It’s Hard To Not Spend Money

Even the most frugal spender would tell you that it’s almost impossible to go a significant amount of time without spending money. When we were kids, it seemed like $10 dollars could stretch over an entire month (heck sometimes several months), but as adults many of us will regularly spend that much before lunchtime.

 

So could your average person go a full month without spending any money?

Probably not, after all most of us have phone bills, car payments, insurance payments, rent, basic food necessities, etc. Now how about if you take these essentials into account? Let’s break things down. Let’s say your average monthly expenses look like this:

Rent: $1200

Utlities: $180

Car Insurance: $50

Phone Bill: $80

Essential Food Costs: $500

Total Expenses Per Month: $2010

Notice a category missing? Most people would allocate a miscellaneous category for unforeseen expenses in their monthly budget, like an occasional cup of coffee at Starbucks, or maybe a movie with friends. Could you cut those expenses out of your budget completely and essentially go a month only paying essential expenses?

For Jeff Vrabel, a brave individual who tried to go a month without spending money, this turned out to be a resounding no. During the course of this experiment he spent his money a little bit more conservatively than normal, but he wasn’t able to completely cut out unnecessary expenses at all. Sometime, the urge to pick up a quick snack, the necessity of buying a gift, or a deal simply too good to pass up got in the way of his ambitions.

Whatever the situation may be, it’s clear that committing to not spending any money outside of necessities can be insanely difficult. Instead, focus on smarter spending habits. Finding cheaper ways to indulge yourself makes for a far better (and more attainable) alternative.

How To Not Ruin Your Credit

If you ever plan on buying a home, a new car or even just renting an apartment, you’re going to need credit. Sure, technically if you have enough cash you might not, but if you’re like most people….you probably don’t.

The stigma behind credit cards, coupled with endless horror stories of crippling debt, can definitely make it seem like credit cards and loans are things you should live without. With that being said, having healthy credit can do a world of good and if you’re smart about it a good credit score is definitely possible to attain. Here are some tips to help make that happen.

Tip #1

Don’t close a credit card account. Sure after paying off a large balance, it can be tempting to close the account for good. Doing so however reduces your available credit, which isn’t good for your overall credit score. If you don’t want to deal with the temptation of using the card, hide it somewhere, but don’t close it.

Tip #2

Don’t swear off using credit cards. You might think that not using your credit might help you avoid amassing tons of debt, but that won’t help your overall score. Responsible credit usage over time is what helps your score, so not using your credit actually hurts it.

Tip #3

Don’t ever make a late payment. Period. If you can’t pay off the entire payment, at least pay the minimum balance. Late payments can stay on your credit history for a long time and can really hurt your overall score.

Tip #3

Just because you got that shiny new Amex card with a $3,000 credit limit doesn’t mean you should let your statement close with a $2,000 balance. You should keep your credit utilization to roughly 20% of your total limit. Anything more than that can actually hurt your credit.

Money Isn’t The Only Factor For Success

Chasing success is great, in fact everyone should want to be more successful than they already are. However many people tend to confuse chasing success with chasing money, which can be a pretty bad idea. Successful people tend to have a lot of money, so this confusion makes sense, but not everyone with money would consider themselves successful. Rather, money tends to be a symptom of success rather than a cause.

Getting money is pretty difficult, so while you can put in all the effort, the results are by no means guaranteed. If the root of your efforts are based in your desire for money, it’s easy to become frustrated and angry when you’re not seeing the financial fruits of your labor. However, even monetary success can be an illusion. If you’re not happy with who you are or what you do, no amount of money is really going to change that. In fact, if you based your future happiness on how much money you planned on one day having, you’ll likely feel lost once you reach that goal and discover how empty it can feel to be rich without contentment.

The solution? Passion and priorities. The rich find a way to get money. The rich and successful find a way to add value. If you’re creating something or doing something that you care about, or doing something that adds value to the life of others, you’re on the right track. The next step is monetizing your passion. Therefore your goal shouldn’t be to have money, but rather to find your passion, and find a way to make money doing it it. Yes you’ll work hard, yes you’ll have financial ups and downs, but if you’re doing something that you care about, it’s a lot easier to grit your teeth and embark on the journey.

How To Have Fun On A Budget

Fun doesn’t always have to be expensive. Sure, almost nothing beats a night of frivolous shopping or fancy eating, but there’s a lot of fun to be had on the cheap as well. Here are a few ideas on ways to have fun without hurting your bank account to much.

Grab A Good Book

Reading can be a lot of fun if you find the right book. Print books, ebooks, newspapers, magazines, whatever you can find works. There are tons of free ebooks to access online, and you can even find new publications at your local library for free.

Host A Get Together

Hanging out with friends can get pretty expensive. If you think about it, dinner and a movie for a friend group of 6 can easily cost the entire party $200-$300 just for a night out. A get together at someone’s house can be significantly cheaper though. Everyone can bring a dish from home to share, and one Netflix subscription (~$8) means tons of great movies for everyone to enjoy together.

Learn

Most cities have free museums, botanical gardens and aquariums. If you’re looking for some fun or to pass the time, a quick visit to these venues can be costless and enjoyable.

Cheap Out

You can still enjoy activities and experiences that cost money while being savvy about how you enjoy them. Check Groupon for deals on outing and restaurant. Go to cheaper movie theaters or even dollar theaters. Instead of hitting up a five star restaurant, consider eating at a cheaper fast food joint.

Take Alternate Transportation

If you plan on going far for your entertainment, or you don’t have a car and you’d have to Uber, consider taking public transport instead. It’s a cheaper, albeit slightly less convenient way to get around. Alternatively, if you’re going to an outing with friends, carpool and split gas costs.

Saving Money On Medical Expenses

Many consumers have experienced difficulty using their health insurance in the last year, and the impact of health premiums on budgets is a top concern for families.

Here are  some ways to slash or manage your medical costs.

Is it necessary. Providers don’t often consider cost, but if you explain, they may change their course of action to eliminate less necessary tests.

Buy generic Ask if your medication comes in a generic. Generics are as safe as their brand-name equivalents and may cost up to 80 percent less.

Investigate fair pricing. The Healthcare Bluebook features a service’s “fair price” by ZIP code based on a database of rates paid by private insurers.

Choose the right facility. Urgent care clinics cost a fraction of emergency rooms. They are usually less crowded and specialize in non-emergency care.

Ask about cash discounts. Talk to your doctor, hospital and insurance company about the cost of a procedure or office visit and which of your local facilities charges less. Sometimes facilities offer a discount if you’re paying cash.

Set up a payment plan. Avoid putting medical bills on a credit card because it becomes consumer debt, which can adversely affect your credit. Contact the provider to find out if you can set up a payment plan.

Hire a medical billing advocate. Patient advocates offer a variety of services including paperwork tracking, negotiating a lower rate and help researching treatment options.

Open a health savings account (HSA). If you have an HSA-qualified health plan, open an accompanying HSA account and deposit pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. The money rolls over every year and is deducted from your gross income.

Watch for mistakes. Keep a sharp eye on “Explanation of Benefit” statements and bills for errors. Even if you’re being billed correctly, it pays to ask questions so you understand your insurance benefits.

Understand your insurance coverage. Be sure to check that your in-network providers still accept your policy. Double check how your insurance covers in-network and out-of-network providers, medications, and chronic conditions so you don’t end up making a financial misstep.