3 Economic Advantages of Calisthenics vs Weight Training

3 Economic Advantages of Calisthenics vs Weight Training

Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good health. When it comes to resistance training, there is some debate about the best approach. Although both offer several physical benefits and can help you reach your fitness goals, here are 3 economic advantages of calisthenics vs weight training.

What’s the Difference Between Calisthenics and Weight Training?

Both calisthenics and weight training are forms of strength training. It is also known as resistance training since you perform activities that use your muscles against varying degrees of resistance. The repetition of motion breaks down the muscles, forcing your body to repair them which makes them bigger and stronger.

Strength training is commonly associated with weight training, but it isn’t the only method. Calisthenics is another method using your body weight and gravity to create resistance. Fundamental exercises such as dips, squats, lunges, planks, pushups, pullups, crunches, and situps are good examples of how you can use your body weight in resistance training.

3 Economic Advantages of Calisthenics vs Weight Training

While both can be incorporated into your workout plan for positive results, here are 3 economic advantages of calisthenics vs weight training.

1. Calisthenics doesn’t require any special equipment.

When you do calisthenics, you use your body weight and the force of gravity to build muscle. Therefore, it doesn’t require you to purchase special equipment. Although you may want to purchase things like a pullup bar for specific exercises, you won’t need to invest as much as you would with free weights or machines.

2. It’s more affordable and convenient.

With a calisthenics routine, you can get maximum results with minimal investment. As I mentioned above, you don’t need to buy expensive equipment at home or pay for a gym membership to use their facilities.

Instead, you can design a routine that requires nothing more than space to move. Calisthenics are also much more convenient for people like me who travel a lot since they all you to exercise anywhere, anytime.

3. It saves you time.

Calisthenics incorporates compound exercises that use multiple muscle groups simultaneously. With more movement, you use more calories in a shorter time frame. This gives you a full-body workout without spending hours at the gym. Having an efficient routine allows you to spend less time on your fitness regimen so you have more time for other priorities.

Creating a Calisthenics Workout Plan

Calisthenics offers many health benefits when used on their own or as part of your workout plan. Over the years, I have incorporated it for different purposes including warmups and cooldowns, aerobic conditioning, weight loss, and strength training. Thanks to calisthenics, I have seen drastic improvements in strength as well as flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, and endurance. But when combined with weight training, it can produce even greater results.

However, it can be hard for beginners who don’t know how to design a workout regimen or can’t afford a personal trainer. But thanks to the internet, you can find experts who create free content on YouTube to show you proper form and basic circuit training. And best of all, it doesn’t require any money to get started.

Read More


3 Free Activities to Save Your Entertainment Budget

3 Free Activities to Save Your Entertainment Budget

Over the last few years, the increased prices and cost of living have meant less room in the budget. While it also affected how much we could save each month, reduced hours and unexpected expenses forced us to cut back even further. However, even the best savers need to blow off steam and have fun occasionally. But, you don’t need to sacrifice your leisure time with these free activities.

3 Free Activities to Save Your Entertainment Budget

1. Check out your local library.

Your local library is a cultural and community hub. They help sponsor a variety of events and free activities that are appropriate for all ages. In addition to the children’s story hours and family-friendly activities, many also display artwork and put on concerts for local artists.

However, I was ecstatic to learn that the library also offers free and discounted tickets to local attractions like museums, zoos, and other performances. It’s just one more reason why you should check out your local library.

2. Become a tourist in your city.

Another fun way to save money during your vacations is to become a tourist in your city. You can live somewhere for years, even your whole life, and never know the city you live in. Therefore, we have taken more time to appreciate the sights and sounds in our backyard.

We have found several free walking tours of historic districts and hit the local parks for urban exploration. And when we want to get back to nature, apps like AllTrails will help you find the best trails around. It’s also a lot of fun to attend the free art festivals, concerts, outdoor movies, and community-sponsored events throughout the summer. But the best part is that all the activities don’t cost a thing.

3. Take up a new sport.

Contrary to what some might think, you don’t need to spend a lot of money if you want to take up a new sport or hobby. Instead of purchasing expensive new equipment, I prefer to borrow until I know for certain that it is something I will stick with. Even then, I hunt local thrift shops for used equipment. You can also find high-quality equipment at great prices through online marketplaces.

But the most important thing that people pay for is the space. Luckily, there are many places where you can access open spaces, courts, and other sports facilities for free. It’s a great way to spend quality time with family and friends. But if you are looking for something more competitive, you can also check local message boards and forums if you are interested in joining an adult league or team.

Some Free Advice

It can be hard to adjust to new financial limits. Sometimes, I feel hopeless and defeated when I see how tight things get. But when this happens, finding fun ways to spend time together is even more important. And with some creative thinking, many free activities will help you enjoy life a little more without breaking the bank.

Read More

How to Strengthen Your Four Walls of Budgeting

How to Strengthen Your Four Walls of Budgeting

When you are in debt, it may feel like you are digging yourself deeper with every dollar you spend. And as the bills start mounting and collection agencies are pressuring you to pay, it’s easy to panic and forget your priorities. However, knowing the four walls of budgeting can help remind you what is most important in your budget. So if you are having a hard time making ends meet, here are a few ways you can strengthen your four walls of budgeting and get closer to your financial goals.

What Are the Four Walls of Budgeting?

Dave Ramsay describes the four walls of budgeting as the essential things in your budget that you need to survive. Like the four walls of your home, these four categories represent the things you need to sustain the bare minimum standards of living.

But, the amount you spend and the definition of each wall will vary from person to person. So you have to identify them within your own budget. However, here is a basic guideline of what each wall represents.

1. Food

Humans are animals, and our bodies need fuel to function. This category should include all the food with the essential nutrition that your body needs. When tallying these expenses, you should include all your expenses for food.

2. Shelter

The second wall of budgeting deals with our basic need for shelter. This category covers all the expenses to keep the roof over your head and the lights on. For most of us, this will incorporate the largest portion of the budget.

The general guideline suggests that 30% of your income pays for housing. In addition to your monthly mortgage or rent payment, there are also property taxes, utilities, maintenance, and repairs and repair costs to consider as well.

3. Clothing

The third wall represents the basic clothing items you need in your daily life. This should account for formal and business attire at work, footwear, winter apparel, undergarments, and any other clothing items you wear from day to day.

4. Transportation

The final wall of budgeting has a great deal of variation depending on where you live. Transportation covers the amount you need to get from Point A to Point B. In some places, there is no other option than to own a vehicle. However, this comes with significant costs such as registration, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and gas.

Those who live in urban areas with modern public transit have the luxury of more options to fit the budget. Most cities have buses, trains,  or subway systems that offer monthly passes for minimal fees. Some people may even be able to ride a bike or walk to save even more.

How Do You Strengthen Your Four Walls of Budgeting?

If you want to strengthen your four walls of budgeting, you have two options: earn more income or decrease your spending. While the answer is cut-and-dried, the way to achieve it is more fluid.

Bring in More Income

The easiest way to strengthen your four walls of budgeting is by bringing in more income. These are the easiest ways to make that happen.

    • Ask for a raise. If you had a good performance this year, then asking for a raise may be well received. Try to time your request after a big win or the completion of a successful project. And, you will probably have a better chance to get it if you do it before they determine the annual budget.
    • Go for a promotion. Another option is to go for a higher-paying position. So, if you are willing to take on more responsibility, then why not get paid to do it? Start looking for positions within your company to advance your career and your savings goals.
    • Look for a second job or side hustle. Many people look for ways to bring in extra cash around the holidays You could bring in more income with seasonal work, a second job, or starting a side hustle in your spare time.
    • Find ways to generate passive income. My personal choice is to put your money to work for you. Look for investments that generate passive income to support your budget.

Reduce Your Expenses

For those who have no way of earning more money, the only option is to reduce your spending. If trimming the budget is the only way to strengthen your walls, here are a few ways that have worked for me, even on a bare-bones budget.

    • Food – The best way to reduce your food bill is to stop dining out and prepare you food at home. You can also use coupons, buy off-brand items, buy in bulk, and save more with discount shopping clubs.
    • Shelter – If the timing is right, refinancing your mortgage could save you on interest. However, you can also save money by finding cheaper accommodations or downsizing. Another idea is to look for a roommate or renter to split expenses if space allows.
    • Clothing – Since I live in athletic wear, my clothing costs are minimal. I avoid designer brands and prefer to items second-hand to save money.
    • Transportation – Choosing to sell a car or trade it in for one with a lower monthly payment is a tough decision. There are tons of ways to save on gas and car insurance, but it is a major expense. If you have to eliminate it completely public transportation, riding a bike, or walking when possible could save your budget.

Beyond the Four Walls

The four walls are a great starting point for anyone learning to live on a limited budget. However, there are other essential costs that you will need to tailor to your situation. For example, those of us who work from home must have reliable internet and cell phone service. Those with children will need childcare. And, all of us will require healthcare services at some point. Although you may be able to live without them temporarily, it’s not a long-term solution.

There is no single answer for strengthening your four walls of budgeting. Ultimately, it comes down to whatever method will help you stick to your budget. You may have to try several different approached before you find one that sticks. But, if you have determination and self-discipline, you can strengthen your walls and build a solid foundation for your future.

Read More

5 Small Business Finance Tips You’ve Probably Never Thought Of

Managing finances is crucial to making or breaking a small business. Many entrepreneurs focus on traditional financial practices like bookkeeping and budgeting, but there are other, less obvious, aspects to consider. Here are some finance tips that you’ve probably never thought of for your organization.

1. Cleanliness and Productivity

A clean and decluttered space enhances productivity, and investing in the regular cleaning and maintenance of your business premises can boost employee morale and create a conducive work environment. In a survey, 72% of employees reported feeling less productive in offices that were unclean. Therefore, you must prioritize maintaining a space where employees feel they can be productive and are not distracted by the mess.

Invest in a professional cleaning service, and keep the work area minimalist. Don’t keep stacks of papers and office supplies on people’s desks if they aren’t using them. Remove unnecessary distractions and encourage your employees to do the same.

2. Spruce Up Your Space

It’s scientifically proven that certain paint colors and decor choices can enhance people’s productivity and mental state. Consider sprucing your office up, and taking the time to figure out the colors and layouts you want. It doesn’t need to involve buying brand new furniture, but more determining the way you want the area to flow.

While you might want to cut corners and avoid paying someone to paint, using a professional is better. You’re busy, and your employees are too. There are almost 250,000 painting businesses in the United States (according to IBIS World), meaning you’re bound to find someone in your price range that shares your vision.

3. Protecting Yourself from Slip and Fall Lawsuits

Every year, over a million people are injured due to slip and fall accidents in the United States. As a small business owner, there are proactive measures you can take to protect yourself from potential lawsuits related to such accidents. First and foremost, check that your premises are well-maintained and free from any hazards that could lead to slip and fall incidents.

Regularly inspect your work area and promptly address any potential dangers, such as wet floors or uneven surfaces. Additionally, it’s crucial to have liability insurance that covers slip and fall accidents. Liability insurance provides financial protection in case you face legal claims resulting from slip and fall accidents, ensuring that your company’s finances remain intact.

4. Efficient Cash Flow Management

Cash flow management is crucial for any company, but there are innovative strategies you may not have considered. Instead of always paying upfront, explore the possibility of extending payment terms to match your company’s cash flow cycle. When you do this, you can maintain positive cash management while staying ahead of bills.

Another tip to optimize cash flow is to offer discounts for early payment. Incentivize your customers to pay their invoices promptly by providing a small deal if they settle their accounts before the due date. This not only encourages timely payments but also helps improve your cash flow position.

5. Harnessing the Power of Automation

Automation has become a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Technology can help you streamline your financial process, reduce errors, and save valuable time. Consider using accounting software that automates tasks such as invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting. Simplifying financial management while making it run more efficiently will significantly and positively affect your company’s financial health.

You’ve probably heard many financial tips for running your company as a small business owner. However, when you follow these several unconventional tips, they can significantly contribute to your company’s success. Embrace these tips, think outside the box, and watch your company thrive in the competitive market.

Understanding Small Business Insurance and Tax Implications in 2023

As a small business owner, it’s no secret that you face a myriad of challenges daily. You are balancing a lot, from ensuring the quality of your products or services and managing your finances. Crucial aspects of running a small business are having adequate insurance coverage to protect against unexpected losses and understanding the tax implications of operating your business to avoid penalties and ensure compliance. Therefore, here are things you need to understand about small business insurance and tax implications in 2023.

Understanding the Cash Method of Accounting

Your operation’s tax implications are determined by factors such as your annual profits, location, employees on your payroll, etc. In 2018, the cash method of accounting was expanded. Now, companies with a gross of less than $25 million over three years can use the cash method of accounting. If you’re in this position, you can recognize income when you receive payments and deduct expenses when you pay them, rather than recognizing revenue and expenses when they are earned or incurred. The law change should also provide more financial security if you experience uneven money flow.

Deducting Business Expenses

Whether you’re using the cash method of accounting or not, you should always track the money you spend on expenses. You can deduct necessary business operation expenses, such as rent, utilities, supplies, etc. To do this accurately, keep records of all of your costs.

Learning Tax Obligations Related to Employee Payroll

You must withhold federal income, social security, and Medicare taxes from your employee’s paychecks. As an employer, you also must pay a portion of social security and Medicare taxes on top of federal and state unemployment taxes. Failure to comply with these laws could result in high penalties and fees.

Accounting for Workers’ Compensation

As a small business owner, you aren’t just responsible for your employee’s payroll. When they are on the clock or at the physical location of your business, you are liable if they get injured. An employee could slip on a wet floor and break their back, and you’ll need to provide workers’ compensation. Additionally, you could be at risk of legal ramifications.

Educate Your Employees in Safe Practices

Depending on the type of small business, your employees may be required to perform frequent physical activities. They must know how to safely lift and move heavy objects, as overused joints and muscles can cause chronic pain over time. Musculoskeletal disorders tend to develop over time but can be debilitating. They accounted for 40% of Amazon’s workforce injuries, and most of the musculoskeletal disorders that Amazon’s employees experienced were from repetitive motion.

Encourage employees to take breaks, stretch before and after work, and listen to their bodies. If someone is experiencing discomfort in their lower back, don’t let them lift heavy objects until they’re better. Put together a safety training program that includes looking out for potential risks, lifting and moving safely, stretching, and taking frequent breaks to ensure you don’t have to deal with unnecessary workers’ compensation claims later.

Always Report Incidents

Whenever an incident occurs, whether big or small, keep a record and report it to the insurance company. The minor fall your employee had a few days ago might have seemed insignificant until they realized they landed awkwardly on their foot and now have a sprained ankle. You’re responsible for your employees, whether they’re on-site, working from home, or on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 million or more crashes go unreported each year, meaning these people can’t rely on insurance if they notice damage later.

Understanding your business insurance and tax implications is part of being a responsible small business owner. Requirements change annually, and you need to know the changes made for 2023. You protect yourself from legal penalties and fees when you learn new tax laws, understand the implications of managing employees, and report every incident.

How To Restructure Your Budget for Unexpected Expenses

How To Restructure Your Budget for Unexpected Expenses

Many things in life are uncertain. But, one thing you can always count on is surprises. Unfortunately, they are not always good ones. And, sometimes they get expensive. Therefore, you have to learn how to adjust your finances and make room in your budget when this happens. Here are a few sound ideas to help you restructure your budget for these unexpected expenses so they don’t catch you unprepared.

4 Ways to Restructure Your Budget for Unexpected Expenses

A recent survey revealed that 56% of Americans do not have sufficient savings to pay an unexpected expense of $1,000 or more. The fact that so many people are living on the brink of financial instability is concerning. So if you find yourself among them, here are a few ways you can restructure your budget to help you get ahead.

1. Build it into your budget.

Even if you keep detailed accounts and know the exact total of your monthly bills, it’s impossible to anticipate every expense you will have. So, I learned long ago to leave a little room in the budget for “miscellaneous” expenses.

For example, I had to pay the repair cost this month when our dishwasher needed a replacement part. Last month, we used the extra money to cover the cost of gas for a visit to see family on the other side of the state. There was no way we could have planned for these situations. But, it’s for this very reason that I pad our monthly budget with an extra $200 (give or take) when things come up. Not only does it protect our finances, but it also reduces the stress of living on a limited budget.

2. Bolster your emergency fund.

As a student and young adult, I lived paycheck-to-paycheck for years. I earned enough to support myself. However, I ignored my parents’ advice to maintain an emergency fund. I was barely scraping by and didn’t see the point in setting the money aside since I needed it. That was, until my first major car repair.

After the transmission went out, I was left with a difficult choice: either fix my car or make rent for the month. At the time, it felt like an impossible situation. No matter how much I worked, it took months to regain my footing. And during that time, I felt like a huge burden to those around me.

So as soon as I was able, I started bolstering my emergency fund. In the beginning, I contributed $25 from each paycheck. Eventually, it grew into a comfortable safety net for the next unforeseen emergency. We now make sure that we maintain an account with enough money to cover 6 months of expenses should anything happen. For me, the anxiety of teetering on the financial edge was enough for me to take control of my finances and restructure my budget.

3. Reallocate resources.

Once you are down to a barebones budget, the next thing you can do is reallocate your resources and find ways to reduce costs. Here are a few ways you can restructure your budget without taking on more debt.

Reduce the interest payments on your credit cards.

If you carry credit card debt, you are probably paying hundreds of dollars each month in interest. So, one of the easiest ways you can give yourself breathing room after an unexpected expense is to reduce your interest payments.

You might be surprised how willing your credit card company will be to work with you. If you notify them before you miss a payment, they may be able to suspend the interest, waive late fees, or negotiate a lower monthly payment. You could also look into a balance transfer to a credit card offering 0% APR. And, there are also debt relief programs that can save you money by consolidating your bills.

cut out unnecessary spending

When it comes down to tough decisions, you need to learn how to prioritize your spending. Cutting back can be uncomfortable, to say the least. But you have to be able to recognize the difference between wants and needs.

So if you need to borrow from your other budget categories, you have to determine which things you can temporarily give up to recoup the costs. Perhaps you suspend an expensive membership, stop paying for activities, or delay a large purchase until you are more financially stable.

4. Review your monthly spending and the scope of your budget.

Whether you are trying to save, invest, pay down debt, or simply make it to the end of the month, you have to know the scope of your budget. However, the hardest part of any financial management plan is the follow-through. Not even the best-laid plan will be successful unless you consistently work toward your goals.

It requires self-discipline which starts by establishing good habits and holding yourself accountable. I tend to rely on my calendar and set deadlines to keep me on track. This includes notifications for when payments are due, alerts for balance limits, and reminders to make my monthly contributions.

We also schedule regular “health check-ups” to stay on top of our finances. We check our credit reports and meet with our advisors to review the status of our accounts. My husband and I also sit down together to review monthly expenses and remind each other of upcoming ones. This has become much easier with tools that show our spending by category and help us budget more efficiently for the months ahead.

Preparing for the Unexpected

Unfortunately, you can’t predict when an emergency will happen. You never know when you might lose your job, incur a large medical expense, or receive a repair bill. And with so many people struggling in the wake of the economic downturn, it’s becoming even more difficult to prepare for the unexpected.

The key is learning to assess your budget and live below your means so you are not spending more than you bring home. If you notice an imbalance, it’s best to restructure your budget so a financial setback won’t send you into survival mode.

Read More

5 Tips for Saving Money When Investing in Your Startup

As a small business owner, it’s crucial to always have your best interest in mind. Nearly 30-50% of all small businesses are involved with some form of litigation at some point or another each year. From legal matters to marketing, launching and running a small business successfully requires more than simply selling a product that is currently in demand. If you are thinking of launching your very own startup, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help you save money once you dive in.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

Defining and getting to know your target audience and the demographics you intend to reach can go a long way for any startup, regardless of the industry and market you are in. Getting to know who your audience is will help you to determine which platforms, tools, and methods are likely to work best to appeal to prospective customers and/or clients. The more familiar you are with the audience you intend to reach, the less likely you are to overspend when it comes to advertising and launching marketing campaigns on platforms that are not ideal.

2. Access Free Tools and Resources

One of the greatest aspects of the internet is the ability to access and use free tools with the click of a button. With plenty of resources to help with launching a startup, you can begin building your online presence in no time. Even if you have little to no experience when it comes to handling code, building websites, or generating graphics, there are plenty of free and paid resources that can be accessed for a variety of commercial purposes.

3. Consider Your Location

Location, location, location! Location matters with any business. However, when it comes to saving money, launching a startup at home or in a small local office building is just as possible. Finding a professional organization to assist with the moving of your business will ultimately result in more benefits and additional connections over moving your business on your own.

Opting to work out of your home as you build your startup is highly recommended. The less you are required to pay to operate your business out-of-pocket, the less likely you are to put your endeavor at risk financially.

4. Calculate Your Potential ROI

Whenever you’re pondering the thought of going into business, it’s important to calculate your potential ROI, or your Return on Investment. When selling any business, including a startup, knowing how much income or revenue you will generate annually can help you to determine the overall value of your brand. For example, a company that generates approximately $100,000 in income each year can sell for anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000, depending on the brand’s niche and market. Determining your potential ROI ahead of time can also help you to assess the funds you require to get your project off the ground.

5. Use Advertising to Generate Revenue

Depending on the type of business or brand you are running, it’s also possible to generate a passive income through advertising online. Using various marketing strategies, integrate ads directly onto your official website as well as throughout your social media posts. It’s also possible to reach out to potential sponsors and/or influencers to help spread the word about your business, depending on the industry you are in and whether the industry is already overly saturated. Using ads to generate revenue on your website can also provide you with more reach and ultimately, engagement on your website.

Saving money when investing in your startup is not always easy, but it is possible with an understanding of your audience and the market you have entered. The more familiar and comfortable you become with the ins and outs of your startup industry, the less likely you will be to overpay for any type of good or service you need.

Read More:

The Best Piggy Banks That Can Help Teach Kids Money Management Skills

What’s the Best Payment Type When Trying To Stick on a Budget?

What’s the Best Payment Type When Trying to Stick to a Budget?

Budgeting is an important skill for money management. If you ever hope to become financially independent, then you will need to learn how to make a budget and live below your means. However, many people struggle with this and continually overspend month after month. Unfortunately, it has become even easier to blow your budget when you rely on digital payment methods. Those who have trouble tracking their finances or remain unaware of their spending habits will find it especially difficult. In addition to learning the budgeting basics, you will also need to choose payment methods that will keep you on track. So, what is the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget?

The Best Payment Type When You’re Trying to Stick to a Budget

For those who are having trouble reigning in their spending habits, it’s time to get to work. When people ask me for help, I turn to the old-fashioned method. So, gather up your bills, get your notepad, and get ready to put your finances under the microscope. Once you have done the math, you may discover some hard truths about your financial situation. If you don’t like what the numbers reveal, then it’s time to make some changes.

One of the best places to re-establish control is by choosing the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget. But, how do you choose?

The Danger of Credit Cards

Although they have their uses, most people will agree that credit cards are dangerous for your budget. The convenience and accessibility are too much temptation for some. Furthermore, the high-interest rates can tank your long-term goals. And if you only manage to make the minimum payment every month, you will never get out of debt. It’s best to look at credit cards as a temporary loan and a last resort option for emergency use only.

Turning to Cash-Based Payment Types

When weighing the options, cash-based alternatives are the best payment type when you’re trying to stick to a budget. For me, this usually means that I only use my debit card or cash when things are tight. This way, I can only spend money that I actually have. Since you have to pay for things up front, it trained me to understand that if I didn’t have the funds to pay for something outright, then I shouldn’t buy it.

The all-cash system was best when I was living on a bare-bones budget because it put a hard stop to overspending. I paid my bills first and set aside small amounts to get me through the rest of the month. Once the money was gone, there was nothing more to spend until the next payday.

Debit cards can function in the same way, but they come with other risks. Since they are linked to your checking account, you only have access to limited funds. But, you must be careful not to overdraw the account. Otherwise, you could incur additional fees.

Using Technology to Help You Stick to a Budget

If you want to learn how to budget successfully, then you have to know where your money is going. It can be a painful exercise, but you have to know the reality of your situation before you can make a plan and take action. Once you know how you spend your money, it will be easier to identify where you can cut back or reallocate funds.

Online Banking

Online banking has made budgeting infinitely easier to stay connected to your finances. You can log in from any computer or mobile device to check account balances, transfer money, and pay bills. You can also set alerts when they reach a certain level or you have insufficient funds. I also set credit card alerts for large purchases and reminders when payments are due to help me avoid late fees.

Automating Your Finances

Another trick to help you stick to your budget is by automating your finances. Many employers offer direct deposit so your paycheck will go directly into your account. This removed the temptation to spend when I had cash in hand. Once it reached the dedicated accounts, it took longer to access my money which made me reconsider my spending.

Automating recurring payments is another method to ensure your bills get paid before you can spend your entire paycheck. Now, my utilities and other monthly bills are paid on time every month which is helpful for people like me who sometimes miss payments and incur late fees. However, I always make sure I have enough in my accounts to cover the payments and never use it for membership fees.

There are also a plethora of digital tools and budgeting apps that can help. Mint is a great option to track your spending and savings. Meanwhile, Acorns can help you save more every month by rounding up each transaction and setting it aside for when you need it.

Tracking Finances the Old-Fashioned Way

Growing up in a lower-middle-class family, we were always painfully aware of our monthly spending. Spontaneous shopping trips and unnecessary splurging meant that we would have to forego other things we would look forward to, like pizza and movie nights or other pricey outings.

However, we made it work. Thanks to my dad’s exemplary budgeting skills and meticulous recordkeeping, we always had what we needed. Part of this included my siblings and me participating in the weekly accounting exercises. While it wasn’t the most exciting way to spend family time, I learned some valuable habits that have served me well in my adult life.

Thanks to my dad’s attention to detail, I learned how to monitor my finances and always know exactly where I stand. I check every account throughout the month, remain vigilant of my spending limits, and know how to balance the budget. He also taught me how to use credit to my advantage and avoid long-term debt.

Strangely enough, it seems many adults never gained this type of financial literacy. It shocks me how many people remain blissfully unaware of the bad financial habits that are putting them deeper into debt. But if you ever hope to regain control, then you will have to learn some self-discipline. And with the access to free online resources that we have today, you can start teaching yourself better habits to help you reach your financial goals.

Read More

How To Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

How to Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

Are you looking for entertainment and cultural experiences, but can’t afford the admission prices? Then we have some good news for you! You can still plan fun adventures for the whole family, even when you’re on a budget. Here’s how to get free passes to zoos and museums in your area.

5 Ways to Get Free Passes to Zoos and Museums

Some zoos and museums, such as the 19 institutions that comprise the Smithsonian, always have free admission. However, most charge a fee for you to enjoy their public displays. The average cost is usually around $10, but sometimes ticket prices are closer to $30 per person.

If you are living on a strict budget, even small fees may not be feasible. Whether you are purchasing a single ticket or admission for the whole family, the prices and fees can quickly add up. But, several programs offer low-cost and even free admission. So if you are looking to still have fun with limited funds for entertainment, here are a few ways you can get free passes to zoos and museums near you.

1. Free Admission Days

Many attractions schedule free admission days to help those on a budget. They usually take place in the off-season, but you can also score free tickets around Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, and other annual events.

Offers for Local Residents

Some places set specific days for local residents to enjoy free admission to attractions in their own city. To take advantage of free admission on these days, you will need to provide an ID that verifies a local address. You can easily find this information since they advertise dates on their webpage or social media accounts.

Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day

Another event many people look forward to is Museum Day which Smithsonian Magazine sponsors every September. This is an annual event where participating museums, zoos, and cultural centers in nearly every state offer free admission to anyone with a pass.

This year, it will take place on Sunday, September 17. All you need to do is download your ticket, print it, then show it at admission to get free entry for 2 people. Tickets usually become available by mid-August. If you are curious about which institutions and attractions are on the list, visit their site to see the museums that are participating this year.

Blue Star Museums

Another little-known discount is through Blue Star Museums. More than 2,000 museums across the country offer free access to military members and their families. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, active duty service members and up to 5 family members can gain free entrance. This includes spouses, children, and siblings. However, you will need to show identification at the ticket window. So, make sure you have it with your to get your free passes.

Museums on Us by Bank of America

Some financial institutions also offer free admission days. Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us which grants free access to cardholders from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and US Trust.

Customers can enjoy the extra perk of free admission on the first weekend of every month. Just be aware that you will need to present your card at the admissions window. Unfortunately, the offer is only valid for cardholders, so you will need to purchase additional tickets for children and other nonmembers.

Wells Fargo Free Museum Days

Wells Fargo has a similar benefit for its members as well. Since it sponsors several museums across the country, it offers free admission to everyone. You can look on their tickets page to see which locations qualify.

2. Passes from the Local Library

The public library is an amazing place that offers free access to books, media, the internet, and other fun activities. But did you know they also offer free passes and discounted tickets?

Libraries often partner with city governments to provide greater access to arts and cultural resources. And all you need is your library card. Next time you visit a local branch, you can ask about the Museum Adventure Pass which offers free admission to attractions on a first-come, first-served basis. This includes free tickets to zoos and museums as well as art and cultural events like theater and orchestra. You can head down to the closest branch and ask your librarian for more details.

3. Reciprocal Memberships

If you have already purchased a membership with a zoo or museum, some memberships offer reciprocal benefits in other cities. Currently, there are over 1,000 institutions that are members of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association and offer free admission to their partner locations when you join.

If you are going on vacation, look to see if they extend these perks to museums or zoos in the city you are visiting. Remember that partnerships can change, so check for the updated list before you travel.

4. Redeem Rewards for Free Tickets

Another option is to check with your loyalty and rewards programs to see if they offer free tickets. Many credit cards, airlines, hotels, retailers, and even specific brands like Coke allow you to trade points for free tickets. So if you have been saving them, you may be able to get free passes to theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and more.

5. Income-Based Programs

Those who are in lower income brackets may also qualify for special discounts. Museums for All offers free or reduced prices to families that receive SNAP benefits. Recipients will gain entrance to over 1,000 museums across the US when they show their EBT card at the admissions counter.

You can also check if your city or county offers supplemental programs to get free passes to zoos and museums. Sometimes these include buy one, get one deals or discounts on family passes. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department in your state.

Planning Ahead Can Save You a Bundle

Planning fun excursions that require admission tickets can get expensive. But if you plan ahead and look for deals, it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways you can still enjoy fun outings without the high price tags. With these programs, you can give your family a new experience and expand their horizons.

Read More

10 Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

When it comes to household repairs, there are certain things you should always trust to an expert. However, there are easier jobs you can learn to do for yourself. Next time you face these projects, a quick YouTube tutorial or help from a friend could save you hundreds of dollars. Here are 10 professional services that you can DIY to save money and your budget.

10 Professional Services That You Can DIY to Save Money

Household Projects

1. Take care of your own yard work.

Before we moved into our home, I had always rented. So, you can imagine my surprise to learn how much time and money it took to maintain the yard. However, you can save hundreds of dollars each month by mowing, landscaping, or cleaning up your own yard waste.

Professional service fees vary depending on where you live and the size of your lot. Mowing starts from $25-$65, and you will pay more for additional services. Unfortunately, if you are paying for these services weekly or biweekly, they can quickly add up. Although you will have to invest in lawn care equipment upfront, the savings will cover the expense in time.

2. handle simple repairs yourself.

Nowadays, you can find a tutorial for any task on YouTube. With step-by-step videos from professionals, you can learn how to tackle simple repairs and skip labor fees.

For example, there are dozens of free videos that will show you how to prepare your home for seasonal changes. You can learn how to add insulation, seal doors and windows to lower heating costs, or seal your driveway to withstand the elements.

There are also instructional videos if you want to attempt easy plumbing problems. A quick search will produce dozens of people willing to show you how to install your own hardware/faucets, fix leaky toilets, or snake the drains to remove blockages.

Even if you don’t have the equipment, renting it from a home improvement store is still cheaper than paying for professional services.

3. Do your own painting.

Over time, home decor and color schemes show their age. So, painting can breathe new life into a space. But hiring professional painters is another of these professional services that you can DIY to save money.

Professional painters usually charge $20-$50 an hour. An average room will run you a few hundred dollars. But, this figure increases to the thousands when you are painting the exterior of your home.

If you decide to paint it yourself, you will only need to cover the cost of the materials for the job. Although it will take more time, you can get it done for a fraction of the cost.

4. Cancel the Cleaning Services.

My mom ran her own cleaning business for years. And it never ceased to amaze me how much people are willing to pay for these services. While you may hate doing chores, canceling your cleaning services can save you more than $200 a month.

And if you need to cut the budget even further, you can make your own cleaning products for pennies on the dollar. Most cleaning solutions use the same, low-cost ingredients that you can get in any grocery store. Not only will it save you money, but they are also more environmentally friendly than harsh, chemical cleaners.

Vehicle Maintenance

5. Skip the car wash.

I won’t lie to you, I appreciate having a monthly membership to the local car wash, especially during the winter months. But, this is one reoccurring charge that I could eliminate to save more money each month.

During the summer, I will happily wash my own car. However, regular washes become more important in the winter months when salt and other corrosives cling to the paint. If you need to trim the budget, skip the car wash. You can do it at home for free, or head to a self-service car wash to help you save cash.

6. Learn how to do basic vehicle maintenance.

When we first started driving, my dad required all my siblings to learn basic vehicle maintenance. Thanks to him, I have saved thousands of dollars over the years by maintaining my cars and knowing how they work. It has also helped me identify issues before they developed into expensive problems.

To this day, I regularly check the fluids, tires, and air filters to ensure that my car is running at maximum efficiency. These are professional services and simple replacements that you can DIY to save a ton on the cost of labor.

Health and Beauty Services

7. Save on groceries by preparing meals at home.

This DIY service is one of the most common budgeting hacks out there. Yet, people still spend a disproportionate amount of money at restaurants or for delivery services. Sure, it’s easy. But when you have a limited budget, every cent matters.

Preparing meals at home will save you a ton of money each month. And, you can save even more on groceries if you use coupons or join a discount buying club. Not only will this improve your financial health, but it is also an opportunity to focus on your physical health as well.

8. Revamp your beauty routine at home.

Most of us can’t afford regular visits to the spa. Even when you look for services at smaller salons, you are still going to pay around $30-$50 for manicures, pedicures, and skin treatments. And if you are adding hair treatments, these prices will double.

Although these services aren’t necessities, that doesn’t mean you have to stop pampering yourself. Instead, you can learn how to do some of these treatments at home. Not only does it save hundreds of dollars, but it can extend the time between professional services.

If you decide to start doing more of your beauty routine at home, make sure you choose quality products. Or, learn how to make natural treatments that are budget friendly and still give you that same glow.

Financial Services

9. Do your own taxes.

As tax season approaches, many companies and financial institutions have already sent out their documents. Although I have kept meticulous records and collected all the necessary paperwork, I still hate filing my taxes. So, I usually hire someone to prepare them for me.

But if this isn’t in the budget, there is free tax software that can help. You can find the forms online and complete your tax return without the added fees.

10. Save on Management fees with a roboadvisor.

If you take an active role in investing, a roboadvisor could save you a decent chunk of change in management fees. Many brokerages now offer automated roboadvisors to assist you with your investment strategy, sometimes free of charge.

Robo-advisors use complicated algorithms to determine which investments best suit your goals and portfolio. Some of these are fully automated while others utilized human guidance from investment managers. Either way, it provides a lower-cost option to help you save money on service fees.

What are some professional services that you can DIY when living on a budget? Share your thoughts below!

Read More