Archive for June 2015

4 Ways Technology has Impacted the Personal Finance World

personal finance

6199518254_2371d69321_zEven though it’s not spring anymore, I’ve been working hard to clean out both my home office and my office at my full-time job. I find that I’m able to focus better and get more accomplished when I work in a clean and tidy space.

While I was cleaning out some drawers in my home office, I came across a plastic tote full of old pieces of technology including things like my first ever Ipod, a ton of old cell phones?and chargers, and a bunch of other random and un-identified technology-like objects.

This got me thinking about my technological past. In my short life span I’ve actually gone through quite a few different computers, cellphones, music devices, and more. Is this because I’m hard on my equipment? Partially, but it could also be because of the rapidly changing and ever evolving technology that is always coming down the pipeline.

Eventually this line of thinking led me back to personal finance, much like everything does these days. But instead of mourning how much money I spent on technology in my lifetime, my mind went to how technology has impacted my personal finances. Here are four ways I thought of that technology has impacted the personal finance world.

Online Banking

One of the first things I do in my daily routine is check the online banking?system for my checking account. Yes, I do this everyday as I like to keep a close eye on my finances while I’m working to pay off debt. If it weren’t for the internet and my computer, I would have to call or stop in to the bank each day to find out my balances and what transactions have gone through my account. What a pain!

Paying Bills

Another personal finance function I perform online with my laptop is paying bills. I pay all but three of my bills online every month. Paying bills online eliminates the risk of your payment getting lost in the mail and the pesky fee that many companies charge if you try to pay by card over the phone.

With online bill paying I can also schedule my payments ahead of time so I can pay all my bills on the same day each month instead of having to set aside time to pay bills several times each month.

Earning Money

Do you earn all of your money via a job you go to from 9-5 Monday-Friday? I don’t. I started an online side hustle to supplement my income and help me reach my personal finance goals quicker, like getting out of debt. Thanks to the internet, I may even be quitting my full-time job soon to run my online business full time instead.

Even if you don’t want to give up your day job, there are plenty of ways to make a little extra money online – from your normal shopping through TopCashBack?to using a different web browser with Swagbucks.

Getting Paid

Do you get paid with a paper check from your full-time employer? I don’t know hardly anyone who does. My employer pays me via direct deposit, which allows my paycheck to be in my checking account much faster than if they had to issue paper checks and I had to find time to go down to the bank to deposit it.

For my side hustle, the majority of my clients pay me via PayPal, which is another method of online payment using a bank account transfer or a credit card.

If it weren’t for direct deposit and the internet, I may not be getting paid at all!

There are numerous, immeasurable?ways that technology affects our lives every single day. Sometimes we don’t even realize all of the effects that technology has on us and how dependent we really are on our online systems.


What other ways can you think of that technology affects your personal finances? What are some of the favorite tools you use to manage your money? Do you still get paid via paper check?



Photo courtesy of: Tom Taker


3 Reasons Why It Makes Sense to Spend More

Spend more

5929474535_56ba24d10d_zWhen you are trying to save money and keep your budget under control as tightly as possible, it would seem the last thing you would want to do is spend more money than you have to on an item.

Most thrifty shoppers just look around for the lowest possible price on what it is they want to purchase. However, if you take that approach, you could end up actually spending more money in the long run. Sometimes, it is best to spend more money upfront in exchange for potential savings later on.

Following are three simple reasons why you should consider spending a little bit more on certain items that you need to purchase.

#1 ? It?s All about Quality

Generally speaking, low cost items are low cost for a reason ? they aren?t good enough to be more expensive. If the product was of a higher quality, it would cost more. This is a simple principle that most people learn early in their adult lives. That doesn?t mean that you should always buy the highest priced item that you can find, but you should certainly think twice before reaching for the cheapest.

You want to find a good balance of cost and quality so you can reasonably expect the product to last. Buying a cheap product and having to replace it after only a few weeks with a more expensive one is certainly something you want to avoid. This is also a good reason to be wary of things that are on sale.

#2 ? Better Buyer Protection

This is not a hard and fast rule, so you will need to check into the specific protection that comes with any given product ? but often more expensive products come with a better warranty or quality assurance that can protect you in case something goes wrong.

When you shop among the discount brands, you will be less likely to get any kind of guarantee behind the product, and even if you do, it might be a challenge to utilize it if you have to. Things like electronics and appliances certainly fall into this category. If you can find a brand that offers a great warranty, it may be worth your investment to pay a little more upfront. You may also want to consider using your credit card in certain instances as many offer protection as well.

#3 ? More Enjoyment

For some purchases, spending more money means that you will simply get a better product and you will be able to get more enjoyment from using it.

Take the example of running shoes. There are tons of brands and models on the market, ranging from as low as $30 or so all the way up $200 and more. You could certainly buy one of the low-end shoe models and save quite a bit of money on your purchase ? but how much would you even use those shoes? Most likely, your feet would get sore after just a couple runs and you would leave them in the garage in collect dust.

In this case, spending a little more (even if it is less than $200) is likely going to be worth the investment so you can get plenty of use and enjoyment out of the shoes.


What are some other situations where it may be worth it to spend more money? Do you opt for the cheapest product you can find? Or do you balance price and quality?



Photo courtesy of: Images Money


Generic vs. Name Brand – What Will You Pay More For?


13065042035_4ca6f93236_zBuying generic food and household products is just one way to save money at the grocery store. But unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who won?t buy generic for various reasons, one of which is their perceived difference in quality.

Marketing companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to convince consumers that certain brands of products are better than others and that generic products are of inferior quality. It may surprise you to learn that generic products are usually very similar quality-wise to name brand products, but for a much lower price.

In the past, this wasn?t true and many consumers still hold on-to the notion that generic products are inferior because they were when they first introduced in the 1970s.

There are still some items I buy name brand, but for the most part, I?m a fan of buying generic products to save money. Here are some?generic things I will and won?t buy.

Things I Will Buy Generic

Most boxed generic foods are just as high quality as name brand boxed foods, so I generally buy generic for pantry staples: baking mixes, flour, sugar, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables, bottled water, pasta sauce, nut butter, and bread. My parents always bought these things name brand when I was a kid, but now that I?ve compared prices I can see how much money they were wasting by buying name brand, plus I can?t tell a difference between name brand and generic on these products.

There are also some household items I?m not afraid to buy generic, like q-tips, napkins, pain reliever, facial tissue, some electronic products, shampoo, and hand sanitizer.

Things I Won?t Buy Generic

As much as I like to buy generic products to save money?on my household and grocery bills, there are a few things I?ve tried generic and was disappointed by because of quality or taste.

At the grocery store, I buy these name brand products: meat, cheese, other dairy products, coffee, creamer, salad, salad dressing, cereal, and breakfast pastries.

Likewise, there are a few generic household products I?ve tried and was disappointed in too. Therefore, I buy these things name brand: paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, cosmetics, some medicines, and batteries.

I can?t imagine how much money a large household could save every year by switching out some of their name brand purchases for generics, but I know in my one-person household I save at least $20-40 each month by making these small substitutions.

Of course, not every generic brand or product is a winner. So before you buy a large quantity of generic products, you should try them out in a smaller quantity first. Just because your friends, neighbors, or a review says a generic product is good doesn?t necessarily mean it will work for you.

Before you put name brand products in your shopping cart next time, you should at least consider the financial ramifications of buying name brand vs. buying generic products.


What’s your view on buying generic products? What items are you willing to pay more for in order to get better value? What are some other ways you save money at the grocery store?



Photo courtesy of: U.S. Department of Agriculture

3 Ways to Decorate Outdoor Spaces for Less


DecorateWhile there are some things I hate about being a homeowner, one of the best things about owning my own home is getting to decorate however I want. When I was a renter, I was restricted to white walls and some places I lived even restricted the number of things you can hang on the wall. But now I can paint the walls crazy colors and hang as many things on them as I want.

When I was going through the process of buying my first home, I knew I wanted to have a nice outdoor space for entertaining in the spring and summer. I love spending time outdoors, so I wanted to have a nice sized yard. Unfortunately, I got a nice house and a terrible yard when I bought my home. The yard is a nice size, but it needs a lot of work.

After DIY-ing a lot of my own yard work to save money, I finally am getting to the point where I can buy outdoor furniture and d?cor, which is my favorite part. I want a classy look, but I don?t want to spend a ton of money, so here are three ways I?m decorating my outdoor space for less.

Building Materials

As part of my back yard project, I want to finish building my deck. I?ve been working on it for some time now and part of the reason it has taken so long is that I always wait for a sale or special deal to get my building materials.

Sometimes buying them online can save you money too. There are lots of savings on timber at Patio Living, as well as other stores, that can stretch your decorating budget.


Before I buy my outdoor furniture, I will be selling some of the things I already own. Then I?ll be able to put that money toward my new outdoor furniture. Another way I?m saving on my outdoor furniture is by using a few hand-me-downs from my parents. They just got new furniture last year and were kind enough to give me a few things they no longer wanted.

Another way to save on furniture is to get neutral colored frames with replaceable cushions. The first thing that usually wears out on outdoor furniture is the colorful cushions. They get faded and gross after a year or two, so being able to replace just the cushions instead of the whole furniture set will save a lot of money.


Another thing I utilize to make my outdoor space a relaxing environment is a lot of plans and greenery. I love the feeling that live plants can bring to an indoor space, and I find that they also make an outdoor space nicer too. Therefore I?ll be planting lots of hardy greenery that will come back each season to finish off my outdoor space.

When you have a nice outdoor entertaining space to enjoy during good weather, it can make your home seem even larger than it really is. But you don?t have to spend a lot of money on putting your outdoor space together with these tips.


Photo courtesy of:??


3 Staycation Ideas That Don?t Suck


6281069731_e60b068ebb_zIn recent years, the idea of a ?staycation? is one that has gained more and more popularity. The concept is simple ? instead of taking time off work and heading out of town for a few days, you take that time off and then stay home while doing fun things near where you live.

This allows you to save money on travel while still getting a nice break from the daily grind. However, many staycations end up being spent sitting at home. To avoid that outcome and make sure you have a great staycation worth remembering, consider using one of the three ideas below.

Hit the Biggest Tourist Spots

No matter where you live, there is likely some form of tourist activity nearby. Whether it is an amusement park, a State or National Park, a museum, or something else altogether, you shouldn?t have to look too hard to find the spots near you that cater to those from out of town. We like to use Priceline?as it allows you to find hotels based on location, cost or geographic area so we can find something that best fits our budget and driving distance we want.

Ironically, these are probably things that you have taken for granted and never done simply because they are so close to your home. When you take a staycation, use the time to visit some of these popular tourist spots – you might find that they are far more interesting and exciting than you once thought.

Take a One-Night Road Trip

Depending on your definition of a staycation, you could plan yours to include one night on the road at a hotel. That one night shouldn?t cost too much, but it can make many more options possible for your activities.

For example, you could get in the car early one morning and drive as far as a few hours away. Once at the destination, you should still have half a day left to see the sights and maybe enjoy a nice meal. After staying the night, you can spend the first half of the next day seeing a few more sights before heading home. Think of this approach as a regular vacation that has been sped up ? it will allow you to see something near home that you don?t usually see, while not spending too much money in the process.

Enjoy Some Nightlife During Your Staycation

One thing that many people fail to do when they live near a big city is enjoy the shows and other performances that are offered on a regular basis. Almost every large city, and plenty of smaller ones, have a live theater or two that offers performances throughout the year.

Check the calendar for these kinds of shows during the time of your staycation and see if anything catches your interest. It might be hard to take in this kind of nightlife during a normal work week when you have to get up early for work the next day. Plus, a frugal night out might be just what the doctor ordered.

These?are just three ideas for your upcoming staycation that can help you make the most of your time away from work. Be creative and think about everything that is available to do near where you live before settling on a final itinerary for your staycation.


What are some things like you to do on a staycation??Do you think staycations can help you save money while still being fun?



Photo courtesy of: Broadway Tour