Become Healthier and Wealthier by Kicking These Bad Habits

The connections between health and wealth are numerous but easily overlooked when we’re too focused on improving one or the other. It’s easy to forget that health issues can devastate our finances and poor health may lead to us making bad financial decisions. On the contrary, the benefits of maintaining good health can include better productivity, less time off sick, and a more positive outlook on life, all of which make it easier for us to make smart financial choices.

Here are a few bad habits that if kicked, would make you both healthier and wealthier:

Smoking

Cutting our cigarettes is an easy way to add years to your life. You’ve heard the health risks that come with smoking: heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and more.

In addition to the money you’d save on purchasing cigarettes (an average of $6-$8 per pack), stopping smoking will also save you on health care costs. Insurance premiums for smokers almost always cost more than those of nonsmokers.

Poor Diet

Cut the excess calories from fast food and high calorie processed foods. A balanced diet leads to a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight means better health both mental and physical.

In turn, better health means you’ll have lower insurance premiums as well as lower life insurance rates. It’s estimated that healthy people save, on average, $1,429 more each year than people who are obese.

Physical Inactivity

You don’t need to follow an aggressive exercise program to be active. Merely adding a 30-minute walk each day can drastically lower risks of developing a chronic health problem.

Adding exercise, even if it’s minimal, is similar to the way we increase wealth. Exercise includes setting goals, staying disciplined, and maintaining positive habits. If you can do one or the other, exercise or saving, you can do the other.

Whether you aim to increase your wealth or to better your health, work to find a balance between improving both.

Simple Ways to Save Money on Food

The majority of Americans spend most of their money on three things: rent/mortgage, transportation, and food.

When you’re trying to save money, cutting your food costs may be an excellent place to start.

You don’t have to spend hours cutting out coupons or buy more in bulk than fits in your freezer to save money on food. There are simple methods you can easily employ to cut down on your food costs.

Cook at home

The is the obvious and most likely to save you the most money way to save on food. Many of us avoid cooking our own meals — whether it’s because we feel we don’t have time, we’re tired, or take out is just too tempting. Eating out is far more expensive than cooking our own meals at home so if you’re trying to stretch your food budget, start by increasing the number of meals you prepare at home.

Share meals

If you’re not ready to eliminate eating out, try sharing meals at restaurants instead. Plus, you’ll find it’s easier to avoid overeating when you share, and you’ll be cutting down on food waste.

Set limits

Set aside exactly how much you want to spend on groceries. Stay within your limits. It’s helpful to know your limits before you head off to the grocery store.

Go generic

“If it costs more, it must be superior,” doesn’t always apply. Many times, when buying name-brand groceries instead of the generic, you’re only paying more for the name and advertising. There are products where the name-brand may be superior to the generic but for many groceries, staples like flour, coffee, and spices, you’ll probably be better off going generic and saving the extra money.

Buy bulk

Not everything of course! Buying in bulk is only wise if you know you’ll use all of it.

Pass on pre-cut

Instead of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, purchase whole. Pre-cut and packaged fruits and vegetables on average cost between 30-50% more than if you had bought whole and cut them yourself.

Stay in season

The cheapest fruits and vegetables are going to be those that are in season. Follow a list of available fruits and vegetables by season.

Give grocery ads a glance

Before you head to the grocery store, give your store’s ads a look. It requires a bit more thought, but by planning around what’s on sale, you can save a lot.

Freeze leftovers

Save money as well as avoid adding to food waste by freezing leftovers. Pick up some containers and freeze what you know you can’t eat. Pull these containers out anytime you feel too tired to cook a full meal.

Use membership cards

Most major stores have membership or club cards that will increase your savings. These cards allow you access to sales and special lower prices if you take the time to sign up. Some stores even allow you to earn cash back when you use your card.

Shop online

Online grocery shopping might seem like it would be expensive but depending on your needs, it may actually end up saving you money. Without the stress of roaming aisles, you’re less likely to spend on impulse buys.

Adjusting your food budget takes a little time and effort, but with these simple changes, the money you save may be worth it.

Increase Your Spendable Earnings By Paying Off Debt Sooner

Increase your spendable income by paying off debt. You can make use of all the interest you have been paying as soon as you have paid off your debt.

An increasing number of people are becoming anxious about all of the money going out the door for interest payments. Specifically the biggest monster, the home mortgage. When you make your last mortgage payment and at last have the mortgage burning party you can sleep sounder at night. It’s a great feeling to be out from under that heavy weight of debt.

On the other hand, because your mortgage is the best source of low-interest loans, it’s possible you’ll wish to use your money in different ways. It may be less challenging to refinance your mortgage to help pay off other loans while you still have a mortgage than trying to receive a new mortgage.

Other debt may be more important to pay off first. With the average household having around $16,000 in credit card debt, it’s unquestionably more critical to pay this debt off first. It goes without saying that once you pay off those credit cards, then never use them again to build up debt. Recognize that credit cards may perhaps be a necessity in today’s world, but pay off your balance every month.

After paying off your more substantial debts, you might want to think about other uses for the money you once allocated to interest. Maybe you should think about investments. It will not always be wise to put all of your investment eggs in one basket. All financial planners would agree that diversification is essential in any investment portfolio. By having your mortgage paid off, you finally own a real estate investment: your home. Use your money to help you build your wealth in many diverse areas.

There must be a good reason to pay off your debt. The majority of people only think of shopping for more goods and services. You need to think about your future. Developing your family’s wealth could be one of the best reasons for paying off debt.

Simple Ways To Slash Gas Expenses

There’s a good chance you own a car. Most of us do. The cost to buy and maintain a car is one of the highest household expenses for most people. One method to lower overall car costs is to decrease the amount you spend on gas. Here are our favorite gas-saving tips:

Drive moderately

Your driving habits are the key to gas savings. Habits like accelerating rapidly, speeding, or braking hard are quick ways to consume gas, potentially lowering your gas mileage by around 30%. Driving moderately instead of aggressively is not only safer but will significantly affect how much you spend on gas.

Plan trips to the pump

Avoid going to gas pump on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The best times to fill up your gas tank are Wednesday and early Thursday morning. This is because gas prices are usually raised on Thursdays to account for the increased number of people on the road on weekends.

Take advantage of apps

Use apps like Google Maps or Maps on iPhone to get an idea of traffic before you head out. Avoid the busiest traffic times when possible, this saves you from wasting gas idling and accelerating in traffic. Additional gas savings can be gained by using apps like GasBuddy to locate the cheapest gas around you.

Don’t let your tank get to almost empty

If you’re near empty of gas, you’ll not have many options of places to fill up. You’ll have to fill up wherever you can nearby, instead of finding the gas stations with the best deals on gas.

Get gas rewards

Grocery stores like Ralphs and Safeway offer gas rewards programs. Consider sharing the card with friends and family to increase points to increase savings further.

Consider a gas rewards credit card

If you’re a frequent driver, a credit card that gives gas rewards may be a great idea. Be careful if you’re not paying off the balance each month because many of these rewards cards have higher than usual interest rates.

Keep up with maintenance

Some basic maintenance to keep your car in tune can save you in the long run. Things like keeping tires properly inflated, regular oil changes, and air filter replacement can reduce your car’s gas consumption.

Don’t purchase premium

Unless stated in the owner’s manual as required, there isn’t much advantage to purchasing premium gas. Because of government regulations to cut down on emissions, all grades of gasoline have enough additives and detergents to keep your car’s engine clean.

Turn the engine off

If you’re in the car waiting, turn the engine off. Besides contributing to air pollution, idling can be a massive waste of gas. Starting your car uses about ten seconds of gas while idling can use up to a half-gallon of gas per hour.

Drive less

Driving less is the quickest way to save on gas expenses. While avoiding driving might be out of the question for you, you can try walking or biking instead of driving whenever you have the chance.

Because of the volatility of gas prices, consumers need to know how to reduce gas expenses best. Fortunately, there are simple steps that can be followed to reduce gas consumption and increase savings significantly.

Automate Healthy Financial Habits With These 3 Tips

Following healthy financial habits, especially those related to our long-term savings and goals can be challenging to maintain. Automating these healthy habits is key to keeping up with them and staying financially fit.

Here are three ways to automate healthy financial habits:

1. Set up auto-pay for your bills

Having your bills on auto-pay is a great way to simplify bill pay as well as save time and avoids having to worry about payment due dates and late fees. Have recurring bills set up to automatically be paid from your checking account, ideally as soon after your paycheck has been deposited as possible. With the bill payments taken out not long after your paycheck is deposited, you’ll have a good idea of how much money you have left to spend.

2. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account

Saving goals are much easier to meet if you have a predetermined amount set to automatically deposit from your checking into your savings account after your paycheck hits. It’s far less tempting to spend money you should be saving if it’s not in your checking account because it has been deposited automatically into your savings.

3. Automatic contributions to a retirement account

Does your employer offer retirement plans like a 401k or 403b? Signing up for automatic transfers allows you to make the best of your tax benefits because the money put into these retirement accounts is not taxed. These automatic contributions provide you with a lower taxable income and the security of knowing you’re putting money away for your retirement. Consider making automatic contributions to an IRA account if you don’t have access to a retirement account through your employer.

A Final Word

Developing healthy financial habits is a process. Taking advantage of opportunities to automate some of these habits is a great way to force ourselves to keep up with our habits and ultimately, to reach our financial goals.

Employee Debt Stress

As personal debt soars to near-record levels, employees are bringing worries about their personal finances to the office. What should you do to help?

We’ve known it for years: American workers are not putting away enough money for retirement. Now, there’s an even more ominous trend: In addition to not saving for tomorrow, a growing number of workers also are not spending wisely today. However, if you get a bad credit loan fast, you may be able to avoid these problems from the beginning.

Consider this: 38% percent of those responding to a recent survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times characterized their personal finances as shaky. The majority of Americans report being worried about their financial stability. Forty percent reported difficulty paying loans, car payments or insurance premiums. Most people are not aware that a bad credit loan can save them from late or overdraft fees that can add up quickly.

Simply put, employees are struggling. “In focus groups, we have conducted, employees report the two major stressors in their lives relate to credit management and money management,” says Karen Olson, director of marketing for Xylo Inc., a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm providing web-based workplace programs to help employees manage time and money.

“It’s hard to say exactly what percentage of people experience financial struggles on a regular basis,” says Lois Vitt, founding director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies in Middleburg, Va. “But almost everyone has financial problems at one time or another.”

So, what’s the problem? Why are so many of us depleting our savings accounts fast and living beyond our means? “We have shifted from a nation of savers to a nation of debtors,” says Irene Leech, Ph.D., an associate professor specializing in consumer education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va. “Instead of setting aside extra money for savings, we are buying more and more on credit, so we end up with debt instead of savings. Years ago, credit was something you used in an emergency. Today, for millions of people, it is a habit.”

Some social critics blame schools, financial institutions, and even employers for failing to educate the public on the importance of savings. Others blame modern society, which places a premium on materialism and creature comforts. Still, others contend the “get rich quick” mentality of the recent economic expansion has taught us to believe a monetary windfall waits just around the corner.

Regardless of the culprit–and the chances are that all of these factors and more have played a part in the problem–it’s an issue employers have to face: Personal finances are distracting their workers.

And that’s true of employees at all levels–not just low-wage earners.

Sweet Ways to Save This Valentine’s Day

Saving is sexy. With Valentine’s Day celebrations just around the corner, you’ll want to spoil your valentine and have a romantic day. It’s easy to overspend when you’re spending on someone you love. To help you maximize your savings and keep you from overspending while you shop for your Valentine this Valentine’s Day, we have a few tips to share.

A Romantic Dinner In

Instead of dinner reservations, why not grab the ingredients at the grocery store and be the chef this Valentine’s Day? Cook up your valentine’s favorite meal and grab a bottle of wine. Because dinner is usually the most expensive part of Valentine’s Day, the money you’ll save on dinner and drinks by celebrating at home is immense.

Look Elsewhere for Flowers

Skip the florist, the flowers sold on the side of the road (seconds), and expensive flowers sold online. The best deals on flowers can be found in grocery and even warehouse stores. For flowers that last more than a day or two, look for closed buds and don’t forget the flower food packet!

Get Lit

Show your burning love with candles or a fire lit in the fireplace. Not only are candles and firewood affordable, but they also set the ultimate cozy, romantic mood.

Handcrafted From the Heart

Handmade gifts are always the most memorable! Don’t be afraid to craft your own card for your valentine. You could also write a poem or love letter or if you’re better with computers, design, and print a card or note from home. Express your love and don’t fear being cheesy. It’s Valentine’s Day! A handmade gift is far more meaningful than your signature in a mass-produced greeting card.

Affordable Alternatives to Champagne

There are many sparkling wine alternatives to Champagne that’ll impress your valentine and not break your budget. One alternative, Prosecco is a lighter, slightly less bubbly version of Champagne from a region north of Venice, Italy. Another option, Cava is Spain’s Champagne. Cava is made similarly to Champagne but is often described as a bit more dry and fruity. A great bottle of Prosecco or Cava will run you about $15, significantly cheaper than Champagne.

Sweet Chocolate Savings

Chocolate is the most popular candy on Valentine’s Day, but the prices can be quite high. Instead of shelling out $20-$50 for luxury chocolates, make Valentine’s treats at home. Treats like chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, chocolate barks, or fudge can be made at home, usually for less than $10. Another benefit of making your own Valentine’s treats is that they’re far more personal than the heart-shaped box from the store and you can make only your valentine’s favorite flavors.

A Final Word

Whatever you choose to spoil your valentine with this Valentine’s Day, know that it’s the thought that counts most. The best gifts do not have to be the most expensive. It is entirely possible to spoil your valentine and not empty out your wallet. After all, love isn’t measured in dollars.

Challenge Yourself

Are you interested in increasing your personal financial stability? Most of us are. One method of doing this is to Challenge Yourself. You’ll need a goal or multiple goals. Write them down and get ready to succeed.

Now that you have a goal to strive for, make a list of variable loan bills to lower, and have an understanding as to why it’s crucial to compare cost, risks, and benefits before making a purchase, you’re now ready to Challenge Yourself to succeed.

Are you wondering how you are supposed to Challenge Yourself?

Take for example a track runner/sprinter who can run the 100m sprint in 10.6 seconds. What do you think this runner will do next? He/She will challenge themselves to beat that 10.6 time the next sprint.

The point is, this runner is continually pushing him or herself to do better. The challenge is to strive for a faster time each and every time they run the 100m sprint. The same thing applies to your personal finances and saving efforts. You will want to Challenge Yourself to beat the amount you save each and every month.

When you Challenge Yourself to save as much as possible, you inspire yourself to succeed. Because you are faced with this “CHALLENGE” you’ll begin thinking thoughts like, “If I was able to save $75 this month, there’s no reason why I couldn’t save $85 next month.” If you were able to save $84 in January, your challenge goal for February is to beat that amount. In other words, to save more than $84 in the month of February.

Kick start your competitive spirit and Challenge Yourself to do your best.

Disclaimer: Modern Lending Solutions (modernlendingsolutions.com) is not a lender. We offer a matching service for connecting potential borrowers with financial institutions. Loan amounts, rates, and terms will vary based on lender’s decision, and approval is not guaranteed.
Offers provided to customers feature rate may no greater than 35.99% APR with terms from 61 days to 180 months. However, your actual rate depends on credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history, and will be agreed upon between you and the lender. An example of the total amount paid on a personal loan of $5,000 for a term of 36 months at a rate of 10% would be equivalent to $5,808.09 over the 36-month life of the loan.