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10 Advantages of Using Personal Checks

advantages-of-using-checks

Personal checks are still widely used today, and for good reason! Personal checks have unique advantages and features that you don’t want to miss out on.

Writing checks may seem old-fashioned, but lots of people are still doing it. There are many advantages to writing checks instead of using other payment methods like cash or cards.

With all the many payment method options available today, it’s important to keep your options open to take advantage of the features each one has to offer.

Payment Method Options Today

We have more ways to pay for things now than ever and they all have pros and cons. Some payment options are more secure than others, some are easier to use than others, and some are best used in certain scenarios or certain places.

Cash

Cash is probably the most traditional and straightforward method. All you need is the right number of bills and change and you can make your purchases and be on your merry way.

It can also be easier not to overspend when using cash because the amount you have available to spend is more tangible. But cash isn’t always accepted everywhere and when cash is stolen, it can be very difficult to get that money back.

Checks

Checks are paper slips that are tied to a bank account and authorize the check recipient to turn in that check to get the funds they are owed. They are like a small paper financial contract.

By carrying around a checkbook you don’t have to carry cash that can be stolen and hard to trace. Checks are much more difficult for thieves to use.

But not all places accept check payments and it can be a bother for you to wait for check recipients to actually deposit the checks you’ve given them.

Debit Cards

Debit cards are plastic cards that a card reader can electronically read and access funds from your bank account to make your payment. They are small and easy to carry around in a wallet, purse, or pocket.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are another plastic, easy-to-carry-around card, but this one isn’t backed by an existing account with existing funds like a debit card. Instead, it’s linked to an account with a set amount of available credit.

This is nice for building up your credit score or having some extra credit to use for purchases. But this method can become a hassle when the credit use becomes overwhelming and you end up with large monthly, high-interest payments.

Store Cards

Many stores have store cards now. They can be like debit or credit cards but they are given to you from the store. Often they come with lots of perks for using the store card like exclusive discounts, sales, and store membership programs.

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are a type of debit card that isn’t linked to your bank account the way a typical debit card is. Instead, you load money onto a prepaid card just like you would a gift card. It can then be used anywhere, just like a debit card.

These cards are nice to have because they offer the spending convenience of a debit card without having full access to your entire bank account. These set prepaid card amounts can help you budget and not overspend.

Money Orders

Money orders
are probably the most similar to checks. They are paper, monetary contracts that can be used to pay someone. All they have to do is take that money order somewhere to get it deposited and get their funds.

Money orders are a very secure form of payment because the person giving the money order has already made the payment to the money order handler, like Western Union. so the receiver knows right away that the payment isn’t going to bounce because the payment has already been made.

Money Transfers

While some money transfers can be done in person at money transfer stores, electronic transfers or wire transfers can also refer to online payments, ACH, or direct deposits. These are when payments are made entirely online, digitally.

Wire transfers are very secure because one party is digitally sending the funds directly to another party’s account. It’s also often the fastest way to send money or make a payment.

Pay-As-You-Go Plans

Pay-as-you-go plans are probably the newest payment method available today. Different companies work alongside businesses to facilitate these programs so that customers can make payments in installments rather than all at once.

This can help the customer get the things they need sooner, like furniture they couldn’t afford all at once. It benefits the businesses because more customers are able to buy when they want rather than having to wait and save.

What’s the Most Secure Payment Method?

All payment methods have pros and cons, but out of all these methods which are the safest to use?

What makes a payment method secure depends largely on the system behind the method you are using. For instance, how secure your debit card is will depend on the debit card provider and the safety system the provider has set up.

As an example, some credit cards can be really secure because they have all kinds of fraud protection if the card ever gets stolen. You can even oftentimes get your credit back for purchases you didn’t make. But not all credit cards will have this feature.

So rather than picking one method as the most secure, what you want to do is research your payment method providers and see which ones offer the most security.

The Benefits of Using Personal Checks

Most checks will come with the same number of security and safety features, making them great personal payment methods. In fact, if you aren’t using personal checks then you might be missing out on some unique payment security features.

1. Checks are safer to mail

Sending a check in the mail keeps your money a lot safer than sending cash through the mail. When you have a check inside an envelope it can be very difficult for others to tell there is even a check inside.

But if you put cash in an envelope it can be much easier for others to tell there is money inside since bills have their own distinct shape, material, and color.

2. Checks can’t be used by thieves

Checks are also less attractive to thieves than cash or cards. Checks cannot be cashed by just anyone, and that is too much of a hassle for a thief.

Thieves want quick cash and forms of money that are untraceable, and checks are neither of those things. Also, when you carry checks you don’t have to carry cash or cards on you, making you less of a target while you are out.

3. Checks are traceable

This is another reason why checks are safer than other forms of payment—they’re traceable. When you use a check the bank makes a copy so you can easily prove the payments you’ve made.

All the information you would ever need about payment is also written on your check and the underlying copy. With each check, you can know how much you spent, who you paid, when you paid, and even what you were paying for.

4. Checks aren’t deposited immediately

Another attractive thing about checks is the timing. It usually takes businesses a day or two to actually cash the check that you’ve written for them.

This means that you have a day or two to make sure you have the money in your account to cover the check. This can be risky to do, but as long as you handle your checks wisely, then you should be able to use this feature to your advantage.

5. You don’t need a bank account to cash checks

When you get paid through direct deposit you need to have a bank account set up. But if you get paid with checks then you don’t need to use direct deposit or a bank account.

If you get paid with checks then you can just cash them, you don’t have to deposit them into a bank account or deal with electronic funds.

6. Checks make budgeting easier

Every time you write a check you are simultaneously writing your own personal receipt to go along with that purchase.

These slips of paper can make budgeting super easy since you can keep those in your checkbook, and at the end of each week or month you can see an overview of all your spending in one convenient place.

7. Checks are a professional form of payment

Checks are also widely seen as a professional form of payment. If you are doing business as a freelancer, for example, one of the most professional forms of payment you can accept is checks.

When you are doing official business of your own, paying in checks is also considered the most professional and trustworthy way to make those payments.

8. Checks are customizable

There are so many ways you can customize your checks. Photo checks can include photos of yourself or your loved ones, scenic checks can display the views you love, and floral checks can decorate your checks with your favorite flowers.

There are numerous ways to stylize your checkbook to make finances more fun and personal.

9. Business checks

If you have a small business then you might be interested in using business checks. Business checks will have the name and address of your business on them, indicating that this payment is being made by the business entity. For legal reasons, accurately recording business finances, and taxes,

Getting custom business checks can help legitimize your business, keep your business legally more secure, help make business tax filing easier, and help you keep a more accurate record of your business’s finances. Just remember to set up your authorization so you can endorse the checks.

10. Checks are widely accepted payment methods

Since checks are one of the oldest forms of payment, they are widely accepted at most locations. You’ll just need to make sure you don’t get into a “cash only” line at the grocery store and you should be fine.

Cash Personal Checks and Business Checks at Check City

Check City offers convenient check cashing services for both personal and business check cashing needs. Whether you have a check written out to you personally, or to your business, you can get it cashed at Check City.

Check cashing services at Check City are also fast with minimal processing so you can get your check funds right away. We’re also open most evenings so you can stop by whenever is most convenient for you.

In Conclusion,

Don’t waste your time thinking checks are a useless tool of the past. Checks are a useful financial product for personal and business use with their own unique features.

Checks also provide a level of security in your transactions that cash does not. So don’t forget about this important tool in your financial arsenal and learn to use checks to their full advantage.

How to Buy a House in 5 Simple Steps

how-to-buy-a-house

Buying a house can seem like a daunting and complicated process. There is certainly lots to do, but with our simplified how to buy a house guide, the home buying process will seem like a breeze.

There are many steps and variables involved in buying a home. There is also a lot of vocabulary that first-time home buyers might not understand. This can make the process even more confusing and exhausting.

But when broken down into its essential parts, the steps to buying a home become simple steps that any prospective buyer can follow.

Is It a Good Time to Buy a House?

How can you tell when it’s a good time to buy a house and when it isn’t a good time to buy a house? This depends on two things.

Buyers Market vs Sellers Market

Buying a house isn’t just a new step in life and your living situation, it’s a major financial investment. That means you’ll want to think about this purchase from an investment perspective while you search.

You also need to know that the housing market is split into 2 sides—the buyers market and the sellers market. When the buyer’s market for homes is good, it’s usually not the best time to sell your house and vice versa. So part of the “right time to buy” comes from how these markets are doing.

Figure out how the market is doing by looking up housing market predictions near you. This will give you an idea of how much houses in general are costing these days.

Seasonal Housing Markets

The housing market in many states has seasonal ups and downs. Typically, the housing market will slow down in the fall and winter and speed up again in the spring and summer.

For home buyers this could mean that summer is a good time to look for houses because many home sellers are putting their houses up for sale when demand is high. But that high demand can also mean that it’s harder to lock down a house because so many other people are house shopping right now.

Your Financial Readiness

When to buy a home is highly dependent on how you are doing financially and what kind of mortgage loan you can qualify for.

When buying a home you’ll need to consider all kinds of financing factors like the cost of the monthly mortgage, interest rates, your credit score, the down payment percentage you can afford, monthly utility costs, home insurance costs, and possibly renovation costs.

Ultimately, the best time to buy a house is when you are financially prepared to buy and maintain a household.

How to Save for a House

If you aren’t financially prepared to buy a house right now don’t worry! There are plenty of ways for you to start saving right now to get ready.

You’ll need to save primarily for an adequate down payment and you’ll need to prepare your financial situation to afford the monthly costs of owning your home.

How Much House Can I Afford?

There are 3 basic methods for figuring out how much house you can afford. You can base your numbers on your savings, income, or monthly payments.

But, as a general rule, you want to spend between 2.5 and 5 times your annual salary on a home and you’ll want to have 20% of that number in savings for a down payment.

To calculate based on your savings, take the amount you have saved right now and divide that amount by 20% to see what price range of home you can currently afford.

To calculate based on your income, take your gross annual income and multiply it by 2.5 or 5. Multiplied by 2.5 tells you the minimum amount of house you can afford and multiplied by 5 tells you the maximum.

To calculate based on monthly payments, use the 28/36 rule. This rule recommends that you spend only 28% of your monthly budget on housing each month and only 36% on debts.

Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a House?

The price of building a home is going to depend on many factors. A lot more goes into building a home then buying a home that’s already been built.

You’ll need to pay for the plot of land, the foundation, the shell of the house, interior finishes, exterior finishes, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and more. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) found that it can cost about $296,652 to build a home in their most recent cost of construction survey they concluded in fall 2019.

Meanwhile, according to Zillow, the average cost of an already built home in the US is about $276,717. This means that building a home is actually about 7% more expensive than buying an already built home.

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

When buying a home for the first time, make sure you know your home buying terminology and that you aren’t missing out on any first time home buyers credits or advantages.

What is FHA?

FHA stands for the Federal Housing Administration. This is a government agency that offers insurance to qualifying FHA-approved lenders for the mortgages they offer home buyers.

What are First Time Home Buyer Programs?

First time home buyer programs are state or federal programs that work to help first time home buyers finance their homes. Some examples include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What is a First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit?

This tax credit lets taxpayers who bought a home for the first time subtract from what they owe in taxes that year.

What is Property Tax?

When you own property you have to start paying property taxes each year. Paying property taxes will become a part of your tax return filing each year.

Instead of handling all the many aspects of tax filing by yourself, take advantage of easy-to-use tax preparation services like the tax professionals at Check City. They’ll help file all the paperwork necessary for you.

What is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance works much like any other type of insurance. It helps pay for expenses should anything happen to your home.

What is a Low Income Housing Tax Credit?

Individuals and families who live in low income housing can apply for a low income housing tax credit that subtracts some housing payments from the overall taxes you owe.

What is a Down Payment?

This is the initial payment a homebuyer makes when purchasing a house. For example, a house may cost $200,000 total and you have a mortgage that allows you to pay $1,500 a month toward that total, but to buy the house you must “put down a down payment” of $40,000.

Steps for How to Buy a House

There are essentially 5 steps to buying a house. The home buying process can be more complicated than this, but these 5 steps are the key tasks all home buyers will need to go through.

Step 1: Become Financially Ready to Own a Home

First things first, you need to get financially ready to buy and maintain a home. Owning a household goes beyond the initial costs of buying a house. you also need to be prepared to pay for the down payment, the realtor commissions, the closing costs, the home inspection, renovations and repairs, monthly mortgage and utility payments, annual property taxes, and more.

Before buying a house, start with the following preparatory tasks:

  • Start saving up for a down payment
  • Start saving up for the closing costs
  • Calculate your minimum and maximum budget for buying a house
  • Calculate your minimum and maximum monthly budget for owning and maintaining your home
  • Check your credit history and credit score to get an idea of the kinds of loans and interest you can qualify for

Step 2: Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Once you’ve thoroughly run the numbers and know what you can and can’t afford and what money is going to go where, you can start shopping for a mortgage loan.

When buying a home, you’ll want to get preapproved for a mortgage with the lender of your choice. This preapproval will then allow you to hire a real estate agent and start looking at homes. You want to get this preapproval with your bank or lender first so you are prepared to submit offers when the right house comes along.

Step 3: Look at Homes and Submit an Offer

Now that you’ve figured out your finances and gotten those finances preapproved with the bank, you can start house hunting!

Find yourself a real estate agent and start checking out the available homes in the areas where you want to live. Here is where you’ll start to consider the things you must have in a house, the things you would like to have in a house, and the things that are deal-breakers in a house.

When you find a house that feels right, you are now ready to submit an offer and see if it gets approved. This is where your real estate agent comes in to handle the negotiating and paperwork between buyers and sellers.

Step 4: Get the Home Inspected

If your offer gets approved then congratulations! Now it’s time to go through your own, more detailed approval process of the home itself.

Usually, there are certain basic conditions put into the offer a home buyer submits to a seller. These conditions include things like getting a home inspection and appraisal before you officially close the deal.

This gives the potential, serious buyer time to give the house a thorough look to make sure there aren’t major problems with the house itself. If there are major issues, like faulty plumbing for example, then the buyer could back out or negotiate with the sellers to take those essential repairs out of the house price.

Step 5: Close the Deal

Once you are satisfied with the home buying contract the buyer and seller can sign the contract and officially close the deal. Congratulations! You are now a home owner and can start scheduling when to move in.

In Conclusion,

Don’t let the home buying process overwhelm you when it basically boils down to 5 simple steps—prepare yourself financially, get preapproved for a mortgage loan, submit an offer on a home, get the home inspected, and close the deal.

How to Coupon

how-to-coupon

Everyone wants to save money, but learning how to coupon can seem like too much work. We’re here to help show you just how easy it really is to learn how to coupon and save.

Couponing can save you so much money if you only take the time to do it. Couponing itself isn’t actually difficult. You just need to take some time to gather the deals you want to use, organize them, and plan to use them on your regular shopping trips.

What is Couponing?

Couponing refers to the practice of gathering, organizing, and using coupons to save on all your shopping. Anyone can learn “to coupon” and start saving on groceries, clothes, household goods, and so much more.

Couponing 101

If you’ve never couponed before then you might have no idea where to start or how to coupon in the first place. Luckily, it’s a very easy process. Couponing isn’t supposed to be a hassle, it’s supposed to be something for you to take advantage of.

Before you start finding and using all your deals, let’s go over some couponing 101 so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Basic Coupon Vocabulary

Here is the only place where couponing gets complicated.

It’s a good idea to know basic coupon vocabulary in order to know a bit more about what you’re doing when you take all your clippings to the store.

Coupons often come with their own fine print with key words that are good to know if you’re going to use coupons more often. Below we’ll go over a few examples:

Manufacturer Coupons

Manufacturer coupons are a type of coupon that can usually be used anywhere that item is sold. These are the bread and butter of professional couponers.

Digital Coupons

This type of coupon can be found and used online. You might find codes you can use on online orders or barcodes to scan at the store from your phone.

Print Coupons

Print coupons are coupons you find in paper form often in the newspaper or magazines. You can also find print coupons online and print them from home to cut out and use later.

“Limit one coupon per purchase”

This term means that you can only use one coupon for one item. For example, if you have two of the same coupon and only one of the right item, then you won’t be able to use both coupons on that one item.

“Limit one coupon per transaction”

This term means that you can only use one copy of a coupon during the entire transaction. For example, with the previous term you could buy three of the same item and use three of the same coupon for each one. But here you would only be able to use one of these coupons during the entire transaction.

“Redeemable only at . . . “

This term means that this coupon can only be used at certain locations and not just anywhere the item is sold.

“Only at . . . “

This term means that the item the coupon covers is only sold at the select locations outlined on the coupon.

Store Coupon Policy

Each store has a coupon policy. Find the policies from the stores you shop at most and take some time to read them. This will help you know what you can and can’t do with coupons where you like to shop. This will then keep you from wasting your own time with couponing that is against store policy.

How to Start Couponing

Let’s start with couponing for beginners. You don’t have to start with a million coupons and a giant bulky binder you take with you to every store.

Instead, start with finding a place or two where you get your coupons and start by collecting a handful of useful coupons for your regular shopping trips.

You want to get into the habit of incorporating the basic couponing process into your existing shopping routine:

Step 1: Find Your Coupons

The very first thing you need to focus on doing is getting the coupons you want to use. There are some key things to remember when doing this.

You don’t want to go shopping to use your coupons. You want to find coupons that work with the shopping you already do.

Create your shopping list before you go coupon hunting and then look for ways to save on the things you already know you need. Likely, once you find the manufacturer’s coupons that work with your existing shopping list that resource will become one you use over and over again.

Step 2: Organize Your Coupons

The next step you want to take is to organize all your coupons somehow. Folders, binders, envelopes, and wallets are great places to keep and organize your coupons.

Divide your coupon organization system of choice into sections like household, groceries, eating out, clothing, and other.

If you’re only using a few coupons then you might be fine using a small wallet or small folder to keep in your purse. If you’re using a lot of coupons you might need an entire binder or filing system to keep them all organized.

Step 3: Plan Your Coupon Usage

Shopping is always the most productive when done with a plan. Otherwise, we end up buying more than we need, forgetting something important, or going over budget.

Spend more time planning your shopping then you spend shopping.

You’ve probably heard the advice out there to not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach so that you aren’t inclined to buy more than you need because your stomach is doing all the shopping.

The same principle exists for shopping with coupons. Go to the store with a specific plan in mind so you’re prepared. Know what you’re going to get and have the coupons you want to use ready.

Extreme Couponing

Extreme couponing refers to the more extreme usage of coupons to save even more money on everyday shopping. Extreme “couponers” might have an entire binder dedicated to organizing all their coupons.

The key to being a successful extreme couponer is organizing and planning.

Some extreme couponers will even go so far as buying the right tools to really up their couponing strategy like binders and printers.

How to Get Coupons

There are many places to find useful deals, promotions, sales, and coupons.

Install browser extensions like honey, acorns, amazon assistant, or rakuten.

Go to the websites of the stores where you shop the most and see what store savings they offer. They might have memberships that can help you save or they might have store sales or coupons to offer on their site.

Visit couponing websites that are dedicated to providing easy access to all the coupons you could ever need like coupons.com, pggoodeveryday.com, goodrx.com.

In Conclusion,

Anyone can coupon! It really is that easy. There are millions of sales and deals out there waiting for you to find them, use them, and save money.

How to Make a Budget

how-to-make-a-budget

Almost as important as knowing how to budget, is knowing how to make a budget that is personally customized to your financial situation and lifestyle.

You can know all about how to budget money and still get nowhere if you don’t first learn how to make a budget.

 

The structure of your budget, the budgeting tools you use, and the budgeting methods you pick are all essential to making your budget actually work.

 

If you really want to take your personal finances to the next level, you need to learn the science behind what makes a good budget. First you’ll want to pick a budgeting method, then make a personal financial plan, and then start creating a personalized budget template.

 

Pick a Budgeting Method

 

The first step on your journey to create the perfect budget should be to research existing budget methods. One of these methods might be perfect for you or lead you to create your own budget strategy.

 

Zero-Based Budget

 

A zero-based budget (ZBB) is a budget that doesn’t use previous data to fill out the current budget. Instead you start with zero, or rather, create a brand new budget completely from scratch.

 

For Example:

 

With this method, throw out all your old budgeting templates, methods, and data and start all over again from scratch. Build your budget back up again, scrutinizing every single budget section and subsection.

 

Pay-Yourself-First Budget

 

The pay-yourself-first budget is the idea that you should be paid first whenever your monthly income comes in. Instead of paying bills first, you pay yourself.

 

This strategy is all about prioritizing paying yourself by putting money toward something personal first like your savings account, emergency fund, retirement fund, or something else you want to save for.

 

For Example:

 

Pay yourself by depositing money into a savings account or emergency fund first before putting money toward anything else in your budget.

 

Envelope System Budget

 

The cash envelope system is a way to budget using envelopes and cash. Get yourself some envelopes and write the names of each finance category you have on an envelope. Then put the money you want to spend in those areas in each envelope.

 

For Example:

 

Maybe you have an envelope that says, “Weekly Groceries” and another that says, “Monthly Bills.” These envelopes become the wallet you take to pay bills or buy groceries. Now you can only use the cash available in those envelopes to make those payments and purchases.

 

50/30/20 Budget

 

Do you have trouble knowing how much money you should allocate to each budget section? If yes, then this budget is for you.

 

The 50/30/20 budget (also sometimes shown as 50/20/30) provides a basic suggestion for how much of your monthly income after taxes should go toward each section of your budget.

 

It suggests that 50% should go toward needs and essentials, 20% should go toward savings and debts, and 30% should go toward everything else.

 

For Example:

 

50% of your monthly finances might go toward rent, groceries, gas, and bills, 20% toward a savings account and debt repayments, and 30% toward entertainment, clothes, and other miscellaneous items.

 

The “No” Budget

 

The no-budget budget is for people who hate budgeting. It is by far the most simple budgeting strategy.

 

Instead of creating templates and making all kinds of calculations, simply write down how much you have coming in and the things you have to pay each month. A great way to enact the no-budget budget is to set up your finances so your financial commitments get paid first after each paycheck. Then what you have left is free for you to spend as you want or need.

 

For Example:

 

You might have rent, utilities, student loans, a credit card payment, a phone bill, and a car payment to pay each month.

 

If you get paid on a biweekly basis, then you can plan to pay rent, utilities, and your phone bill the day your first paycheck drops, and then pay your student loan bill, credit card payment, and car insurance bill the day your second paycheck drops.

 

The rest of each paycheck can then be used toward everything else like groceries, gas, or a new pair of shoes.

 

Incremental Budget

 

Incremental budgeting is a cyclical budgeting practice. Create a budget, use the budget, review the budget, make necessary adjustments, use the adjusted budget, and continue this cycle again and again.

 

For Example:

 

You might create a monthly budget and then review that budget on a monthly basis to make any necessary changes or adjustments for the next month’s budget. This could also be done on a yearly or weekly basis.

 

This cyclical practice can help you create your own system that is tailored exactly to your needs and wants.

 

Activity Based Budget

 

An activity based budget (ABB) is a common financial system used by companies and businesses. This budget is divided up into sections that represent the activities that incur costs.

 

This is a great system to use for a personal budget if you have trouble figuring out how your money is being spent and where it’s all going. Take a second look at all your activities and the costs of each one. This will help you make the necessary lifestyle decisions you need to manage your money better.

 

For Example:

 

You might have activities like work, personal, and recreation.

 

Work activities and costs might include things like driving to work, eating lunch at work, clothes for work, and so on.

 

Personal activities and costs might include things like your housing costs, your phone bills, and getting regular haircuts.

 

Recreational activities and costs might include your favorite pastimes and hobbies and the money it costs you to pursue those hobbies.

 

Value Proposition Budget

 

Do you feel like you aren’t getting enough out of your budget? If so, then this tactic might help you out.

 

Value proposition is a financial mindset that can be very useful for small businesses and individuals alike. This mindset focuses on making sure each item in the budget delivers value to the business (or individual).

 

For Example:

 

Sit down and look at your expenses to organize your expenditures into two categories: necessary and unnecessary. Then work on avoiding costs you’ve deemed unnecessary to get more personal value out of what you do spend each month.

 

Make Financial Plans with a Budget Planner

 

Regardless of the personal financial strategy you choose, you’ll need to weigh your income and expenses with a good budgeting plan. Create a space somewhere to make financial plans with a budget planner.

 

You can make this planner with Google Sheets, Excel Spreadsheets, a free budget template online, budget apps, or a notebook.

 

First, ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • What are my financial goals?
  • What are my financial plans?
  • What are my financial priorities?
  • What financial tasks do I have?
  • What are my budget must-haves?

 

Second, make a simple outline of your income and expenses. Divide your expenses between variable expenses and fixed expenses.

 

These two steps are the basic things you’ll need to do to start making any household budget.

 

Make a Monthly Budget Template

 

Free Budget-Worksheet

 

Download a Budget Worksheet.

 

Once you’ve picked your budgeting method, asked yourself the basic financial questions listed above, and outlined income and expenses, you can start creating a personal budget template.

 

This template can be adjusted on a regular basis as you practice budgeting and figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.

 

Use a Budget Spreadsheet

 

excel-budget-template

 

Download an Excel Budget Template.

 

There are also existing templates to help get you started. You can take these budget spreadsheet templates to practice different budgeting methods and find the best method for your household.

 

You might even end up creating your own personalized template crafted to your own financial situation, preferences, and goals.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Don’t feel down about budgeting. It takes many rounds of trying, failing, and readjusting before most people are able to find the method that works best for them.

 

The finances of each household are entirely unique, which is why it’s so important that you learn how to make a budget that’s tailored to your needs and desires.

How Much is My Car Worth?

How-Much-is-My-Car-Worth

Vehicle value can help sell your car for the best trade-in value, buy a car at a fair price, or minimize car depreciation in your current car.

Explore this Guide:

 

Car owners have many tools available to them. There are several car value guides to use, and these sites often include other useful tools like checking for recalls, car maintenance tips, and even vehicle reviews.

 

If you are selling a car, you want to get the best price for the vehicle you’re selling.

 

If you are buying a car, you want to know what you can afford, and make sure you’re getting a fair price for the vehicle you want to buy.

 

If you are applying for a title loan, then you want an estimate for the loan amount you can get for a percentage of your car’s value.

 

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Make use of these tools so you can get the most out of your car. Understanding car depreciation and the value of your vehicle can help you sell, buy, or use your car for a title loan.

 

What is Car Depreciation?

 

Car depreciation is one of the main determiners of your car’s worth. It is a calculation that figures out a vehicle’s market value based on factors that impact a car’s overall worth.

 

The concept was first invented in the era of trains. People wanted a way to figure out how much a train got “used up” so that they could more accurately calculate the amount of wear and tear a train had gone through over its lifetime. This then became how we determine the new value of used vehicles in general.

 

What Causes Car Depreciation?

 

The minute you buy a vehicle it begins to lose its value. Your car can lose more than 10% of its original value just by driving it off the lot you bought it from. It can then drop another 20% in the first 12 months of use, and then another 10% each following year.

 

Many variables contribute to a car’s value depreciation including maintenance, mileage, history, condition, and features.

 

Maintenance

 

To maintain market value as much as possible, stay up to date on car maintenance. Your car needs regular check ups to make sure everything is running smoothly and working properly.

 

Regular car maintenance includes items like, changing the oil, checking the battery status, checking the tire pressure, replacing brake pads, replacing air filters, checking hoses and belts, changing the spark plugs, and replacing wiper blades.

 

Mileage

 

Put simply, the more mileage a vehicle has, the less value it has. In fact, mileage can sometimes have more impact on a car’s worth than the age of the car. A car that’s only a year old but has almost 100,000 miles on it already could have less market value than an older car with only 20,000 miles on it.

 

History

 

The history of the car, its owners, maintenance and service, and accident history are all very important to determining car worth.

 

If the car has been in any accidents that will appear on the car’s history. If the car has had 10 different owners that will also be on the history report. If the car has received regular maintenance or any kinds of fixes, all of that information will be on the report.

 

What is and isn’t on the history report will influence the monetary value. For instance, if a car hasn’t been regularly maintained, it won’t maintain as much market value.

 

Condition

 

Overall car condition can include many items like the condition of the interior, the seats, or the paint job.

 

These are surface items that influence a car’s buyability. For instance, a car that works well but the seats are all ripped up won’t have as much value as a car that works well, and the seats are in good condition.

 

Features

 

The features that the car does or doesn’t have also have a determining say in the market value.

 

If your car is missing features that are considered standard for any car, its value will go down. If your car has features that are considered bonuses that any car owner would love to have, its value will go up. Additional features that are considered more like personal preferences than standard or luxury features can actually make a car’s value go down as well.

 

Basic or standard car features include things like powered windows or working AC. Luxury or bonus features could be things like a sunroof or a digital display. Additional features are things that someone might personally enjoy like oversized tires or adding a lift.

 

How to Minimize Car Depreciation

 

You can’t completely stop the value of your car from depreciating, but you can minimize car depreciation or slow the process down. By using your car less, doing more maintenance, and buying vehicles that hold their value better, you can maintain your car’s market value longer.

 

Decrease Car Use

 

By using your car less it will take on less wear and tear. It will also accumulate less mileage, which is the real aging component for cars.

 

Experts recommend you don’t drive your car more than 10,000 miles a year. It is after this mileage point that your vehicle starts to be considered more heavily used.

 

Use alternative forms of transportation when you can like taking public transit, riding a bike, or joining a carpool.

 

Increase Car Maintenance

 

Make sure you are in the very least keeping up with basic, routine maintenance. To increase value even more, increase that basic level of maintenance to go above and beyond in your vehicle’s care.

 

Many mechanics recommend what they call the 30-60-90 rule for how often you should take your car in for maintenance. This means you should take your car in for maintenance at every 30,000 mileage milestone, so at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, 90,000 miles and so on.

 

But you can go beyond this basic care by doing things like, keeping your car in a garage instead of out in the weather, washing your car on a regular basis, not eating inside the car, or shampooing or cleaning the upholstery regularly can all help maintain your car’s overall condition and value.

 

How Much is My Car Worth?

 

Your car’s worth mostly depends on car depreciation. In a nutshell, car depreciation is how a car’s value decreases. Several factors impact how much a car’s value depreciates and thus how much it is worth on the market.

 

Your car’s worth also depends on how you sell or where you buy. Buying and selling with a dealership

 

Trade-In Value vs Private Sale

 

Selling yourself will usually get you a higher price for your car because there’s the added cost of you doing the work as the seller. Selling your car to a dealership or junkyard will get you less for your car because that work is instead being taken on by the dealership, not you.

 

The pros to private sales is that you could make more money, but the con here is that you have to do a lot more work yourself to get your car sold. The pro of selling to a dealership is that there is a lot less work and time involved on your part. But you might lose out on some money from the sale.

 

Car Worth and Title Loans

 

Maybe you aren’t buying or selling a car, maybe instead you’re trying to get an estimate for a title loan.

 

Usually, title loan amounts are based on a percentage of your car’s current market value. Just as an example, if your car is worth $1,000 and the title loan provider offers loan amounts that are 40% of your car’s worth, then you could possibly get a $400 title loan.

 

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Rates, fees, interest, and the loan provider you choose will all determine the factors that go into your loan approval process and how much you can get for a title loan. Talk to your title loan provider to learn more about what kind of loan amounts they offer.

 

Car Value Guides

 

Car value guides are a great tool to help figure out how much your car is worth. They are the most accurate place to find up to date vehicle value because they have so much data to back up their calculations. They even have data from actual vehicle transactions.

 

Some of the most reputable car value guides are Kelley Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guide, and Edmunds. These references take into account everything that affects your car’s value like seasonal trends, local markets, geographical region, condition, and mileage.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Get the most out of your car by taking out a Check City Title Loan. Search your vehicle in the Kelley Blue Book or Nada Guide and contact your local Check City to see what loan amounts might be available to you.

What is a Title Loan?

What is a Title Loan

Learn what a title loan is and how title loans work. What makes a title loan different from other loans?

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What is a Title Loan?

 

Title loans can also be called car title loans, secured loans, or collateral loans. They are usually a loan product with a small borrowing amount and short repayment period. The unique feature with this loan is that it uses the title of a vehicle as the loan collateral.

 

Loan collateral is whatever the loan product uses to back up or secure the loan. It’s an insurance that helps mitigate the risks the lender takes on when letting customers borrow money.

 

In this case, the loan collateral is the title of your vehicle, most often a car, and the value behind that personal asset.

 

What are the Title Loan Requirements?

 

As with any financial product, there are a few things you’ll need to meet application requirements and secure the funds you need. Some things you might need to qualify for this type of loan include:

 

  • The vehicle
  • The vehicle’s title
  • The vehicle’s registration
  • Personal identification like a driver’s license
  • Proof of income or proof of employment

 

These are some basics you will probably need to secure a title loan. But there may be other things you’ll need to bring or have ready depending on the lender you choose.

 

Always double check with the loan provider by visiting the website or calling the store location to make sure you have everything you need to finish the application.

 

Vehicle, Title, Registration

 

The most important thing you’ll need is the vehicle and the title and registration to that vehicle.

 

The lender will need to make sure all the vehicle’s documents are correct, give the vehicle a quick inspection to assess its value, make sure you are the owner, and see that there are no other liens on the title. They call this a “clear title.”

 

A clear title is a vehicle title that has no other liens on it, or no other loans on the vehicle. It means you aren’t currently using that vehicle for any other title loans, and you own the vehicle outright.

 

You’ll need a clear title in order to use that vehicle for a loan application.

 

Lenders rarely like to let borrowers take out multiple loans on one car. The more liens you have on a vehicle, the riskier your loans become. That’s why lenders want the title of your vehicle to be clear of other liens before you can take out a title loan on that car.

 

Personal Identification

 

Typical personal identification for loans includes things like your passport, driver’s license, or any other form of official, government-issued identification.

 

This will give lenders basic information about your identity so that they can recognize you and contact you. It will also help them make sure you are who you say you are and match your identification with the owner of the vehicle.

 

Along with a form of personal identification, you’ll probably also need to provide some basic personal contact information. This could include things like your phone number, address, and email.

 

Proof of Income

 

Many lenders require proof of income or proof of employment in order for customers to secure a loan. This helps the lender know whether the customer can pay back the loan.

 

Responsible lenders don’t want to set their customers up for failure. Instead, they want their customers to be set up for financial success. This is easier when income and employment can be verified before a loan is given out.

 

How Do Title Loans Work

 

Like many small, short-term loans, the title loan process is very simple and quick. First, find a title loan provider near you, like Check City.

 

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Once at the store, the friendly representatives will perform a quick inspection and help you complete a quick title loan application.

 

When the application and inspection are complete, you’ll be offered a loan amount based on the value of your car.

 

Then you can accept your funds and drive away with the cash you need all in the same day.

 

How Much Can I Borrow on a Title Loan?

 

Lender’s usually base the loan amount you can borrow on the value of your vehicle. Different lenders use different systems to determine this value.

 

To get a rough estimate of how much you might be able to borrow, look up your vehicle’s worth on sites like Kelley Blue Book, or the NADA Guide.

 

You can also contact your loan provider to see which guide they use when determining your car’s value for a title loan. They might also have a percentage of your vehicle’s value that they generally offer for title loans.

 

How to Get a Title Loan at Check City

 

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At Check City, we make money solutions like title loans, easy and simple. We understand that when you need a money solution you need it fast.

 

That’s why we keep our application process as simple as possible so you can get the funds you need as quickly as possible.

 

All you need to do to get a title loan at Check City is follow 3 easy steps:

 

Step 1: Bring the Required Items to a Nearby Check City Store

 

To finish a title loan application at Check City, you’ll need to visit a store location. You’ll want to bring your basic contact information, government ID, social security number, check or bank statement, proof of income, vehicle, title, and registration.

 

Once you are at the store with all the things you need, you can easily fill out one of our quick application forms.

 

Step 2: We’ll Perform a Quick Vehicle Inspection

 

Check City will perform a quick vehicle inspection and finish processing your application. This inspection will help determine how much you can get out of your title loan.

 

Step 3: Get Approved and Get Cash

 

If you are approved, then you’ll be offered a loan amount based on a percentage of your vehicle’s value. At Check City, you then get to keep your car and drive away with the money you needed.

 

Alternatives to a Title Loan

 

Title Loans can be a great financial solution for people who want to use their car as loan collateral and need a fast, small, short-term loan.

 

But title loans aren’t for everyone. You might not own your car outright, or your car’s value might not be enough to get you the funds you need.

 

For other loan options, you can look into getting a payday loan, a personal loan, or an installment loan.

 

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These are loan options that use more traditional forms of collateral to secure a loan, so you don’t have to worry about including your vehicle in the loan application process.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Title loans can be a quick and convenient loan option for anyone who needs a small, short-term loan. Just remember that your car’s title will need to be free and clear of any other liens, and that short-term loans like title loans are not meant to be a long-term financial solution.

What is a Signature Loan?

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Learn what a signature loan is and how it can get you the cash you need.

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What is a Signature Loan?

 

Signature loans are a type of unsecured loans that are backed by the customer’s signature. Sometimes these loans can also be known as a “good faith loan” or a “character loan” because they are backed more by the character of the customer than traditional loan collateral.

 

Because this is a more high-risk loan type, it might be difficult to qualify for a signature loan or avoid higher interest rates. Not all loan providers offer them, but when they do, they might have customer requirements like several forms of contact information, government identification, proof of income, proof of address, and even character references.

 

How Does a Signature Loan Work?

 

To get a signature loan, you first need to find a loan provider that offers them.

 

Once you find a loan provider, you’ll have to meet whatever requirements and qualifications they might have for this loan type.

 

These requirements might include proving your identity and your trustworthiness with contact information, credit history, and even personal references.

 

If you meet all of their requirements and your application is accepted, then take out the loan usually by signing some papers or a post-dated check to act as your collateral or loan payment.

 

Reasons to Get a Signature Loan

 

Like many other kinds of high-risk loans, signature loans can be expensive. To compensate for the higher risk they take, loan providers might require more qualifications when applying for this loan type and a higher interest rate.

 

Despite the cons, there are still pros to consider.

 

Signature loans can have a quick application and funding process so long as you get approved. This can help you get the funds you need faster.

 

This loan type can offer quick access to the funds you need in an emergency like your car breaking down or bills being overdue. It could also make up the difference you need to pay for something important.

 

Signature Loans vs Revolving Credit

 

Revolving credit is like a continuous line of credit. Rather than taking out a set loan amount and paying it off with a fixed payment plan, revolving credit gives you access to a continuous credit amount you can use.

 

Credit cards are a type of revolving credit. They offer access to a set amount of credit (also known as a credit limit) and you don’t have to reapply to regain access to that same credit amount. You always have it so long as you have the credit card account.

 

Revolving credit differs from a signature loan because signature loans are not a line of credit. Instead, they are a one time loan you apply for, receive, and payoff. If you want more credit from a signature loan, you’ll need to reapply for another individual loan.

 

Signature Loans vs Installment Loans

 

Signature loans and installment loans are more similar in that they are both a single use credit option. Both come with requirements, applications, and set payment plans. They also can both be used for personal reasons, unlike other loans (like a mortgage) that are only taken out for one purpose (to buy a home).

 

But signature loans are not the same as installment loans. Usually installment loans offer larger loan amounts than signature loans, which usually offer smaller loan amounts. Signature loans usually come with a shorter loan term and a shorter payment plan.

 

Because the nature of each loan type is different, they will also come with different terms and conditions, rates and fees, qualification requirements, and application process.

 

The details of your loan agreement will depend on the lender and the way they have their loan products set up.

 

How to Get a Signature Loan at Check City

 

Check City lives to make the lives of our customers easier. That’s why we put extra time and care into making our loan process simple and quick.

 

To get a signature loan, you’ll need to fill out an application, provide the Signature Loan requirements, and wait to get approved.

 

To Get a Signature Loan You’ll Need:

 

Because this financial product isn’t backed by traditional loan collateral, you’ll need to meet different qualifications in the application process for this loan. Basically, qualifying for this loan boils down to proving you can repay the loan and proving you are likely to be a responsible borrower and repay the loan.

 

What You’ll Need:

 

  • Basic Contact Information
  • Government ID
  • Proof of Income (applicants need to be employed for a minimum of 6 months)
  • Proof of Address
  • 2 References

 

Can I Get a Signature Loan with Poor Credit?

 

If you have bad credit and need a loan, you’re probably looking for loans that don’t require credit checks as part of the collateral.

 

Unfortunately, it’s very common for most loans to have some kind of credit check involved in the application process, even many signature loans out there.

 

Luckily, there are many things you can do to increase your credit score so you can more easily apply for whatever financial services you need.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Signature loans can be really helpful for borrowers who need a simple, small loan. At Check City we understand that sometimes you just need a helping hand to get back on your own two feet financially.

 

We also understand that sometimes what you need isn’t a giant bank loan, but a small loan from a short-term lender like us. Visit Check City online and in stores today to learn more about the Check City Signature Loan and other financial solutions available to you.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

What is a Cash Advance and How Does it Work?

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What is a cash advance and how do they work? Get a cash advance online today at Check City.

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What is a Cash Advance?

 

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A cash advance is a type of small loan designed to help borrowers get the cash they need as quickly and easily as possible.

 

In finance, getting an advance on something is usually a way to get something sooner than you normally would. A cash advance loan helps customers get cash from their paycheck sooner rather than later so they can have the finances they need today.

 

Cash Advance Definition

 

There are many kinds of loans. Cash advances are another way of referring to payday loans. Instead of waiting for a paycheck or a payment to come through, a cash advance helps you get those funds sooner.

 

How Does a Cash Advance Work?

 

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Since cash advances are small, short-term loans, they are much easier and quicker to take out than larger loans with longer repayment plans.

 

Getting a cash advance is simple and easy to do. The person taking out the cash advance gives a post-dated check to the cash advance lender in the amount they would like to borrow. On their next payday, the borrower pays off the loan amount and the lender’s fee.

 

Types of Cash Advances

 

There are a few different types of cash advance options that borrowers who need money can use.

 

Payday Cash Advance

 

One type of cash advance is a payday loan. These are small, short-term loans that are borrowed only for the time until a borrower’s next payday. This is where the term “payday loan” comes in.

 

These types of loans are designed to get a person to their next payday and they are paid off with their next paycheck. They often have loan amounts that are only a few hundred dollars and loan terms that last only a matter of weeks.

 

Cash Advance on Income Tax Refund

 

Another useful cash advance option that some lenders provide is a tax refund advance.

 

Taxpayers don’t generally receive their tax refund until after their taxes are filed and after the IRS is finished processing those filed taxes.

 

Instead of waiting all that time for your tax refund money, take out a tax refund advance and enjoy those funds sooner.

 

Credit Card Cash Advance

 

The third type of cash advance is an advance on your credit card. If your credit card provider allows credit card cash advances, then you can take out cash at a bank or ATM with your credit card.

 

Fees and restrictions may apply for each cash advance transaction taken out using a credit card.

 

Reasons to Get a Cash Advance

 

There are many reasons to get a cash advance. The primary reason is to get your money sooner rather than later.

 

Many borrowers take out cash advances because they need those funds sooner rather than later in order to pay bills or make time-sensitive purchases.

 

At Check City, you can take out a cash advance to get your paycheck or tax refund sooner.

 

Here are a few specific examples of when someone might want to take out a cash advance.

 

  • So they aren’t late paying rent
  • So they aren’t late paying utility bills
  • So they aren’t late paying the phone bill
  • To take advantage of time-sensitive sales
  • To avoid needing to take money out of a savings account or emergency fund
  • To get funds into your hands sooner for everyday expenses like groceries
  • To avoid high overdraft fees

 

Cash advances are an important and useful tool to help control your own finances. They help you finance on your own schedule and get your funds in time to stick to your financial plans.

 

How to Get a Cash Advance at Check City

 

There are two ways to get a cash advance at Check City—online or at a Check City location.

 

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How to Get a Cash Advance Online

 

  1. Fill out a cash advance application.
  2. Check City will review the application.
  3. If approved, you’ll set up direct deposit to receive your funds and pay off the loan amount on the due date.

 

Your cash advance funds will then be directly deposited into your account or given in cash within 24 hours.

 

How to Get a Cash Advance Near You

 

  1. Walk into any Check City Location and fill out an application.
  2. If approved, write a personal check† for the loan amount you need (plus our standard fee). Check City will hold the check until your next payday (or another date you specify) and then cash the check to repay the loan.
  3. Walk away with your cash loan upon approval.

 

Cash Advance Requirements

 

Cash advance loans should be used for short-term financial needs only, not as a long-term financial solution. If you are experiencing credit difficulties, we encourage you to seek credit counseling. Although we strive to assist every applicant, not all loan applications will be approved.

 

  • Basic Contact Information
  • Government ID
  • Social Security Number
  • Check or Bank Statement
  • Proof of Income

 

Cash Advance Alternatives

 

If you are looking for an alternative to cash advances, you could try taking out a personal loan. Personal loans are another great option when you are tight on finances and need some help.

 

Personal Loans

 

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Personal loans are a flexible loan type that can be taken out for any personal reason. For example, unlike a business loan, personal loans don’t have to be used for a set, official purpose.

 

This makes personal loans a great additional option for borrowers who need quick personal funds.

 

Peer to Peer Borrowing

 

You could also borrow money from a friend or family member. This is an especially helpful option when you only need to borrow a little and have someone in your life that you trust as a lender.

 

But borrowing money from people we know can also get complicated, which is why options like personal loans and cash advances might still be your best option.

 

In Conclusion,

 

Cash advances are an important small loan solution that many people need and use. When used responsibly, a cash advance can be the perfect, short-term solution for a short-term financial problem.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

30 Tips for How to Save Money

How-to-Save-Money

Everyone wants to save money, but it’s not always easy to do. Learn some of the best ways to save money with these easy tips.

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Generally, when we think about a savings plan we think about all the sacrifices we need to make—no more morning coffee, no more eating out, or biking to work in the rain.

 

But saving money is more dynamic than the typical financial sacrifices we think about. There is so much more you can do to save money than simply depriving yourself of a simple item like morning coffee.

 

Ultimately, there are two ways to save money—by increasing your paycheck or by decreasing your spending.

 

Money Saving Tips to Increase Income

 

How-to-Save-Money

 

By increasing your income you’ll be adding to the amount of money you have available each month. Adding to your income can be the key solution to financial shortages that keep you from saving more.

 

Tip #1: Ask for a Raise

 

Asking for a raise from your boss can be intimidating. Try setting up a meeting with your boss to discuss the raise. Then practice your talking points beforehand with a friend or in front of a mirror.

 

It also helps to do a little research beforehand to see what the current market rates are like in your area and your job field. This will help you understand how much you should be making.

 

Tip #2: Find a Better-Paying Job

 

If you can’t get a raise at your current job, it could be time to start looking for a new and better job. The change may be necessary and worthwhile if it will give you a better financial situation.

 

Tip #3: Start a Second Job

 

A side hustle to bring in some extra income each month could be just what you need to make your monthly finances more comfortable. There are so many things you can do like freelancing, driving for a rideshare, or starting your own small business or online shop.

 

Tip #4: Sell Your Stuff

 

If you have things in your house you want to get rid of, make good use of them by selling them. You could have a yard sale or use an online service like the Facebook marketplace.

 

Tip #5: Set Up Passive Income

 

Passive income is the type of earnings people get from things like owning rental properties or shares in a company or business partnership. You could invest in a rental property, invest in a business, or become a partner in a business venture to start earning passive income.

 

Tip #6: Start Investing

 

Investing can be a great way to start receiving passive income or make high returns and profits for the future.

 

Tip #7: Grow a Garden and Sell the Produce

 

By growing your own produce garden you can both make and save money. Depending on how big your garden is, you can sell your garden produce to friends and neighbors.

 

Tip #8: Get Rid of Debts and Loans

 

The more debts you have the less you have for yourself each month. By getting rid of debts and loans you’ll have more income each month for necessities, fun, and the future.

 

Money Savings Tips to Decrease Spending

 

How-to-Save-Money

 

By decreasing your spending you’ll also increase your monthly income. You’ll have more money to put toward getting rid of debts and building your savings and emergency funds.

 

Tip #9: Cancel Subscriptions

 

Subscriptions can add up to be a lot if you aren’t careful. End as many subscriptions as you can to save that monthly fee for yourself.

 

Tip #10: Join Family or Group Subscription Plans

 

Don’t want to say goodbye to that subscription? That’s ok! Another thing you can try is starting a family plan with friends and family to split the cost of the subscription.

 

Tip #11: Cancel Memberships

 

Some memberships can be really useful, like a membership to Costco where you can buy in bulk and save more in the long term, or a membership to a gym where you can work out and stay healthy.

 

But if you can, cancel your memberships and find free or cheaper alternatives, like a cheaper gym or running in your neighborhood instead.

 

Tip #12: Switch to a Cheaper Phone Plan

 

Phone bills can get really expensive, especially when they include paying off expensive new phones. While it’s really nice to have a great phone and a great phone plan, there might be cheaper options out there for you to take advantage of.

 

Tip #13: Eat at Home

 

Eating out is usually more expensive than eating at home. By baking and cooking at home you can save more money and potentially eat healthier and more wholesome meals.

 

Tip #14: Meal and Grocery Plan

 

Prepare for grocery shopping before you go to the store and prepare for making meals this week before the week starts. This will help you eat home on a regular basis and keep you from overspending while out at the store.

 

Tip #15: Pack a Lunch for Work or School

 

We all need to eat during the school or work day. Save money while taking better care of yourself by packing healthy meals instead of eating out during your lunch break.

 

Tip #16: Switch to Cheaper Generic Brands

 

Brands tend to come with a price tag of their own. Choose wisely and avoid paying extra simply for a name brand.

 

Tip #17: Plan Free Activities

 

When it’s time to have fun choose activities that don’t involve your wallet. Plan a staycation, go hiking, plan a camping trip, play games, or watch the movies you already have at home.

 

Tip #18: Save on Transportation

 

Save your wallet while helping save the planet! Use public transportation, walk, ride your bike, or carpool to save on gas costs.

 

Tip #19: Reduce Utility Bills

 

Spend less on your utility bill by using less power each day. Run less water, keep the AC off on nice days, and turn lights off when not in the room. You could even want to look into more inexpensive energy solutions or providers for your utilities.

 

Tip #20: Invest in Reusable Products

 

Reusable products can save you lots of money in the long term. For example, buy cloth towels instead of rebuying paper towels or get reusable tupperware and ziplock bags instead of rebuying plastic wrap and plastic ziplock bags.

 

Tip #21: Use Coupons

 

Watch out for deals and keep an eye on the coupons that are out there whenever you go shopping. Apps like honey can help find deals no matter where you shop online. Don’t miss out on deals that will save you money!

 

Tip #22: Do It Yourself

 

We can’t all be masters of everything, but when you do find an opportunity to do something yourself and save money, take it!

 

Tip #23: Save Extra Money Instead of Spending It

 

Control the urge to spend when you get extra money like a raise, a bonus, or a tax refund. By putting that money aside instead you can build up a much larger fund.

 

Tip #24: Build an Emergency Fund

 

An emergency fund will save you money in the future when a financial emergency arises, and you are already prepared with a family savings you’ve set aside just for emergencies.

 

Tip #25: Automate Your Spending

 

You spend less the more you are able to control that spending. The most effective way to control spending is to automate it as much as possible. Automating expenses like your bill payments can also sometimes get you discounts, better rates, or rewards.

 

Tip #26: Buy in Bulk

 

Keep an eye on the price per unit to make sure you’re actually getting a better deal when buying in bulk. If it is cheaper to buy that item in bulk, then you could save lots of money and be more stocked up and prepared in the long run too.

 

Tip #27: Buy Bundles

 

Many service providers now offer bundled packages that can help you save more while you get more. You might be able to bundle things like your insurance, streaming services, or cable and internet plans.

 

Tip #28: Create a Better Budget

 

If the budget you have now isn’t working then it might be time to throw that budget away and try something new. One thing you might try is the cash envelope system, or diligently recording all your spending for a whole month to really learn your money habits and track down the problem.

 

Tip #29: Set Shopping Rules

 

Set rules for yourself, your partner, and anyone else involved in the household finances. These rules might be things like spending limits, stricter allowances with reloadable prepaid cards, or practicing a spending freeze.

 

Tip #30: Use Prepaid Cards

 

Do you want to know how to save money fast? Set hard limits on spending by getting a reloadable prepaid card. These cards are easy to use and they won’t let you overdraft or spend more than what you’ve put on the card to be spent.

 

In Conclusion,

 

An efficient savings plan is all about learning how to spend less and figuring out ways to earn more. With these how-to-save-money tips, you’ll end up with more money on your side each month and more financial freedom because of it.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

How to Budget Money the Easy Way

How-to-budget-money

The biggest key to learning how to budget effectively is learning how to budget money and the way income and expenses flow.

Explore this Guide:

 

Budgeting goes hand in hand with effective money management and money management can provide countless financial benefits. By managing the flow of money in and out of your wallet you can stop living paycheck to paycheck and start investing in a brighter and more stable financial future.

 

Start managing your money better today with a PREPAID CARD.

 

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Money management also doesn’t have to be complicated. In the end, all you need is a few key lists and calculations to create an effective budget and start making your money work for you.

 

What is a Budget?

 

Budgeting and money management work together to help you stay financially organized, focused, and successful.

 

A budget might include many financial factors like income, expenses, bills, future plans, past debts, assets, and investments. Money management focuses a little more on handling your funds and less on anything else. A money-focused budget focuses more on how much money you make and how much money you spend.

 

By creating a budget with good money management you can stop living paycheck to paycheck, increase your credit score, build up your savings account, become debt-free, save money, prepare for unexpected expenses, and finally feel in control of your spending habits.

 

How to Budget Money Effectively

 

Budgeting money effectively is all about knowing your personal finance goals and making long-term plans to reach them.

 

Step 1: Calculate Incoming Money

 

First, you’ll want to calculate how much money you have coming in each month, also sometimes known as “home pay.” This is the income your bank account actually sees each month after taxes have been accounted for.

 

Step 2: Make Financial Goals

 

Second, figure out what your top money priorities and goals are right now. It might help to think of a list of 3 to 5 things you want to accomplish this year.

 

Step 3: Strategize To Reach Those Goals

 

Third, make realistic plans to reach those goals. This is when you’ll start to look at all your outgoing money: where your money needs to go and where you want your money to go.

 

Many budgeting methods will include making categories or sections for where your total income will go each month. Include in these sections any goals or priorities you might have and make concrete plans for how you’ll manage your money to reach those goals.

 

For Example:

 

Let’s say you have a $5,000 car loan you would like to finish paying off as soon as possible. Look at your finances and see what options you have for making payments toward that loan.

 

Maybe you’ll find that after taking care of other monthly fixed expenses you have an extra $400 you could put toward that loan each month, allowing you to finish paying off that loan in the next year or so.

 

It might help to think of money management as making Financial New Year’s Resolutions. Where do you want to be financially in a year’s time? What can you do now to get yourself there?

 

Budgeting Tips

 

Budgeting tips go hand in hand with good money management. A good budget is all about creating an automated inflow and outflow of your monthly funds.

 

Make Healthy Investments

 

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.

 

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.

 

Budgeting Apps:

  • Mint
  • You Need A Budget (YNAB)
  • Goodbudget
  • Wallet

 

Control Your Spending With a Prepaid Card

 

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Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending.

 

Make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid card, you load money onto the card kind of like a gift card to yourself.

 

Prepaid cards are a great way to avoid overdrafting or overspending because you can only spend what’s on the card and no more.

 

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 a rideshare app, 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

 

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Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary resource in order to get a house, a car, a college education, and much more.

 

Nevertheless, decreasing debts 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.

 

Budgeting Tools

 

Having the right tools available to you makes any job easier, including budgeting and money management.

 

Some great budgeting tools include budgeting apps, spending tracker apps (like PocketGuard), and investment apps that make investing easy and simple.

 

DOWNLOAD A FREE MONTHLY BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

Monthly Budget Example

 

monthly-budget-example

 

In Conclusion,

 

All you really need to budget money is a few lists, a calculator, and a plan. Practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.

 

written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

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