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6 Realistic Life Hacks for Saving Money on Your Wardrobe

6 Realistic Life Hacks for Saving Money on Your Wardrobe

There are so many articles out there telling you how to save money and cut corners.

However, half the time the advice is so altruistic it would take you months, if not years, to completely change how you interact with the world. You know the advice I’m talking about – the “before you make a purchase take a minute and think if you’ll really be happy with the transaction later” tip.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s good advice, but it’s just unrealistic – especially for a lot of us who are living in a big city and need to pay for rent, internet, food, transportation, insurance, etc. where anything leftover goes to keeping our sanity for one more week.

The other half of the advice is such small changes that it would take an equally long amount of time to nickel and dime your way to making your rent payments. While storing the old change you found in your car and couch can amount to something, someday – it’s not going to help you in the short term.

Like instead of buying name brand coffee, buy generic coffee and save 12 cents on every purchase – YES, that does add up, but while you are piling up those miniscule savings, your bills are piling up.

So how do most of us handle this?

We do what we always have done and cut corners. Our car can go another month without an oil change. Our phone still works, you just can’t read anything in the top right corner or swipe your finger too fast. Our jeans aren’t ripped, they’re just fashionable.

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Well, I can’t help you with your car or phone, but I have found some pretty nice tricks to reducing the cost of your wardrobe, which I quickly discovered was eating up about as much of my monthly expenses as my car payments were.

1. Deals Are SO Easy To Find

The first thing to realize is that certain stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s that have deals all throughout the year that should be taken advantage of. Both of those stores also have credit cards that offer additional savings to their subscribers. Additionally, small to medium sized stores run promotions throughout the entire year in order to compete with these huge clothing stores, so keep an eye out.

It seems a lot harder than it actually is, due to how much these stores need to promote, but social media is a great way to stay on top of it. You can start checking social media, as every store has a Facebook or Twitter page, but that can be tricky from the shopping perspective since you will be hardwired into looking up your favorite stores or the biggest brands and get caught back into the cycle.

Instead, look for Facebook deal pages or discount pages, as these places get approached by the smaller to mid sized retailers to promote their campaigns. Some companies run campaigns or contests throughout the year to promote their company and offer sweet deals (like free shoes for a year from KicksUSA or $2k from ModCloth) and others offer steep discounts on designer items! Definitely keep up with these pages. You never know when you’ll get lucky!!

2. Don’t Buy When You Can Rent

If you have a job where you have to dress professionally or are just someone that wants to mix up their wardrobe, it can get pricey. However, with sites like Rent the Runway, where you can rent clothing and accessories, or Bag Borrow or Steal, where you can rent handbags, there’s an opportunity to be fashionable and financially responsible all at once!

Additionally, there are sites like StitchFix, BirchBox, and Warby Parker that help you to save money by making sure you love what you want to purchase before you fully commit. How many times have you bought something online but it didn’t look like you thought it would when it actually arrived. There’s nothing quite like that disappointment.

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StitchFix has you fill out a survey and then a designer will personally pick out outfits for you. If you like what they sent, you can purchase the items. If not, you simply mail it back. BirchBox sends you beauty samples that you can try out before purchasing the larger versions. This can save a lot of money in the long run. Finally, Warby Parker allows you to select a number of glasses to try on before making the final purchase. These and other similar companies are a great way to try on our try out items without going to the store!

3. Take Advantage of Credit Card Deals

A lot of people don’t do enough research to take advantage of credit cards like they should. Not only are cashback bonuses, store cards and other deals a great way to save on clothes, but they can be very helpful in other areas too.

As mentioned above, many stores offer cards specifically for purchasing items from that store. Stores like Target offer 5% cashback just for using the card to make in-store or online purchases. Definitely worth signing up for cards that can save you a little (or a lot depending on how much you tend to splurge at Target).

If you’re someone who loves to travel, but don’t think you can afford it, check out some credit cards with no international transaction fees, no annual fee and sign up bonuses. This college student spent three weeks traveling in Europe by using credit card rewards and cashback bonuses, so it really works!

For example, by using the Discover Miles card you get 1.5x miles on every dollar you spend. Discover also offers a CashBack card that charges no international transaction fees and can help you with day-to-day purchases as well. Also, other travel cards offer bonus miles for just signing up (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card). The Marriott Rewards card also can help you save on your hotels too!

Also, something to note about looking for a card for traveling abroad – make sure there are no international transaction fees. These fees can surprise you when you get your bill after your trip. Sometimes these fees can tack on an additional 2-3% so it’s important to find a card without those tricky fees.

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For more credit card tips, check out Nerd Wallet’s picks for best cards with sign up offers, cashback bonuses, and no foreign transaction fees!

4. Free Shipping Is Always Worth It

This one seems obvious, but still needs to be said. If a company is offering free shipping, take them up on their offer! It is only natural to want the new pair of shoes you just bought the next day since you want to wear them out this weekend, but it is not worth it.

Shipping a pair of jeans across a couple of state lines can cost you anywhere from an additional 12% and up, which immediately inflates the cost of any purchase you make. You click on an item thinking that you are buying a $70 pair of pants, which you think you might be able to afford, and then by the time you are finished with the checkout, you have spent closer to $80.

There are some ways to help with this too, of course. Amazon Prime is only $99 for the year and offers free one or two day shipping on so many items. Additionally, some stores like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe and Payless offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. But what if you only want one $25 item? With shipping, you could be paying $30 in total. How do you avoid that?

Check to make sure they offer free returns first. Then, if they do, add some items to your cart to reach the limit that meets the requirement for free shipping.

Once you get the package, send back the items you don’t want and you’ve just saved money on shipping. While this is a bit more of a hassle, if you really want to save a few bucks, it’s a good way to do so. Or try finding stores that offer both free shipping and returns regardless of the price of your purchase, like Old Navy and GAP.

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5. Time Your Purchases

Are you a last minute shopper? Fight that urge! For Christmas, Birthdays, Anniversaries and other holidays, make sure you have your gift(s) at least one week beforehand. That means making your purchases at least two weeks before the specified date. If you wait too long, not only is there a chance you may not get the item in time, but you could have to pay astronomical fees in shipping in an effort to get it on time. Make sure you stick to sites ordering deadlines to get your items on time and for a lower price.

On the other hand, another natural urge is to buy something that we want to wear and then wear that item immediately. This is the toughest one to do because it goes against our nature. We want the immediate gratification of the purchase. However, the best deals on clothes occur at the end of a season. So instead of buying your bathing suit as soon as they are released in store, wait until August or Labor Day. Instead of buying a new winter coat or sweater in October, wait until late March or April to save.

However, if you can handle the disappointment of looking in your closet and seeing clothes that you love but can’t wear until next year, then you will be able to cut your spending by almost a third! There are even sites that tell you the best time to buy an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry.

6. Be Wary of Black Friday “Deals”

Everyone always makes a big deal about Christmas and Black Friday shopping, but don’t be fooled!

A lot of these deals sometimes turn out to be a total scam.

To make sure you don’t fall prey to these “deals,” go into the major department stores a few days before Black Friday to check normal prices. Then, when you go into the store on Black Friday you’ll sometimes notice that expensive items have been marked up so that they can put a 50% off sticker on the item. The item then turns out to be just as expensive, if not more so than before. Not all stores do this and it doesn’t happen to all items either. Just do your research to make sure you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes.

Also, while the same scams can occur on smaller holidays, don’t discount them either. Sales on popular weekends like Memorial Day, President’s Day and Labor Day are usually swarming with sales to be had. A lot of these deals tend to be more legitimate because stores are trying to get rid of their current inventory to make room for the next season’s merchandise.

Therefore, get your calendar in check, and have an alert set for the week before every holiday, no matter how small, and just do a quick search to see what type of deals are out there. You will be astonished at home many things you couldn’t afford will be 40-50% off for a holiday like Flag Day.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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