• Budgeting

    Tips to Talk Finances With Your Spouse

    Do you talk finances with your spouse? No? Well, you should. As awkward as it maybe, it is so important to have regular discussions over your financial situation.

    Now, I know this might be tough if there is a dark cloud over your finances, and may cause disagreements, but sweeping it under the rug only makes it worse. I assume there is some sort of discussion related to this subject, but is it a quick “honey, did you pay the rent?” or is it a full-on conversation related to goal setting, where you are at, where you want to be, and the steps you are taking to get there? There is a HUGE difference. Don’t get me wrong, you can still ask if the rent is paid but having the actual in-depth discussion behind that question is what is so important.

    Finances are one of the biggest causes of divorce in the US. I don’t mean to be a Debby downer, but it is a fact. By having these discussions and putting the work into creating a successful financial future, this can help you to avoid being in that statistic.

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    To make this a little less awkward, I have some tips to help lighten the load:

    • Icebreaker: That initial conversation is probably going to be the toughest to start. Make it comfortable. Schedule a time to sit down to a nice dinner or get in your pjs and talk money with pizza. Anything to make the situation more relaxed. Try to start by discussing the positives of your finances. Maybe you saved an extra $300 this month, or you raised your 401k contribution, literally anything positive. Doing this can help get you both in a good mood. If there is nothing positive to start off with, maybe bring in a solution to an issue. Say you have a massive medical bill due this month, instead of just looking at the fact that you are going to spend a ton of money that maybe you do not have, look on the bright side that at least after this month you won’t have that bill and you can put that money into savings next month. Get creative and try to keep the mood light. The discussion will be more productive if you are both happy.
    • Do not lie: This is probably THE most important tip I can share. Hiding items related to money is the easiest way to cause an argument and create issues. It is so much better to get everything out into the open so together you can take the steps to make it right. No matter how embarrassing it is, or how big of a burden it may be, you are in this together. In my opinion, I would much rather hear the bad news up front and work through it than be lied to about it as the problem is getting much bigger. Be open and communicate the issues. This is so important.
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    • Use tools: There are so many resources out there to help you reach your financial goals. From budgeting websites, spreadsheets, templates, books, the list goes on and on. Find a tool that works best for you and your spouse. If you budget monthly and like apps there are sites such as Mint or Everydollar. If you budget weekly and like to have a paper copy, maybe you find a spreadsheet that you can fill in. Anything to help make it easier. This can also help make future conversations a breeze to get through. On top of that, you will visually be able to see how you are doing and stay on track.
    • Make goals: By setting financial goals you and your spouse will have something to work towards. Instead of waiting for the next paycheck to blow on food- guilty, say you made a goal to pay off your car 1 year quicker, now you have a purpose for the money that betters your future. These goals can be short term or long term, or even better a mix of both. Consider writing these down somewhere, your phone, computer, notebook, etc. Being able to see them will help make it harder to give up on them. Make sure they are goals you both agree on and benefit you both.
    • Make a plan and stick to it: Whether this is a budget, or a 5- year plan, make a plan. Discussing what you want to achieve and talking about how to get there is a great step, but really getting down deep and planning everything out will help you realize what you have to look forward to, what you can do right now, or where you are making mistakes. If you do not have a basic household budget yet, that might be a good place to start. Find a way that works best with your pay schedules and stick to the budget. From there, start making a longer-term plan. For example: In 5 years you and your spouse are going to build a house and to get there, year 1 you are going to cut the amount you eat out in half every month and put that money into savings, year 2 you are going to do so and so…and year 3 and 4 and so on until you build the house. Hang your plan on your fridge and talk about it frequently. Keep your budget, or plan in front of you so you can keep each other accountable if one of you starts to fall of track. Teamwork makes the dream work!
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    Hopefully these tips help you and your spouse start the conversation for your financial future. Talking about money does not have to be awkward. If you take the time to create a more relaxed environment and discuss the positive things you have or can do, in my experience, it helps so much. This is the person you are stuck with forever, make sure you are both on the right page to have a successful future!

    Author: Dakota Otis

  • 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

    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

    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