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6 Luxurious Timesaving Services That Are Cheaper Than You Think

6 Luxurious Timesaving Services That Are Cheaper Than You Think

    It must be great to be rich. After all, it’s a lot easier to be productive when you can pay someone to do all the menial things on your to-do list. But these perks aren’t restricted to trust fund kids. Some of the timesaving services that seem the most luxurious are surprisingly affordable, meaning you can boost your productive hours each day without crippling your cash flow.

    Time is money…so why not spend a little cash to reclaim precious hours in your day? Here are some common services that seem indulgent but are cheaper than you might have thought.

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    1. Valet Parking

    The Problem: You want to go out to dinner, but after you spend 30 minutes trying to find a place to park your car, you’ve missed your reservation.

    The Solution: Valet parking seems like an indulgence (and a drain on your wallet.) The thing is, a ton of restaurants offer free valet parking, saving you time and keeping you from shelling out quarters for the parking meter. Make reservations at a place with free valet parking, and you’ll make a good impression on your dining companions, and be a lot less stressed out.

    2. Personal Assistant

    The Problem: You. Are. Swamped. But you don’t have the budget to hire another employee, and your personal life is just as frenetic as your professional life.

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    The Solution: A virtual personal assistant. Your employer would definitely frown on you outsourcing your job to a virtual assistant, but if you are self-employed or need an assistant for purely personal reasons, hiring a virtual personal assistant is a great way to get items checked off your to-do list. Rates vary by company/individual, but can be as low as $1 an hour…and plenty of companies offer free trial periods as well.

    3. Grocery Delivery

    The Problem: Driving to the store takes time. Picking out your purchases takes time. Clipping coupons (if you’re into that sort of thing) takes a lot of time. And let’s not forget the drudgery of waiting in line behind the old lady who’s buying cat food with a combination of pocket change and personal checks.

    The Solution: Okay, no one’s gonna give you free groceries (unless it’s a charity org.) But, plenty of delivery services offer free shipping on your first order, low flat rate shipping, and competitive rates on their grocery items, so it doesn’t really cost you anything extra to shop online. Peapod, for example, offers free shipping for the first two months you use the service. Most services offer automated shipping as well, so you can have a constant stream of staples delivered to you at regular intervals.

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    4. Personal Accounting/Tax Prep

    The Problem: You don’t want to have to manage your own money, but you don’t have enough dough to pay someone to do it for you.

    The Solution: More like solutions. Free programs like GnuCash can help you track your spending year-round. H&R Block offers FREE audit support and representation from an enrolled agent when you file your taxes with them. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $49,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.

    5. Laundry Service

    The Problem: You hate doing laundry almost as much as you hate shelling out the dough for detergent and the coin-op laundry. And nothing bugs you more than spending a precious weekend afternoon washing and folding.

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    The Solution: Dry cleaning is definitely expensive, but washing the rest of your clothes can be surprisingly affordable. Rates vary by geographic location, but can be as low as 79 cents per pound. If you don’t have a home washing machine to begin with, laundry service might be a good choice for you.

    As an added bonus, a lot of places that offer wash and fold services will also throw in free repairs for whatever you bring in, whether its a missing button or a fallen hem. And let’s be honest: those are the kinds of repairs you’re just gonna keep putting off.

    6. House Cleaners/Maids

    The Problem: Your house is starting to look like an audition tape for Hoarders. But to make a dent in the cleaning, you’d need to dedicate a whole month’s worth of weekends.

    The Solution: Maid companies can be a little pricey, so you might want to try advertise on Craigslist or in your local paper. You can try having different providers bid like contractors for who gets the privilege of working for you. Also keep your eyes peeled for deals on sites like LivingSocial or Groupon, where there are occasionally deep discounts on maid services.

    What “luxury” time-saving services are you most likely to splurge on? Tell us in the comments below!

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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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