Putting Coin in Piggy Bank

Budgeting Your Life When You Have Debt

Whether you’re a recent college graduate, a parent, millennial working at their fourth start up, boomer working their nine to five until the sweet day they reach retirement, etc. you probably have some sort of debt or monthly payments that you dread giving parts of your paycheck to. When one is working a job where they’re making a steady income and also have acquired debt to be paid off, it’s important to set financial goals, both short and long term, for yourself so you can budget enough that your bills are being paid, but also give yourself room for some leisure. 

The biggest tip that we all are aware of is to budget yourself. Obviously, this can be easier said than done, especially when unexpected expenses pop up every other week, however, setting a general standard of spending for yourself is the best way to ensure that you’re remaining financially responsible. Budgeting itself can mean a whole bunch of things, you can work with your bank, use one of the hundreds of apps on the market, use a financial advisor, or just go old fashion and write it all out. Either way, having an organized format of your monthly expenses laid out in front of you is the best way to understand areas where you can make improvements.

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First, you’re going to want to write down what payments are mandatory to get done monthly. This would include car payments, rent, electric, water, heating, etc. just make sure this section includes every bill that you know you’ll receive at the end of every billing cycle. Next write out your necessary monthly/weekly expenses that go beyond a physical bill and would be paid for with either a credit or debit card. For example, groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. basically anything that won’t show up in the mail as one bill for the whole payment. Now, write out additional purchases that you make weekly/monthly that aren’t necessities, for example, daily coffee purchases, clothing/accessories, electronics, etc. Finally, write out whatever debts you have, and how often those payments are and if they’ve even started yet. Now you have all monthly expenses laid out in front of you, and you can work to figure out the best way to manage all of it. 

“It’s very important to always prioritize saving money [if you can]. This is because your savings is the foundation of financial health. The mistake I see a lot of people make is that they focus solely on paying off debt and find themselves in a situation where they need money for an unexpected expense. Since they don’t have savings, they have to resort back to using debt to cover the costs and dig a debt hole once again,” Danetha Doe, personal finance expert and creator of Money & Mimosas tells Yahoo News. 

Doe’s point about unexpected purchases is extremely important. You need to have some sort of cushion in case, for example, you have an unplanned medical expense, your car breaks down, your pet needs a surgery or any other type of purchase that can’t be planned for. Try to put a portion of your paycheck into your savings account every time you get paid. While it can be difficult, as for most you’re taking money out of an already small amount of weekly payment, however, your wallet will thank you when your car decides that it needs a new battery and that’s your only mode of transportation. 

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“How much money do you have to put towards your goals, whether that’s paying down debt or saving for a house? Look at your income versus your expenses; go through your bank statements from the last month or two to figure out your costs. If you have a surplus, that’s great,” she adds. She then suggests to thoughtfully determine how much you’re spending on your wants—dinner with friends and entertainment—because “you have to enjoy life—but you also want to identify hard figures to put toward your goals,” says Melissa Leong, author of the award-winning finance guide, Happy Go Money.  

Leong is raising the other most important point when it comes to budgeting yourself. Not only do you need to ensure that you have a cushion for unexpected expenses, but you also need to look at what you’re spending money on that’s considered a “leisure” purchase, over a necessary expense. While you should definitely allow yourself the freedom to spend your money on entertainment, there is most likely areas in your spending that can be cut and help you save. For example, do you really need to spend $5 at Starbucks everyday for a coffee when you can just make a one time purchase for a nice coffee maker? How often are you going to the movies, or out to eat, or to the club etc. These are all experiences that you definitely should allow yourself to do, however, if you can reduce how often these purchases are made, both your savings and checking accounts will thank you. The last thing you want to do is fill your credit card bills with multiple “want” purchases that hinder you paying your actual bills/debt. 

Credit card bills can be the number one culprit of prolonging paying off debts. Constantly charging your cards with weekly purchases will always catch up to you, and you could potentially find yourself at the end of the month figuring out what to give up for the next week, groceries or electricity. No one should be put in that position, so try to use your checking account for bigger necessary purchases so there’s no bill at the end of the month, leave the credit cards for cases where its really necessary and for when you know you’ll have the money to pay for the charge in a month. 

If all else fails, work with a professional to budget out your monthly expenses and debts. Those individuals make it their business to help you live your life to the fullest while also avoiding digging yourself into deeper debt.


The Best Budget-Friendly Travel Gear

Preparing for travel opportunities can seem like a prohibitively expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Savvy travelers have an abundance of resources at their disposal for limiting the cost of their journey, most notably on the Internet, where one can find heavily discounted and high-quality travel equipment like backpacks, luggage, and more.

For instance, the Venture Pal Lightweight Hiking Backpack, available on Amazon for $20.99, features an average customer rating of 4.4/5 stars and is celebrated for its spacious interior, durability, and portability. The backpack weighs less than a pound and can be folded into just a fraction of its size for convenience during transport and storage. While the backpack is marketed towards those who would use it while hiking, its large storage capacity and strong materials make it suitable for all sorts of travel, as the backpack can serve as a replacement for traditional luggage. What’s more, the backpack features a total of six separate compartments, making it easy to organize your things, and the nylon, elastic, and mesh material is both comfortable and water-resistant.

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One of the best ways to save money while traveling is to minimize the number of things you travel with, making the most of what you choose to bring with you. As such, you can save money and space by investing in multi-functional products. One such example is a multi-purpose travel towel, such as the Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel, available on Amazon for $9.99 – $19.99, depending on size, and available in a variety of colors. Like many travel towels, this towel is made of microfibers that can absorb more water than traditional towels and dry quickly, making them ideal for travel. Additionally, these towels come with a convenient carry bag for easy transportation, and can be used on the beach or on picnics, as it is designed to wick sand and debris. The towels can be used in the gym as well, making them a perfect companion for workouts during your travels.

One of the most important considerations while packing is your choice of clothing. While it is easy and convenient to pack your normal clothing, it may be a good idea to invest in clothing that is specifically meant for travel, as these clothes tend to be more compact and easy to clean. When travelling, it’s generally best to keep your wardrobe choices simple, as this not only reduces weight when packing but also allows you to mix and match your clothing items during your trip. It’s probably a good idea to avoid clothing made out of cotton, as this material tends to take a long time to dry, and will wick heat away from the body when wet. Instead, it’s often best to go for clothes made of wool, as wool is moisture-wicking and breathable, keeping you comfortable in both cold and hot weather. Brands like Merino Wool and Aviator manufacture clothes that are specifically designed for travel, featuring durable, lightweight, and stylish materials.

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Many of us like to take pictures during our travels, and thanks to advancements in technology, smartphone cameras can take photographs matching the quality of dedicated point-and-shoot devices. However, the handheld nature of smartphones means that photos can often come out blurry. As such, a cheap smartphone tripod can make for an excellent addition to your travel gear. Not only will a portable tripod allow you to produce images free of camera shake, but it will also allow you more flexibility in framing your shots and enable a longer shutter speed, improving the quality of pictures taken in poor lighting conditions. Portable tripods are also useful for self-portraits, as it may be unwise to hand your smartphone to a stranger to take a picture of you and the people you travel with. As it’s important to stay organized while travelling, it’s a good idea to pack a set of travel organizer cubes, which help you to separate and categorize your items for your trip.

When preparing to travel, it can be easy to over-pack, as you may include things in your luggage in the off-chance you may need them, which accumulate rapidly. As such, perhaps the most important consideration when packing is making sure you only bring what’s absolutely essential. By making informed choices about your travel gear, you can save both money and space by choosing products that are multifunctional and specifically designed for travel.

Kids at Lunch

California Bans “Lunch Shaming” And Guarantees Meals For All Its Students

Ryan Kyote is a third grader who made headlines this year for his huge act of kindness. However, what started as a heartwarming story about giving back, quickly turned into a negative commentary about the current state of funding for our public school systems, and discussions over social class advantages. Kyote’s elementary school had a system for buying school lunches, which cost on average $3.25, that stated if a child couldn’t afford to buy a lunch they could begin accumulating a debt with the school that would eventually have to be paid off. The school claimed that even if a child had a negative account balance that they could still purchase a meal, however, after a few times families were strongly discouraged against accumulating even more debt for their child. Ryan was devastated when he learned about how many of his classmates were going without lunches everyday. So out of the kindness of his own heart, he saved up enough of his allowance money to pay off his entire third grade classes lunch debt, which totaled $74.50.

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“I want them just to realize people actually think about them instead of just telling them what they did because you’re just bragging about stuff. I want them to feel happy that someone cares about them,” Ryan said.

When this story first began circulating it took the tone of an inspiring good deed news story with a happy ending. However, that mood greatly shifted when people began to ask, “isn’t it kind of messed up that a 9 year old is putting more initiative into our public school funding problems than our actual government?” And those individuals were not alone in their concern. Soon the story began trending nationwide, and people from all over were sharing similar stories of young students taking initiative to make sure all children are taken care of equally. The disapproval of the school systems inner workings also began to be brought more into light, and everyone was beginning to realize that this is a serious nationwide dilemma and something needed to be done. 

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So, California, Kyote’s resident state, decided to take action and draw inspiration from the 9 year old’s advanced work ethic and desire to do right by our nation’s students. Specifically, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a measure into law that guarantees state-funded lunches to be given to all public school students regardless of any student debt or unpaid meal fees, according to The Hill Magazine. It also specifically outlaws “lunch shaming” a form of bullying that also came into discussion when Ryan Kyote’s story went viral. Many schools across the country have much cheaper alternative lunch options for its students who are struggling financially. The lunches normally look much simpler and less inclusive than the standard option, which has caused bullying based on socioeconomic status to flourish. The law guarantees that no school will tolerate any form of shaming or bullying between students in regards to lunch debts or general financial situations, and in addition the law amends “the Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 by requiring school districts, charter schools and education agencies to invalidate policies that ask officials to give alternative meals to students with unpaid fees,” according to The Hill.

While it can universally be agreed upon that our country’s elementary school students should never have to take world policy and funding issues into their own hands, Ryan Kyote definitely is a huge inspiration for evoking a real change. Not only did his act of empathy and kindness warm the hearts of millions of Americans, but it actually made a legal difference. 

“Creating a ‘California for All’ means ensuring schools are inclusive, accepting, and welcoming of all kids,” Newsom said to The Hill before Ryan Kyote for bringing national attention to the issue. “He showed how at many schools across the country, students whose parents are not able to pay for their lunch are given a cheaper, ‘alternative’ lunch that causes them to stick out from their peers, which isn’t right. We thank Ryan for his empathy and his courage in bringing awareness to this important issue, and inspiring a real change.”

Travel Couple

How to Travel for Cheap

Many of us yearn for adventure – to see the world, explore new places, and immerse ourselves in different cultures. Unfortunately, it’s commonly believed that doing so requires an enormous financial investment, which we are unwilling or unable to make. However, being smart about how and where you spend your money can help you make your dreams of travelling come true. Here are some suggestions to help you save money on your next trip.