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Tips for Shoring up your Finances in 2017

Tips for Shoring up your Finances in 2017

Von Goethe wrote, “Many people take no care of their money ’til they come nearly to the end of it …” The new year is time to create new resolutions and revisit old ones. One-quarter (25 percent) of Americans want to spend less and save more money as part of their resolutions, according to Nielsen. Unfortunately, far too many people break their promise of becoming more fiscally responsible. When it comes to your wallet, it’s key to be disciplined and have a good game plan. Here are ways to do just that and have a prosperous year.

  1. Measure your money.

As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” Create a budget and differentiate between your needs and wants. It’s key to know your disposable income so you’re clear about spending limits. Growing your bank account simply involves putting in more money than what you take out.

Moreover, you should be realistic when creating your budget and to remove non-essential items from your buying list. Non-essential spending usually arises from impulse shopping. It is comprised of things that don’t add much value to your life over the long-term and that end up as junk in your garage.

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  1. Pay on time and track your credit.

Paying bills on time will avoid negative reports on your profile as delinquencies will lower your score and increase your borrowing cost over the duration of the loan.

Most Americans want good credit. A 2016 Credit Confidence Study by Capital One found that 86 percent of respondents say they want to increase their credit score while 82 percent say they’re willing to do what it takes to improve their score. How does this metric improve your finances?

Your credit score affects your ability to get key loans such as car loan or home mortgage. Moreover, your credit profile impacts your borrowing costs and ability to pass a background check. Each year, you can access your credit report from the three major credit bureaus, as provided by federal law. There are free apps such as CreditWise that let you monitor your score without adverse consequences to your credit profile.

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    1. Leverage technology.

    Your smartphone is the gateway to discounts and perks offered by companies that want to attract your business. Consider downloading mobile apps offered by your favorite retailers to unlock savings and offers. For example, RetailMeNot and SlickDeals are all-in-one discount apps that hunt for deals from thousands of retailers. If you shop at big box stores like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Target, and Best Buy (to name a few), their mobile apps have shopper-friendly features that let you compare prices and redeem vouchers, among other features, all from your mobile device.

    The key is stick to essentials. Level Money is an app that helps you track your key expenses and figure out what portion of your income you can responsibly spend.

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    1. Digitize and be organized.

    A paper trail of receipts, warranty cards, and gift vouchers are a thing of the past. They’re inefficient and difficult to verify when damaged or lost. Consider using mobile wallet technology which digitizes your purchase information, account details, gift vouchers, and other records.

    Also, consider using scanning apps that let you use your smartphone’s camera to scan your paper receipts, coupons and other purchase information. Storing your data in digital format gives you peace of mind when records are damaged or misplaced.

    Most everyone wants to improve his or her finances. There’s a roadmap to get there that includes creating a reasonable budget, monitoring your credit profile, using technology to get discounts and offers, and organizing your wallet. The new year is time to shore up your finances!

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    Featured photo credit: Photo credit: Flickr (commercial use & mods allowed) via flickr.com

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    Marvin Dumont

    Entrepreneur, Disruptor

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

    30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

    Spending time with friends is, in and of itself, a great way to pass the time without spending a lot of money. But if you and your friends are used to going out to clubs, pubs or eateries together as your way of hanging out, then you can change it up a bit and save some money too.

    No matter where you live, there are plenty of places to go and do fun things that don’t cost a lot.

    If you are having trouble convincing your friends to do things on the cheap, then be upfront with them. Tell them straight out that you can’t spend that kind of money right now — and don’t let them pay for you either. But here are some great alternatives you can offer.

    30 Fun Things To Do With Friends Without Spending Much

    1. A potluck dinner party. Host a dinner party and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. If you are not comfortable with cooking, maybe try and learn how to cook a new dish together with your friends.

    2. Host a spa day. Give each other manicures. Try out new hairstyles. Make some facial masks or exfoliates using natural, at-home ingredients. Then drink mimosas.

    3. Movie marathon. Log into Netflix and watch every episode of “Stranger Things” Or do an ’80s movie marathon, watching “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club” and all of our old favorites. Don’t have a Netflix membership? Get the free trial just for the marathon!

    4. Pinterest party! You know all of those cool Pinterest crafts you say you’re going to do? Do them. At home one night with friends. Then make up some of those bacon-wrapped whatevers you’ve been dying to try!

    5. Go to the park. Pack a picnic. Hang out. Watch people. Play on the swings.

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      6. Have an organization party. Set up a day of each weekend where you go to each of your friends’ houses and help them clean out a closet, a room, a garage, whatever. Serve drinks and food and trade stuff among yourselves.

      7. Hold a yard sale. After all of that cleaning, why not hang out together and make some extra cash too?

      8. Concerts in the park. All summer long, many parks host free concerts. Go with your friends. Hang out, bring a picnic dinner. This is a very relaxing way to chill out on a hot summer night after work.

      9. Volunteer together. Offer to do the yard work for the local senior center or hang out with the kids at the YMCA. After a few hours of volunteering together, you will have new respect for each other and something new to chat about.

      10. Play board games. Drag out the Scrabble or the Yahtzee. You can hang out and play all sorts of games with large groups or small ones. Hold a tournament and compete against each other. Here’re some board games ideas.

      11. Video game tournament. Not into board games? OK. Well, how about a video game tournament? Whether it’s the latest dancing game or “Call of Duty,” play against each other and award prizes (or food) to the winners.

      12. Grab a ball and a bat and go play baseball at the local park. Grab a basketball or a tennis racket. Most parks have courts and fields you can use for free as long as there isn’t an organized event going on.

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      13. Go to the school play. This might cost a little for admission, but it’s a great way to support your community and have a fun time.

      14. Iron Chef night. Bring your friends over and have an Iron Chef night where you cook dinner out of only the items in your pantry. No buying anything!

      15. Go dumpster diving. Yup. I said it. Check out the dumpsters in your area and see what you can find. You might even find dinner! Here are some tips for respectful diving.

        16. Go to yard sales. Take all that money you made at your yard sale and cruise around your town together looking for cool stuff. Maybe you could even fix something up and resell it.

        17. Go fishing.

        18. Go camping.

        19. Find some cool trails around your town and go hiking. Here’re some of the best hiking trails you should try.

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        20. Get out the bikes and bike everywhere for a weekend.

          21. Dig out the old croquet set — or borrow your Mom’s — and play croquet. Do it! Totally fun.

          22. Swap movies and music. Have everyone bring over a box of old movies and CDs they don’t want anymore — or don’t watch anymore. Then swap with abandon.

          23. Go on a walking tour of your town. Most towns or cities have a historic district. Find out if there is a walking tour available. If not, make one up!

          24. Scavenger hunt. Put your friends to the test — yes, this is for grown-ups — to find different things in your city…like a certain bike rack, a vintage sign, that sort of thing. The winner gets a dinner cooked by the losers.

          25. Find out when the free days are at your local museum or zoo. Most have them and they can be great fun to visit with friends.

          26. Hold a quilting bee. No, you don’t have to be fancy — or old — for this. Grab some old T-shirts that you love, old jeans, whatever. Cut them into squares and sew them together. Who knows? Maybe it will become a regular thing?

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          27. Go to Open Mic night. Your town is likely harboring some great talent at an open mic night that has no cover and cheap drinks!

          28. Go to a religious service. Even if you’re not religious, going to a service in an unfamiliar religion can be enlightening and a great way to meet new people.

          29. Find a swimming hole. Head to the old town swimming hole — or find a new one. What a great way to spend a lazy afternoon with friends.

            30. Start a book club, card club (canasta anyone?), sewing club or scrapbooking club. Something you and your friends like. My parents used to belong to a cooking club where once a month all of their friends gathered at one house and the host family cooked a meal from a different country. I learned a lot about food that year.

            You don’t really need to spend much to have lots of fun with your friends! Pick a few of these ideas and start trying them out this weekend with your friends!

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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