Earn Extra Money On Christmas Time?

If the financial worries of Christmas are bringing you out in a seasonal sweat, then fret no more. In this time of austerity, it’s easy to feel more like Scrooge than Santa, but if you’re facing a credit crunch this December, here are a handful of ways to make a bit of extra money this holiday season.

Trade in Last Year’s Gadgets
Christmas can be an expensive time with kids wanting the latest releases of everything. So, why not trade in old models to help with the costs? If you’ve got old mobile phones, computer consoles or laptops gathering dust in your home they can be traded in for cash this Christmas. Websites such as gazelle.com or exchangemyphone.com are good places to start when it comes to discovering how much your items are worth.

Rent out Your House
Are you going to visit family for Christmas or New Year? If your home is going to be empty over this period you should consider renting it out? Airbnb is one such site where you can list your home

Companies with the Best Parental Leave and Benefits

When employees think about their dream jobs, it isn’t always about competitive salaries or the work itself. Employer missions and values, inspiring leadership and career opportunities have a big impact on worker satisfaction. Company benefits such as healthcare, vacation and parental leave can also be key in helping employees decide whether to accept job offers.

In that mode, American Express just announced that any U.S. employee of either gender who becomes a parent in any way, including adoption and surrogacy, can have 20 weeks of paid leave, with an additional six to eight available to birth mothers. But the most generous leave is coming mostly from tech companies that are competing for employees – and trying to attract and keep women – in an ever-tightening labor market. Look at the list below for the best benefits.

Google

The company culture at Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), the holding company for Google, is designed to make workers feel valued and respected. Employees are free to concentrate on work without worrying about their errand lists, because Google offers an array of onsite services, including health clinics, laundry rooms and oil changes. Some

Money saving if on Scottish roadsbank.

The Scottish have long been famed for their frugality and practicality. Henry Duncan, a Scottish minister, founded the world’s first commercial savings bank. Adam Smith, one of the most famous figures in economics, also hailed from Scotland.

It’s no coincidence that many successful  today have among their portraits of former CEOs and founders, a painting of a side-burned Scot whose eyes suggest any spare change would have to be pried out of his cold, dead hands.

In this article, we will look at three ways you can give your budget a boost using some of the famed Scottish frugality.

Be Utilitarian

When William Wallace led the Scots against the English in the 13th and 14th century, the militiaman’s weapon of choice was more likely to be a pitchfork or scythe than a spear or sword. Why? The average Scot used a pitchfork everyday, but swords were expensive and rare.

In battle, a sharp pitchfork was just as fatal as a sword, so very few men needed swords. Many people would be well served just by learning this one

Go Cashless

Can a Merchant Go Totally Cashless?

The move toward a cashless society seems to be gaining ground, though it’s moving along about as slowly as just about anyone could ask it to. There’s an interest in mobile payment systems, and growing use and acceptance of these, but for most it’s just a convenient novelty. Visa’s looking to push this concept forward with its recently-announced Visa Cashless Challenge.

The Visa Cashless Challenge calls for businesses—mostly smaller businesses, and among these more service-oriented businesses, the kind that routinely deal in cash anyway—and is offering 50 of these businesses up to $10,000 each, a cumulative total of $500,000, to augment current systems and bring in cashless operations.

Visa isn’t just calling on other businesses to start going cashless; it’s also actively demonstrating the impact of cashless operations by serving as the official payment partner of the first ever Formula E running, the New York City ePrix. With several New York restaurants—from Fish Cheeks to Mulberry & Vine—joining in, it’s out to make the value of cashless clear.

The idea of no longer handling cash can be an attractive one, especially to any operation small enough to have the same person take money and then handle food. Easier

The Path to Financial Abundance

There are many paths to financial abundance: inheritance, marriage, lottery, business success, just to name a few. For most of us, however, the path to financial abundance will be paved with savings. It is a method based more so on self-discipline than luck. In that regard, it can be gratifying. The essence of saving is to spend less than what is earned. Yet this simple concept is easily lost in the complex world of digital money. Quite simply, it is very easy to over-spend.

To manage this potential problem effectively, it helps to look back to simpler times, remind ourselves what worked then, and adapt those strategies to today’s realities. As a young adult in the 1980s, I lived for years in a cash-only manner. I would cash my paycheck on Friday afternoons. The cash was then allocated to a series of paper envelopes labeled rent, truck payment, utilities, food and extra. Each of the first four would receive 25% of the required monthly obligation. Any cash left over went into the extra envelope. At month’s end my bills were covered, provided I remained faithful to the system week after week. Then my bills would be paid

How Much Money Do You Need to Live in Los Angeles?

As the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles attracts residents from across the country and around the globe. As the epicenter of the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry, the city is a magnet for aspiring actors, directors and screenwriters. With idyllic weather year-round, beautiful beaches and a diversity of scenery, it is possible, during some months, for an Angeleno to snow ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon.

Los Angeles is a perfect study in how the demand curve works. When demand for something is high, prices rise. There is plenty of demand to live in Los Angeles. As a result, everything including rent, food, gas, and utilities is expensive. When considering a move to LA, the first order of business is understanding how much money it is going to take to pay the bills.

The following information is detailed in averages, but keep in mind Los Angeles is a huge, sprawling city. Prices vary wildly depending on where you plant roots. Rents in Santa Monica are not comparable to rents in South Central LA. By understanding the average cost of rent, utilities, food and transportation in Los Angeles, and then making adjustments based on your

Save More Money Can Reduce Financial Stress

I’ve long held the position that even though we live in one of the wealthiest, most financially blessed countries ever, as a society, we also live a life of serious financial stress. I often joke that it’s probably less stressful to live in the rainforests of South America, hunting and gathering, than to live in our modern, tech-savvy society, paycheck to paycheck. A lot of this stress stems from the fact that, as a society, we just don’t save money very well. According to a past Marketwatch article, almost 69% of Americans have less than $1000 saved. That is an astonishing amount of us that are basically one paycheck away from homelessness, or at least raiding our retirement funds in case of an emergency.

Why Americans Have a Hard Time Saving Money

There is a plethora of reasons behind our insufficient savings habits, such as a lack of discipline and making bad financial decisions. Maybe, it is simply that good jobs and hourly rates just don’t exist anymore for the lower and middle class (which I would argue as a legitimate factor). We can even rationalize that the value of the dollar doesn’t go as far as it used

Money-Saving Cruise Ship Tips

Cruise! Just that one little word conjures up images of a luxurious vacation complete with fine dining, exciting nightlife, interesting ports of call, a room of your own – and a single, all-inclusive price. At face value, cruises are tough to beat. But many people, once they step onto the deck, forget how hard they searched for a bargain fare before booking the trip. Suddenly feeling like they have endless credit and bottomless wallets, they flag down every passing waiter to purchase the drink of the day in a souvenir cup, and they buy their suntan lotion on board instead of at a discount store.

Unfortunately, the party ends with a six-page bill tucked under their door at the end of the trip. The all-inclusive bargain has suddenly become very expensive. If you’re looking to save money on your next cruise, here are some tips that will help.

Research and Plan in Advance

On the day you decide that a cruise is in your future, start putting money in the bank to save for the trip. While just about everyone searches the internet to find a bargain vacation, far too many people pay for their

The output of young family money

Are you parents that struggle month to month to stick to a budget? Are you stressed about being able to pay the bills even though your income is good? Are you wondering if there is a better way? There is and it starts with a philosophy. Here are the five steps to that philosophy of budgeting for young families.

Understand What You Need to Live On

Calculate how much money you need to live on. Your necessities include your utilities, rent or mortgage payment, groceries and gas for your car. For us it also includes diapers for the one-year-old and my wife’s new lighting equipment for her videography business. I think you get the picture. Write down how much you need by looking over your past expenses. Then add these up and see where you are. The total number may be smaller than you think, which will give you a more flexible budget. (For more, see: 10 Common Habits That Can Increase Wealth.)

Treat Savings As a Needed Expense

I encourage you to treat savings as a needed expense in your budget. My wife and I use this thinking and it has helped us make sure we

Checklist of Financial Planning Anyone Can Use

Financial Fundamentals

Develop a budget and stick with it: When making a budget it is important to develop a realistic one and stick with it. You need to decide how much you can afford to spend and what you should be saving each month. To be financially independent, it is important to start making wise choices early on in order to develop a habit of staying within your budget.

Figure out your credit score: Do you know what your credit score is and how much it can affect you in various areas of your life? How do you build credit in a responsible way to make sure there are no surprises down the road? There are ways for you to check your credit score. Visit one of the three reporting agencies for more information.

Money Saving Tips

Employee benefits: What benefits do you currently have and what benefits are offered at your job? Are you contributing enough to your retirement plan to get the full employer match? What other savings can you get by participating in the other benefits offered to you? Speak to your human resources department to make sure you understand all the benefits available to you.

Emergency

Essential Four-Letter Words for Financial Health

Why is it that a few four-letter words have given thousands of perfectly good four-letter words such a bad rap? It doesn’t seem fair does it? I took it upon myself to give them a break. Make a habit of putting these eight words into use, and your finances will be stronger than ever. They won’t offend anybody. You can even say them in front of your parents. How great is that?

Why eight? Well, I was reading an article about how we can be pretty hardheaded when it comes to making changes. The author suggested sometimes we need to get hit over the head with a (figurative) two-by-four to get a message. Multiply two by four and you get eight.

Essential Four-Letter Words

  1. Plan: It’s time to outgrow impulse spending. If you’ve got some exciting goals, and I hope you do, planning before spending will make those goals happen sooner. Whether it’s clothes, groceries or basic household matter, make a list before you head out to spend. You’ll get everything you need and you’ll be less likely to end up with three jumbo jars of peanut butter in the cupboard. (For more, see: Financial Planning:

Budgeting a Success in the New Year

At the end of each year – and the beginning of the new one – most of us think about things we’d like to accomplish in the coming year.  It’s a time we engage in self-reflection, ideas for self-improvement, and new – or ongoing – resolutions and goals.

One of the most common resolutions is losing weight, but we all know how that goes: crowded gyms in early January, inevitable drop-off when February rolls around. In fact, a study done by the University of Scranton shows that only about 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions.

Financial resolutions often include starting – or finally sticking to – a budget. Unfortunately, that resolution is all-too-often hard to stick to as well.

Why do so many people have trouble sticking to their resolutions? One of the main reasons is having unrealistic expectations. Overconfidence doesn’t just affect fitness goals, it affects investors’ behavior as well.

How can you make this the year you stick to your goals?

Take Baby Steps

Be reasonable in assessing where you are with your finances and don’t try to tackle everything at once. Start by listing all the areas of your financial situation you would like to

Key Tips for Budgeting Your Money

It’s almost a truism that budgeting is a critical step for anyone looking to get serious about money management. After all, you have to know where your money is going in order to make plans for the future. But if you haven’t ever tracked your spending, how do you get started?

Here are three tips that will help you set up a budget and start managing your money.

Determine Wants Versus Needs

The first step towards creating a budget is determining which expenses are wants and which are needs. Housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, clothing and childcare are generally considered necessities; entertainment, travel and dining out are thought of as “wants,” or what are known as discretionary expenses. That being said, there often is some gray area between a want and a need: You may need a car to get to work if carpooling or public transit is not an option, for example, but a flashy sports car may be a want. Everyone must buy clothes, but designer clothes are not requirements. If you can afford or have already purchased a luxury version of your necessary expenses, remember that downgrading is always an option if you decide that type

Most Expensive Cities in the U.S.

People relocating for business, new jobs or simply planning a vacation can benefit from knowing details about the most expensive cities in the United States. Understanding how much it costs to live in a city, and why, can make or break a decision to move. Not surprisingly, California cities dominate the list of America’s priciest cities.

New York City, New York

New York City leads the pack as the most expensive city in the United States; the city, with a population exceeding 8.3 million, also tops lists of the world’s most expensive cities. The cost of living in New York is a whopping 120% higher than the national average. The average cost of homes in New York is about $501,000, compared to the national average price, which hovers around $181,000; home prices range across the five boroughs, with home prices in Manhattan exceeding $1 million. Everything costs more in New York City, from groceries to public transportation. At approximately 4.1%, as of May 2017, the city’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 4.3%, further encouraging people the world over to pin their hopes and dreams on making it in New York.

San Francisco, California

Tips to Improve Your Financial Health

Your financial well-being is equally important to the traditional “new body, new you” goals that are rampant after the holiday season. Whether you’ve overindulged in food or spent a bit more than intended for gift giving, it’s natural—and healthy—to seek suggestions on how to scale back on the excess. Perhaps you’re headed for retirement and desire to focus on increased savings for the post-work years. Or home buying is slated as your prime objective.

By now the onslaught of New Year’s resolution posts has died down, and all prominent voices in the financial industry have levied their “financial fitness for the new year” advice. Rather than sifting through an endless stream of data on the matter, I’ve curated the top tips for improving your financial health in 2017. The following is applicable for all generations: Boomer, Generation X, Millennial and everyone in between.

Pay Off Credit Cards or Consumer Debt

It’s true that debt can be leveraged to help when you’re in a financial bind—car troubles, sudden health related emergencies and so forth. However, the interest rates are an additional expenditure that slows the process of stashing cash in other, more lucrative places.

Rather than paying the interest rates, that money can be

Average Cost Of An American Christmas

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday shopping season is now upon us. With just a few weeks until Christmas day, many shoppers are feverishly trying to find the perfect meaningful gifts for everyone on their list. Between the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to the last minute sales just before Christmas, the American commercialization of Christmas plays a very big part in how much the average American pays for all of his or her holiday expenses. Between gifts, holiday parties and decorations, Christmas in America seems to be getting more and more extravagant. Here is a look at the average cost of an American Christmas and a glance at why the cost of the holidays is steadily rising.

Americans Spending More on Gifts in 2016

According to a study performed by the American Research Group, Inc., Americans will be spending more money on gifts in 2016 than they did last year. In 2015, the average American spent $882 on holiday gifts. In 2016, it is expected that the average American will be spending $929 on gifts for friends and loved ones – surpassing $900 for the first time since 2006. It should come as no surprise that

Common Budgeting Challenges to Overcome

The word “budget” has been known to make people cringe, cry and bury their heads in the sand, but budgeting challenges don’t have to keep you from getting the job done. Budgets are just a set of guidelines to help you manage your money. (Budgeting Basics will help you get started.) Once you set up your system, budgeting isn’t even that much work. If yours isn’t working for you, then scrap it and start again. But don’t be stopped before you start by challenges that you can easily overcome.

Budgeting Challenges

1. The All-or-Nothing Mentality

Many people are turned off by budgeting because most advice about creating one requires tracking every penny spent for three months. That is a lot of saving receipts and tracking, especially if you aren’t using an automatic system. The point of a budget is to get a picture of your expenses and plan for your financial goals – in other words, it is a tool for you and you alone – and if tracking every penny is a roadblock to get you started, cut yourself some slack. Perfect is definitely the enemy of good.

Having a general idea of your

Buying a Car? Read This Financial Advice First

A few years ago when my son was in college, I gave him my old car to drive. Now, four years later, my son has a job and an apartment and uses this same old car to commute. The car is still reliable, but does need a little maintenance, and my son is thinking about buying a new car. He’s asking my advice, so I thought I’d share my advice with everyone. Buying a car is one of the priciest purchases you can make, so it’s definitely a subject that requires some financial advice.

Choosing the right car is very subjective. There are practical, emotional and aesthetical needs. Some people only care about a car as transportation. For some, a car needs to be comfortable. For others a car needs to project the buyer’s personality or be beautiful to look at. For still others, a car is the manifestation of sophisticated technology and needs to look and go fast. I think of a car as transportation, but I also want to be comfortable while I’m being transported. My son wants the car to fit his transportation needs and be fun to drive. When my wife bought her last car,

Steps Toward a Financially Fit New Year

Let’s face facts: after the holiday season shopping is completed, most of us find that our bank accounts are a bit smaller than we hoped they would be.

With this reality check in mind, here are 10 steps everyone can use to start off the new year on a smarter note with their money, and hopefully stick with them throughout 2017:

  1. Stop getting “nickeled and dimed” by everyone. And don’t start doing it to everyone else.  Why let stores, friends, family, etc., take advantage of you when it comes to money? Be fair about money matters and don’t get taken advantage of by anyone. Instead, use coupons, negotiate better deals or terms (especially when it comes to insurance) and ask firmly but nicely (mind your manners!) for the money you’re owed. Please stop drawing the short straw in these situations—you deserve better.
  2. Put a budget in place AND stick to it. No sense in spending your money without a clue–let’s figure out how to better use this green stuff, eh? Nothing will help you do that better than really seeing what money goes out and what money comes in. No excuses either—there are plenty of cheap and easy to use software/apps/tools that

Don’t Wait to Teach Your Kids About Money

The adage “youth is wasted on the young” comes from the idea that young are too inexperienced and have too little perspective to take advantage of their youth; thereby it is “wasted.”

In many areas of life, this will always hold true. However, in the world of personal finance, this need not be the case. If only we adults would take the initiative to teach our kids and give them the knowledge and perspective they so sorely lack, our youth could take advantage of being so young and create far different life outcomes.

Recently, I had a conversation with my 17-year-old daughter, who just received the third of three paychecks from a summer internship. She received $500 at three separate intervals for a total of $1,500 and we were talking about what to do with the money.

Teachable Moments

  1. I didn’t ask her what she was going to do, I told her. Yes, it’s her money. Yes, she earned it. No, she does not get free reign over what to do with it. Let me explain. Maddy is an extremely bright and conscientious 17-year-old. But, she’s still 17. She doesn’t have any idea