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The Art of Smart Spending: 7 Basic Steps to Financial Freedom

The Art of Smart Spending: 7 Basic Steps to Financial Freedom

Modern life has its fair share of stresses and pressures and the fast life we lead tends to put a strain on us. Life can have a lot of sources of stress, but one of the things that can really impact all aspects of your life is having financial problems. This is especially problematic for young people who have just started to earn their own paycheck and still don’t have control over their spending habits.

If you are having difficulty stretching your budget till the end of the month, you might find these tips helpful. We are going to give you basic advice so that you can apply and create some financial breathing space for yourself. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you remove stressing out about money from your daily routine.

1. Track your spending

First thing’s first, you need to know exactly how and what you spend your money on. Most of us develop a lot of, let’s say hedonistic and impulsive spending habits. In most cases these individual purchases are not a big deal, but they tend to rack up to a substantial amount. By analysing your spending, you will be able to identify unnecessary expenses and neutralize them.

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You can use your smartphone or tablet to write down your purchases and make it easy to keep track of your spending. Once you go through one month of tracking your spending, categorize your expenses and pinpoint those that you consider to be excessive and damaging to your monthly budget.

2. Manage your bills right away

One of the biggest financial complications that you can create for yourself on a monthly basis is to miscalculate your spending capabilities, go on a shopping spree and then end up not having enough money to resolve your bills.

This is why it is a good practice to avoid spending money before your manage your bills and actually have an idea how much money you can spend without going over your monthly budget. Keep in mind that not managing your bills properly will transfer into the next month and can create long-term trouble.

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3. Play mind games with yourself

    One of the basic approaches you can take is to actually convince yourself that you are outright broke. Whenever that little voice inside your head goes: “You’ve had a hard day, you should treat yourself”; add a big voice that goes: “You are as poor as they come, start meditating for stress relief.”

    This may seem as a bit harsh, but it is necessary and you need to work on your self-control. Once we start earning our own money, we tend to start spoiling ourselves and the mentality that it’s our money and that we can do whatever we want with it is all well and good until debts come knocking.

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    4. Getting things done with a bad credit score

    Usually, being under financial strain means that you also have a bad credit score. This can create problems for you when you want to take care of something that you sorely need, but your options are limited due to your inability to get a bank loan. In some cases, there are banks that specialize in giving credit to people who others consider incapable of taking up credit.

    Sometimes they specialize in a particular type of credit, but you’ll need to be very careful when you do this, since there are both good and bad sides to this, and since you are taking up more financial obligations in an already strain situation, you want to make sure that the good outweighs the bad. Furthermore, if you take the time to get your self-control, well, under control you’ll be able to improve your credit score, just be sure to avoid drastic measures that can hurt you in the long run,like payday loans and similar offers.

    5. Change can be a lifesaver

    Ok, so you went to work, took a stroll through town, got some coffee and finally got home. Now, pull out a jar, a bowl or something and drop all that change that you have left into it. Most cynics are probably going “Yeah right, some loose change is going to save my budget”, but you’d be amazed at how much money you can save like this. Furthermore, you are not strictly relying on change to save you, it is a cumulative effect and every little bit counts.

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    6. Tax deduction is an art

      It is a bit difficult to address this money saving option because the benefits and laws vary from country to country, but there are always ways to pay less taxes and save money. This requires extensive research and complicates your paperwork a bit, but once you get past these initial difficulties the amount of money you save is well worth the effort. Charitable donations are a good example of doing something good and getting a tax deduction, but there are many more options out there.

      7. Forgetting about extra cash to boost your savings

      If you get a raise, pay off a loan or get some other influx into your budget, you might want to keep “paying” for it a bit longer. Think about it, the habit is already there and all you need to do is transfer that extra cash into your savings account. This is probably the easiest way to build up your credit score and boost your savings account without really having to change anything. You’ll still need that cash influx though.

      Don’t let things spiral out of control, act fast and get things in order before things become too much for you to handle by yourself. It might sound stupid, but the bigger your debt, the faster it grows. It’s far better to tighten up your belt and take a couple of months to get things in order than to constantly stress about being in the red.

      Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/paul-kunitsky-12238/ via pexels.com

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      Ivan Dimitrijevic

      Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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      Last Updated on July 4, 2019

      25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

      25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

      Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

      Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

      1. Coursera

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        Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

        Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

        Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

        2. Khan Academy

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          Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

          Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

          3. Open Culture Online Courses

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            If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

            Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

            4. Udemy 

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              Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

              Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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              5. Academic Earth

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                Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

                Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

                6. edX

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                  Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                  7. Alison

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                    Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                    It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                    8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                      A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                      Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                      Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                      ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                      9. Stanford Online

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                        Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                        Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                        10. Harvard Extension

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                          Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                          Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                          11. Open Yale Courses

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                            Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                            12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                              Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                              13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                                Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                                14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                  Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                  15. Codecademy

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                                    Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                    The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                    16. Code

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                                      Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                      In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                      Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                      17. University of London Podcasts

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                                        The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                        18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                          Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                          The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                          19. BBC Podcasts

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                                            For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                            Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                            20. TED-Ed

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                                              Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                              Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                              21. LessonPaths

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                                                LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                                22. Memrise

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                                                  Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                  Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                  23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                    The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                    National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                    24. Fun Brain

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                                                      Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                      Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                      25. Whyville

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                                                        Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                        Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

                                                        More About Online Learning

                                                        Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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