12 Ways to Keep a Big Move From Breaking Your Budget

Moving is annoying, sweaty and expensive. Here are ways to at least make it easier on your budget.

I moved across the hall two summers ago. My girlfriend and I were moving to a larger apartment in the same building, one that could fit two adult human beings better than the tiny Fortress of Solitude I had selected while I was still single.

I hate moving. It’s annoying, sweaty and expensive. The word “moving” vastly undersells the actual act. It’s easy to move. Lift a finger, take a step; you’ve moved. It’s not so easy to account for all of your possessions, pack them in an organized way, transport them safely, then unpack and rearrange them in a new setting, all on a budget.

But I thought moving across a hallway would be easy. While it was certainly easier than having to move to a different building, it was still annoying, still sweaty and still expensive.

I learned a valuable lesson: Moving is terrible, always. Having a plan can make it less so. Here are a few tips that may help you save on your next move and make it less stressful, even if you’re going farther than across the hall.

1. Get Rid of Stuff

There’s no point moving stuff you don’t even want. Try to sell excess furniture, especially larger items, online or to your friends or co-workers, said Ali Wenzke, founder of The Art of Happy Moving blog.

You can list items on sites like Craigslist, NextDoor or Facebook. This way you can get potential buyers to haul away your stuff for you.

Many charitable organizations will take smaller items like clothing, Wenzke said. Keep your receipt so you can write off the donation come tax time.

2. Get Free Boxes

The price of packing supplies can add up. Luckily, you can get free boxes if you just ask.

While many retailers will have spare boxes, furniture stores tend to have a good range of sizes, saidSam Radbil Sr., communications manager for ABODO Apartments, an online apartment marketplace. It’s a good idea to call stores at least a week before you need the boxes, since they may not get rid of boxes every day.

You can also ask friends who have recently moved if you can have their old boxes.

3. Label Everything

If you lose a sock every time you do your laundry, you will likely misplace one or two things when transporting everything you own. Labeling all your boxes appropriately can help keep your valuables from disappearing into the moving ether.

Radbil suggests labeling boxes by room.

“If you want to get really technical about it, even label exactly what objects are contained in the box,” he said. “This will also help you prioritize what boxes to unpack.”

4. Conserve Bubble Wrap (& Other Packing Tips)

A few stray packing tips from Garrett O’Shea, president of PockitShip, an on-demand shipping company: Wrap dishes in your clothing, rather than buying bubble wrap. Put paper or Styrofoam plates in between breakable plates. Put heavy items, like books, in suitcases. Pack essentials last, so they go on top of other items and you can grab them easily.

5. Decide Whether to Hire Movers

This decision boils down to time, ability and cost, said Leigh Meadows-McAlpin, owner of Dwelling, an interior design firm in South Carolina. Meadows-McAlpin frequently discusses the logistics of moving with her clients.

Moving on your own requires time to sort, pack, load and unload, as well as rent and return a truck. You also need the muscle, or friends and family who have the muscle, to pack and load everything. On the other hand, the cost of labor for you and your friends is usually no more than pizza, beers and gratitude.

“As the saying goes, time is money, and if you don’t have the time or ability to move yourself, you should consider spending the money to hire movers,” Meadows-McAlpin said.

6. How to Pick a Mover

The American Moving and Storage Association website is a good place to start, Wenzke of The Art of Happy Moving said. If you can’t find a mover in your area on the site, try searching the sites of their state associations. All the movers listed are vetted by the association and licensed.

“I recommend getting at least three in-person quotes from at least three different moving companies before choosing a mover,” Wenzke said.

An in-person quote should be more reliable and will give you a better feel for the company, Wenzke said. Be sure to ask about equipment, rates, how they handle parking restrictions with their trucks and if they outsource moves to a third party. Also make sure they have proper insurance — stuff happens.

Double-check reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List and other sites before hiring, she added.

Another good place to look is the Move for Hunger website, Wenzke said. The companies there are also vetted and pack up unopened, nonperishable food to donate to a local food bank at no additional cost.

7. Make a Moving Budget

Once you have a few quotes, you can put together a budget of how much the move will cost. Be sure to plan for unexpected expenses and any additional furniture you’ll need if your new place is bigger.

Factor in how much stuff you have and how much time you’ll need since movers usually charge an hourly rate.

“Small moves can start as little as $200 and go all the way into the thousands,” O’Shea said.

Make sure your wallet and your credit can handle the expense. You can get a snapshot of your credit report for free on Credit.com, and see whether you could — or should — get a credit card before your move. (Remember, while credit cards can serve as a great source of liquidity, that available limit isn’t license to overspend.)

8. How to Rent a Truck

If you decide to go it alone, you’ll likely need a bigger set of wheels. Your couch will likely not fit in your hatchback. (Looking for a new car? Follow these steps to save.)

When evaluating a truck rental, be sure to look at mileage costs, the cost of the truck, pickup and drop-off locations and any available discounts, Radbil, of ABODO, said. Remember to reserve a truck in advance as well.

9. Pick a Climate-Controlled Storage Facility

If for some reason you won’t be able to move your stuff to your new place right away, Meadows-McAlpin suggested keeping it in a climate-controlled storage facility. Otherwise heat, moisture and cold can cause mildew, rust and other damage to belongings.

“As a designer, I’ve had to have our workrooms repair or replace furnishings damaged in storage many times, and most of those damages could have been avoided if the clients had simply opted for a client-controlled space,” she said.

10. Report Your Change of Address

Moving is expensive enough, so you don’t want to add to your costs by falling behind on bills because they don’t get delivered to the right place. Luckily, changing your address is as simple as filling out a form on the U.S. Postal Service website.

11. Transfer Utilities

This can be easy to forget in the chaos of a move, but make sure the lights will be on for you when you get to your new home and that you stop paying for utilities once you leave your old home. When I moved into my first apartment after college, I did not plan ahead and had no lights or internet for the first few days. It was a pretty depressing way to start a new chapter of life.

Most utilities have user-friendly websites that allow you to do start and stop service, but otherwise calling ahead of the move can ensure that your new home is fully ready for you. (Once you’re settled, see how to save on your electric bill.)

12. Deduct Moving Expenses

If your move is work-related, you can deduct your moving expenses from your taxes if you meet certain conditions. The move qualifies if your new workplace is 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was from your old home, according to the IRS.

If you had no prior workplace, the new job location must be 50 miles from your old home. You must also work at least 39 weeks in the year following the move.

So to make your move pay, be sure to save your receipts for tax time.

Getting ready to move out of the dorm? Here’s 19 mistakes college grads make when finding their first apartment you’ll want to avoid.

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9 Things to Do to Spring Clean Your Budget

While you're cleaning the house, make sure your budget is just as spotless.

Many of you probably have a spring-cleaning ritual. It is the time of the year when you wash the windows, air out the bedding and declutter. However, have you ever thought about sprucing up your budget?

That may sound strange, but it is the perfect time of year to take a good look at your finances. We’ve got some ideas of what to do to spring clean your budget.

1. Check Your Envelopes

Now would be a good time to make sure your cash envelopes (see how they work here) have the right amount in them. Take a look at your spending and determine if you need to make adjustments (up or down). Even if you don’t use cash, you should do this with your virtual envelope system as well.

You also need to make sure you don’t need to add new envelopes. Perhaps you find that you always go to your dining out envelope to get money for family fun. Why not make a separate envelope just for family fun? Now you have envelopes with a designated task and don’t need to take from one to fund another.

2. Clean Up Your Bills

Take a look at your spending. Are you paying for things you don’t need? Sometimes, we get so used to paying regular expenses that we ignore them.

For instance, you might not be ready to cut cable completely. However, are you paying for channels you really don’t watch? Go through your bills and make sure you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t use. (You can see seven easy ways to lower your cable bill here.)

3. Looking for Discounts

One of the goals of a budget is to help you keep as much money in your pocket as you can. Look back on your spending and you may discover you have items that could offer you a discount.

Believe it or not, there are many utilities that offer discounts to customers. You just have to know how to get them. You can take the time to research what others pay and call each company and try to negotiate your rates.

Once you make the phone calls, take additional steps to lower your utility costs. Your budget will thank you.

4. Establish New Goals

Goals are a tool we use in many areas of life, but what about budgeting? The truth is, you might already be setting goals and without realizing.

A goal could be as simple as paying down one credit card. It might be going on a dream vacation. Perhaps it is buying a car without a loan or paying for the first year of college tuition.

Whatever your goal, make sure you write it down. That instantly solidifies the goal. Then, you can place it somewhere you see it, every single day.

The more you see the goal, the more you remember what you want to achieve and hopefully avoid impulse purchases.

5. Lower Your Grocery Bill

This may seem like a strange one, but it can make a huge difference. It might mean shopping at a somewhere else.

For example, I slashed my grocery budget by switching to a difference store. By using this store to get most of our food, I dropped our grocery spending by more than $200 a month.

6. Transfer Your Credit Card Balance

This is the perfect time to look into getting a card with a 0% interest rate And transfer your balance to the new card. This will help eliminate interest on your balance, which might help you pay it down more quickly.

Just watch the introductory period. You need to pay the balance in full or transfer it again before the period lapses. Otherwise, you could end up paying even more in interest. (Interest rates are often based on creditworthiness — See two of your scores free on Credit.com.)

7. Lower Your Cellphone Bill

Most people think they are stuck paying whatever their wireless provider charges. That is true, for the most part.

However, you might be able to negotiate a lower rate. You may want to consider changing providers completely. Just call and see what happens.

8. Automate Your Savings

If saving money is difficult for you, you are not alone. Many people don’t have the discipline needed to save money every month. That is where automation helps.

You can see if your employer allows for your check to be directly deposited into multiple accounts. If so, have them deposit some of your paycheck directly into a savings account. If that is not an option, set up an automated transfer from your checking account into your savings account each month.

Once you do that, you will need to adjust the spending in your budget. Even saving just $25 a paycheck is better than nothing. You’ll be surprised at how much you do not miss the money.

9. Review Your Insurance

Take a look at not only your auto insurance but also your homeowners and life insurance.

Do some comparison shopping to make sure you are getting a good rate. If you get insurance from different providers, check to see if any of them offer any type of bundle discount. That might be reason enough to move all your coverage under one company.

If you’ve built up your emergency fund, you might be able to raise the deductible and lower your monthly out-of-pocket cost and save more than the deductible costs. Increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000 could save you a lot of money in your monthly costs.

In addition, if you do not yet have life insurance, now is the time to consider purchasing it. It isn’t for you. It’s for your family. Read more about why you need life insurance.

Taking the time to review your budget is wise, but we don’t always take a close look. Plan to do this each year along with your spring-cleaning schedule and you’ll never forget again.

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5 Ways to Drastically Save on Groceries

Food eats up a big portion of budgets. Here's how to slim that spending down.

According the USDA, the average American family of four spent an average of $250 per week on food in February 2017, if they had a moderate to liberal budget. That can mean upwards of $1,000 a month on food or $12,000 annually. That is a huge chunk of most budgets and can be scary to see in writing.

While this is the average, it does not need to be your reality.

There are simple things you can do to save money on your groceries. I’ve got my five best tips here. I’ve been following these ideas for years and they really can work.

1. Switch Stores

There are times when your larger grocery store might offer a better discount on some items — like these things grocery stores will do for you for free. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself if you’re shopping at the store that offers you the best prices? It may not be worth driving too far, as you may lose more in gas expenses than you’d recoup in savings, but take stock of your local stores and see if there’s one that really may have better bargains.

For example, if you have an Aldi nearby and are not shopping there, you may be missing out on the simplest way to save. It is true they do not accept coupons, however, the prices there are often lower than the prices you pay at your regular store, even if you clipped a coupon. There are lots of options out there, so make sure you’re considering what others might be right for you.

2. Shop Ahead

Most people create a shopping list based on the items they need now. That is important, but you may also want to add items you will need later when you find them on sale.

To help, if you look at your store’s weekly ad, often times the items you see on the front page are loss leaders, which means the store may actually lose money on the prices they are offering. So this may be the time to get the best deal. These sale items can be discounted as much as 50%. This may mean that you purchase three, four or more of the item on sale. Doing so allows you to feed your family and get the lowest price possible.

Keep in mind, stores tend to do this with the idea that these extremely low prices will draw you in and you’ll do all your shopping there, ultimately making up their losses on their sales. If you do decide to shop there, and see other items that are “on sale,” make sure you flip up the sales tag to see if you’re really getting a discount.

3. Plan Ahead

The reason most grocery budgets fail is because people fail to plan. Each week, sit down and plan your meals including breakfasts, lunches (don’t forget meals for work and school), snacks and dinner. And make sure you do your planning the right way. (If you’re looking for frugal meal ideas, check out this 16-cent breakfast.)

The problem most people face with meal planning and budgeting is they do it backward. Most people plan their meals and then create a shopping list but you may want to consider working it from another direction.

First, check your pantry and your freezer. If you happened to get a deal on chicken breasts last week and three weeks earlier rice was on sale and you bought several bags, you can use these items to create chicken and rice. You now have a meal planned that will cost you no extra money.

Once you’ve planned your meals based on what you have on hand, look at the weekly ad. Check to see what is on sale that you might want to use for this week’s menu. Add in those extra items your family needs this week.

Finally, plan out additional meals you need and add those items to your list. Hopefully, most of what you need for your food for the week is already in your pantry or freezer or is going to be on sale.

With a bit of planning and changing your way of thinking, you can knock down that weekly grocery budget.

4. Create & Use a Price Book

As mentioned above, stores can offer amazing deals on items you need. You should stock up, but how much should you buy? That is a challenge, but if you track the sales cycles you can learn how much to buy as you follow when items go on sale.

The way a price book works is simple. You write down the product that is on sale including the size, date and what you paid (not taking coupons into account). Then, watch the weekly ads. The next time you see that same item go on sale, make a note in your book.

As you do this, you will start to understand the sale cycles and can buy just enough to get you through each period of time, so you don’t have too much on hand, but just enough to help ensure you always get the best price.

Of course, not all items follow a cycle, but you might be surprised to learn which items do. However, you have to put in a little bit of work to break the code for yourself.

5. Use Coupons the Right Way

I’m not against using coupons. In fact, I feel they are a great way to save money. However, you need to use them in the right way.

The problem many couponers face is they use coupons as soon as they get them. That is not always the best way to make them work for you. Instead, consider saving them to use when items are on sale.

When you find those items on the cover of the weekly ad (like we mentioned in point two) and you have a coupon to pair with the sale, you’ve really increased your savings and turned a hot deal into a smokin’ hot deal.

So when you get the coupons in your Sunday newspaper, file them away. Watch the weekly deals, and get out the coupons when you can pair them. In fact, if you really watch, you will learn that many items that have coupons go on sale after the coupons are released. That is not a coincidence.

Now you’ve got the tools and tips you need to really make a difference with your budget. It might take a little effort to implement some changes, but it can be worth it.

Want to save more? Here are five tricks to get discounts on everything you buy. And no matter how much you save, try to stay on budget. Going into debt to buy groceries could affect your credit. You can see where your credit stands by checking two of your scores free on Credit.com.

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3 Rules to Live by If You Want to Get Out of Debt

Desperate to get out of debt? Here are three rules to live by.

When you’re so good at saving money that you can retire at age 31, people understandably want to hear your money tips. That’s how Clark Howard ended up with his own radio show, where he takes consumers’ questions about all things personal finance.

As it often is, debt has been a popular topic recently, and Howard has a few tried-and-true tips he likes to share with consumers. Whether you’re committed to paying down huge credit card balances or simply want to avoid ending up in debt, here are three things Howard recommends you do.

1. Always Save Some Money

Saving money is Howard’s primary approach to getting out of debt. Shoot for a savings rate of a dime per dollar earned (or 10%), but if you’re not saving anything right now, start by setting aside a penny per dollar (1%) and increase your savings rate every six months, he said.

“Now you may wonder, what does this have to do with eliminating debt in your life?” he said. “You have to start off by learning to live on less than what you make.”

Unless you can find a way to make more money, that means you need to cut things from your budget and put that extra money toward your debt (or a savings account, so you don’t have to turn to a credit card in an emergency).

2. Pay More Than the Minimum

“A lot of people pay the minimum payment because that’s what the bill says,” said Alex Sadler, managing editor of Clark.com. Doing that could leave you in debt for a very long time, so make it a priority to budget for more than the monthly payment. Credit card bills also include a section that says how much you need to pay each month in order to get out of debt in 36 months (three years), which can help you figure out how much room you need to make in your budget to get out of debt.

When you have multiple debts to pay off, Howard recommends using the “laddering method” to save the most money. That means focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate first.

“Keep throwing money at it, and [on] all the others pay the minimum,” Howard said. “Methodically, step by step, work your way to zero debt.”

It helps to make a list of all your debts and their interest rates. In fact, most people who call Howard don’t know how much debt they have, so sitting down and getting a sense of the numbers is a great place to start.

“If you ever want to get out of debt … the first thing you have to do is figure out how much debt you owe, and then you can make a plan,” Sadler said.

3. Find a Cheaper Alternative

One of the most common kind of questions Howard gets these days is about student loan debt, particularly from older consumers who borrowed or cosigned on behalf of children or grandchildren. As with all kinds of debt, the best thing to do is avoid it in the first place, because once you’re in debt, there’s usually not much you can do to get rid of it other than pay it off. (This is especially true of education-related debt, because it’s rarely discharged in bankruptcy.)

“The reality with anybody approaching college is the cost of college needs to be the highest priority,” Howard said. “You may have your favorite, but if your favorite would put you into very heavy debt or your family into very heavy debt, you need to go with a different school.”

Though he’s talking about education, that approach applies to anything that could put you in debt. You can’t always avoid going into debt, but if you save up as much as you can and opt for more affordable things (like a vehicle with fewer options or a home with most but not all of the things on your wish list), you’ll end up borrowing less and spending less money on interest.

As you work to pay down and stay out of debt, keep an eye on your credit scores. Not only will good credit help you qualify for better terms on things like an auto loan or mortgage, it can also make it easier to get everyday necessities like a cell phone or utility accounts. You can see two of your credit scores for free, with updates available every 14 days, on Credit.com

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4 Tips to Help You Audit Your Personal Spending

When I audit my expenses, I am taking a cold, hard look at spending patterns. Here's how you can too.

It’s tax season, and many of us dread the thought of what we may end up owing Uncle Sam. I, on the other hand, take it as an opportunity to do my annual financial audit—and save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars a year.

What is a financial audit? A financial audit, as I define it, is the practice of going through your personal financial records and checking your ongoing monthly expenses, unexpected one-time expenses, splurges, and anything else that is money-related.

When I audit myself, I am taking a cold, hard look at spending patterns, higher-than-expected payments, services that I’m paying for but don’t use, late payments (and why they are late), and any other financial habits that are keeping me from financial success.

One of the most interesting parts of my audits is realizing how easy it is to lose track of monthly subscriptions. In a previous audit, I discovered that I paid $400 for a service that I didn’t use for an entire year! I now try to avoid monthly subscriptions whenever possible. I save my money and pay upfront for whatever service I would like to use.

Here’s how I do my self-audit.

1. Stay Focused

First, this is not to be done on an empty stomach or after more than one drink. You need to be alert. Do it midday, when you’re awake and ready to tackle your finances. Do this at home during the quietest part of your day, and if you have kiddos or pets, I would recommend doing this when they are out of the house.

The fewer distractions, the better.

2. Analyze Your Spending

You will want to look at your bank statements or financial management systems such as Mint, Personal Capital or even monthly Excel spreadsheets using a secured online system.

Then you should spend time looking at the different areas of spending that your money is going toward: groceries, car expenses, kids, travel, debt repayments, and even pets.

In my case, I discovered that I spent a lot on food, travel and debt repayment. Once I discovered where my money was going, I started to think creatively about how to lower expenses in those different categories.

3. Strategize

For example, when I began this process I was spending twice the amount that I currently do on groceries and eating out. So I started shopping for groceries once a week and I downloaded a grocery app that allowed me to save money each time I purchased food.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out on going out to eat or having my favorite foods — I’ve just embraced some new strategies so that I don’t eat my money up!

4. Uncover Savings

I decided to embrace traveling less, and when I did travel, I looked at ways to make travel less expensive. I very rarely stay at hotels and prefer to use Airbnb and hostels (with my own private room) because those accommodation options are much less expensive — they cost around $30 a night versus $80 to $150 a night in a hotel.

I still travel to cool places — this year I spent two weeks in San Diego, and the year before that I spent two months in Australia. But now I work hard on figuring out my expenses before I do anything, and I pay with cash.

You don’t do a financial audit to give yourself a hard time — in fact, just the opposite. Financial audits are great because they give you clarity and a direction for what your next steps should be.

During one of those audits, I discovered that I was spending $1,200 a year (around $105 a month) on my cell phone service. But I don’t like to talk on the phone all that much. Not to mention, $1,200 a year is the equivalent of a trip to South America for three weeks with airfare! I side-hustled like a rock star and paid up to get out of my contract, and then I switched to a pay-as-you-go service that averaged me around $30 a month. This created a savings of $900 a year. Cha-ching!

If this is the first time that you’ve done a financial audit, don’t be scared! Just have fun putting money back into your pocket.

[Editor’s Note: Remember, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit, too, since your standing can affect your ability to score an affordable loan. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]

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The Best Rewards Credit Cards for People on a Tight Budget

Interested in a rewards credit card but don't shop that often? These cards have your number.

Everywhere you look, there are credit cards offering huge signup bonuses. Unfortunately, those cards almost always require a large initial spend. If you are on a limited budget, spending $4,000 or more over a three month period might not be an option. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reward card for you. There are plenty of cards available that are perfect for low spenders. Here are five of our favorites.

Chase Freedom

One of the best reward cards available right now is the Chase Freedom card . For anyone with low monthly expenses, this might be the perfect fit. You will have the chance to earn a $150 signup bonus, and you only need to spend $500 in the first three months. That should be doable for many people. Plus, if you add an authorized user, you will earn an additional $25 after they make a purchase in the same three-month period.

This card can really make a difference in your ability to earn bonus rewards. Each quarter there is a rotating set of categories, allowing you to earn 5% cash back. One quarter it might be restaurants and department stores, the next quarter it might be home improvement stores and ground transportation. Even if you don’t spend much, 5% can make your rewards add up quick. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a limit of $1,500 within the 5% categories each quarter. All other purchases will earn 1% back.

As an added bonus, this card comes with an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Once the introductory period is over, the APR will change to a variable 15.49% to 24.24%, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply. (You can read more about how credit card interest works here.) This card has no annual fee.

Blue Cash Everyday Card From American Express

Even with a small budget, there is a good chance a large portion of that goes toward groceries. If so, then the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express could be a great fit for you. You will earn 3% cash back on the first $6,000 spent each year at grocery stores. You will also receive 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores. Any other purchase you make with the card will earn 1% back.

With the Blue Cash Everyday card, you will receive a $100 signup bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months. You will also receive an introductory 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. Once the introductory period has ended, the APR will become a variable 13.49% to 23.49%, based on your credit standing. This card has no annual fee.

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is perfect for anyone who’s looking for a straightforward cash back card. There are no rotating categories or bonus rewards to remember. Every purchase you make will earn 2% back. You will earn the first 1% when you make the purchase. You will then earn a second 1% back after you pay off the purchase. One possible downside to this card is that there isn’t a signup bonus. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, Chase, American Express, US Bank and Barclaycard advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.) 

If you are carrying a balance on your current card, then the Citi Double Cash card might be able to save you some money. (Keep in mind you do not earn cash back on balance transfers.) You will receive an introductory 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers. After the promotional period has ended, the APR will become a variable 13.49% to 23.49%. This card has no annual fee.

US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is perfect for low spenders because it gives you the ability to earn cash back on your own terms. You will be able to receive 5% back on up to $2,000 per quarter from two categories of your own choosing such as cell phone bills, movie theaters and fast food. In addition, you will be able to earn 2% cash back from an everyday spending category like groceries, gas and restaurants. All other purchases will earn 1% back.

This card offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first year. Purchases carry a variable APR of 14.49% to 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. After that, the purchase APR will apply. This card has no annual fee.

Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard

The Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard is another hassle-free cash back card. With it, you will receive an unlimited 1.5% back on every purchase you make. You will also receive a 5% bonus when you cash out your earnings. This card also comes with an attainable signup bonus: You will receive $100 after spending $500 in the first three months.

Just like the other cards on this list, you will not pay an annual fee. This card offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the 15 months. Purchases carry a variable APR of 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24, based on your creditworthiness. After that, the purchase APR will apply.

At publishing time, the Chase Freedom, Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, Citi Double Cash and Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.

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5 Ways to Stay on Budget When You Lose Your Job

Freaked out about finances after a job loss? Not to worry, these basic budgeting tips have you covered.

No one wants to think about a job loss, but sometimes these things can happen. If you think you may be out of a job soon or a cutback came out of the blue, then you might want to take some necessary steps to manage your budget.

Here are some tips to help.

1. Separate Essential & Nonessential Expenses

Take a look at your bank statements from the past three months or so and see how much you’ve been spending and what you were spending it on. Write down a list of which expenses you think you need (rent or mortgage) and which you can cut (eating out, cable and landline). This will help you stay afloat for now. It is important not to worry, as this is only a temporary budget cut until you can get back on your feet.

2. Create a New Budget

Once you cut your nonessential expenses from your budget, it is time to create a new one — and to make sure it is at the absolute minimum. This means shelter, groceries, mortgage, debts, etc. Since you are cutting a lot of expenses from your budget, you should have enough funds to hold you over until you have regular money coming in again.

3. Negotiate Your Monthly Expenses

Consider calling your service providers and seeing if you can negotiate your way to a lower monthly payment that is more reasonable for you and your budget. It can’t hurt to ask, and with no regular income coming in, you might not have a choice.

4. Prioritize Your Next Job

Make your next job applying for a new job. Try and apply to jobs several hours a day. Your next job doesn’t have to be a career choice; it can be something to hold you over until you get the one you want. You might want to make it a priority to get cash rolling in again so you won’t have to worry about falling behind on your bills. (Remember, missed loan payments can do big damage to your credit score. You can keep an eye on yours by viewing your free credit report snapshot, which comes with two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

5. Speak to a Professional

Even if you know you will have a job again soon, it might make sense to speak to a professional about what your options are. It can be a scary thing going from a regular income to nothing. You might need help reworking your budget and even paying off your expenses. If you don’t think you will have money to hire someone, then consider getting advice from your local debt attorney or financial planner (some offer free consultations) — they might even be able to help you settle your debts and negotiate your bills while you are on a tight budget.

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28 Ways to Save For This Year’s Big Adventure

Here are 28 tips for saving money on travel, starting with opening a savings account.

If it seems your friends and coworkers are always off on their next big international excursion and you’re stuck at home trying to figure out how you’re going to pay this month’s utility bill, we’ve got some good news for you. That dream of lazy days on white-sand beaches or gentle afternoons reflecting in the Louvre is actually possible, even if you think you can’t afford it.

We’ve put together 28 mostly pain-free ways to start setting aside money today so you can turn your dream vacation into reality.

Everyday Ways to Save

1. Open a vacation savings account.

Automating your savings — whether for a vacation, retirement or a down payment on your dream home — makes the process so much easier. Even if you’re only able to save $5 a week at first, you have an account established and can plunk savings from the following list of ideas in there whenever possible. And make sure it’s a free account with a low enough minimum balance requirement so that it won’t end up costing you money.

2. Save your change.

You can really up your simple savings game by using a bank service like Bank of America’s Keep the Change program, which automatically rounds up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference into your savings account.

If you’re not quite ready to take this step, you can start saving your change the old-school way by grabbing a jar and emptying the change from your pockets or wallet into it at the end of the day. Don’t hesitate to throw some paper bills in there as well.

2. Cut back on your food budget.

It’s amazing the money you can save on food with just a little advanced planning — like making a weekly menu and buying your groceries strictly around that list, cooking in batches so you have meals prepared ahead of time, eating this 16-cent breakfast and avoiding the impulse to eat out or get delivery.

3. Cut back on duplicates.

Do you really need the Oreos and the Milanos? Probably not. Still, treat yourself to some cookies, but choose one to put back.

4. Put a stop to loose spending.

A little advance planning can go a long way toward saving money. For example, shop for next year’s winter coat during this year’s winter sales. You’ll save money by avoiding impulse buys and giving yourself time to find good deals.

5. Cancel your subscriptions & memberships.

Do you actually know how much you spend each month on subscriptions to websites, like your streaming services, magazines, and the gym you swore you’d hit three times a week? Make a list, including amounts you spend each month, and then prioritize that list. Cut out anything you don’t use regularly and bank that money in your vacation account (or change jar).

6. Walk to and from work.

If you live in a walkable city, consider commuting by foot instead of by car or public transit. Not only will it save you some cash, it’s a good, healthy habit.

7. Go to the library.

Want to know what’s even better than getting the latest James Patterson book? Getting it for free. You’ll get to lose yourself in a great story, all while saving up for your own adventure.

8. Wash your car by hand.

If you use one of those automated drive-through washes, or especially a fancy handwash place, you can save a ton of money. The average drive-through costs nearly $10, and the premium carwashes can be as much as $30 for just the basic wash and vacuum. Instead, grab your hose and a bucket or, if you live in an apartment, head to one of those do-it-yourself stalls and then tuck away the savings.

9. Stay home.

It’s that simple. If your friends want to get together, ask them to come over and watch a movie, or have a potluck dinner. Even if you’re spending just $20 or $30 on a once-a-week outing, that can add up to some serious money over just a few months.

10. Make a no-gifts agreement.

The holidays can get ridiculously expensive ridiculously fast. The average American planned to spend around $929 for gifts this past holiday season, according to a report by American Research Group. Instead of spending all that money on things your friends and loved ones may not even want, see if they’ll agree to skipping the gifts this year. Maybe you could all book a holiday trip together instead. Two birds …

11. Cut back on your habits.

If you regularly drink, smoke or take illegal drugs, you probably already know these habits are expensive. For example, a pack of cigarettes can cost nearly $13 in New York, so if you’re a pack-a-day smoker, that’s more than $4,700 a year. That’s a seriously nice vacation fund, not to mention the health benefits of quitting. You can start small, too, if that’s easier.

12. Get a side gig.

If you have no interest in changing your lifestyle and spending, you could always get a second job and use those earnings for your next vacation. You could do the same if you’ve looked at your budget and there’s simply no way to cut back any more than you already have. Of course, if this is your situation, it’s probably more important that you set aside savings for possible emergencies before considering any travel savings.

13. Clip coupons & use savings apps.

You really can save a lot of money using coupons, especially if you manage to hit double or triple coupon days. And using apps or discount services can help you save on your everyday purchases as well.

14. Give yourself plenty of time to save.

All of the above can add up to some pretty dramatic savings, but you’ll still need time to accumulate enough money for a significant getaway. The farther in advance you plan your trip, the less you’ll have to cut corners to save up for it. It’s usually a lot easier to set aside $200 a month for a year than $400 a month for six months.

Ways to Leverage Your Credit

15. Get a new rewards credit card.

If you don’t already have a card that lets you earn points or cash back, now’s a great time to consider it. Even if you don’t have stellar credit, you may qualify for a card that can help make your vacation dreams a reality. Check out some of the best rewards credit cards you can get to see which best fits your spending and savings needs.

16. Improve your credit.

If you don’t qualify for the rewards cards you want, it’s time to start working on your credit. Not only can having great credit help you get the best terms on that new credit card you want for your trip, a good credit score may be able to help you save on insurance premiums and avoid paying deposits for new services. You can read more about how to quickly improve your credit score, and you can see how you’re doing by reviewing two of your credit scores for free. Not sure where to start? Take a look at this guide, which will go over steps to help you rebuild your credit.

17. Score a signup bonus.

Lots of travel rewards credit cards offer bonus miles if you spend a certain amount in your first few months. So if your wallet and credit score can handle it, consider adding one of these cards to your wallet. (Don’t get carried away, though. There are plenty of downsides to credit card churning.)

18. Transfer your credit card balances.

If you’re already carrying balances on your credit cards, getting those paid down should be a top priority. One of the easiest ways to do this is by applying for a new credit card with a 0% introductory balance transfer offer. Some cards have offers as long as 18 months. That can result in a big savings on interest.

Ways to Power Plan

19. Book smart.

Timing is everything when it comes to booking your airfare. Experts recommend booking domestic flights about six weeks out; international flights may require more lead time.

20. Score a companion pass.

Whether you’ve saved enough miles or your friend has you covered, a companion pass — offered through your rewards credit card — can save you a bundle.

21. Google flights.

Enter your destination, fare type and dates, and a number of options should pop up. The site’s also helpful for exploring nearby destinations, and you can sign up for fare alerts.

22. Check Travel.State.Gov.

Before you set your budget, visit this site to see what’s required in terms of passports, visas, vaccines, and more.

23. Visit Wiki Travel.

An excellent tool for sussing out a new place, this user-generated site can give you a sense of whether it makes sense to visit. You can see more great travel websites to bookmark here.

24. Book through your credit card issuer’s travel portal.

Most give you more bang for your buck when it comes to redeeming or earning rewards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in your first three months — equivalent to $750 in travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Or the American Express Platinum, which offers five times the points on airfare booked directly through the issuer or airline.

25. Ask hotels for a discount.

Skip the search engine and call a hotel directly to ask about their lowest nonrefundable rate. If you strike out prior to your trip, ask the concierge whether any upgrades are available when you get there.

26. Sign up for a loyalty program.

Most hotels and airlines have one, and they’re generally free to join. Rack up points where you can (say, on your flight home for the holidays) and then look into pooling them with credit card rewards to fast-track an award flight or hotel stay.

27. Prioritize your itinerary.

You can’t see and do everything at your travel destination, and trying to do so will likely only stress you out and break your budget. Prioritize the travel items on your to-do list so it’s easier to make a cut when your budget calls for it.

28. Avoid the peak season.

A quick internet search will tell you when your destination of choice is particularly popular. If the vacation you want is still possible during off-peak travel times, consider trying to go when there’s lower demand. It can help you save on travel and accommodation costs.

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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4 Money Excuses You Need to Stop Making

Managing your money can be a challenge, but it can be done successfully — especially if you stop making these common excuses.

If saving more money is on your to-do list, but you just haven’t gotten around to it, it’s time to stop making excuses. We’ve all told little white lies to ourselves about why we’ve yet to open a Roth IRA, save for a down payment on a home, or stop living paycheck to paycheck. But have we actually sat down and come up with solutions? Probably not.

To help you get out of this habit — and on the right financial footing — we’ve come up with a list of common excuses money managers often make. If you find yourself using one of them, you’re doing your money no favors.

I Don’t Have the Time

Saying you don’t have time to manage your finances is like saying you’re too busy to hit the gym. There may be some truth to your reasoning, but you probably refuse to make it a priority for another reason. Perhaps you’re dreading what you’ll actually find when you check your credit scores (you can do this for free on Credit.com). Or you’re afraid not making ends meet will mean having to change your behavior. Whatever the fear, avoiding the problem won’t solve it, and you’ll have to face up to it sometime. Start being honest with yourself so you can stop the shame cycle for good.

I’m Bad at Math

Not everyone loves crunching numbers as much as your algebra teacher. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a system to better manage your finances. Plenty of free smartphone apps make budgeting a cinch for right-brain types, and if you don’t like using an app, then there’s always old-fashioned pencil and paper. Excel or other spreadsheet applications can be useful for those who like keeping tabs on their progress.

I Don’t Earn Enough Money

It’s rare to find someone who’s truly content with their take-home salary. But that shouldn’t hold you back from managing what you do have coming in. While it’s reasonable and even advisable to think about a raise, you owe it to yourself to make your current paycheck work for you. That means living within your limits — excessive debt is a no-go for building good credit, as how much you have (in relation to your overall credit) impacts a chunk of your score — setting aside what you can, and rewarding yourself for a job well done when you can afford it.

I Can’t Give Up My Lifestyle

If living a life of luxury now matters more than saving for the future, it’s time to assess your priorities. This starts with understanding a need versus a want — something you need, like food and shelter, versus something you want in the moment, like the latest eyeshadow kit. The latter may be a fun splurge, but it certainly won’t pay for your house or fund your retirement. It also won’t feel so hot when you get a hefty credit card bill or a dreaded phone call from debt collector wondering why you haven’t paid what you owe. Worse still: Being rejected for credit when you really need it to buy a house, get a job or help out a relative.

Remember, staying on top of your finances is often easier said than done. But you can make it easier for yourself by doing away with the excuses and getting proactive. Reaching your goals won’t happen overnight, but you’ll be well on your way to financial success if you start being honest with yourself.

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