Saving on Entertainment

How to Save Big When It Comes to: Entertainment

Here’s the second entry in our How to Save Big series:

The average American spends 5.6% of his/her budget on entertainment needs. Much of this can be cut down with careful monitoring and smart spending – here’s some ways you can go about accomplish this and saving big while still getting your entertainment fix.

1. Re-evaluate your cable needs

Over 82% of American households subscribe to cable provider services. This costs roughly $103 per month, which translates into an annual expense of over $1200, just for TV!

Try dropping premium channels such as HBO or Showtime. A more extreme route is to cut cable altogether in favor of alternatives such as Netflix or Hulu, that run around $8 per month. The majority of popular shows are available on these services so you won’t be missing out on much of anything.

2. Move magazine subscriptions online

Most of us have mailboxes flooded with various magazines each week, many of which are tossed in a pile and never read. If you still subscribe to a magazine you don’t read, cut the subscription. If there are any that you do read, opt for an online only version as this option is almost always cheaper since there are no printing or shipping costs associated.

3. Take advantage of student or member discounts

Student discounts are a godsend for many college students as well as many of those who are working but have enrolled in a summer class at a college once upon a time. Most college IDs will get you access to steep discounts to plays, highly discounted movie tickets, and museum tickets at a low cost. This is not to mention the discounts that they’ll get you on subscription services like Spotify and Amazon Prime. If you’re not a student, look into any potential organizations you could be affiliated with through your work

Entertainment Savings

4. Buy used

An often neglected resource is used and refurbished tech. A refurbished product is one that once had a defect but has been fixed up by the manufacturer to work as designed. Refurbished products are available for items such as over-ear headphones, gaming consoles, and smartphones. They’re often available for ⅓ to half the price of their unused counterparts and usually are just as high quality. Just be sure that the product is certified and that there is an accompanying warranty.

5. Buy movie tickets in bulk

Even with everything being available on our computers, going to the movie theater still possesses an allure, especially for avid film watchers. Instead of buying a ticket that ranges for $13 to $16, you can head to Costco or Sam’s Club and buy Regal or AMC ticket packs of 8 or 10. These cut the prices down per ticket to around $9, saving you at least $32 and at most, $70.

6. Sync your visits with promotional schedules

Almost all attractions have certain weekends or months where they offer admission for a discounted rate, for whatever reason. Make a list of any attractions that you’d be interested in – ie. an amusement park or museum- and research the dates when these places are offering discounts. You can then coordinate your visits around these dates and have a good time while knowing you’re being smart with your money.

Eating Out

How to Save Big When It Comes to: Eating Out

Here’s the first entry in our new How to Save Big series. With this series, we show you how to curate big savings in all aspects of budget without changing up your lifestyle. We start with showing you how to save when it comes to eating out.

Would you believe that the average American spends over 4.5% of their annual stated income on prepared food, such as restaurants and takeout? Translated that to an annual salary of $55,000 – this constitutes almost $2500 spent on eating out! Though dinner prices seem like they are what they are, there are actually several ways you can save. Here are a few tips.  

1. Join Mailing Lists, Use Apps                       

Sign up for email alerts and newsletters from your favorite 5-7 eateries. While this might clog your inbox, it’s worth the money saved from discounts and promotions.

There are also several apps that can help you save when dining out. Opentable will reward you with points every time you use the app, which you can then redeem for gift cards at participating restaurant. Forks shows you the latest discounts and promotions at restaurants in your area. If you’re looking to go especially fancy, check out Savored. Savored can help you find discounts for up to 30% on high end restaurants and will automatically factor in your discount to your final tab.

2. Order a lunch dish for dinner

Dinner plates are more expensive than lunch dishes, yet lunch portions are only slightly smaller in size. If a specific restaurant doesn’t allow you to order a lunch dish for dinner, opt for eating out during lunch time rather than at dinner. You can even order a lunch dish for takeout and eat that for dinner!

 

Saving on Dinner

3. Avoid the specials  

Specials are usually significantly overpriced and offer little more in value or taste. Stick to the main portions of the menu – you won’t be sacrificing much at all in terms of taste and you’ll be saving a few dollars.

4. Ask about portion sizes

You don’t want to order more than you can eat and end up wasting food and money. Nor do you want to order less than you can eat and leave feeling unsatisfied. Ask your waiter if he/she can show you the plate of someone else who is eating the same dish you’re considering or just give you an idea of how filling the dish will be.

5. Buy discounted gift cards for restaurants

Check out Restaurants.com, the premier website for buying discounted restaurant gift cards, where you can purchase gift cards worth $25 for $10. You’ll save $15 just for making the effort!

 

Save on Eating Out

6. Share An appetizer, skip dessert

More often that not, an entree is enough to fill you up so having an appetizer to yourself might lead both wasted money and wasted food. Next time you’re out with a friend or coworker, opt to split an appetizer.  Keep in mind that dessert isn’t a necessity either, especially if you’re being health conscious.

7. BYOB

Wines at restaurants can be overpriced, often times going for over $40 a bottle. Opt to go to a Bring Your Own Beverage eatery; it’ll save you a significant chunk on your bill while leaving you satisfied.

8. Restaurant Week     

Each summer, in whichever city you reside, there’s a 2-3 week period called Restaurant Week. During this period, dishes at a select number of restaurants are steeply discounted. High-end restaurants participate, even those with one or more Michelin stars, offering 4-course meals at a half to a third of their normal prices.

You can find when restaurant week takes place in your city here.

9. Chipotle hacks

A cheap eats staple, we thought Chipotle deserved it’s own category. If you’re not too hungry and/or are strapped for cash, a burrito with only beans and cheese will run you only $2.18 – an ideal offering for many college students. You can also ask for as many soft tortillas or hard taco shells on the side as you want. If you’re going green and opt for a veggie bowl, you can get guacamole for free – otherwise, it usually runs around $2.50 depending on the location.

 

Credit card - Credit score

Quiz: How Much do you Really Know about Credit Score?

Your credit score is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your personal finance portfolio. It has an impact on your ability to secure a home loan, auto loan, and affects your credit interest rate, among other things. It’s important to ensure you have a solid foundation of knowledge about this score so you can achieve your goals.

Take this credit score quiz to test your credit knowledge. To see if you answered correctly, please highlight the box of the question to see the answer.  

  1. What is the maximum possible credit score?
    1. 600                  2
    2. 850
    3. 800
    4. 700                                                                                                                                                                                                             .
  2. Can you have more than one credit score?
    1. Yes                     1
    2. No                                                                                                                                                                                      .
  3. Will opening multiple department store credit cards in a short period of time increase or decrease your credit score?
    1. Increase            2
    2. Decrease                                                                                                                                                                             .
  4. Which of the following will appear on your credit report?
    1. Information on existing loans                4
    2. Applications for new credit cards
    3. Bankruptcies
    4. All of the above                                                                                                                                                                   .
  5. Will your spouse’s credit score affect yours?
    1. Yes               2
    2. No                                                                                                                                                                                            .
  6. Which of the following can a credit score impact?
    1. Mortgage for dream house              5
    2. Phone contract
    3. If you’re hired for a job
    4. Insurance plan rates
    5. All of the above                                                                                                                                                                     .
  7. What does a credit score primarily measure? 
    1. Amount of consumer debt                         3
    2. Financial capability  to pay back a loan  
    3. Risk of not paying back a loan
    4. All of the above                                                                                                                                                                     .
  8. Within what range is a credit score considered subprime?
    1. 500-600                      1
    2. 600-700
    3. 300-450
    4. 400-500                                                                                                                                                                              .
  9. Will several inquries from multiple lenders within a month will damage your credit score?
    1. Yes                               2
    2. No                                                                                                                                                                                               .
  10. You just got laid off from your job – how will the decrease in income affect your credit score?
    1. Increases credit score                   3
    2. Decreases credit score
    3. No impact on credit score                                                                                                                                             .
  11. What is the impact of paying off your credit card balance in full each month?
    1. Increases credit score                    1
    2. Decreases credit score
    3. No impact on credit score                                                                                                                                             .w. 

Answer Key + Explanations

  1. 2 – 850 

The maximum credit score is 850. Any score of above 660 is considered prime whereas any score above 780 is considered super prime. An excellent score is generally one above 720. Being in the prime and super prime ranges will help ensure that you can easily secure a loan you desire with an optimal rate. The lower your credit score dips, the tougher it will become to secure quality loans with low rates.

    2.  1 –  Yes

There are three main credit bureaus that receive your credit reports – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each bureau has two methods of calculating your credit score – FICO method and VantageScore method. Lenders can then choose which model they’d like to use – most opt for FICO. You can have technically dozens of credit scores – but just worry about tracking one or two.

   3.  2 – Decrease

FICO: people with six plus credit inquiries on their reports in a short period are eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than those with no inquiries during these period, thus this action brings down your credit score as it is a bad indicator.

  4.  4 – All of the Above

All of this information will appear on your credit report.

  5.  2 – No

Your spouse’s score won’t affect yours. However any loans you take out together or any joint accounts will render you both dually repsonsible for the debt on them.

 6. 5 – All of the Above

Lenders of all these faculties look at credit score as an indicator of how reliable youa re to pay back their loan.

 7. 3 – Risk of not paying back a loan

Lenders by definition want their loans back thus is why the concept of credit score was formed.

 8. 1 – (500-600)       

 9. 2 – No

If you’re applying for credit, inquiries from multiple lenders simultaneously can decrease your score. However, you have 30 days to shop for student loans, mortgages, and auto loans with no negative effect on your credit score.

10. 3 – No impact on credit score

As long as you are paying off your balances and not falling into late payments, your income will not affect your credit score directly whatsoever.

11. 1 – Helps credit score

This helps with the second most important factor of your score – credit utilization – which is the percentage of your available credit limit that you’re paying off at any given time.  Paying off your full  balance helps keep this low, which helps increase your credit score.

Credit Score Quiz Scoring Breakdown

11 correct answers 

 Perfect score – Your credit knowledge is top notch!

8-10 correct answers 

You have a strong knowledge of credit score – keep it up!

5-7 correct answers

You have a solid understanding of credit score – could be better, could be worse.

3-4 correct answers

You need to brush up on your credit score knowledge!

0-2 correct answers

Did you even know what a credit score was before taking this quiz?

 

Want to know more about credit score? Check out any of these entries in our FICO Credit Score 101 Series:

FICO Credit Score 101: Credit Inquiries

FICO Credit Score 101: Payment History

FICO Credit Score 101: Amounts Owed

 

 

 

6 Ways to Stay Within your Wedding Budget

Weddings are an occasion many people dream about for years. Let’s fast forward to the big day. You’ve finally found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’ve diligently planned your wedding budget, only to realize that – you’ve overspent significantly. This is the case with 74% of American couples, all of whom go over their wedding budget by an average of $12,000 dollars.

We’ll show you six ways to stick to your budget and avoid this common wedding mishap. 

1. Know what matters to you

Talking through what is and isn’t important to you and your future spouse ahead of crafting the budget is crucial. Spend big in significant areas, but be wary of overspending in areas that will be of little value to you. Consider, what aspects of your wedding are you really going to remember in 15 years? Then consider what aspects won’t be that memorable to you. If you’re overspending in important areas, you should also allocate less to these areas to balance your budget.

2. Don’t fall in love before cost checking

It’s only natural for you to fall in love with a certain venue or catering company and become attached to them without considering costs. Overspending in one or two areas will lead you to either overstep your wedding budget or have to skimp in one or several other areas.

Wedding Overspending

3. Keep in mind that sometimes simplicity beats extravagance

Keeping things simple can keep wedding day headaches to a minimum as well as keeping your budget slim. Know your preferences and stick to your budget. Trying to copy someone else’s vision will only leave you unfulfilled, and be of any competitive tendencies. Don’t try to match the elegance of a relative’s or friend’s recent wedding.

4. Don’t invite more guests than you actually want there

The amount of people at a wedding is inherently correlated with the total cost of the event. It may be tempting to invite that 3rd cousin or every single member of your volunteer group to your big day, but be mindful of the implications this can have on your budget across preparing more food, purchasing more centerpieces, and in extreme cases, having to move to a larger, more costly venue.    

Wedding Budgeting

5. Don’t overspend on seemingly minor items

You may think spending on miscellaneous wedding items here and there won’t make much of a difference when it comes to the total cost. However, these costs tend to add up rather quickly and can be what causes you to tip over budget. Items such as dress alterations, service tips, and bridesmaid gifts are often neglected as minor expenses but don’t be surprised when they have a major impact on your final cost.

6. Always track your expenses

Tracking all of your wedding expenses, albeit small or large, is vital. A wedding is an event that calls for you to hire several outside companies. Keeping track of payments and receipts related to the companies becomes crucial as you never want to have to double pay for something that the company claims you haven’t yet paid for. For this reason, it’s smart to make expenditures using a credit card rather than cash.

saving money

An Intern’s Guide to Saving Money

I thought my financial woes would go away with my first paycheck. Boy was I wrong.

If, like me, you’re fresh out of school and find yourself suddenly swamped with grown-up matters — disposable income, rental fees and striking a balance between living comfortably and sufficiently saving — you probably also thought: I need a strategy to save more money. Read on and find out how I do it!
Continue Reading

tips for budgeting as a couple

4 Tips for Budgeting as a Couple

When tying the knot, you’re committing yourself to a shared life and financial responsibilities.

Financial problems, if left unchecked, can ruin marriages. It is important that you and your plus one have a common understanding about each other’s attitude and values about money, agreement on financial responsibilities, and how you want to budget and plan your finances. When it comes to managing a household together, it is important to work as a team. Here are some helpful tips:

Continue Reading

Do You Know the Difference between Current Balance and Statement Balance? (You Should)

It’s one of the more confusing things when it comes to your credit card – the difference between current balance and statement balance.

When you check your credit card balance, you’ll typically see two different numbers – a current balance and a statement balance. What’s the difference? And how much do you actually need to pay to avoid interest fees? 53 percent of Americans don’t “completely understand” their credit card terms – don’t be one of them!

Continue Reading

8 Traits of Debt-Free People

Unfolding the Secrets of  Debt-Free People

At a time and age where one in four millennials owes more than $30,000 in college debt, being debt-free seems almost impossible. While many are continually on the look out to refinance their student loans, there are people graduating from college with almost nothing in debt.

Similarly, there are many who are earning average salary who are debt-free and actually closer to financial freedom than those who are making millions yet can barely keep up with their piling debt. What, then, is the secret to being debt-free?

Continue Reading

First Credit Card

Best Credit Cards for First Timers 2017

If you’re looking for the best credit cards for first timers, look no more!

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the myriad of choices out there, especially so as credit card companies are competing hard to offer the best deals and get your business. In this post we rounded up this year’s best credit cards for first timers, just for you.

Continue Reading