into the instant pot
  2. close the lid
  3. in your settings select simply steam or pressure cook
  4. set the timer to 5 minutes
  5. when the timer goes off, turn the valve to release the pressure

Now you can see what happened to the water. Measure it and see for yourself how much water evaporates in a pressure cooker as opposed to a pot on the stovetop.

How an Instant Pot Saves You Money

save money
 

Have you ever felt the struggle of wanting to eat well, but not having the amount of time necessary or the energy to spend cooking healthy, real meals every day? We know that eating healthy has so many obvious, long-term benefits, but in our busy day-to-day lives, it can be a real struggle to eat right. Money and time constraints get in the way and we end up buying another frozen pizza or eating out again. Thankfully, with the instant pot, eating right doesn’t have to take more than 20 minutes of your time.

By eating healthier every day you’ll have better health. Staying in good health can really save your wallet. Being healthier means you’ll feel more energized, get sick less often, avoid missing work, keep your medical bills low, and keep the doctor away, as the saying goes.

An instant pot can help you save while stocking your pantry as well. Cooking with the instant pot can bring you back to cooking basics, helping you eat simpler, more satisfying meals. You can easily and quickly cook rice and even dry beans! Eating this way is also ultimately cheaper. It’s cheaper to keep your pantry stocked with the basics (like rice, beans, potatoes, seasonings, and sauces etc.) that you can use to make many different kinds of meals throughout the week, rather than pay for a full meal at a fast food place.

If you need any help with the food bill this week while you wait for an inconveniently placed payday, you can always get a Check City Personal Loan to tide you over.

  • Miss work less often
  • Spend less on medical bills and doctor visits
  • Spend less time cooking meals and more time on other pursuits
  • Spend less on groceries

How to Clean Your Instant Pot

After eating your yummy, healthy, homemade meal, it can be tempting to leave the dishes undone and move on to other things. But try and not wait too long after using the instant pot to clean it out, because letting thing crust over will only make it harder to clean later.

  1. Take it apart
  2. Hand wash the outer lid and instant pot with warm soapy water. The inner pot and accessories can go in the dishwasher
  3. let white vinegar sit in the instant pot for 5 minutes to remove stains
  4. Use a small brush to get in between spaces
  5. Steam clean it, 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, lemon slices, on the steam mode to get rid of smells
  6. Dry and put back together

Tips and Tricks You’ll Want to Know

  • Replace sealing rings
  • You can get accessories like a glass lid so you can see inside
  • Bring your instant pot camping or on vacation, all it needs is a power source to cook
  • You can cook freezer meals
  • You can make popcorn
  • Get meal Tupperware and prep your meals for the week ahead of time
  • Reheat in the instant pot instead of the microwave using the warm setting
  • Use the rack to cook 2 things at the same time, like meat and veggies, or do pot-in-pot cooking
  • Use the curved end of the ladle to safely turn the release valve without getting your hands too close to the steam.
  • You can rest your lid upright by putting the handle of the lid into the rectangle opening of the handle of the pot.
  • To cook even faster, use already hot water in your instant pot so it comes to pressure even faster
  • Make a tin foil sling to put under the pot your putting in the pot so that you can easily lift your pot out
  • Get more than one stainless steel insert
  • Use some handy time-table charts to know how long things should cook
  • You can turn the instant pot onto saute mode before you put your ingredients inside in order to get it heated up and cook faster

Warnings

There are some warnings to be careful of when working with an instant pot. There are also some things you just can’t do with a pressure cooker, but don’t worry. What you can do with a pressure cooker still far outweighs what you can’t.

  • Be careful you don’t overheat it
  • Be careful of the steam
  • Keep it off of hot surfaces
  • Don’t put the appliance in the dishwasher
  • Don’t fill it more than 2/3
  • Don’t open the lid until it’s completely depressurized
  • Don’t make fried foods in a pressure cooker
  • Milk will curdle in the pressure cooker



READ MORE
Read more about how to save money on groceries, “How to Save Money on Food Costs.”

Find some great basic instant pot recipes, “6 Basic Instant Pot Recipes.”

Read more about Instant Pot hacks by reading the following articles:

11 Clever Hacks That Will Make You Love Your Instant Pot Even More

20 Instant Pot Hacks Every Cook Should Know

16 Genius Instant Pot Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind

How to Become an Uber Driver

uber driver

Should you become an Uber or Lyft driver and are you missing out? Passenger fares have never been lower, but the jury is still out on whether the ride-sharing gig is worthwhile for its drivers. We’re going to cover not only how to get in on the ride-share driving business, but how much you can expect to earn as well.
 

 
Ride-sharing services are one of the fastest growing companies of our time. Ride-sharing apps appeal to potential drivers because they can come from all walks of life, they can be self-employed, and they get to be in control of their own hours. For passengers the appeal of ride-sharing services is the convenience of hailing and paying for their ride all on their phone.

Ride-hailing companies have really grown into a giant business—Uber alone exists in 63 different countries and is operating in over 700 cities. They’ve also recently broadened their platform to include not just car services but bikes, scooters, food delivery, and even freight. In the future they also hope to add air taxis and driverless cars to their many services.
Needless to say, the ride-sharing app business is growing and here to stay.

You’re probably wondering now how you can get in on this flexible form of self-employment and never answer to a boss again! But before you download the app, quit your job, and hop in your car, hear us out, because becoming a driver for a ride-share business may not pay as well as you’d think.

How to Become an Uber Driver

First, to become an Uber driver you must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
  • Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if you are under 23 years old)
  • Have a valid US driver’s license
  • Meet vehicle requirements (an eligible 4-door vehicle)

Second, if you meet these requirements then you share the following documents:

  • A valid US driver’s license
  • Proof of residency in your city, state, or province
  • Proof of vehicle insurance if you plan to drive your own car
  • A driver profile photo
  • Must be a forward-facing, centered photo including the driver’s full face and top of shoulders, with no sunglasses
  • Must be a photo only of the driver with no other subject in the frame, well-lit, and in focus; it cannot be a driver’s license photo or other printed photograph

Third, you complete an online screening that reviews your driving record and criminal history. And that’s it! After your application is accepted you can download the uber app and start taking rides.

How to Become an Uber Eats Driver

Uber Eats is a delivery partner that has teamed up with many restaurants that don’t typically have their own delivery services. As an Uber Eats driver you deliver food orders made via the Uber Eats app. Becoming an Uber Eats driver is similar to signing up to become a driver. Once you sign up to be an Uber driver, upload the required documents, and complete the online screening you simply do the following to start receiving delivery requests:

  1. Go to your account
  2. Select vehicle options
  3. Accept delivery terms

However, when delivering for Uber eats you can also use a scooter or bike instead of a car. In order to drive either of these options for your deliveries you have to meet the following requirements.

How to Become a Lyft Driver

Uber’s rival Lyft is a newer ride-hailing company out on the roads right now. To become a Lyft driver you can visit the Lyft website to fill out their application and start their process. You’ll basically have to do the following:

  1. Fill out the application
  2. Vehicle Inspection
  3. Background check
  4. Meet the requirements of your city
How to Become a Driver without a Car

At this point you may be wondering, but how do I become an uber driver without a car? How do I become a lyft driver without a car? If you don’t have your own car to drive with, Uber has partners that can rent a car to drive with. Lyft has something similar with Lyft Express Drive. With this you can use a rental car and return it at any time, with things like insurance and standard maintenance included in the rental price.

How Much Money Do Drivers Actually Make?

How much you can really make as an Uber driver is riddled with caveats. Yes, you can earn good money from driving during surge hours and getting tips from your passengers, but then other things, like all the costs that go into having and running a vehicle, will dent your earnings. Because ride-share drivers are technically self-employed they have to take on all the costs necessary to run their business, and this is where ride-share drivers experience major disappointments in their earnings with apps like Uber.

How Much Uber Drivers Make

There are many people out there that would love a lucrative way to be self-employed, and there are many aspects of businesses like Uber and Lyft that draw in new drivers every year. There are estimated to be about 833,000 Uber driver participants in just one year. Uber has also said that their drivers can earn $75,000 to $90,000 a year, while the typical taxi driver only makes about $30,000 a year.

If these numbers were true to what most drivers are actually making then why would almost half of all drivers only stay in the business for less than a year before dropping out of the game? It is because most Uber drivers don’t end up seeing earnings this high.

In reality Uber drivers make an average of $15.68 per hour, which means Uber drivers make about $7.84 per ride, and about $109.76 per week if they work all 7 days. Surveys done by Earnest have also found that Uber drivers make $364 per month on average, which would mean that Uber drivers make an average of $4,368 per year. Uber does give drivers the ability to earn extra with surge pricing. This is when passengers fees go up during higher density hours.

How Much Lyft Drivers Make

Lyft drivers make pretty similar numbers but the difference might be just enough to make you switch apps. Lyft drivers make an average of $17.50 per hour. This means that on average they make about $8.75 per ride, and about $122.50 per week if they work every day. Earnest also found that Lyft drivers tend to make an average of $377 per month, which would mean that Lyft drivers make an average of $4,524 per year.
 
earning stats
 

Average Earnings by City

Not all cities are created equal when it comes to the demand for ride-hailing services. How much work you can get and how much you’ll get paid on average will depending on what city you work in. But remember, many of the best cities to work in for ride-share drivers are also more expensive cities to live in, and a higher cost of living will affect your earnings as well.

The 10 BEST cities for ride-share drivers are . . .
  1. Honolulu, Hawaii at $25.55 an hour
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Long Island, New York
  4. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
  5. Westchester County, New York
  6. San Jose, California
  7. New York City
  8. Minneapolis, Montana
  9. San Francisco, California
  10. Cincinnati, Ohio at $19.18 an hour
The 10 WORST cities for ride-share drivers are . . .
  1. Buffalo, New York at $9.74 an hour
  2. San Antonio, Texas
  3. Tulsa, Oklahoma
  4. Oklahoma, Oklahoma
  5. Indianapolis, Indiana
  6. Tampa/St Petersburg, Florida
  7. Springfield, Missouri
  8. Houston, Texas
  9. Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina
  10. Akron, Ohio at $4.94 an hour

As you can see, drivers in some of the bottom tier cities aren’t even making minimum wage.

Average Earnings by Vehicle Class

If you were wondering how much drivers tend to make according to their vehicle class we found that information too. Overall they found that most drivers make the following according to what class of vehicle they’re driving:

  • UberX = $13.70 an hour
  • UberXL = $14.84 an hour
  • UberSELECT = $14.85 an hour
  • UberBLACK = $24.87 an hour

It would then seem like the higher class your vehicle is the better you’ll get paid, but you have to remember that you are the one paying for the more luxurious car. Passengers also pay more to ride in the higher-end vehicle types, which will affect how much demand there is each day for the vehicle class you offer.

The Cons of Being an Uber or Lyft Driver

There are actually many reasons these promising numbers don’t become a reality for most Uber drivers. First of all, there is the nature of how Uber drivers are employed (or technically not employed) which affects their pay and benefits (or the lack thereof). Then there are the many other costs that fall on the driver to pay and manage on their own. Finally there is the matter of location that dictates how much work is even available in a driver’s area.

Independent Contractors

Drivers are considered independent contractors, which means that they technically are self-employed. Sounds great right? Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? But there are a number of disadvantages to being self-employed.

Since drivers are independent contractors they have to take care of their own benefits, like insurance, and they are also in charge of all the costs of maintaining their vehicle. Below are some other cons to being an independent contractor for Uber:

  • Because you aren’t a W-2 employee, Uber is not required by any laws to pay its drivers minimum wage.
  • Because you aren’t a W-2 employee, you have to cover your own Social Security and Medicare taxes. Officially employed W-2 workers will typically only pay part of these taxes with each paycheck, while their employer pays the rest.
  • You are considered self-employed, but you still work for a business that will control and regulate aspects of your “self-employment” and control the percentage you get paid.
Demands on Your Own Pocket

Because you are only getting a percentage of your earnings, while the ride-sharing company takes the rest, this makes the personal costs of running your driving business all the more impactful on your wallet.

Instead of all the proceeds of your business going to you and your business, the ride-share app companies take a cut, and they get to decide how big a cut they get. Below are just a few examples of all the costs you have to pay out of your own pocket to run your driving business:
 
insurance
Insurance
Not only do you have to pay for your own health insurance—since ride-share companies won’t consider you an employee and provide any benefits—but you also have to pay for your own car insurance.
 
car payments
Car payments
Ride-share companies won’t provide you with a vehicle the way that other taxi companies do for their employees. Providing yourself with a vehicle to drive and work in is also all on you.
 
vehicle maintenance
Vehicle maintenance
Any maintenance, repairs, and general upkeep that your vehicle will need in order for you to drive is completely your own responsibility. And since you are driving your vehicle for your work it is going to need much more regular maintenance.
 
gas
Gas
You are not reimbursed for what you spend on gas. Business insider found that drivers can spend up to $150 on gas just in a week, and the more you work, the more you’ll be spending on gas each week.
 
tolls
Tolls
If you drive through any tolls your passenger will likely pay an added amount on their fare, but you will be responsible for taking care of the toll fee upfront.



Overall

A recent study was done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2018 and they found that ride-share drivers may not be any better off than taxi drivers. They found that self-employed drivers only made up 35% of the driving business, and at an average $14 an hour they’re not even making a taxi driver’s salary of $30,000 a year. Because of this it seems ride-share driving truly does belong in the gig economy as more of a part-time job for extra cash, than a full-time occupation.

If working for yourself means a lot to you and the projected numbers we’ve outlined don’t look that bad, then maybe ride-share driving is still the gig for you. You can also always take advantage of Check City Title Loans to help your car stay in business. But it may also be a side gig that needs some revamping by those in charge in order to be made truly worth-while for the drivers once again.



READ MORE
Read more about the new Uber CEO and how he’s been implementing changes in the company.

Learn more about Uber and how it compares in the gig economy today, “Uber and the labor market: Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy.”

Read yet another interesting study about how Uber is changing the ride-share economy, “The Competitive Effects of the Sharing Economy: How is Uber Changing Taxis?

This article is a part of our “How Much Do Professions Pay?” series. Check out some other articles in this series to learn more about other professions and what they pay:

How Much Do Teachers Make?

How Much Do YouTubers Make?

How Much Do Nurses Make?


Budgeting in 4 Easy Steps

budget
No matter your financial situation in life, everyone needs a budget. With a budget you can plan for needed expenses and prepare for the things you want. In fact, the most simple budget only needs a couple lists, a calculator, and some goals. Below are the the main points our post will go over to help you set up your budget:
 

 
Budgets are an important tool in anyone’s financial arsenal. Budgets can help you organize your needed expenses, like rent and bills, prepare for emergencies and get ready for whatever your future might hold. By knowing how to budget you can learn to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building up your savings. it can help you save up for big expenses or future life events like a wedding, starting a family, buying a car or a house or moving to a new state.

Budgeting can also help you save for retirement, something else that even younger people just starting out on their own sometimes forget to think about but should. But most of all a it can grant you financial power and freedom and help you provide for your wants and needs. But for those just starting out on their own especially, it can be hard to know where to begin.

There are several key elements you’ll need to include in your budget. You need to think about all your necessary expenses and plan them out accordingly so you are aware of how much of your monthly income you need to spend each month no matter what. Then you’ll have to think about unnecessary expenses. This is where you have the most freedom to plan out the numbers and make adjustments.
budget-template

How to Budget

There are many ways to budget and there is a lot of advice out there in the financial spheres about how to do it. You can also choose to plan for certain events by making a specific wedding budget, or for major purchases like car payments. But if you’re making a simple budget for yourself, then the main thing you’ll want to decide first is whether you want to make a monthly or yearly budget. Most people like to create a yearly one to get a general big picture view of their financial goals and future plans. But, a monthly one is more helpful for everyday use. We’re going to try and condense all that down to the bare bones minimum of what every smart budget needs.

#1: List your monthly income

List out all your forms of income. This would include the paychecks from your job, but also any extra money you make from any of your side hustles. Here is also where you can decide whether you want to organize your finances for gross income or net income.

Gross income is simpler and easier to calculate. You just need to know how much you get paid and use that money for your calculations.

Net income isn’t as simple to figure out but there are advantages to using it. You figure out your net income by looking up what the income tax is in your state, and taking out that percentage from your gross income. Using net income instead of gross income is perhaps better because it more realistically reflects what you will actually receive from your paycheck.

#2: List your fixed expenses

After you have all your sources of income written down you’ll want to form another list for all your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are the expenses you have each month that don’t fluctuate in amount. Everyone’s list is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you, but here is an example list of some fixed expenses:

  • Rent or Mortgage: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your housing expenses is to check that your total housing expenses aren’t over 28% of your monthly gross income.
  • Insurance
  • Debts: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your debts is to check that your total debts aren’t over 36% of your monthly gross income.
  • Loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit card payments
  • Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify
  • Phone bill
  • Medication you pay for each month
  • Child support
  • Education

After you’ve listed all your fixed expenses total the amount, subtract it from your monthly income, and that’s what you have left to spend on varied expenses . . .

#3: Set up your savings

Before we go into varied expenses though, let’s take a moment to think about your savings and retirement. Get a savings account if you don’t have one already, and set aside a portion of what’s left over after fixed expenses. Any amount you can afford to put away into a savings account each month will set you up for success in the long term, even if it’s only 5 to 10 dollars a month.

Aside from general savings and saving for retirement, you also want to set money aside in an emergency fund. It’s recommended that you have at least 3 months worth of your fixed expenses put away into an emergency fund at all times.

Digit is a great app you can use to help you plan and organize all your savings.

#4: List and portion out your varied expenses

Everyone’s list of varied expenses is going to look differently depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you. Varied expenses are any expenses that are going to fluctuate in amount each month, or are considered more like luxury expenses than needed ones.

Varied expenses are a big reason to do a budget in the first place so that your varied expenses each month don’t overtake your more important fixed expenses and your savings. Here are some examples of varied expenses you might need to consider:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertainment
  • Gas and transportation
  • Recreation
  • Clothes
  • College textbooks

Another way to figure out the reality of what you’re spending on varied expenses is to look at your transaction history for the month and see 1) How much in total you were spending on varied expenses that month, and 2) What those varied expenses were on. Do this for a couple months back to get a more realistic idea of what you are spending on varied expenses each month.

Organizing your varied expenses is where you have the most control over your budget. Whatever is left over after your fixed expenses and your monthly payments to your savings account is what you have to spend on all your other spending for the month.

Here is where you will list out what all those varied expenses might be and portion what you have left in the budget into them. Remember that you don’t necessarily want to portion out 100% of what’s left into these categories so that you can accumulate a comfortable cushion in not just your savings account but your checking account as well.

Budgeting Tips

Invest

Making investments is a great way to beef up your financial portfolio. There are probably a trillion ways to invest, but the idea behind investments is that you put money into something that will give you more money in return later. This is called compounding interest.
interest-rate
A helpful tip to remember when going into any investment is the rule of 72. This rule means that if you take 72 divided by the interest rate you’ll figure out the estimated number of years it will take for your interest to double your initial investment.

Personal Capital and Acorns are some of the most helpful investing apps you can use to step up your investment game.

Where should I put my budget?

Figuring out where to even put your budget can get complicated. You can use excel or make your own table in Word or Google Docs or any note taking program of your choice. There are also many free budget templates online that you can print out and use. Budget tools are all around if you take the time to look and decide on which ones best suit your needs.

Click here for a free budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also use budgeting apps to keep track of all your bills, expenses, plans, and goals. Some of these apps even allow you to connect your budget to your financial accounts.

Control your spending

Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending. You can make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid debit card you put money on it like a gift card to yourself almost. You can also use a similar method of spending control by just taking money out and only using that cash for your varied expenses each week.

PocketGuard is an app that can help you track your purchases.

Get a Side Gig

Getting an extra source of income can really come in handy. There are a million different kinds of side hustles any ambitious person these days can get into. You can babysit, drive for uber, or sell your own products. The possibilities are endless and it never hurts to have a little extra money each month.

Plan to Decrease Debts

Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary evil in order to get a house, get a car, get through college, and much more. Decreasing the amount of debts you owe can still help alleviate some of that weight and provide more financial comfort and peace of mind.

So it’s important to budget with paying down your debts in mind. You can pay down debts quicker by planning to spend more on that fixed/necessary expenses each month, by spending less on varied expenses, or by getting another job to provide more income to put into your debts each month.
 
Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. All you really need is 4 lists and a calculator! Everyone should practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.


READ MORE
Check out some of other Check City articles on budgeting:
Budgeting for Dummies
 
What is a Budget?
 
Budgeting Tips You May Not Have Thought of Before
 
3 Simple Tips to Building a Budget
 
Ways to Keep Track of Your Spending

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

Most financial experts agree that you need enough in emergency savings to cover 3-6 months of expenses. But according to a 2013 survey by Bankrate.com, 76% of Americans don’t have enough savings to last 6 months, 50% have less than 3 months in savings, and 27% don’t have any savings whatsoever.

The fact that one fourth of Americans are literally living paycheck to paycheck should be a sobering fact. That’s because without an emergency fund, any type of emergency—getting laid off, medical bills, car repairs, etc.—could send you deep into debt.

Fortunately, no matter what your current situation, you can prepare yourself now for these types of emergencies.

Why do I need an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is set aside to help cover unexpected expenses that are guaranteed to pop up in life. It’s not a matter of if these expenses will come around—it’s a matter of when.

How much should I put in my emergency fund?

Things break around the house, and cars need to be maintained and repaired from time to time. However, it’s the unexpected things like medical bills and losing a job that can really have negative effects on your finances for the long term.

The reason financial experts recommend you keep 3-6 months of expenses in savings is to provide a cushion for a job loss. That way you can maintain your lifestyle long enough to find another job. And when the other unexpected expenses come around, you’ll have enough money in savings to cover those, too.

How do I get started?

If the average family/person pays out about $2,000 in rent, food, gas, and other bills each month, then they should aim to have $6,000 to $12,000 in a savings account.

That amount can be daunting for a lot of people, but you don’t have to achieve it right away. If you can only set aside $20 a week, it will add up; and after only a year, you’ve saved over one thousand dollars.
Have patience as you build up your savings. Remember that having something in your savings account is better than nothing. You will be well on your way to financial independence, which brings great peace of mind.

Sticking with it

Make sure you don’t tap into your emergency fund unless it’s an absolute emergency. Don’t let yourself be tempted to use the money to take a vacation or buy something impulsively—you’ll lose months of progress if you do.

Saving money for a rainy day is a life-long endeavor. Once an emergency does come along—and believe me, it will—then you’ll need to build up your savings again to prepare for the next emergency.
Ultimately, financial independence is worth all the hard work. You won’t have to fall back into debt every time an unexpected bill pops up—instead, you can tap into your emergency fund when it truly is an emergency.

So don’t be afraid to start your emergency fund today, even if you can only start small. You’ll be happy you did.

If you do find yourself in a financial emergency, and you don’t have enough saved up, you can always apply for a cash advance or payday loan from Check City.

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