• Budgeting

    5 Apps That Make Cents

    Let’s take a poll. Do you have an iPhone (or other smartphone if you’ve somehow survived without biting into the Apple)? Do you want to make more money? I hope you’ve answered yes to both of these questions. (If not, who are you and ARE YOU OKAY?) Here are 5 apps to help you make (and save) a few extra cents:

    1. Stash

    Stash is an app built for investing newbies. In fact, 86% of the app’s users are first-time investors. Stash is basically the Planet Fitness of investing platforms — a Judgement-Free Zone where users are provided basic investing education in an easy-to-understand way without some of the complexities of other robo-advising platforms. The app allows you to create an account and begin investing with as little as $5. Investment choices include individual stocks and ETFs, categorized by features like market capitalization or social responsibility. Currently, three different subscription plan options are available, based on your investing goals: Beginner, Growth, and Stash Plus. The Beginner Plan ($1/month) allows you to open your own taxable brokerage account, receive financial education, and use the Stash debit card with Stock-Back (earn stock as a reward for shopping at certain companies, like Amazon or Starbucks). The Growth Plan ($3/month) offers all previous benefits, plus tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as a Traditional or Roth IRA. Finally, the Stash Plus plan ($9/month) adds the features of a UTMA/UGMA accounts (savings for children), double Stock-Back rewards, and monthly market insight reports. (Disclaimer: Stash is an investing platform. If you choose to invest, you will be subject to market risk and could lose money. Also, Face The Fear is not sponsored by Stash. We just genuinely like the app and think you will, too).

    2. Achievement

    Ever find yourself binging Netflix with ice cream tub in hand, wondering when you lost your motivation to workout and where you’re going to find it again? Achievement is here to help. For some people (aka me), the idea of strutting my “beach body” next summer isn’t enough to get me off the couch. Achievement knows money is a big motivator for many people, so it rewards you in cash for being active. The app synchronizes with various fitness apps you may already have on your phone, such as Apple Health, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Garmin, and even Twitter. You’ll earn points by completing exercises, logging food, measuring your heart rate, tweeting about your health, and reading health-related articles. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can “cash in” your points for a $10 reward sent to your PayPal, personal bank account, or a charity of your choice. Good for your health. Good for your wallet.

    3. Drop

    You spend money. I spend money. We all spend money. That’s a fact of life. Why not earn cash back on the money you’re already spending? Add an extra “drop” or two to the savings bucket, per say? Meet Drop – the cash back app. Drop allows you to link your credit or debit cards to the app, then gives you cash back points on purchases you make everyday at retailers such as Target, Starbucks, Lyft, AT&T, Apple, and more. You can also shop at certain retailers through the app to receive additional discounts on purchases you make and earn “boosted” cash back points. Once you’ve collected at least 5,000 cash back points, you can redeem them for gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores, airlines, and more. It’s an easy way to put some money back in your pocket without even thinking about it. (P.S. Drop is my personal favorite cash back app, due to ease of use and retailer options. However, if Drop doesn’t tickle your fancy, here are a few other highly-rated cash back apps you might enjoy: Rakuten, Ibotta, and Dosh).

    4. Hopper

    Have you ever spent hours online trying to book a flight, searching for the cheapest option available, and finally purchased the tickets – only to find out prices decreased a few days or weeks later? Same. That’s when I found Hopper. Hopper is a free app designed to solve this problem and – from personal experience – it works wonders. The app allows you to choose a departure and destination location, as well as preferred dates for your travels. It then tracks those flights, analyzes travel trends, and tells you the best time to buy the tickets at the cheapest price possible. When I recently used Hopper to book a flight to Bogota, Colombia, it suggested that I wait to purchase the tickets, because it predicted a better price in the future. In the meantime, Hopper tracked the flight over several weeks, notifying me when the prices increased or decreased. However, even when there was a decrease in ticket price, Hopper would tell me if the prices were expected to continue decreasing in the coming weeks (so I should keep waiting) or if this is the lowest predicted price (so I should purchase the flights now). I followed Hopper’s advice and secured the cheapest tickets possible before they jumped up in price again. If you’re a frequent flyer, Hopper will easily save you hundreds of dollars (and hours of stress) a year.

    5. Mint

    If you’ve been a Face The Fear follower for a while, you KNOW how we feel about Mint. Budgeting is tough. Keeping track of every penny that leaves your wallet can be tedious and time consuming. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a little accountant living in your phone, keeping track of your budget for you, cheering you on when your credit score increases, and letting you know when you need to cool it on your spending habits? Say hello to Mint – the free budgeting app that keeps tabs on your cash money all in one place. Mint allows you to sync your accounts to the app – everything from your checking and savings, credit cards, 401(k) and HSA, internet service, car payment, investments, and more. By consolidating all of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) in one place, it becomes much easier to assess your complete financial picture and determine if you are on track to reach your financial goals. You can create your own custom monthly budget, and Mint will let you know if you’re close to exceeding your budget in a particular category. It will also remind you when you have a bill due soon, and it will congratulate you when you’ve paid off debt. While Mint is really a one-stop-shop budgeting tool, it is most effective when credit/debit cards are your primary payment methods (vs. cash) and when you actually sync as many accounts as possible to provide a holistic financial picture. If you still frequently use cash for purchases or don’t want to bother connecting all of your accounts, Mint might not be the best fit for you. Overall, however, it’s an excellent resource to keep track of your finances in the palm of your hand (without becoming an Excel budgeting wizard – unless that’s your thing – then, you do you booboo).

    We hope you’ll find these 5 apps helpful to budget, save, and grow your cash money. Let us know your favorite money-saving or money-making apps in the comments below!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien

  • Budgeting

    What Is High Yield Savings?

    Are you a person that has a traditional savings account with your current bank? You know, the typical savings account that is paired with your checking account? Are you a person without a savings account at all? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please read on. If you have never heard of one, I am here to tell you a little bit about high yield savings accounts. It is essentially a normal savings account, only you get a higher interest rate. What is an interest rate? It is a percentage of your money that a bank will pay you just for having your funds housed with them. Free money — who doesn’t want that? Traditional savings accounts usually have a very low interest rate. For example, my interest rate through Chase bank is 0.01%. This is a common rate based on studies from Credit Karma. On my high yield savings account though, I have a 2.15% interest rate. This is a difference of 2.14%. Now, I am not here to tell you to get a high yield savings account, but I do think you should do some research into the benefits of opening one. NerdWallet is a great resource to research as well as find a bank that you are interested.

    I know this might sound too good to be true, like what’s the catch?  And there are some potential downfalls of a high yield savings account if you do not research. One of the biggest is service fees. These can sneak up on you and really bite you from behind if you are not aware of them. You also want to make sure that if there are service fees, they do not outweigh the interest you are receiving. There are plenty of banks that do not have fees on their accounts, but you just have to make sure you find the right one. You can also run into banks that require high minimum amounts that you must start with and not go below. If you are just starting your journey in savings this may not be practical for you. Another potential issue with this account is the transfers between accounts. If you are opening an account in a separate bank from your normal everyday bank, and an emergency arises, there may be an issue with getting your money in time. These are all items that you can avoid if you are paying attention to what money you are holding where and the banks you are going through. Talking to a representative is a great way to find out any hidden potentials that may not fit into your goals.

    If you are still interested in one of these accounts, make sure before you open one you research, research, research. There are so many to choose from and they all may offer different incentives, fees, and options. Don’t just pick the one with the highest rate. I have had an amazing experience with one of these savings accounts, and it is potentially an easy step to make a huge difference in your long term financial goals.

    Article Contributed By: Dakota Otis

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting

    Save Now, Live Later

    “It’s just money, you’ll make more,” is a fairly common phrase used by today’s millennials. In a world of instant gratification and two-day shipping, self-control has become nearly obsolete. We hardly bat an eye to make one click purchases or drop $300 for front row concert tickets, but putting money into a 401k or even a savings account seems like a total waste. At the ripe age of 23 I don’t have too many friends who are planning for retirement or even trying to save at all. While I do realize saving in your early twenties for something that seems like it will never come is hard, confusing, and completely overwhelming. However, being able to discover the importance of saving now versus later can impact many years of your life.

     For starters, let’s take a look at what now vs later actually looks like.  If you were to start saving at age 22 for retirement you probably wouldn’t have a ton of extra money to put in, but a little goes a long way. For example: you are 22 years old making $30,000 a year. If you were to put $225 per month (6% of your paycheck + $0.50 company match) at a 9% annual rate of return, it would give you $1,547,602 by the age of 67. That is not changing your contribution at all and assuming you started with $0 in your 401k account. Now let’s look at a 35-year-old making $60,000 a year. We are going to give them a $5,000 starting 401k balance and contribute amount of $450 a month until age 67. By the time they retire, they will have $1,044,338. In this scenario, the 22-year-old is going to retire with $500,000 more just from starting early! They were making less, contributing less, and starting with less, and still came out on top. Imagine where you could be with an increase in salary and a higher contribution amount each year. For the final scenario, let’s combine these two people. If the 22-year-old saved their $225 per month until age 35 and then their $450 a month until age 67, they would retire with $2,030,350.

    Time truly is money and these scenarios show the importance of beginning now. To run scenarios of your own, Dave Ramsey has a great online calculator which can be found at https://www.daveramsey.com/smartvestor/investment-calculator.

    Now after reading that, I am sure everyone is wanting to retire a millionaire, because… who wouldn’t want that? However, it’s a lot easier said than done. Finding the motivation and discipline can be a tough obstacle to overcome. Here are just a few tips to find your money motivation. The biggest thing is to surround yourself with it. Talk about, think about it, get excited about it. Grab a calendar and write out goals for where you want to be and when. Make short term achievable goals and stick to them. When you fall behind and don’t reach your goals, go back and write them again. Just keep doing this until it becomes a habit. Also, surround yourself with people who are wanting the same things. Being surrounded with friends who spend money as quick as they get it will make it that much harder to stay disciplined. Make sure to take advantage of any resources available to you (for example, everything Face The Fear has to offer!!). The more knowledge you are able to obtain, the better. One of my favorite things to do to motivate myself is to listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast. Hearing about other people overcoming their debt and saving big is a great way to motivate yourself to do the same. So start now, don’t give up, and get rich.

    Article Written By: Sydney Ford

    Disclosure: The numbers given above are examples and are not guaranteed results and the company match varies by company.

  • Budgeting

    Budgeting: 5 Tips & Tricks to Make the Budget Stick

    Have you ever spent an obscene amount of time researching and crafting the perfect budget, only to give up on it a week later like a poorly executed diet plan? Do you find yourself trying to stick to your budget but your inner Donna Meagle just won’t let you?

    If the answer is yes, you’re not alone! Only about a third of Americans actually make and maintain a budget (Yikes!). Being a college student newly introduced to the world of ‘adulting,’ I have tried countless methods in an attempt to set myself financially free. Here are some tips and tricks that have made my life easier (and hopefully yours, too).

    • Find an app or budgeting system that works for you.

    Mint and EveryDollar are great apps that allow you to budget and track your expenses. BUT, in case you want more options, Buzzfeed has already found, rated, and summarized 17 other apps to help you stay accountable. Other ways you can budget include Excel Spreadsheets, good old fashion pen and paper on templates like this template, journals, whiteboards, and more. You’ll want to make your budget before the month starts and adapt the budget to each month. Whether you’re picking up a side hustle in summer time or celebrating birthdays, you’ll need to account for everything! At the end of each month, see where you overspent and try to improve your budget for the next month ahead.

    • Get a calendar, find a place to hang it where you’ll see it, and fill in the boxes.

    Add your bills, the due dates, pricier events like birthdays, etc. to help you organize your expenses. It takes some time, but it’s totally worth it! If you have a fluctuating income, you could even add your day-to-day earnings on the calendar. This will help you visualize your month ahead and show you how much you need to have in your account by the next bill. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll have when you get to cross out that bill for the month! If you want a more private alternative to this, create events with this information in your phone’s calendar and set reminders for yourself.

    • If you can, try to pay cash!

    I’m not suggesting you carry your entire life savings on you but try to keep only what you budgeted to spend for the day. This will force you to stay on target, and you won’t have to deal with credit card interests if you use cash! People tend to spend more money when they use a debit or credit card compared to when they use cash. With cash, you can look directly at what you have left and adjust your spending habits accordingly.

    Another reason why paying with cash can be helpful is all the loose change you’ll accumulate! You can keep these coins to yourself and cash them in at a later time for cash, or gift cards if you want to avoid fees. If you choose the cash option, you can turn that coin fund into an extra savings fund for your personal goals. You’ll be surprised how quickly coins add up.

    • Find a way to organize your cash.

    Some people like Dave Ramsey’s method of using envelops, but that’s not the only way. Another easy way to organize cash is by purchasing a hanging shoe organizer and put labels on each pocket with different budget categories such as groceries, gas, rent, clothing, etc. You could hang this in your closet, your office, or anywhere you feel would be safe. This cash should be for short-term purchases, not for your emergency fund or savings goals. For that money, I recommend a safe savings account. You can find a good savings account here.

    • Lastly, don’t be afraid to say no.

    In the beginning, budgeting will be difficult because you’ll have to tell yourself no more often—especially compared to your friends that don’t budget. Does this mean you have stay home all day and watch re-runs of the Office instead of hanging out with your friends?

    Of course not! There are plenty of free-to-low-cost ways to have fun. If you’re running low on your recreational fund, try some of these. Not only will this help you stay on track, but it will challenge you to do something different. Also, saying no lets you say yes later. Instead of spending money on late night trips to Taco Bell, you can put that money towards a short-term savings goal like a road trip!

    These tips have made me perfect my budgeting habits, and they may help you conquer the budget! If you need more ideas, Pinterest and Google will be your best friends. Just remember that the hardest part about budgeting is keeping yourself accountable and accepting that you’ll make mistakes. You will fail. You will adapt. You will overcome. Be patient and find a system that works for you. Your current self and future self will thank you!

    Article Contributed By: Kianna Dalton

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting,  Student Loans

    Student Loans: How I Managed the Madness

    The choice to go to college is a big commitment.  It’s a commitment to yourself and it’s a commitment to the payment that accompanies this hope for a successful life.  Some people are lucky enough to have the financial burden of a college education taken off their shoulders by parents, family members, sponsors, etc. And some people are extremely diligent, work incredibly hard, save up, and pay for college themselves.

    I, however, am neither of those people. I am with the group that I would assume is the majority: the unfortunate souls who had to take out student loans to attend college. Through my own personal experience, I have learned a few lessons on how to avoid some of the student loan burden before you jump into college, as well as how to alleviate some of that burden once you’ve crossed the stage with diploma in hand.

    My first tip comes from something that I did not do enough: Be involved in the process of applying for student loans. Do your research. Knowing what you are getting yourself into is half the battle in being prepared when your loans finally come due.  My mother was nice enough to walk through the loan application process with me. Although I was fortunate to have her assistance at the time, I still did not fully understand what I was getting myself into or how much time it would take to repay the loans after graduation.

    Let me give you a snapshot of what my college expenses entailed. I attended a lovely private university in my home state of New Jersey. Fortunately, I was a good student in high school and received $12,000 per year in scholarships. I also commuted an hour to the university each day to save money. But even with scholarships and without the cost of on-campus housing, the tuition still added up to approximately $30,000 a year. And that’s not even counting the cost of textbooks, which amounted to $500-$1,000 each semester!  So how was this all paid for?  We took out student loans; sometimes per year, sometimes per semester.

    All the loans that I took out were fixed rate as opposed to variable. I didn’t know much, but knew I wanted to have a set payment. (Fixed rate means you have the same interest rate for the life of the loan and variable means the interest rate can move around). I consider myself to be mostly conservative, especially when it comes to my debt; so, for me, fixed rates were the better choice. With a variable rate, you are subjecting yourself to the possibility of rates changing, potentially increasing or decreasing throughout the life of your loan. One option is not better than the other; it simply depends on your financial outlook and how you want your future payments to be structured.  

    Fast forward four years and I am a college graduate! Thankfully, right after graduation, you are not expected to pay your loans immediately. So, go out and live it up! Because in a few months, it’s about to get real! 

    No, please don’t do that.  Plan for your payments and prepare yourself for the abuse you are about to take.

    After I graduated and my student loans came due, it was the biggest slap of adulthood I had ever received.  I had about eight separate loans, all at varying interest rates, coming to a grand total of around $100,000.  My monthly payment totaled out to approximately $950. Combine this payment size with the fact that the first job offer I received out of college was $28,000 per year as a junior business analyst. $28,000. You can imagine how I felt: COOMPLETELY DOOMED!

    I took a step back to figure out what steps I could take to reduce the financial burden and the feelings of doom. First, having eight separate payments is a nightmare. Secondly, all the varying interest rates made some payments seem like a good deal while others seemed to be a rip-off.  Finally, the biggest issue was obvious: paying $950 a month while making $28,000 a year was not going to work. 

    The solution I discovered was to consolidate and refinance my loans with a longer payment period. Consolidation, simply put, allowed me to take all my separate smaller loans and combine them into one larger loan.  Refinancing student loans is just like refinancing a mortgage. In ideal circumstances, a new loan at a better rate will replace your existing loan, although this might not always be the case.

    A plethora of private companies and banks promote assistance with student loans, such as College Ave, Earnest, and SoFi. Many of these organizations allow you to fill out a free online application to determine if you “pre-qualify” for their services. When I began searching the internet for a solution, SoFi and Earnest offered the best interest rates to consolidate and refinance my loans. Here’s the catch: unless you are either making close to $100,000 a year (aka making BANK) or have an extremely solid cosigner (someone who loves you very much and is willing to put their name on your loan so the lender feels more comfortable), the qualifications to be accepted by these companies are quite high. However, through diligent searching and applying, I was able to consolidate and refinance my loans through Citizens Bank. While the process of finding the right company to assist with your specific situation may take time and effort, it is fairly easy and well worth the effort.

    Once I was approved by Citizens Bank, the final step was to choose the term of my new loan. Ultimately, that’s what the consolidation and refinancing process is all about: taking out a new loan to pay off your inconvenient, higher-rated current loans. Here’s the basic principle when selecting the term of a loan: the shorter the term of the loan, the less you will pay in total interest, but the higher the monthly payments will be. The longer the term, the more you will pay in interest, but your monthly payment will be lower over an extended time period. In my case, I chose the longest term possible. As much as I want to pay off my loans quickly, I also need to keep my everyday living expenses in mind.  Also, the loan that I chose allows me to pay early without penalty. So, if I can contribute more than my required payment, I will be able to pay the loan down more quickly. Even if this is a rare occurrence, it’s a nice feature to have. Not all loans allow this, so it is worth asking if this feature is available when refinancing your own.  

    Ultimately, the consolidation process brought my number of payments down from eight to one. The refinancing process reduced my interest rates to a more realistic average, and the longer maturity allowed me to pay a lower monthly payment. Although I did extend the amount of time I will be making payments, the cost of the payment is much more manageable for my current situation, and it addressed the problems I needed to fix. I know I am not the first or the last college grad to feel the wrath of student loans. But, being able to share my experiences, ideas, and relate to others is an important step in finding solutions. 

    Article Contributed By: Christian Boyle

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com



  • Budgeting

    Budgeting: How to Crunch Those Numbers Like a Boss

    Like most folks who hear the term ‘budget’, I cringe, close my eyes and begin groaning inwardly like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers (No? Just me? Oh geez…).

    In the past, I would search for budget templates online, attempt to follow them, realize they didn’t fit my tastes or my lifestyle and I would walk away defeated. I would wonder what was so wrong with my finances that I couldn’t match exactly what some of these articles were telling me.

    But that’s the uniquely wonderful (and yes, incredibly frustrating) thing about budgets: they aren’t black & white or one-size-fits-all; they can be tailor-made to fit your specific lifestyle, needs, and wants. I say ‘incredibly frustrating’ because it does take time and a fair amount of effort to find a budget that works for you—your wants and needs are going to change and with that, so will your budget.

    At the end of each paycheck, for me, there’s a sense of strength that comes from knowing where each of my dollars are going and knowing what I’m left with to play with however I choose. Full disclosure: that’s my favorite part about budgeting because I love seeing what money I have left over and let’s admit it, we all want to have fun with our money—after all, we work hard for it!

    I’ve been creating a budget for the past 6 years or so and I have found a few things to be invaluable in my attempt to understand and control where each of my hard-earned dollars are going:

    1. Know your debt intimately. When I started creating a budget, I couldn’t tell you which of my debts had the highest interest rate or what their balances/minimum payments were; it honestly gave me a headache every time I tried to write it all out. Knowing this info gives me the opportunity to see where I am and where I can send extra cash. Small amounts add up over time & it feels so good to see $0 next to a debt I owe.

    2. Figure out some financial goals. These can be as little or broad as you would like them to be but I normally create small goals to feel encouraged in continuing to hit some of my larger goals. I ask myself where I’d like to be in 3 months, 6 months, and a year! And, as a side note: I treat myself when I accomplish a financial goal—it keeps me inspired and reminds me that even though ‘adulting’ and ‘budgeting’ aren’t exactly the most thrilling parts of life, they are necessary and we can make it as easy or hard as we want it to be.

    3. Be flexible. Always be open to changing whatever you feel isn’t quite working for you and your budget. Your goals are going to adjust over time and with that, your budget will too and that’s okay! I’ve tried several different budgeting techniques (the 80/20, the 50/15/5, etc) so be willing to try out different techniques until you find one that works for you. Your wants/needs change regularly, so why wouldn’t your budget?

    One last, small tip I’ll give to those preparing to create or change their budget is this : give yourself lots of grace. You’ll fall short, not reach certain goals, or get that call on a Friday night from your BFF who’s had a rough week and she wants to go out to eat and grab a few drinks—in those moments, it’s challenging. All you can do is adjust, pick yourself back up, and attempt to stick to it better next time.

    There are also tons (and I mean literal tons) of information and resources out on the world-wide web that can get you started on creating a budget or finding example budgets to follow and use as a rough outline for your own.

    Article Contributed By: Bethany Trosper

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting

    New Year, New You: 5 (MORE) Ways You Can Take Control of Your Finances in 2019 

    Earlier this week, we talked about 5 simple ways to get your financial sh*t together in 2019. If you’re looking for that article, here it is! If you have been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting eagerly for the 5 MORE ideas to tackle your finances in the new year…well, my friend, you need to get a life. (Just kidding! You’re my favorite). Wait no longer. Here are 5 MORE ideas to show your finances who’s boss in 2019:

    1. Start that Side Hustle

    Everybody’s got a knack for something. Whether it’s photography, writing, event planning, car-fixing, baking, nannying, or playing music, your “knack” can be turned into a side-hustle money maker. The New Year is an excellent time to begin monetizing your skill set.

    Think you don’t have any valuable skills that can translate into a profitable business? Think again. Can you drive a car? (Think: Uber and Lyft). Can you put together a piece of IKEA furniture faster than your mom can say, “Honey, make sure you read the instructions”? (Think: TaskRabbit) Can you speak English? (I hope so if you’re reading this article. Think: Teaching English online through VIPKID). Can you take a BuzzFeed survey to find out what your spirit animal is? (Think: SwagBucks). Can you walk someone else’s dog? (Woof! Think: Rover).

    I prove my point. It’s easier than you may think to pick up a few extra dollars here and there. You just need to dedicate a little time and energy to get it started. Ultimately, those extra bucks could jumpstart your emergency fund or pay down a credit card faster. Score!

    2. Find a Financial Mentor

    If you’re interested in seeing a financial advisor, but aren’t sure where to start looking or don’t feel like it’s the right time yet, finding a financial mentor may be the perfect first step.

    Like most mentors, a financial mentor is someone who has walked the path before you, achieved success with managing their own finances, and can help illuminate your way. This person could be a parent, coworker, friend, teacher, pastor — really anyone who you admire for their practical, disciplined, and knowledgeable approach to money. The purpose of this mentorship is simply to establish a relationship with someone who can provide constructive advice, hold you accountable to your financial goals, and even recommend a financial advisor who’s a good fit for you. Ideally, your financial mentor will be someone who you know, trust, and feel comfortable discussing finances with — and who isn’t afraid to call you out on your BS and give you some tough love when needed.

    BUT, remember: a financial mentor is not a replacement for a financial advisor. While it may be tempting to imitate every financial decision your mentor has ever made in hopes of achieving the same success, your mentor’s approach may not be suitable for your unique circumstances. Take all advice given as a mere suggestion and make sure to run it past a financial professional first. Your mentor cannot be held liable for a poor investment suggestion or financial strategy that went sideways. (Sorry ’bout your luck).

    3. Face the Fear of Money Talk

    Asking a coworker how much money they make? GASP! I would never. Pestering my parents to purchase life insurance, long-term care, or write a will? No way. Too uncomfortable. Touching the topic of student loan debt on a first date? WOAH. Now that is just too far!

    (OK, maybe not on the first date).

    As a society, we have become afraid of talking about money, and all of this secrecy is ultimately hurting our finances. Why?

    Consider this. You just received a job offer in a brand new city. YASSSS! After your initial excitement settles, you realize that #1, you have no idea what a reasonable job offer may be for this position and #2, you have no idea what a reasonable apartment costs in this new city. Thankfully, you have tools like Glass Door and Apartments.com to assist with these decisions. However, can you imagine how much more straightforward it would be to simply ask someone in that position what they are being paid or ask someone in the city how much they are paying for their apartment? For whatever reason, money has become a taboo topic that most Americans feel uncomfortable discussing. It’s time to change that — for everyone’s benefit.

    Here’s a New Year’s challenge to spark up these conversations at least once in 2019. (But remember, these are still sensitive conversation topics for some, so please use tact. And if you’re going to ask the question, be willing to answer it yourself):

    • Ask a coworker how much they’re making. (Just in case you asked yourself, “But, is that even legal??” Yes, it is.)
    • Ask your boss if there are opportunities for promotion and set up a plan to get you there.
    • Ask a friend how much they are paying for their apartment.
    • Ask your parents if they have life insurance, long-term care, and have written a will. (P.S. These are hugely important topics that no one ever talks about until it’s too late. Don’t be that person).
    • Ask your significant other how much personal debt they have (credit cards, student loans, car loan, etc).
    • Ask your kids if they have any questions about money, (such as how much you make, how much it costs to buy a car or a house, how much a college education costs, etc). Talking openly and honestly with your kids about money could be the single most influential way to improve the financial habits of the next generation.
    • For the ULTIMATE challenge-seekers: Ask a stranger if they feel financially stable. Their response could be eye-opening, and it may spark a life-changing conversation unlike any you’ve experienced before. (Or they may just say, “Nope!” and walk away. Who knows).

    4. Make Your Money Do The Work For You

    Investing. You’ve heard about it. You know you should probably do it. And you’ve watched The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, so you’re basically an expert.

    OK, pump the breaks. You may not be an expert, but you definitely don’t need to be one to start putting your money to work for you.

    If you have a retirement account such as a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA, you’re probably participating in the stock market already through the mutual funds inside these accounts. In other words, you’re halfway to being the next Warren Buffett. (Just kidding. But dream big, kids).

    So, how do you start investing when you’ve only got a few dollars to spare and your current investment knowledge is limited to binge-watching Shark Tank?

    The most old-school, yet time-tested method is to begin working with a financial advisor who is a Registered Representative with FINRA. (How do you know if an individual is registered with FINRA? Check here). This professional can evaluate your current financial situation, assess your risk tolerance, and pair you with suitable investments that both align with your goals and your personal values. Fortunately, we will be speaking with one of these fantastic professionals on our February Face the Fear Podcast episode! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it.

    An alternative is investing through robo-advisors and investment apps. While you’re missing out on the face-to-face interaction and personal relationship built with a financial advisor, these online tools can be a beneficial and inexpensive option for beginners who don’t have billions of dollars to invest (yet).

    As per usual, here’s a quick disclaimer. Investing is one method of wealth accumulation that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of net worth or investment experience. However, investing does involve risks along with it’s rewards. So, make sure you are fully aware of these risks and have received all required informational materials (such as a prospectus) PRIOR to chucking all of your pretty pennies into an investment. Also, here is a Beginner’s Guide to Investing published by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission — an independent federal agency established to protect investors). You’re welcome.

    5. Subscribe to Face the Fear (Shameless Self-Promo)

    You know you want to.

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com

  • Budgeting

    New Year, New You: 5 Ways You Can Take Control of Your Finances in 2019

    New Year, New You — am I right? As you start to prepare for 2019 to be your best year yet (and vow to actually USE your gym membership for more than a month), don’t forget about getting your financial sh*t together, too. Even if you don’t feel like you’re in a good place with your cash money, now is the perfect time to assess what money mistakes you’ve made in the past, what financial goals you have for the future, and how you’ll start taking baby steps to get there.

    For those procrastinators out there who wish they’d started investing/saving/budgeting earlier in life (myself included), it’s not too late! Hear me out: starting today is WAY better than never starting at all — or even waiting a year from now and having the same conversation with yourself all over again (not a cute #ThrowbackThursday moment).

    So as we gaze longingly to the year ahead (or at least longingly at that last remaining Christmas cookie calling your name), let’s look at 5 ways you can get your finances in check during 2019:

    1. Open a Retirement Account (and start contributing to it)

    This is important. You know this is important. But, it doesn’t seem like a top priority when you’ve got student loans, credit card debt, and bills knocking at your door today, and retirement is still decades away. You’ve still got plenty of time to save up, right? Wrong.

    Let’s use a little analogy. Every year before Christmas, you have a mental conversation with yourself that goes something like this: “I really should get my Christmas shopping done early this year. That way I don’t have to stress about it later….Eh, I’ve got plenty of time, I’ll get around to it.”

    Suddenly, you wake up and it’s December 24th (how did that happen??). You now have to enter beast mode to somehow find, buy, and wrap presents for all 287 members of your family in 24 hours — putting Santa himself to shame.

    While pulling off this Christmas magic may be possible (think: STRESSFUL), it’s not the end of the world. Your retirement savings, on the other hand, is a different story. You really only have one shot to make sure you’ve got enough buckaroos saved up, so when you’re ready to leave the office and spend the rest of your life on a beach, you don’t have to worry about running out of money. Right now, time is on your side, so START NOW. (You’ll thank me later.)

    If you’re wondering where to go to open a retirement account (and what to do with it once it’s started), listen to our latest podcast episode with Retirement Investment Advisor, Erin Martin!

    2. Boost Your Retirement Account (if you’ve already got one)

    You may have breezed past #1 thinking, “Well, that’s easy! I already have a retirement account that I’m contributing to like a real adult.” First of all, CONGRATS! You’re #winning.

    Second of all, it’s time to supercharge that bad boy (like Vin Diesel hitting the NOS in Fast and Furious).

    One way to do this is by upping the percentage of your paycheck that you’re putting away for retirement savings. Simply increasing your contributions 1% per year (hardly a noticeable difference to your take-home pay), you might be AMAZED by how quickly your retirement savings compounds over time. To make things even easier, many plans allow you to select an automatic escalation feature, which will bump up your percentage each year without any effort on your part. Nice.

    3. Make a Budget You Can Actually Stick To

    Remember that one time you made a detailed budget that lasted for a solid two days before you blacked out during an Amazon shopping spree? Same.

    The problem with a lot of budgets (and New Year’s resolutions for that matter) is that they are very optimistic, but not always realistic. I’m not saying you need to lower your financial goals. But, instead of trying to pay off all debt overnight while also saving 50% of every paycheck, simply develop practical mini-goals that can be maintained long-term. For example, try implementing one new budgeting strategy each month in 2019. January, put $10 per week in savings. February, continue setting aside the $10, but also aim to eat out only once per week. In March, keep the first two month’s strategies going, while adding another practical goal that bumps you even further in the right direction. By the end of the year, your budgeting baby steps will snowball into a realistic, maintainable financial lifestyle.

    P.S. If you’re not already using a budgeting app like Mint, what are you doing? Seriously. Go download it right now. It’s a free app that allows you to manage your checking and savings accounts, investments, credit cards, retirement plan, and bills all in one place. Say goodbye to budgeting on boring Excel spreadsheets forever (unless that’s your thing — you do you, boo boo).

    4. Give Gifts that Make Cents

    Christmas is officially over, which means your finances are probably in recovery mode after a month of generous gift giving. While there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding the PERFECT gift for your loved ones, the feeling might be quickly overshadowed by the feeling of doom when you check your bank account. Yikes.

    Since you can’t avoid the gazzillion birthdays, weddings, and special occasions happening throughout the year (as much as you may want to), it’s time to get creative with giving gifts that won’t break your bank.

    Here’s a few ideas:

    • For the person who doesn’t need anything:
      • Consider donating to a local charity or Kiva (an international nonprofit microloan organization) on their behalf. You’re not giving them anyTHING, but you are providing meaning in their honor and bettering the world in the process. Win-win.
    • For the person who loves experiences:
      • Score discounted tickets to local events on platforms like Groupon. Take a historic tour of your city, attend a concert or comedy show, or try a ballroom dancing class — all experiences that you can enjoy together.
    • For the person who likes to pick out their own gifts:
      • Sell or exchange your unwanted gift cards on platforms such as Cardpool or Amazon’s Card Cash. You can either swap out that gift card your grandma gave you to the iTunes store back in 2008, sell it and use the cash to buy something better, or buy discounted gift cards to help your funds go farther.  

    5. Subscribe to Face the Fear (Shameless Self-Promo)

    You know you want to.

    5 (MORE) ideas of how to take control of your finances in 2019 coming soon! Stay tuned!

    Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien (@ktaylor1395)

    Contact Us: facethefearfw@gmail.com