Find Money Without Working for It

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but you can find it in unexpected places.  When you think about increasing your budget, you likely think of working longer hours or picking up a side job to bring in that extra cash.  While those are productive ideas, there are other ways to infuse your checkbook with some much needed moolah the lazy man’s way.

 

Clean House With Craigslist

 

When’s the last time you took inventory of all of your stuff?  You probably have a lot of it, and you probably don’t use half of it.  When we go through all of our things, we ask ourselves three questions:

 

  1. Have we used it in the past six months?
  2. Are we going to use it in the next month?
  3. Is this an item with strong sentimental value that cannot be replaced?

 

If the answer to all three of those is, “No,” we used to donate it to our local thrift store.  Now we take a picture and list it on Craigslist.  Spring Cleaning suddenly got a whole lot more profitable.

 

Find What’s Yours

 

As we speak, there are billions of dollars that ordinary people across the country are owed.  The money is just sitting there, waiting to be claimed.  It may be a paycheck that an employer never fulfilled.  It may be an insurance payment or dividend that never quite made it your way.  It may be cash from an old bank account you simply forgot about.  Where ever it came from, it’s all sitting in your state or province treasury.  Use Unclaimed.org to see if you’ve got some long-forgotten money just waiting to be discovered.

 

Keep it In Your Pocket

 

One of the simplest ways to increase your budget is to stop spending so much money.  When you go grocery shopping, use coupons.  When you go shopping online, be sure to check PromoPro.com before checkout to make sure you don’t miss savings on the things you were going to buy anyways.  Whether you’re buying home decor from Target, or birthday gifts off of Amazon, coupon codes are a quick and easy way to reduce your bill each time you shop.  It’s easy to say these savings are small, but when you use them consistently you’ll start to see the numbers in your bank account growing in a big way.

 

Automatically Deduct to A Savings Account

 

A great way to find money in your bank account is to have a computer put it there for you.  When you set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings with every paycheck, you won’t notice that the money’s gone.  The computer sets it aside for you so you won’t even have a chance to spend it.  Prepare to be amazed the next time you check your savings account balance.  Even though you’ll have the same job with the same income, you’ll feel a little bit wealthier.  And you should.  Because you will be.

 

Get Paid More for the Work You Already Do

 

What if I told you that you could be making more money for the work you already do?  You’d probably get ready for a lateral transfer.  But you don’t have to.  You can stay put at your place of employment, and still bring home a larger paycheck by entering salary negotiations.  These are usually done at annual performance reviews, but figure out your workplace dynamics:  they may allow you to request one anytime of year. When you’re offered a number, don’t just take it. Know what you’re worth, and negotiate reasonably until you’re satisfied with the compensation they’re offering.

How to Wear Sneakers To Work

 

I love my kicks. I love the classic kind, like Converse and Adidas. In fact, I just ordered my new Stan Smith Originals from Adidas for my spring look. And you know what? I 100% plan to wear them to work. Yes, I work in a professional environment (with a little leniency), but I’ll show you how I plan to pull it off. These looks will work with either my classic Converse or my Stan Smith’s.

 

If you need to be comfy, but you’re not into Orthopedic shoes, I would go with the Stan Smith’s. I find the Converse to eventually begin to make my feet ache because of lack of support. Keep in my these three things first:

  • Trainers or running shoes won’t really work. These are gym sneakers, not fashion sneakers.
  • Keep ‘em clean. There’s a fine between looking chic and looking lazy.
  • Make it a total look. You have to think about the outfit on the whole–they don’t work with everything. Here are some ways to wear it:

Wide leg pants–I have a great pair of black Robert Rodriquez wide leg, high waisted pants that work great with fashion sneakers. The wide pants hid the shoe a bit and but it ends up being a great mix of sporty and chic. On top, I like a chambray shirt either tucked in, or tied at the waist with a statement necklace. Leaving it tucked out would be too casual. This look is about balance. The chambray button down is casual with a dressy black pant and casual shoes, but a statement necklace gives the look the little bump it needs to still be professional and fashion forward.

Pencil Skirts and flouncy skirts--this look is super cute, feminine and comfy. You want to do this in the spring time. Do not, I repeat DO NOT do this look with stockings or tights. Denim, black or brightly colored pencil skirts all look great with this look! Do a tucked in t-shirt, chambray shirt (goes with everything), or casual blouse, button down or spring sweater.

 

Skinny Cropped Pants–the opposite of the wide leg pant look, a tailored pant can really heighten the look. You want to be careful to to keep the pant cropped to showcase the shoe, rather than hide it. A regular length pant will look like you’re wearing sneakers because your feet hurt, not because it’s fashion forward (AND your feet need a break). The cropped pants create a look around the shoes. Again, little sweaters, button downs, pretty much anything goes on top. Always balance the look with a bit of casual jewelry–nothing too shiny or too blingy, or the look won’t blend.

 

 

Know Thy Credit Score

They say knowledge is power, and that couldn’t be more true than when dealing with your personal finances.  A major part of personal finances is your credit score.  Your credit score affects many major events in your life, such as applying for a mortgage or a car loan.  The better your score, the lower your interest rate.  Yet many don’t have any idea what their credit score is.  Knowing this, and how to improve it, can save you a ton of money and financial hardship throughout your life.

 

What is a credit score?

 

Your credit score generally comes from the Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO.  It’s a number between 300 and 850, the higher the better.  Generally, those with a score of 760 or above will qualify for the best interest rates on loans.  If your score is too low, you’ll end up paying a ton of interest, or even risk being denied a loan at all.

 

What goes into my credit score?

 

It’s important to remember that the matrixes used to determine credit scores vary on your personal history and the type of loan you are applying for.  For example, when you’re applying for a car loan banks will generally consider your past history with paying off car loans more heavily than other lenders.  If you have a short credit history, opening up a bunch of new accounts in a short time frame is going to hurt you worse than someone who has a long, established history.  But in general, these weights are applied to each sector of your credit history:

 

 

  • Highest Weighted: Payment History- This is the singular most important part of your credit history to FICO.  In the past, have you paid your accounts on time?  If so, you’re really helping out your credit score.  If not, figure out how to start doing this to bring your number up.
  • Second Highest Weighted: How Much You Owe- If you owe a lot of money right now, odds are your credit score isn’t looking great.  When using credit cards especially, you want to think about your debt:credit ratio.  If you have a lot of credit extended to you, you’re probably doing all right if you are carrying a balance in small proportion to the amount you could be spending.  If you’re maxed out, your number is being dragged lower.  Installment loans such as car loans are a little bit different.  The further into the loan you are the better your credit score will look as long as you’re keeping up payments, but FICO takes the type of loan into account when figuring out your credit score.
  • Third Highest Weighted: Length of Credit History- How long you have had your accounts open also factors into your credit score.  This means age is your friend.  If you’re young, there’s not much you can do to change this one, but one thing you can do if you’re considering applying for a loan in the near future is to not open up any new credit cards.  Doing so lowers the average age of your account, and will lower your score.
  • Equally Rated (Though at the Lowest Percentage): Types of Credit and New Credit-  New credit doesn’t just lower the age of your account.  If you apply for a lot of new credit at once, it tells lenders that you may be a credit risk.  This is reflected in your score.  However, if you only have one type of credit extended to you, you may want to diversify your lending history.  For example, if you have only ever had a car loan, your score may be helped by opening a line of revolving credit (like a credit card) as long as you use it responsibly, paying it off every month, preferably in full to avoid going into debt.

 

 

What to Do With Your Knowledge

Now you have the information you need to figure out why your credit score looks the way it does.  Before you can apply that knowledge, you have to know what your score actually is.  Check out our myFICO deals to not only find your number, but also to check out their credit monitoring services that notify you if something fishy shows up on your report, which could be an indication of identity theft.

Shopping Frozen Food Month In Line With Your Health and Budget

There’s danger lurking in your grocer’s frozen aisle this month.  It’s masked behind big savings and an event called “National Frozen Food Month.”  It happens every March, and it could be detrimental to the health of your family.

 

Frozen foods can seem great:  they’re convenient, they’re simple, and they save us a lot of stress.  But most of the time they are not so good for your health.  Think about what lives in the frozen food aisle:  frozen pizzas, TV dinners, ice cream, and pre-made entrees.  None of them are good for you, and the ones that look like they could be would be healthier and cheaper to make yourself, even with the incentivizing sales this month.

 

There are two exceptions to the frozen aisle quandary. They are fruits and vegetables.  It’s true that fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables from the produce section contain a slightly higher amount of vitamins and minerals.  But during each product’s off-season, fresh items are usually picked before they can fully mature, making the frozen aisle a better place nutritionally.

 

What Produce to Buy

 

When you hit the store this month, the best deals for your family’s health and pocketbook will be off-season, frozen fruits and vegetables, combining nutrient-optimization with the sales of National Frozen Food Month.  That makes your best options:

 

  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Green Beans
  • Frozen Peas
  • Frozen Peppers
  • Frozen Berries (With the exception of strawberries!  These are in season starting this month in the prime strawberry-growing locales in the country.)
  • Frozen Peaches
  • Frozen Cherries

 

If you’re buying local, these seasons may alter slightly depending on your climate.  But a vast majority of produce sold at grocery stores is sadly not local, and March falls during off-season for the above produce in growing locales.

 

Other Tips to Maximize Nutrition

 

There can be a temptation to buy in bulk whenever you see a massive sale.  When you’re shopping for frozen fruits and vegetables, this is not the best method.  Buy only what you think your family will eat in the upcoming month or two; hold onto them too long, and the nutrients will start to deteriorate.

 

Another thing to consider is the product’s USDA grade.  Frozen produce must meet USDA standards, and will display the department’s signature shield along with a rating.  You’ll want to look  for “Fancy” or “Extra Fancy” if you’re trying to load up on those nutrients that make vegetables so good for you.  While eating the lower grades (which are all numbered) is probably still better than not eating vegetables at all, it’s not going to get you the most bang for your buck when it comes to preparing healthy meals.