5 Ever-So-Simple Strategies for Paying Off Debt in 2017

5 Ever-So-Simple Strategies for Paying Off Debt in 2017

Want to pay off your debt and save more money in 2017? You’re not alone! According to one survey of Google search data, searches for “Spend Less/Save More” were up 17.47% from 2016. Want to achieve your get-out-of-debt goal? If so, we recommend trying one of the five strategies here.

1. The Debt Snowball

This debt-payoff method, made famous by financial guru Dave Ramsey, has you pay off your smallest debts first. The idea behind the debt snowball is that you get a quick psychological boost from paying off some small debts from the get-go. This gives you the mental momentum to keep going when paying off debt.

To start a debt snowball, list your debts in order from smallest to largest. Use any extra money to pay off the smallest balance while you make minimum payments on your other debts. When your smallest debt is paid off, snowball that debt’s minimum payment, plus your extra cash towards paying off the next debt. By the time you get to the largest debt, you’ll be throwing a lot of money at it each month. (You can see how your debt is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, with updates every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

2. The Debt Avalanche

This is similar to the debt snowball in that you pay off one debt at a time. But it’s actually the more economical method of paying off debt. Instead of paying off smaller balances first, the debt avalanche has you start by paying off the debts with the largest interest rate.

The debt avalanche is a smart method if you already have the determination to make it through a long debt payoff process without the boost of paying off a few smaller debts early on. It can get you out of debt faster since you’ll stop accumulating interest on high-interest debts much more quickly.

3. The Debt Snowflake

This is a method that can be combined with one of the above options or used to pay off debt in any order you choose. The idea here is that you find small ways to save a few bucks, and then transfer that money saved toward debt payments.

With the debt snowflake method, you’ll need to be exceptionally aware of your spending patterns. For instance, if you normally spend $10 on a lunch out at work, but pack your lunch one day, you could save $5. That $5 is a snowflake that can then go toward paying off debt.

The key to debt snowflakes is to make sure they don’t “melt.” Get into the habit of transferring “snowflake” money to debt accounts immediately, or at least on a weekly basis. Otherwise, you run the risk of that hard-saved cash being used for other purposes.

4. The Credit Card Transfer

If much of your debt is in the form of high-interest credit card balances, consider using balance transfer offers to pay off that debt more quickly. Since credit cards often have interest exceeding 15%, it’s not unusual for most of your minimum payment to go toward interest, even on a relatively small balance. If you can transfer that balance to a card with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate, you can put more money toward the principal balance each month, paying off your debts more quickly.

Be careful, though, to read all the terms of a credit card balance transfer. Most cards charge a fee for the balance transfer. If you’ll pay off the card’s balance quickly, the transfer may actually cost more than it saves. You can find more info on some of the better balance transfer credit cards here.

5. The Half Payment Method

What if you’re on such a tight budget that you can’t even squeak out some extra dollars to start on a debt snowball or avalanche? One option is to start making half of your minimum payment every two weeks. Bi-weekly payments, which may fall when you get a paycheck, can save you money over time on debts that are compounded daily or monthly based on the average balance.

The reasoning behind biweekly payments is somewhat complex. But, essentially, paying more often allows less interest to accrue between payments, which means more of your payment goes toward the principal. Plus, if you make a half payment every two weeks, you’ll actually have made a whole extra minimum payment by the end of the year!

Half payments can help even out your bank account balance and can help bring down your debt balances more quickly. Combining the bi-weekly payment method with another method for applying any extra cash you scrape together toward one debt at a time could be a powerful option for meeting your financial resolution this year.

The post 5 Ever-So-Simple Strategies for Paying Off Debt in 2017 appeared first on Credit.com.

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5 Helpful Apps for Families on a Tight Budget

5 Helpful Apps for Families on a Tight Budget

It’s hard enough to keep a budget for one, let alone get your entire family on track with their finances. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there that can help keep you, your spouse, son, daughter and 11-year-old pug (OK, maybe not that last one) from spending beyond your family’s means.

Here are some choice apps that can help with your household budgeting.

1. Goodbudget

Platforms: iOS and Android

Essentially a digital version of the envelope system — you know, where you put money allotted for a particular spending category in one and then don’t use any dollars beyond that — this app syncs up across household devices. That way, everyone in the family can know exactly what’s left to spend on groceries, entertainment and other categories each month. The free version lets you set up 10 regular envelopes and 10 annual envelopes across two devices. A subscription service with unlimited envelopes and device syncs costs $5 a month or $45 a year.

2. You Need a Budget

Platforms: iOS and Android

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is another app that lets folks sharing finances sync their devices and work together. This app pairs with web software of the same name to help users implement the YNAB four big rules: give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches and age your money. You can try the latest version, launched in late 2015 and dubbed “The New YNAB,” for free for 34 days. After that, a subscription costs $5 a month or $50 a year.

3. Home Budget

Platforms: iOS and Android

This digital expense tracker from Anishu includes a feature called Family Sync, which — you guessed it — enables household devices to exchange income and spending information within a single, shared budget. There’s a free version (Home Budget with Sync Lite) which limits your expense and income entries, and a paid version (just plain ol’ Home Budget with Sync) that costs $5.99.

4. Wallet by BudgetBakers

Platforms: iOS and Android

This budgeting app lets your share selected accounts with family members so everyone knows what’s going on with the household budget. You can also choose to connect your bank accounts to the app to get automatic updates about their standing. Wallet has a free version with limited features and several paid subscription versions that vary in cost. Its top tier, called Master plan, allows up to 10 users, unlimited bank connections and customized financial analysis. It costs $5.49 a month or $44.30 a year.

5. EveryDollar

Platforms: iOS and Android

This budgeting app helps people apply the money management principles of budgeting guru Dave Ramsey. It syncs across devices so you can budget from your smartphone or your household desktop. There’s a free version and a Plus subscription, which lets you connect your bank accounts to the app and call for support. It costs $9.99 a month.

Balancing the Family Budget

Remember, you’ll want to read the terms and conditions of any app you’re looking to use so you know what it costs, how your data is protected and whether any information will be shared with third-parties. You can find more information for vetting mobile apps on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

And, when it comes to maintaining a household budget, it’s also important to keep track of your credit because a bad or even fair credit score can really cost you on everything from mortgage interest to your family’s cell phone plan.

If your credit isn’t in great shape, you can improve your scores by disputing errors on your credit reports, paying down high credit card balances and getting delinquent accounts back in good standing. And, as always, you can maintain good credit by paying all your bills on time, keeping debt levels low and adding a mix of new credit accounts over time. 

 https://youtu.be/_jh_PWEVEDU

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New Baby Registry Tips by MyRegistry.com

New Baby Registry Tips by MyRegistry.com

Creating a registry for your growing family or first baby? MyRegistry.com is the premiere destination for universal gift registry services and will help you get ready when the big day finally comes. Their universal registry allows you to register for the safest car seat, the softest blankets, and everything else you need to welcome your newest family member.

The coolest part? You can add these items and more from ANY store of your choice to one, simple gift registry list —whether it be a local mom and pop shop without a website or a national chain superstore. You can even upload existing store registries if you already have, and even register for big ticket items through a cash gift fund all in one place… For FREE! Check out why we love the site, below:

Add Anything, From Anywhere
Yup, you read that right. Whether it be a local mom and pop shop without a website or a national chain superstore, MyRegistry.com allows you to add anything you want to your list from any store, anywhere.

Combine and Conquer
Still want to register elsewhere? MyRegistry allows users to sync their various gift registries, combining them into one master list. One and done.

Barcode Scanning Power
Out shopping and found something you love? No need to rush to a computer, simply scan the barcode of the item you’re coveting with your smartphone to easily add it to your gift list. This is a great way to have that in-store registry experience while still keeping things simple.

Skip the Awkward
Let’s face it, cash can be one of the most useful gifts to give, but no one wants to ask for it. MyRegistry allows users to register for cash gifts, and show where it will be used by uploading an image and description. Whether you’re saving for your college fund, or just hoping to take a family trip, the “Cash Gift Fund” option can help you get there.

There’s Much to Discover
Not sure where to start? Check out other parent’s registries in real time to see what they’re hoping to receive, and get a little inspiration for your own list while you’re at it.

Give Back
Whether you already have everything you need as a family, or simply want to give loved ones the option of donating, the service allows users to include donations to their favorite charity or cause as gift options through their “universal add” and “cash gift” options. Who doesn’t love the chance to give a little (or a lot)?

Sharing is Caring
Let your loved ones and guests know that you’ve created a registry with a personalized ecard. So much better than snail mail.

It’s Personal
Have a question or need advice? The MyRegistry concierge team is available to both you and your guests via phone or chat. And they’re super quick about responding — trust us, we just tried it out!

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks
After all is said and done, the last thing you want to forget to do is send your thank you cards. Lucky for you, MyRegistry allows you to set reminders, so you won’t forget to let Aunt Dot know how much you appreciated the blender she bought you.

It’s Not Just for Baby Registries
MyRegistry can be used for birthdays, graduations, holidays, you name it. If there’s a gift involved, MyRegistry has you covered.

Now that you’ve got the low-down on this awesome site, it’s time to get shopping!

Single Mom Home DIY Project: Bathroom Grout Makeover

Single Mom Home DIY Project: Bathroom Grout Makeover

How to Get Your Grout to Look Brand New

Grout can be troublesome. While ceramic tiles are designed to resist stains, deflect grime and last for years, grout tends to absorb dirt and become strained all too easily. You might have tried many different cleaning solutions and homemade remedies on your grout, but nothing seems to get that dark brown stain out from between those shiny ceramic tiles. What can you do?

Remember, when tackling dirty grout, always start out with a mild cleaning solution, and if that doesn’t clean it fully, gradually move on to more aggressive cleaners. Of all the commercial cleaning solutions out there, we’ve found OxyClean to be the simplest and most effective at tackling messy grout lines and dirty tiles. Not only is OxyClean tough on grout, its main component is hydrogen peroxide, a “green” cleaning product that is neither a carcinogen nor a neurotoxin. Simply combine the OxyClean with water, rub onto the grout, and let sit for the recommended time before rinsing it off and brushing away any residue.

You might be tempted to use a rough brush to push the solution into the grout lines. Don’t do that! Using an abrasive brush such as steel wool or Brillo pad will wear down the grout and do more harm than good. In some cases, it could break through the grout, forcing you to get it replaced. Of all the brushes, an old electric toothbrush is the most effective at brushing dirt out of grout. Much like it does to your teeth, the electric toothbrush rotates and scrubs the gunk out of the grout, while simultaneously reaching those hard-to-get or unseen spots.

If you’re having no luck with the various cleaning solutions, consider investing in a steam mop. A steam mop uses high pressure, hot water and steam to blast your flooring and clean your grout. The high pressure created by the machine lifts dirt from inside the porous grout lines, flushing it out and leaving a shiny, new-looking surface in its wake.  Using a steam mop is great on the environment since it uses hot water instead of harsh cleaning chemical solutions.

 

Cleaning with the steam mop is very easy. To use your steam mop, all you need to do is hold the nozzle and direct the steam through it and onto the grout line. Direct the nozzle up and down the grout lines to directly take on the dirt. You want to rent or buy a steam mop that has a strong pressure gauge and can reach ~350ºF, as this is the optimal temperature for cleaning grout. Cleaning mops are very effective when used alone, even more so when used following a more traditional cleaning attempt using a homemade or commercial cleaning solution which are used by the professionals such as Sir Clean Pro. Once you’re finished using the steam mop, use an attached brush, old toothbrush or nylon brush with soft bristles to wipe away any leftover dirt residue. Once you’re done, your tile floor or wall should look shiny and new.

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

My daughter has been asking, requesting, and even begging me for a pet; specifically a dog. I have not fulfilled her wishes because I know the huge responsibility that having a dog entails. It means getting up early or staying up late to walk the dog. It means cleaning up after the dog during the training stage. It means managing pet hair, accidents, and chewed up shoes. It could mean a huge carpet cleaning or replacement bill. If you are a little more lenient and decide to get your child a pet here are a few carpet cleaning tips for pet owners to ease your mind.

Having pets doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your carpets. A little hard work, active planning, and preparation is all you need to stay on top of things and keep your carpets clean around the hustle and bustle of dogs and cats. Accidents are bound to happen, whether you have one pet or several, but reacting with immediacy and the proper cleaning techniques can make the difference between a temporary mess and a permanent stain on your carpet. Of course, you can always hire a professional carpet cleaner and if you live anywhere near Charlottesville, VA, check out Tidy Guy for some great deals on carpet cleaning.

mom pet owner carpet cleaning tips

Managing Pet Hair

Pet hair can be impossible to get rid of. Many dogs shed, leaving hair in their tracks everywhere they go – across the carpet, on the couch, on your clothes and pillows and blankets. Some dogs shed so much that vacuuming can’t keep up, and you can even risk clogging your vacuum with the hair.

One way to lessen the pressure on your vacuum cleaner is to do a ‘lint roll’ over your carpets before you turn on the vacuum. Wrap an old paint roller in masking tape and attach it to an old broom handle to get the outer layer of pet hair off your carpets before you vacuum. This can also be an effective way to clean hair off your furniture as well. In order to stay on top of your pet’s shedding, vacuum your carpets at least three times per week.

Dealing with Pet Accidents

Accidents happen, always. Sometimes you’re training a new puppy and they don’t make it outside in time, other times your already-trained dog gets too excited to see you and has an accident. Reacting immediately to these kinds of accidents is the key to minimizing stains and damage. Follow these steps to clean the carpet as flawlessly as possible:

  1. First, lay an old cloth over the urine stain on the carpet. Stand on the cloth to press it into the carpet and absorb much of the moisture.
  2. Next, clean the area with a solution made from four drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to one cup of warm water. Work the solution into the carpet’s stain before rinsing it well with a clean, wet towel.
  3. To avoid future stains in that spot, blot the stain with a vinegar and water solution.
  4. After you’re done cleaning put some paper towels down and place a book on top to act as a weight to facilitate moisture absorption.

It isn’t advisable that you use a steam carpet cleaner to tackle pet-related stains. Using a steam cleaner can yield the opposite result, setting the stain and making it impossible to remove. There are many products available on the market that is designed to remove pet-related stains. It’s important to follow directions very closely when using products like this in order to bring about the best results.

A handheld carpet vac (available usually for < $100 online) is a great tool for successfully getting rid of pet stains in your carpet without breaking the bank. Use only warm water in your carpet extractor before attempting to use an enzyme treatment to get rid of any odors. Using water first will rid your carpets of any chemical residues, which can inhibit the enzyme treatment from doing its job. Remember, liquid messes spread easily in your carpet, so immediacy is key to handling these types of stains.