Category Archives: Saving

The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo

Today’s post, “The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo,” is a guest post from Mrs. Picky Pincher, the blogger and money saving-maven behind She writes about paying off $225,000 of debt while living the good life.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read on to see the benefits of taking frugality to new levels!

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. Nobody wants to pay more money to live the good life. We all want to be the next money-saving savant, but there’s just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you’ve got to be a total frugal weirdo.

We live in a culture that loves big-ness: big houses, big cars, and big mounds of stuff. The bigger you are, the more successful you clearly must be. But too often big-ness comes at the cost of high debt loads, stress, and working until you collapse to pay off your sports car.

Nobody wants to make debt payments until they’re 80 years old. And that’s why it’s so important to be an utter and complete frugal weirdo.

A frugal weirdo is a person who rejects most of the conventional rules about what we need to spend money on. Instead, the frugal weirdo saves his or her buckaroos to work towards financial independence, whether that takes the form of paying off debt, saving, or investing.

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

Car payments, credit cards, student loans, and even laundry soap are all up for elimination when you’re a frugal weirdo. It’s the key to escaping debt and retiring early. There’s no way you can live independently if you’re chained to a bank note for 30 years, after all.

Don’t get me wrong; it does suck a bit to be the odd gal out. I’ve experienced my fair share of witch hunts from people who want me to upgrade my car, buy a bigger house, and not pump all my money into debt payments.

Haters are gonna hate, though, y’all. I like marching to the beat of a different drummer, and that’s how I’ve discovered the surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo:

It’s cool to be weird!

Tips to Embrace Your Inner Frugal Weirdo

Thankfully, I’ve never been cool or popular or remotely interesting, so it’s been easy to live on my own terms. Here are a few of the frugal-yet-weird lifestyle changes I’ve made to save a lot of money–and how they’ve benefited me tremendously.

Cloth napkins and hankies

I did the math and realized we spent $15 a month on Kleenex and paper towels. That’s small potatoes to most people, but to me, it was money literally in the garbage.

After poking around Pinterest, I realized I could make my own reusable items to replace pricey one-use items. I was tempted to toss out the toilet paper, too, but Mr. Picky Pincher nearly started a household mutiny, so the toilet paper stayed (grumble grumble).

To replace our paper towels, I bought a set of very nice cloth napkins from my thrift store for 25 cents apiece. I paid a grand total of $1.50 and I had fancy cloth napkins instead of Brawny. It took a bit of training to get out of our paper towel habit, but now we feel mighty fancy using cloth napkins to wipe the spaghetti sauce off our faces. Ahhh, luxury.

I couldn’t find cloth hankies at the thrift store to replace my beloved Kleenex, so I made my own hankies. I took a few of Mr. Picky Pincher’s old flannel shirts, rags, and fabric scraps and went to town. I’m not a great sewer, but thankfully all I had to do was cut the fabric into squares and put a hem on them to prevent fraying. The result was 40 pieces of homemade hankies for $0.

Making yogurt 

I am addicted to all things dairy. I have at least five different types of cheese in my refrigerator right now, several quarts of yogurt, and a gallon of kefir. Ahhhh, heavenly deliciousness.

My favorite snack is yogurt, which I used to buy in single-serving cups from the grocery store. It wasn’t until I analyzed my spending habits that I realized how much my dairy obsession cost each month. After doing the math three times, I was shocked that I spent $20 just on yogurt each month. What the hell??

At first I laid off the yogurt and forlornly ate a banana when I was hungry. Then I realized that plenty of people make yogurt at home. I’m clumsy and mess everything up, so I was nervous to do any type of fermenting (knowing my luck, I’d get botulism or something). But my love for yogurt was so strong that I took the plunge and made my own yogurt.

And you know what? I’ve been making my own yogurt for over a year! Instead of spending $20 a month on single-serving yogurt cups, I make one gallon of organic yogurt a month for about $7. 

Weird? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely. 

And you know what?

I was ridiculed for my weird ways. But by making small life changes and cutting my expenses ultra-low, I was able to save over 50% of my income. It wasn’t easy and I spent plenty of nights huddled over pints of ice cream, wondering if my life had gone off the rails.

Final Word

The surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo come down to the numbers. I paid off $14,000 of credit card debt, eliminated a $10,000 car payment, paid for a $12,000 renovation in cash, and paid off $20,000 in student loans. There’s no way I could have done that with my previous spending levels!

The lesson I’ve learned is that it’s more than okay to make your own rules. You’ll find that there are plenty of pleasant surprises when you do what’s best for you.

Thanks again to Mrs. Picky Pincher for sharing her frugal wisdom. Be sure to check out to learn more about the journey to Make Frugality Cool Again.

What frugal tips do you have to share? Would you consider yourself a frugal weirdo?

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

11 Genius Money and Time Saving Routines

Have you heard the old adage “time is money?” While this is true, I often remind myself that time is so much more than that. Time is the great equalizer for all people. For example, Mark Cuban is a billionaire, and you’re most likely not, yet you both only have 24 hours in each day. What counts is how well you utilize your time to live your best life. And with so many things competing for your attention in the noise of life, developing time saving routines can be critical to maximizing your life satisfaction.

As a full-time teacher, realtor, and blogger, I have learned to build time saving routines into each day. They are the reason I am able to pursue three career avenues while also maintaining time for family, friends, and recreation. To be fully transparent, I haven’t always been so efficient with my time. I developed my routines through trial and error, and from time to time, even extreme efficiency cannot help me to juggle it all.

Looking to save time and save money? They go together! Our tips will give you the routines you need to save tons of time, reduce stress, and be happier.

Life-Changing Money and Time Saving Routines

If you’re overwhelmed by life and feel that there just isn’t enough time to do it all, the following time saving routines may be the tricks you need to make the most of your time and boost your happiness! Pick a few to implement this week after reading the tips below.

1. Start Your Day the Same Way Every Day

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then it also stands to reason that the first half hour of your day is the most important. I strongly believe that the first 30 minutes of my day can set the tone for the rest of my day. After coming to this understanding, I decided to structure my waking moments as follows:

  • Press “Snooze” on my alarm clock (not my iPhone – more on that below!) and spend five minutes in quiet to pray and run through the events of the day in my mind.
  • Get out of bed, shower, and get dressed for the day.
  • Let our dogs out and pour myself a cup of coffee (set to brew on a timer from the previous night) while standing at the island in our kitchen.

On the surface these steps may not seem like time saving routines, but if you look a second time, you’ll notice that I don’t do what nearly every person does upon waking up: check my iPhone. 

In the past, I used to spend an easy 30 minutes (or more!) reading the news, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, checking e-mail, and more before even getting out of bed. One day, it dawned on me that this is a huge time vacuum! And the worst part is that it often led me to start my day out grumpy and stressed out about everything I needed to do that day.

My time number one money and time saving tip is simple: find time saving routines that work for you and implement them to start your day off in a positive way.

2. Choose Your Clothing the Night Before

At the risk of having my man card revoked, I’ll be honest: I like clothes. A lot.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to stand in our closet and decide on outfits for several minutes each morning.

By choosing my clothes the night before when I am far more alert, I save myself an estimated 30 minutes each week.

3. Set-up Automatic Payments on Everything

Have you ever sat down to pay bills and realized you didn’t have any envelopes? Cue a trip to Office Max. You resume the process and discover you don’t have any stamps? Off to the post office you go.

Today, there is no reason to waste so much time paying bills when you can automate payments through your various service providers or your bank. Make a list of your regular bills and set up auto pay as soon as possible.

Related Tip: It’s a wise move to review your bills for unused subscriptions every few months to make sure you’re not just throwing money down the drain for services you don’t use.

Trim Financial Manager can help you with this task – and it’s free! Trim Financial Manager, help you find unused subscriptions and even help you cancel them!

4. Handle Mail and Other Documents Only Once

When my wife and I got married, we quickly developed the dreaded pile of mail on our kitchen table. Maybe we thought the other person would just take care of it, or if we just ignored it maybe it would go away. Even today, it rears its ugly head when we both are unusually busy.

Of all the time saving routines I have implemented, handling mail and other documents only once may be the easiest to apply consistently. When I open mail, I quickly choose a course of action: recycle it, shred it, act upon it, or file it.

5. Make the Most of Idle and Busy Work Time

Call me weird – you know you want to – but I enjoy menial tasks even when they’re simple “busy work.” Mowing the lawn, folding laundry, cleaning the house, and running errands are my jam.

Why? I make the most of this time by listening to podcasts, audio books, and even writing articles for this site via voice dictation. For a driven, type A personality, accomplishing two things at once is thrilling.

While I caution anyone against multi-tasking – it doesn’t really work – making the most of your time by engaging your mind during mindless activities is one of my favorite time saving routines.

6. Set Limits Using Timers

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a rare ability to make even the quickest tasks take a ridiculous amount of time if I know I have time to burn. For example, I once spent an hour writing a simple thank you note that should have taken only five minutes. My face should probably be plastered all over posters for Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion).

Setting timers to keep yourself on task is one of my favorite time saving routines because it provides the simplest form of accountability. Do your best to set realistic time limits for all tasks and your productivity will soar.

7. Maintain an Electronic Family Calendar

Whether you are newly-married or have a large family of several children, saving time is all about being organized. My wife and I do not have children, but our electronic family calendar is often the only thing keeping us on top of everything that we have going on.

You can use any number of apps to share an electronic calendar with members of your family. We keep all of our important events, birthdays, bill due dates, vet appoints for our dogs, and much more on our shared Google calendar. It only takes a few minutes to update each week and even less time to check each day, and it is one of the easiest time saving routines you can implement.

8. Tidy Up Often

Have you even gotten to the end of a busy week only to realize that you had let dishes, clutter, and dirty laundry slide for five days? I have, and it’s awful.

time saving routines, save time, save money, clean the house, clean up, tidy up

One of my least favorite but most impactful time saving routines helps us fight back against the weekly build up of clutter: we take five minutes each day to tidy up our house. I like to use a small basket or box and collect items that haven’t been put away, round them up all at once, and then put them away. Even if you do this every other day, it will make a big difference and help you save weekend time for more important and fun things.

9. Cook With Your Crock Pot

If you’ haven’t embraced the mighty power of the Crock Pot, let me say this: it’s time, and you’re going to love it! I estimate that Crock Pot cooking saves us a minimum of 2-3 hours each week.

Related: Get started with our 10 favorite money-saving Crock Pot meals.

10. Batch Meal Prep and Cooking

On a related note, batch meal prep and cooking saves us time when we aren’t using our Crock Pot. It uses fewer dishes, knives, cutting boards, and also cuts down on prep and clean-up time.

11. Carry a Water Bottle

How does carrying a water bottle count as one of our time saving routines? Your efficiency in any task is greatly diminished when you are dehydrated. By carrying a water bottle regularly, you will help your body work closer to its peak efficiency and you’ll avoid having to drop several dollars on bottled water each day.

Start Implementing These Tips

As mentioned earlier, you only have so many hours and minutes in each day. Implementing time saving routines and making them a consistent part of your week can greatly help your efficiency and improve your overall life satisfaction.

If you’re looking for tips to save money, be sure to check out the articles below – they are full of money saving tips that may help you save hundreds or thousands each year!

Related Reading:

What time saving routines do you recommend? Do they also help you save money?

time saving routines, save time, time savers, save money, clean up, tidy up

The Best Financial Advice Is Not Sophisticated

Advice and pro tips on just about every topic imaginable are available in just a few clicks or swipes on a pocket-sized device today. The best financial advice is no exception. Based upon the wealth of information available to everyone with a mobile device, there are increasingly fewer and fewer reasons for the lack of wisdom and overall financial mismanagement which are common today.

Ironically, we just may be living in a period of the worst personal financial mismanagement of all-time, despite access to information having reached an all-time high.

Recently, I read a Yahoo Finance article about Derek Sall, the owner of Life and My Finances, who impressively paid off over $116,000 of debt before turning 30. In the article, Sall shared his best financial advice.

“The best tip I can give is just live your own life,” he said. “The best way to just live simply and be content is just to turn it all of and hardly pay attention to it at all. Because that’s what gets people in the most trouble.”

As I read this, I nodded my head in agreement with Sall. It’s very good advice from someone who has earned the right to talk the talk by walking the walk, so to speak.

Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments section – the place where mis-informed and overconfident readers typically congregate to spread poor ideas on large sites like Yahoo.

Apparently, Sall’s advice struck a nerve with the internet trolls. Here is a selection of some of the comments:

  • “Fake news”
  • “Thanks for the useless ad for [Derek’s] blog.”
  • “How much did you get paid for this useless tip?”
  • “So the tip is to just ‘live your life’?”
  • But folks . . . Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, BUT . . . If everyone did that, only buying what they need, just think how many people would be out of manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, mortgage jobs, etc. Also how much sales tax would the government be missing out on?”
  • “nothing new here”
  • “Bet this guy makes $100,000,000 on suckers who buy his book. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that is legal. BEWARE.”
  • “That’s awesome that this guy is out of debt. But it seems like he missed out on doing a bunch of stuff while in the prime of his life. I go to work to make money. The point of having some money is so I can do things that I want to do, as well as save some of it.”
  • “Let me guess, he cancelled his cable and quit getting a morning latte at Starbucks, it works every time.”
  • “The tip is don’t spend money, okay got it.”

After reading through all of the comments, the exact reason why so many people manage their money poorly occurred to me:

The best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Complicating the Uncomplicated

More and more, it seems that people want to reject any kind of advice which is simple at its core. We are prone to rejecting basic ideas in favor of the more complex, as if complicated advice is somehow better by default.

Based upon the comments above, many readers assumed that there was no way Derek achieved debt freedom simply by living his own life on his own terms. In their minds, the secret to financial success had to be more complicated.

This attitude is all wrong.

The truth is that achieving financial success isn’t complicated and the best financial advice out there is not sophisticated.

The Best Financial Advice is Simple

The main reason I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance is because money is simple. It doesn’t have a mind or life of its own, and it does exactly what I tell it to do. It’s like every dollar I possess becomes a tiny employee who exists to answer to my every bidding.

And at the end of the day the total value of my money is largely dependent upon the actions of one person: me. My choices determine whether my financial net worth grows or dwindles.

If I use my basic arithmetic skills and reconcile my earnings and expenses properly, I can be sure that I stay in command of my  choices and my money. And if I plan ahead a bit, I may even save money!

Many people can’t bring themselves to accept that money management is really this easy and simple. They insist that such a basic approach – keeping a budget, spending less than what is earned, and saving the rest – is only for unsophisticated simpletons.

The truth is that there is a tremendous degree of sophistication in simplicity. And realizing and embracing this truth is not only one of the keys to overall financial well-being; it’s one of the keys to happiness in general.

The problem is that we live in a society which has completely rejected simplicity. Take a walk through your local grocery store with open eyes and you’ll see what I mean – dozens of varieties of toothpaste, entire rows devoted to snack foods, and more flavors of ice cream than Dairy Queen.

Variety makes life interesting, to be certain, but there is a breaking point in which complexity leads to analysis paralysis. This is true of grocery shopping, and it is true of personal finance.

Some things in life, including money, are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. It’s time for all of us, the internet trolls included, to accept this truth, embrace it, and live happily.

What is the best financial advice you’ve ever been given? Is it complicated?

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

7 Critical Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest household names when it comes to personal finance experts. His story and teachings have helped millions of people get out of debt and build a well-balanced financial position, and his books, radio show, columns, courses, and videos are among the most popular personal finance materials available. Even so, a vocal contingent of critics question whether Dave Ramsey is right on many key issues.

Ramsey is not bashful about his strongly-held beliefs. He strongly opposes debt (other than 15 year mortgages in which the monthly payment is no more than 25 percent of a family’s take home pay), leads the charge against credit card use, and encourages people who are ridden with debt to pay off their obligations in order beginning with their smallest debts rather than base repayment on interest rates.

Millions of people have followed Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps to achieve financial success, yet his advice is more widely-criticized than many other financial experts.

If you’re looking for a financial guru to follow, Dave Ramsey is certainly a popular choice. His advice is not always easy to follow, but it is difficult to argue with his results.

Read on to consider 7 ways Dave Ramsey is right about money – even in the face of criticism.

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest names in personal finance, but he is criticized widely for many of his teachings. Read on to see 7 critical ways Dave Ramsey is right - and his critics are wrong - about money.

7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right – and Others Are Wrong

Dave Ramsey is the first to admit that his life story and beliefs may be strange to some people. Through a rapid-rise in the real estate career, Ramsey became a millionaire by age 26 and promptly lost everything in bankruptcy soon after.

Writes Ramsey,

I was making $250,000 a year. That’s more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie. That 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt—a lot of short-term debt—and I’m the idiot who signed up for the trip.

When the dust finally settled, the resilient Ramsey was determined to recover and learn from his mistakes and help others win with money.

His Advice is Rooted in Experience and Research

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, it is most important to note that his teachings and philosophies are based upon both personal experience and expert research. Critics and competitors love to paint Ramsey as a fraud, but the truth is that he lived through the trials and struggles that his followers face and came out on top.

When Ramsey lost everything, he started a mission to learn everything he could about personal finance. He read every relevant book he could get his hands on, interviewed countless people who had experienced financial success, and acted upon everything he learned.

From the rubble, Ramsey created a framework that has helped millions of people, himself include, pay off debt and build wealth.

An Expert Motivator

While many financial experts take a strictly academic approach to personal finance, Dave Ramsey understands that motivation to get started is a foundational piece of each person’s financial journey. He is an expert when it comes to empowering people who want to change – as he puts it, those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and motivating them to take action.

The short video below is a great example of his ability to motivate people to take action.

Saving is the Best Way to Get Started

In Financial Peace University, Ramsey teaches students to build a $1,000 starter emergency fund before doing anything else with money. He calls this action Baby Step One.

Dave Ramsey is right when advising people to start with saving because it is an effective way to initiate change and protect against financial emergencies which could cause people to go further into debt.

Much in the same way that a running coach would not expect a new runner to step out and run a marathon on day one, Ramsey helps people start improving their financial situation with slow and manageable change by encouraging saving.

Related Reading:

Quick Wins Are Contagious

On a related note, Ramsey understands that personal finance is not just mathematical, but also emotional, behavioral, and psychological. People are able to start his program and stick with it thanks to the power of quick wins.

Once people move on to paying off non-mortgage debt in Baby Step Two, Ramsey advises people pay off their debts from smallest to largest balance. Thanks to momentum and positive excitement, Ramsey Solutions reports that students pay off all of their debt in 18-24 months, on average.

Money and Multi-tasking Don’t Mix

Over the past decade, consistent research has emerged demonstrating that multi-tasking doesn’t work. According to Psychology Today,

  • Multi-tasking wastes time
  • It decreases accuracy
  • The human brain is not equipped to multi-task

Ramsey deserves credit for realizing this back in the 1990s and incorporating this understanding into the development of the Baby Steps.

Simply put, Dave Ramsey is right – multi-tasking with money is slow, ineffective, and expensive. It is far wiser to focus on one financial goal at a time, especially when looking to pay off debt.

A Budget is Critical

One of the most memorable aspects of Ramsey’s teaching lies in his tendency to repeat teachings in the form of catchy sound bytes. For example, regular listeners have heard Dave say the following many times:

Your biggest wealth-building tool is your income, and the best way to harness the power of your income is the monthly budget because everything else flows from the budget.

The importance of a budget is just one way Dave Ramsey is right when it comes to financial advice.
A look at Dave Ramsey’s recommended budgeting percentages (Credit: EveryDollar)

Though some experts argue otherwise, I believe Dave Ramsey is right – a budget is a fundamental component of a winning financial plan. 

The truth is that people who don’t budget are much more likely to become financial reactionaries who wonder where their money goes each month.

The word “budget” has taken on all kinds of unjust negative connotations. Many people believe that a budget is too restricting, a thing of the past, or something that only frugal or cheap people follow.

As Ramsey points out, other people are afraid to start a budget out of fear of what they might discover. However, the numbers don’t lie – people who create a budget pay off more debt and save more money.

Related Reading:

Leveraging Debt is Risky

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, his teaching on the dangerous risk of leveraging debt may be his most famous.

Even in a time of historically-low interest rates, Ramsey continues to preach the virtues of debt freedom. Why? Ultimately, a life void of debt is a life of minimal financial risk.

On his radio show, Ramsey frequently reminds audiences that 0% of homes without a mortgage are foreclosed on every year. He also is quick to quote the world’s second-richest man, Warren Buffet (“You can tell who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out”), when discussing investment risk.

While some experts continue to falsely teach that debt is a tool to be manipulated for gain, Dave Ramsey is right – very few wealthy people gained their wealth by leveraging debt, and those who did got very lucky.

Final Word

Dave Ramsey’s financial advice is not equally effective for people in all financial stages of life, but there is a reason his framework has helped millions of people get their finances in order. As Ramsey says, his plan teaches people a systematic, common sense approach to managing their finances “God’s and grandma’s way.”

Undoubtedly, Ramsey will continue to draw the ire of critics, but results don’t lie.

What Dave Ramsey advice resonates with you? How do you follow and implement his teachings?

Make the Most of Your Tax Refund in 2017

Tax refund. Next to the words “pay day” and “debt free,” these are my two favorite finance-related words. Whether my annual tax refund is a modest sum or a mid-size windfall, I am always happy to see my refund directly-deposited into my checking account. Once you know it is on its way, knowing how to make the most of your tax refund can be a daunting task.

Still haven’t submitted your 2016 tax returns? If you have a simple return, such as a 1040-EZ, I recommend completing your simple return with today. You can complete your Federal return for FREE and receive free support along the way. And FinanceSuperhero readers can receive a discount on state returns by using this link – $6 Off State Filings With Coupon Code “6OFFSTATE”.

If you’re planning to complete a 1040A or require additional schedules, the team at Liberty Tax has local offices in your area to help you every step of the way. Other tax preparation services come and go, but LibertyTax has been helping people file their taxes the easy way since 1997.

Receiving a tax refund is a great opportunity to improve your financial outlook. Follow these 9 pro tips to make the most of your tax refund in 2017!

The FinanceSuperhero Guide to Taxes – Make the Most of Your Tax Refund

Assuming you have a tax refund coming your way, you could be on the verge of changing your financial picture.  With great opportunity comes great responsibility! The following advice will help you to make the most of your tax refund and make significant progress on your financial journey. I recommend following the steps in numerical order.

1. Give a Portion of Your Tax Refund to a Charitable Organization

Longtime readers will not be surprised that I am suggesting giving as the first step to make the most of your tax refund. As previously mentioned, Mrs. Superhero and I have placed Giving at the top of our monthly budget. Giving aligns with our values, and helping others provides us with much more satisfaction and enjoyment than buying more stuff or eating delicious food.

I strongly believe that giving 10% is the best way that we can make a charitable contribution prior to reaching financial independence (at which time we will significantly increase our giving). We have always done this, dating back to the time when we faced a mountain of debt, and we continue to do so today, even though we are only a few months away from carrying no debt other than our mortgage.

Why? As I mentioned, we believe helping others is both a calling and the most satisfying use of our money. Giving is also a strong reminder that money is not something to be hoarded out of greed. We want to value money and practice good stewardship, but we also want to remain far removed from the love of money.

Many people reject giving in favor of keeping their money strictly to themselves. Ironically, it is usually these same people who senselessly give their money to big banks and other financiers in the form of outlandish interest payments on cars, boats, and other stuff.

Personally, I would rather give in a meaningful way. Even if you give 1% of your tax refund, you will help others and begin to change the way you view money.

2. Increase Your Savings and/or Emergency Fund

When looking to make the most of your tax return, simply saving money can be a wise choice.
When looking to make the most of your tax return, simply saving money can be a wise choice.

After supporting societal progress by giving, use your tax refund proceeds to improve your liquid savings. Unless you are an extremely high income earner or have a stable passive income stream, you absolutely must have an Emergency Fund. If you do not have one, consider this a full-blown, alarm-sounding crisis that must be addressed immediately! Statistically-speaking, there is close to a 100% chance that you will experience some form of an emergency within the next decade, so be ready!

While I recommend maintaining an Emergency Fund of at least 3-6 months of minimum living expenses, you may also wish to establish an additional Opportunity Fund. I do not specifically recommend amounts or figures for this fund, and you may wish to skip it entirely in favor of moving onto Step 3. However, an Opportunity Fund could allow you to make a fun, somewhat impulsive decision without any accompanying feelings of guilt or regret.

3. Get out of Debt – Once and For All!

After you have given and increased your security via your Emergency Fund, you are fully-prepared to take on the primary barrier standing in the way of Financial Independence: Debt.

The sooner you eliminate your non-mortgage debts, the sooner you free a significant portion of your monthly income and simultaneously gain the freedom to invest in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Both the Snowball and Avalanche methods are valid means to achieve debt freedom. For the purposes of this post, I am less-concerned with the method you implement to eliminate your debt; just get it done. You may get the push you need if you make the most of your tax refund in this way!

4. Invest in Tax-Advantaged Investments

The real fun begins when you no longer have non-mortgage debt. If you are free from the shackles of debt, the next optimal use for your tax refund is to maximize your retirement contributions. For the purposes of this limited space, ensure you are maximizing employer-offered plans, specifically if they offer a match, and then move onto your Roth IRA.

Want to make the most of your tax refund? Opening an IRA or taxable brokerage account with Betterment is a smart way to maximize the impact of your refund.
Betterment returns vs. US Market and Typical Investor Returns (Credit: Betterment)

If you’re looking for an easy to use platform for investing, Fundrise offers real estate investment options with low financial barriers for entry.. Their Tax-Coordinated Portfolio works to maximize your earnings and minimize tax burdens across all types of accounts, including taxable accounts, Roth IRAs, and traditional IRAs. It is simple to sign-up or rollover an account, select a portfolio of ETFs, and be on your way toward earning better returns right away.

Compared to other platforms, the Betterment portfolio is designed to achieve optimal returns at every level of risk. Through diversification, automated rebalancing, better behavior, and lower fees, the Betterment approach to investing can help you generate 2.9% higher returns than a typical DIY investor.

Make the most of your tax refund and start investing with Betterment by signing up today!

5. Contribute to Your Children’s College Funds

If you do not have children, skip ahead to Step 6. If you have children, you need to learn the nuances of the Coverdell ESA (Education Savings Account, also nicknamed the Education IRA) and 429 plan. The ESA has income and contribution limits (currently $2,000 per year), but I recommend you start with the ESA in most circumstances, if eligible.

The important thing to understand is that minimal contributions to these vehicles will place you in a position to send your children to college without the burden of student loans if you begin early.

Related PostEscape From Student Loans: How Two Educators Paid Off $17,831.65 in 54 Days

6. Destroy Your Mortgage Debt

Pause with me for a moment and imagine a life without a mortgage payment. If you can’t image it, check out the FREE E-book, How to Hack Your Mortgage and Save Thousands, written by my friend Andrew at FamilyMoneyPlan. This is the plan he and his wife used to wipe out their $320,000 mortgage in 6 years.

What could you do with an extra $1,000 per month? $2,500? $5,000? I just felt an overwhelming sense of excitement  and peace typing these words. The next time I visit my doctor and have my blood-pressure checked, I am going to visualize the wonders of a mortgage-free life to improve my numbers.

For the average family, mortgage interest represents the second-largest expense that they will pay in their entire lifetime. In some cases, total mortgage interest paid on a 30 year mortgage can be approximately 75-80% of total principal, even at today’s advantageous interest rates! Make the most of your tax refund to accomplish progress on an annual basis and you could shave several years off your mortgage, especially if you are already paying extra on principal on a monthly basis.

7. Invest in Non-Retirement Funds and/or Real Estate

If you have made it to Step 7, please allow me to offer my congratulations. With no debt whatsoever, healthy savings, and kids’ college covered, you are poised to generate significant wealth. At this stage, you may have achieved Financial Independence, depending upon your lifestyle.

I recommend using tax refund money to invest in simple index funds at this stage. A modest tax refund sum is enough to get you started with many index funds. Adopt a long-term approach, relax, and watch your money grow.

Similarly, this is the time to invest in real estate, if interested. Becoming a landlord isn’t for everyone, and paying a property manager could eat into your net profit from owning a rental property. However, a rental property can yield some of the highest annual investment returns if managed well and purchased at prices below market value.

Want to make the most of your tax refund? Investing in real estate with Fundrise is an exciting option for investors in 2017.Fortunately, today’s investors can invest in real estate without the hassle of becoming a landlord or hiring a property manager. Fundrise offers real estate investment options with low entry costs.. As of February 2017, they offer three eREITs for new investors: the West Cost eREIT, the Heartland eREIT, and the East Cost eREIT. It is amazing that technology has brought common investors like you and me the opportunity to invest in multi-million dollar buildings half way around the country!

Even if you’re on the fence about real estate investing or just not quite ready to dip your toe in the water, I recommend signing-up with Fundrise today – it is 100% FREE, with no obligation, and in doing so, you’ll position yourself to learn more and possibly avoid wait lists.

8. Improve the Value of Your Primary Home

At this stage, true fun begins. When you are financially well-poised for the future, a tax refund represents an opportunity to both invest and add joy to your life simultaneously. This is the time to make improvements around your home which increase your happiness and feature a high return on investment.

Good Investments: new front door, landscaping, deck or patio, kitchen or bath remodel, walkway lighting

Bad Investments: swimming pools, utility sheds

9. Build Sinking Funds for Bucket List Items

Last, but not least, comes additional saving for specific purchases. If you make it down to Step 9 when determining how to implement your tax refund, you are an authentic Superhero. I recommend establishing separate sinking funds for a variety of priorities, such as vacations, new car purchases, secondary homes, or major home additions.

The purpose of a sinking fund is to plan for future purchases which are far off in the future. At this stage, you do not want to be fooled into getting back into debt or be caught off guard by large, necessary expenses. With a sinking fund, you won’t be financially caught off guard when your house needs a new roof, your furnace fails, or your vehicle sputters and dies.

Are You Ready to Make the Most of Your Tax Refund?

A tax refund is a great opportunity to get ahead in your finances. I am confident that you will not fail to cover all of your bases by following these steps. Depending upon where you are in your journey toward Restoring Order to Your World of Finances, you may wish to skip steps or modify the order. For example, renters may wish to place saving for a home down payment in the Steps.

If you haven’t yet filed your 2016 tax returns, be sure to check out or LibertyTax today. Either way, careful consideration of your circumstances will put you on the path to make the most of your tax refund this year!

Readers, did you receive a tax refund this year? Are you currently awaiting a refund? How do you plan to make the most of your tax refund?

Leave Behind These 8 Bad Financial Habits in 2017


This post, “Leave Behind These 8 Bad Financial Habits in 2017,” is a guest post by Carol Soriano, a consultant for, the very first online pawnshop in the Philippines. A writer at heart and a social media enthusiast, she is passionate about personal finance, investment and all money matters.

It’s 2017! Were you able to save up money for the New Year? Have you been able to reach your financial goals? If you failed to do so, it’s time to turn over a new leaf and correct those bad money habits from the past year.

Are bad financial habits preventing you from Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money? Ditch these 8 bad habits in 2017 and get back on track!Your financial goals should include setting target digits for your savings account and having funds to cover you during emergencies and whatnot. Should you ever find it hard to reach your money goals even after trying, there must be a rooted bad financial habit that’s keeping you from achieving financial success.

To help you reach your goals in 2017, below are eight bad financial habits that you should be really ditching this new year!

1) Living from paycheck after paycheck

A common financial crime amongst the working class is having a one-day millionaire lifestyle. This means getting by living from paycheck after paycheck. They may have the job, but they don’t have the stable income. If this is a habit to which you’ve become accustomed, stop!

This is troublesome to your financial and personal well-being since living up to the “first day after paycheck versus last day before paycheck” meme is just exhausting. This scary habit leaves you without any safety net as you only rely your financial security with your job, and the thought of it is alarming! If you only have one stream of income like your job, then you especially might want to reconsider your saving habits.

2) Being brand conscious

They say, you are what you wear, but not entirely! Sometimes, a good Prada covers up the real financial situation. There are those who maintain their financial reputation through brands. But as Psychology 101 dictates, material things do not maintain steady happiness. Having a brand conscious mindset won’t get you to your financial goals.

So, while you cannot afford to both buy a branded item and save money at the same time, make it a priority to save first! Save for the first three months and eventually, you will make it a habit to be frugal instead. Those brands can wait; your finances don’t.

3) The love for foreign products

Going to grocery stores and shopping on the imported aisle section just because you think it defines who you are—expensive—doesn’t help… at all! Frankly, you can go after budget-friendly goods and save more. The only difference is the brand and the tax that comes along with it. So, go local, spend less to save more moolah.

4) Investing for instant gratification

Those social media money talks about investing on networking and other easy money schemes can be a headache. Keep in mind that money doesn’t grow on one sitting while waiting for recruits to cash in. It doesn’t work that way. But there are those who still fall prey to this investment pitfall.

If you are serious about growing your money, get inspirations from overseas workers-turned-entrepreneurs who became rich through smart investing. Remember, investing requires patience.

5) Dependence on family or friends for financial stability

Being dependent on family or friends for financial stability is a bad habit to follow. If you have been making them your last resort for financial security, there’s something wrong with how you manage your finances. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being capable of earning yet incapable of paying off debts.

Strive to a point to save enough, avoid wants, prioritize needs and save your face from asking a favor to owe money from your family or friends.

6) Lack of financial literacy

Being financial literate means understanding how money works to make more. If your expenses are greater than your savings, you have a big problem. But don’t feel bad, you can still be financially savvy. By asking the right people, learning about investments and developing a saving habit, you can become financially literate. Moms are known to be good with money. Try getting budgeting tips from moms to learn from the best.

7) Late working age

Traditional working age is 21 (FinanceSuperhero note: This varies from community to community), but it doesn’t mean you have an excuse to make money mistakes at this age. In fact, you are a young adult. That means you need to be financially responsible as well.

Your money habits start young, and like the saying goes, old habits die hard. Always start young with how money is being managed.

8) Aspirational lifestyle

While most try to climb from lower to middle class, the majority live for the aspirational lifestyle. Peer pressure and social media may have played an important role to establish this ideal. The practice of sacrificing a budget for the sake of an aspirational lifestyle is damaging. If this is one habit you’ve been living through, then it is high time to quit.

Final Word

Financial security should be a serious responsibility when adulting. You don’t want to be frowned upon for your bad money habits, and most of all you do not want to regret not having been a smart saver at a young age. So, with the New Year, you have a fresh start and a clean slate to make your financial goals count! Stop promising and start doing. It will pay off!


Has your 2017 gotten off to the start you imagined? What bad money habits do you need you ditch this year?

Stop Wasting Money With These 5 Tips

Looking to stop wasting money on things you don't really need? These 5 tips will help you spend wisely and quit spending money on stupid things!How often do you catch yourself wasting money on absolutely stupid things? Do you want to stop wasting money? Some things – like speeding tickets, broken dishes, and extra trips to the doctor caused by illness – are just plain bad luck. Many other things are self-inflicted wounds caused by laziness, not planning ahead, or ignorance.

No matter the cause, these expenses cost you and me hundreds of dollars every month! If you want to stop wasting money on these stupid, unnecessary purchases and expenses, there is hope!


5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money in 2017

The following 5 tips to stop wasting money are easy to implement and will get you on track to stop wasting money and Take Back Control of Your Life and Money!

1. Brew Your Own Coffee

Coffee is inexpensive to purchase yourself, yet its price skyrockets when you pay Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or the local coffeehouse to brew it for you. At minimum, a cuppa Joe on the go will cost over $1, while the same cup brewed at home will cost pennies.

No, brewing your own coffee won’t make in you a millionaire, but if you’re in the habit of dropping $5-10 per day at Starbucks, that’s nonsense!

2. Minimize Shipping Costs When Shopping Online

Recently, I ordered a complete set of seven Star Wars movie posters for our home theater room. I shopped for the best deal I could find online, and when it came time to checkout, I was faced with many shipping options. I chose free shipping because I thought ahead in advance and ordered my items before I actually needed them.

While online shopping is simple and time efficient, it is often more costly because many people elect to pay a fortune in shipping costs in order to receive their items within 1-3 days. By shopping in advance, or taking advantage of Amazon Prime which comes with free two-day shipping on thousands of items, you can stop wasting money on sky-high shipping costs.

3. Skip Expensive, High-Calorie Appetizers

I enjoy greasy appetizer platters just as much as the next guy, but at $8 and nearly 3000 calories, I nearly always regret my indulgence. Sure, $8 won’t make me significantly richer; no, I won’t likely nickle-and-dime my way into developing a million dollar investment portfolio.

But I can stop wasting money on appetizers by acknowledging that I have better options. And besides, appetizers generally leave me unable to finish my meal without overeating.

4. Cancel Your Newspaper Subscription

Currently, my wife and I pay for a Sunday subscription to The Chicago Tribune. Shameful confession time: the edition from last Sunday is still sitting at the end of our driveway as I write this on a Wednesday. I may as well just burn my subscription fee every month, as I’m clearly not reading the paper.

Like any good American, I find my news from the most trustworthy source: my Facebook News Feed. In all seriousness, you and I need to stop wasting money on a newspaper that we do not read, especially when free news is available online.

My sources of choice have long been The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press, both of which are available via mobile app. Your local paper is probably available free of charge.

5. Stop Buying Lottery Tickets and Betting

My thoughts on the lottery system are very divided. On one hand, proceeds from the lottery in my home state of Illinois support education and indirectly pay my teacher salary. On the other, I know that dozens of my dear friends are wasting their money on a daily or weekly basis.

I myself have only indulged in NCAA basketball tournament pools, which is admittedly different than the lottery (I also won the entire tournament and collected $900, but I digress. . .), but I plan to stop that this year, as well.

While a potential big payday is theoretically always just one ticket purchase or bet away, the odds of winning are microscopically small. In my opinion, the lottery system offers false hope to the hopeless; it is essentially a tax on the poor. Stop wasting money on lottery tickets and use the money saved to invest in index funds, real estate, or just toss the money into your savings account.

Saving Money Can Be Easy

If you’re ready stop the madness and looking for a helpful, easy way to ensure that you save the money you are no longer wasting, you can do it for FREE!

I use Digit to save money automatically each month towards upcoming purchases. In the fall, we used our savings to travel to Las Vegas for a much needed vacation! I can’t recommend the app enough, particularly for those who are prone to overspending.

Opening a Digit savings account is easy and only takes a few minutes. Digit uses secure encryption technology to link to your checking account and analyzes your spending. After it has gotten to know you and your habits, it automatically saves money for you every so often by moving money into a secure Digit savings account. Some days, it moves $5 into my savings account, and other days it may move $15 – it all depends upon my spending patterns. And I don’t agree with Digits savings plan, I can always pause savings or transfer money back into my checking account with a simple text command.

If you are not a natural saver and want to stop wasting money, I can’t stress this enough – Open your own Digit savings account for free today!

What are the primary ways you need to stop wasting money? How have you wasted money in the past?


Looking to stop wasting money on things you don't really need? These 5 tips will help you spend wisely and quit spending money on stupid things!

41 Tips to Save Money

Today’s post, “41 Tips to Save Money,” was contributed by Tina Roth. Tina is passionate about helping people to make solid financial decisions, which motivated her to start her own personal finance blog,where she writes about money management tips and frugality. She is also the community manager at the finance guest post community.

How can I save money?

This is one of the most common questions asked by a lot of people.

Developing a habit of overspending can disrupt your whole plan of saving some money. And it can be very hard to change long-rooted bad habits. However, in order to escape from this trap of unnecessary spending, we need to find some effective ways to save money. Check out the list below and find a few new ways to save money this month!

41 Effective and Easy Ways to Save Money

Undoubtedly, there are many ways to save money. The choice to pursue any of these avenues will be dependent upon your lifestyle and preferences. Just go through this amazing list to discover some effective money saving tips.

1. Turn off your Television:

This is one of the best ways to cut down a regular expense. Paying a lower electricity bill along with staying away from those provoking commercials can actually be the outcome of your decision of cutting the cable connection or switching off the TV.

2. Keep Track of Your Spending:

Think about keeping track of your spending habits, at least for a month or two. This will help you to handle your financial issues more efficiently.

Related: How to Develop a Budget

3. Switch your Bank Accounts:

If you are being charged wrongly for your bank accounts then, think about switching your account to a different bank. You can also go for a high interest online savings account.

4. Get rid of your Debt:

Get rid of the headache of paying interest by clearing all your debts. Once you have cleared all your debts then, you can save the money for your future.

5. Plan for Having Group Dinners:

If dining out is the best refreshment for you, consider going for a group dinner. It’s an amazing way to have an access to your favorite dishes at a reasonable price.

Related: Dining Out on a Dime – 10 Money Saving Tips

6. Improve Your Credit Score:

Improve your credit score for staying benefited. Once you have a clear conception of your position, you can think about saving some money by following the above mentioned technique.

7. Build a Habit of Cooking:

Try to build the habit of cooking at home more often. This is a unique way of staying healthy as well as saving money. For the micro family, both husband and wife should take the responsibility of cooking.

8. Cancel the Gym Membership:

Think about canceling your annual gym membership if you are not going there frequently. This is a simple way to save money with minimal effort.

9. Buy in Bulk:

Buying in bulk might cost you some more money at a time, but soon you will notice the difference in the method of your savings. Opt for buying non-perishable goods in bulk.

10. Drop all the Bad Habits:

We all have bad habits. Try to get rid of those which negatively impact your health and your wallet. Stop consuming alcohol or moderate your consumption to save some money. If you smoke, stop as soon as possible.

11. Borrow a Dress:

Instead of buying an expensive dress, consider borrowing it from a friend. If you are not planning to wear a particular dress several times, it would be better for you to not waste money on it.

12. Install a Water Meter:

Install a water meter for keeping a track of your regular usage of water. Paying an excessive amount on water bills can easily be controlled by following this unique method.

13. Be Smart with your Car:

Avoid driving aggressively to stay away from accidents. Harsh driving can also cost you extra fuel, which will affect your monthly budget planning.

14. Find a Roommate:

One of the most effective ways to save money is finding a roommate to share all your expenses. The dream of living in a separate place will easily fit within your budget by getting a roommate.

Related: Would you live in an adult dorm?

15. Start Selling your Unwanted Goods:

Stop collecting items without resale value. On the other hand, opt for selling those unused items to get some money before they lose their value completely.

16. Get a Grip on your Impulses:

Don’t forget to think twice before investing in any expensive item. This will definitely save you from indulging in any kind of impulsive purchase.

17. Use Leftovers:

Utilize your fridge-clearing days by using all the leftovers of the previous day. This is an amazing way to save some money on your meal of the day.

18. Plan your Vacations Wisely:

Instead of wasting a lot of money on your overseas trips, try to find out some incredible locations near your house to visit. The money you will save from these trips can actually be utilized later.

Related: How to Save Money on Vacations

19. Transportation:

Avail public transport system instead of owning a car. If you are not comfortable traveling by bus, you can also think about getting a bicycle.

20. Conduct Purchases from Online Sites:

It may seem a critical job for you, but do consider availing the service of online shopping forums. The yearlong discount they offer on different items can help you a lot to stick with your budget.

21. Make a List Before Shopping:

Make a list before you go out shopping. This will make you think twice before getting anything that is not on the list.

22. Use Discount Websites:

You can also think about visiting the discount websites for scoring some amazing discounts on traveling or events. In this way you would be able to save a lot of money.

23. Become a Vegetarian:

If you are really willing to drastically impact your budget and health, then think about becoming a vegetarian. You can also implement meatless meals.

24. Avoid Using Candles:

Instead of buying costly room fresheners and candles, opt for using baking soda for reducing the odor. A small container of cinnamon can also work fine.

25. Clean your House Yourself:

Avoid the luxury of employing housecleaning staffs. Try to clean your house by yourself to saving at least $100 a month.

26. Get a Grip on your Phone Bills:

If you are the one who spends a lot of time outside the home, it would be useless for you to maintain a home telephone and its bill. Also review plans for mobile phones and reduce expenses as you are able.

27. Set a Budget for Gifting:

As the season of festivity is knocking at the door, you should come up with some amazing gifting ideas. Don’t forget to set a budget before getting anything.

28. Unplug Electronic Devices:

Unplug electronic devices before leaving your home. This is an effective way to save money as those devices can consume power if you let the plugs in.

29. Repair your Clothes:

Don’t throw away your favorite shirt because of a broken button. Instead of getting a new shirt, think about repairing it.

30. Brew Your Own Coffee:

Replace your habit of drinking that daily caramel mocha and brew your own coffee. This will save you approximately $4 per day!

31. Car Pool:

Sharing a ride with your fellow worker can be a huge savings. The money you save from a car pool can definitely help you in achieving something big in the future.

32. Create a Separate Bank Account:

Think about having a separate bank account other than your savings account. It can help you in reducing the chances of borrowing money from the savings account.

33. Visit Libraries:

If you are a student or live in an area with an adequate public library, you should definitely think about borrowing books from libraries instead of buying them. This is indeed an awesome way to save money to plan your future properly.

34. Read Magazines Online:

If buying magazines is the habit you cannot escape, read them online.

35. Buy Generic Products:

Brand names are catchy, but sometimes you can find similar quality goods by shopping generic.

36. Gardening:

In order to save some money, grow your  own vegetables to save on the cost of buying vegetables from the market.

37. Learn the Basics of House Maintenance:

It is very essential for you to know the basic art of maintaining a house. Try to acquire a bit of knowledge in this area, such as fixing lights, repairing walls, and painting.

38. Enjoy the Beauty of Nature:

Plan your weekend outings in beautiful parks instead of spending the evenings in fancy clubs or restaurants.

39. Buy a Water Filter:

Buying bottled water is one of the most common ways for the people to waste a lot of money. A water filter eliminates this need and helps you save money.

40. Use your Talent for Earning Extra Cash:

Maximize your skills! Starting a side business can help you earn more money, therefore increasing your ability to save.

Related: Launch Your Own Small Business

41. Opt for Leading a Healthy Life:

Leading a healthy life without any trace of bad habits like drinking or smoking is very much essential. A healthy lifestyle will save you money in the long run.

Parting Thoughts

Many times we end up spending large sums of money to fulfill our whims. The solution lies in curbing our impulsive buying nature. Just follow the above mentioned techniques to cut waste and save money today!


How to Save Money on Vacations

Everyone wants to save money on vacations. Why wouldn’t they?

Need to get away for a while without spending a fortune? Read these 7 tips to save money on vacations & avoid debt, overspending, & wasting money by planning ahead, saving, and using websites/apps to score deals.For a variety of financially-driven reasons, only 51% of eligible American employees utilize their allotted vacation time, according to MarketWatch. Many respondents expressed that they couldn’t afford to take vacation, did not want to return to piles of unfinished work, or did not trust a colleague to complete their work in their absence. Among other reasons, perhaps Americans are just stuck in the grind, suffering DINGOs who cannot afford a vacation, or are naturally poor savers.

In October, Mrs. Superhero and I will enjoy a guilt-free vacation getaway and spend four days in Las Vegas. It has been fun to research, plan, and discuss all of the activities that we would like to include during our stay, as this will be our first trip to Vegas. I admit that I am overwhelmed by all of the options, but I am choosing to think positively. We will just have to return to Vegas another time – which should be very possible considering the money we will save on this vacation!


While there are many ways to save money on vacations, I recommend the following steps because they are tried and true. They have helped me and my wife save money on vacations, and we believe they can help you, as well.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

In the midst of our planning for our vacation to Las Vegas, there is one thing my wife and I haven’t had to consider: how we are going to pay for the vacation.

A few months back, I opened a Digit account in order to satisfy our goal to save money for vacations automatically on a regular-basis. So far, our account has swelled to nearly $900, and we haven’t missed the money one bit. That money will cover the costs of our package deal, which includes airfare and resort stay. We will address our plan to cover the costs of food and entertainment below.

Recommended Open your own Digit savings account for free today!

Many people only pause to consider how they are going to pay for their vacations after they’ve already swiped their credit card. When you consider the fact that credit card interest rates may range anywhere from 12 to 26 percent, on average, we have discovered how not to save on vacations!

With a minimal effort, you can create a plan for paying for your vacation in advance. Remember – if you fail to plan, plan to fail!

Book Your Vacation As Far Ahead As Possible

Generally speaking, a common way to save money on vacations is to book your trip as far ahead as possible. Airlines and hotel chains have a simple mission: strive to reach full-capacity for every flight and individual hotel at all times. They are unlikely to achieve this goal, of course, but they increase their odds of doing so by offering advantageous savings far in advance of travel dates.

We recommend consulting a variety of websites, such as ExpediaTripAdvisor, and Airfare Watchdog to monitor prices. On most of these platforms, you can create and save itineraries and opt to receive price alerts. You can also utilize the option to name your own prices on

When planning our Las Vegas vacation, we found the best deal for our preferred resort on Expedia.

One word of caution when booking in advance: Be sure to read the fine print regarding cancellation policies and purchase cancellation protection/insurance if you feel there is a chance you may need to cancel your vacation.

Consider Last Minute Vacations

If you are unable to book your vacation in advance and can accept flexible travel dates, you may save money on vacations by purchasing last minute deals.

When Mrs. Superhero and I were planning our first wedding anniversary vacation several years ago, we were able to find a deep discount on a hotel room in Traverse City, Michigan. We found this deal despite the fact that our stay coincided with the National Cherry Festival. Vacationers who have flexible calendars, and in particular those who are educators, can take advantage of similar last minute deals to save money on vacations.

Plan Your Meals, Too

In most vacation budgets, the third-largest line item after airfare and hotel costs, respectively, is often food. You have to eat on vacation. If you’re like me, you like to eat well and try new foods. Fortunately, you can do this at a reasonable cost.

At breakfast time, avoid eating at your hotel or resort unless the meal is free or included with your stay. Typically, you can save money on vacations by walking a block or two to find more affordable breakfast options. You may even opt to enjoy a light breakfast in your room by eating food purchased at a grocery store.

Most tourist attractions aim to pad their bottom lines by preying upon the impulse of unsuspecting vacationers. They know how to take advantage of your unexpected hunger and thirst. This is why theme parks can charge $10 for bottled water and $12 for a hot dog. By planning ahead, you can save money on vacations even within your food budget. Aim to stock up on snacks and beverages at a grocery upon arriving at your destination. If you are driving, purchase these items before leaving home.

We recommend avoiding tourist hot spots. To save money on vacations, strive to eat and drink as do the locals. Once again, TripAdvisorGroupon, and can provide direction as you plan. In a pinch, you can also find last-minute deals in this manner, so be sure to download the appropriate apps for these platforms on your mobile device.

Additionally, opting to eat a larger lunch and smaller dinner can help you save money. Many lunch specials feature dinner entrees in smaller portions, but they are still large enough for lunch. When dinner time arrives, eating slowly and savoring a smaller meal can make it seem larger.

I am unconcerned about food and entertainment costs during our upcoming Las Vegas stay, as we will likely use Groupon and as much as we can. Our normal budgeted funds for food/entertainment will cover the remaining costs. We will also loosen up the purse strings for one or two nice meals.

Stick to Your Plans

We will certainly face our share of unexpected expenses while in Las Vegas. However, most of them will be opportunities which we may choose rather required expenditures. We will need to exercise discipline and control in a land of many rich opportunities; of course, this is a well-known best practice which should be implemented in order to save money on vacations.

As budgeting guru Dave Ramsey often says, “Adults devise a plan and follow it; children do what feels good.” The power of suggestion and advertising can be very strong, especially on vacation. But if you remain in tune with your goals and values, you will not fall victim to impulse.

Find Free Events

You can find free events in virtually any vacation destination on any given day. This only requires a small effort to save money on vacations.

Apps such as Yelp, Eventbrite, and LikeALocal can help you to find free or cheap events. Again, plan ahead and download these apps on your mobile device prior to leaving on vacation.

Travel During Off-Peak Seasons

Despite my above example about the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, traveling during off-peak seasons is the best way to save money on vacations. If at all possible, avoid travel to child-friendly locations during March and April (spring break time) and June-August (summer vacation). Also strive to avoid vacation travel during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends. Airlines and hotels often charge holiday premiums during these peak times.

How to Save Money on Vacations
Avoid crowds by traveling during off-peak times

Concluding Thoughts

While vacation costs can put a strain on budgets big and small, you can take steps to save money on vacations. You work hard to earn your income and vacation time, so maximize every opportunity you can to rest and recharge without breaking the bank. Even if you truly cannot afford a vacation, consider an affordable staycation as a method to avoid burnout.

Finally, do not forget to take advantage of web sites and apps such as ExpediaAirfare WatchdogPriceline.comTripAdvisorGroupon, and when planning a vacation. With any luck, they will help you save money on vacations!

What shows, restaurants, etc., do you recommend we check out in Las Vegas? What other tips do you recommend to save money on vacations? 




A Different Kind of Saving For the Future

Close your eyes for a moment and visualize your future. Perhaps you see a beautiful home with a wrap-around porch, a white picket fence, and children playing happily in the yard. Maybe your vision includes a cruise around the world, hiking in the Austrian Alps, or climbing the Great Wall of China. No matter the specifics of your vision, this can be a fun and inspiring mental exercise.

In reality, most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. As a result, we plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save money and make our dreams an affordable reality.

When it comes to saving money for the future, following Stephen Covey’s recommendation to Begin With the End in Mind is critical. However, if you’re reading this post with the hope of learning how to better save money for future expenses or plan for your retirement, you’re reading the wrong article. This isn’t  about that kind of saving.

This article is all about saving money with the ultimate intention of letting loose a bit and having fun with money. In fact, it will focus much more on future spending than on present saving.

Recently, I have read many articles which have clarified my vision of how, when, and why I will spend my future discretionary income and earmarked savings. In no particular order, I would like to present to you a wide variety of items (and their price tags, when possible) which have caught my attention in recent days and worked their way into my future plans and/or dreams.

Most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. We plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save for the future.


Rising Future Technology

It’s no secret that today’s technology is changing by the minute. Much of today’s cutting-edge technology will be discarded or revamped within the next six months. The average person intuitively knows this to be true based on perception and experience. However, it is important to note that data also supports this finding.

According to analysis by The Emerging Future, LLC, which is based upon Ray Kurzweil’s historical trends of exponential growth, the rate of technological growth is ever-improving. Consider, for example, the following chart, which articulates the projected thirty-two fold increase in current technological ability over a five year period beginning in 2012.

Most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. We plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save for the future.
Credit: The Emerging Future

While the notion of this kind of advancement is exciting, the prospect of technology becoming one thousand times more advanced in the next ten years is nearly mind-boggling. Expand the projection to 20 years, and technological advancements are projected to be over one million times more advanced. As you can see from the chart below, The Law of Accelerating Returns really makes its mark beginning sometime around year 16.

Most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. We plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save for the future.
Credit: The Emerging Future

Interestingly, I first learned of The Law of Accelerating Returns in a very practical way. When I was in fifth-grade, I learned to play chess and quickly became enamored with the game. I devoured over 50 books on chess strategy and eventually learned to play the game (and defeat opponents) without sight of the board. While my friends were preoccupied with other interests and pop culture, I became hooked on reviewing the 1996 and 1997 six-game chess matches between the World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov and IBM computer Deep Blue.

Most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. We plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save for the future.
Kasparov vs. Deep Blue (Credit: Mentalfloss)

Naturally, I assumed, perhaps due to youthful naiveté, that Kasparov would crush Deep Blue. In 1996, the Champion won the match 4-2. However, a year later, the computer improved greatly and defeated Kasparov 3.5-2.5. Though many chess experts blamed the loss on uncharacteristically-poor play by Kasparov, artificial intelligence had defeated human intelligence.

I note these historic chess matches because they serve as a poignant illustration of exactly how far artificial intelligence has come in the past 20 years. While it was once impressive to witness a machine defeating man in the world’s most-complex game, today technology is capable of much, much more. This is where dreams, saving, and spending come into play.

 Autonomous Vehicles and Tesla Motors

Beginning around 2008, Tesla Motors began the production and sale of its Tesla Roadster, the first automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells. The Tesla Model S sedan was unveiled in 2009 and hit the public streets in 2012. Last March, CEO Elon Musk unveiled plans for the Tesla Model 3, which is set to debut in 2017 at a base cost around $35,000.

Most people are keenly aware that most dreams come at a cost. We plan, scheme, make do, and go without in an effort to save for the future.
2017 Tesla Model 3 (Credit: Motor Trend)

When I read reviews and watch videos on the Model 3, I tend to have a very different reaction than many people. Yes, I am simultaneously intrigued by the vehicle itself and disgusted at its price; yet, on the other hand, a part of me considers the impact that the Law of Accelerating Returns will have upon Tesla vehicles’ performance and cost over time. Interestingly, Musk himself believes that future Tesla models will continue to become more and more affordable. He also believes that his company is currently only six years away from achieving an autonomous vehicle (i.e. its driver can go to sleep and awaken having arrived at his destination).

While I don’t plan to spend $35,000 on a Model 3 next year, I hope to be in the market for a future Model 7 or 8 at the hopefully-low cost of around $22,000 (my optimistic prediction) ten years from now.

It’s time to start saving!

Flying Robots

I will never forget the day I learned that Amazon was working on a plan to deliver packages via drone; it was certainly an intriguing idea. Naturally, I was even more impressed when I viewed the following video some time later.

Though it seemed like a far-off fantasy at the time, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is just around the corner. According to Business News Daily, the Federal Aviation Administration recently passed new rules on civilian drone usage. The rules, called Part 107, go into effect on August 29, 2016, and will allow for unlicensed pilots to legally operate drones as long it weighs less than 55 pounds, is monitored by a remote pilot, and flies at a maximum altitude of 400 feet.

In my estimation, it is only a matter of time before further research verifies the safety of drone operation, thereby making UAVs more-accessible and usable by the average Joe. A quick look at current options on Amazon led me to the $495.00 DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter with HD Video Camera.

It could come in handy for real estate business, right?

Augmented Reality

By now, you’ve surely heard of the Pokemon Go craze sweeping the world. The wild popularity of the game is attributable to two phenomena, in my opinion: nostalgia and augmented reality. The latter, commonly referred to as AR, pushes the limitations of graphics to a new level by blending reality with computer-generated elements.

An article on predicted the rise of AR games like Pokemon Go. It provides more detail and insight than is practical or possible to share in this space, but the possibilities associated with this technology are fascinating. In the future, AR may be used in advantageous ways by medical professionals, military personnel, and educators.

I, for one, cannot wait to don a pair of AR goggles and walk the streets of Chicago while my goggles take me on an architectural and historical tour of the city.

The Lilium

As if AR, self-driving vehicles, and drones weren’t exciting enough, a group of German engineers have raised the bar even higher with the development of a conceptual electric plane called LiliumTouted as the first-ever vertical take-off and landing jet, the Lilium is projected to reach speeds of approximately 250 miles per hour.

As of the date of publication of this article, the Lilium is expected to be made available for purchase in its initial public rollout in January 2018. It is certainly not without its limitations, including the required training and licensure in order to legally operate the Lilium, but if we are to trust the Law of Accelerating Returns, perhaps the technology will be become both affordable and easy to use by 2040.

The Perks and Rewards of Exponential Growth

While the above examples are certainly fun to dream about in the present, many experts believe that we can scarcely begin to imagine what will be possible in the next 10, 20, or even 50 years as a result of the exponential growth of technology. Perhaps a 50-year old FinanceSuperhero will become the market leader for the sale of smart homes or stay busy planning a family vacation to the Moon.

Whether these examples serve as fuel for your dreams of financial independence or new and interesting topics to discuss around the water cooler, one thing is clear: for those who are pursuing early retirement, there will be plenty of ways to spend their hard-earned dollars.

Do you think about future “fun” purchases like those above when dreaming of financial independence and early retirement? Have you budgeted or planned for any similar purchases or experiences? What technological advances do you most hope to witness in your lifetime?