10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

10 Things You Shouldn't Pay For

We are all guilty of spending money on things we don’t need. Although sometimes it is worthwhile to pay for the convenience, there are some things you shouldn’t pay for. Here are ten items that are costing you extra money.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

1. Water

Bottled water is one of the biggest wastes of money people have bought into. Each year Americans spend an estimated $100 billion on bottled water. Not only does it produce tons of waste and pollute the environment, but several quality tests show that it is just as safe as the tap water from your sink. America has some of the cleanest potable water in the world. So, save yourself a ton of cash and use a refillable water bottle instead.

2. Books

Books are another item you shouldn’t pay for. New books cost anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on whether you get the paperback or hard cover copy. Instead of buying new ones, I browse these free online resources or visit my library when I’m looking for new reading material. Some of my favorite novels have come to me from book exchanges with friends as well. There are endless ways to access free books. So, unless it’s a must-have in your library, you don’t need to spend extra money to find good books.

3. Mobile Apps

At one time or another, most of us have paid for downloadable apps. Most of my paid apps only cost a few bucks a month. However, once I found the free alternatives, I canceled this unnecessary expense. By avoiding these microtransactions, particularly in-game purchases, I saved money every month. It can be hard to resist spending a dollar or two here and there. But, simply remove your credit card information to also remove the temptation.

4. Cable TV

Cable TV is no longer considered a necessary expense. In fact, many would say it is becoming more obsolete as we get more online streaming options. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and YouTube have largely replaced cable TV. With bundled services and customized packages, you only pay for the shows you want to watch. So, you shouldn’t pay extra when you have better and cheaper options available.

5. Late Fees

Late fees are another expense you can completely avoid. With the ability to automate payments and set reminders, there is no reason you should incur late fees if you have the funds. You can schedule and manage alerts from your credit card, bank accounts, and monthly bills right from your phone. However, if you do overlook a payment and receive a late fee, most companies will waive the fee as a courtesy if it is only a one-time mistake. However, if you have a history of late payments or cannot pay the full amount, call the company and arrange a payment plan to avoid additional fees in the future.

6. Banking Fees

You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money. Therefore, banking fees are among the things you shouldn’t pay for. If your bank charges high ATM, maintenance, or overdraft fees, you may want to consider changing banks. However, you can easily avoid these pesky fees by using your bank’s ATMs and setting alerts on your accounts to notify you when balances are low. Mobile apps like Mint can also help keep track of your finances and offer free ways to help you better manage your money.

7. Credit Reports

Although you likely have seen several advertisements for paid services, you should never pay for your credit report. Simply go online and request your free ones at creditreport.com or ask your bank for your FICO score. There is no need to spend money on something that the law entitles you to. Every citizen can receive a free copy of their credit report from all three reporting bureaus every year. I prefer to stagger my requests to receive one every four months to better monitor my personal finances. Regular checks ensure that my information is safe and that there is no fraudulent activity with my accounts.

8. Newspapers and Magazines

With news available through TV, radio, satellite, and online, there is no need to spend money on newspapers or magazines. You’re also more likely to receive up-to-the-minute information through these sources since print media can’t keep up with breaking news. However, if you still want to find copies of your favorite periodicals, visit your local library or digital copies online.

9. Extended Warranties

Whenever you make a large purchase, the salesman will always offer to sell you an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Although you might be tempted to buy in, remember these companies only exist to generate profit. They exist to bring in more than they pay out. Furthermore, the extended warranty usually provides poor coverage that reduces payouts through the fine print. And, you will still have to pay deductibles as well. Unless there are higher probabilities of your purchases needing repairs, extended warranties are usually just another waste of money.

10. Car Leases

If you want to drive a new vehicle but can’t afford the price tag, car leases can be very attractive. It may seem like a good deal if they offer low monthly payments, but it will actually cost you more in the long run. Unless you decide to buy it once the lease is up, you must return the car with no benefits of ownership. Moreover, dealerships limit your annual mileage and ability to customize your car. However, you will still be on the hook for any damage and repairs to the vehicle. Leasing a car gives you all the responsibility of owning a vehicle with none of the benefits.

Tracking your finances is crucial to your long-term goals. So, it is important to review your spending on a regular basis and adjust your budget. So, if you are looking for ways to save money, cutting out these unnecessary expenses could save you significant chunk of change each month.

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How to Live Below Your Means

With rising prices and ever increasing consumer demands, it becomes more challenging for many individuals to live below their means. Credit card bills, keeping up with the Joneses, and other unnecessary expenses are among some of the reasons it is exceedingly hard to stick to a budget. Some find themselves unable to spend less than the amount of money they are able to make each month. Here are a few suggestions to help you live below your means and improve your financial health.

Living Below Your Means
Living Below Your Means

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Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Blue Apron Free Trial Review

Let’s be honest, many of us lack the time or the money to cook unique, cost-efficient meals today.  Whether you are a couple or a family, it is sometimes easiest to just eat out.  Eating out on a regular basis can get very expensive.  So, it’s easy to see how meal delivery services have become so popular, especially with their attractive introductory offers. I recently received a Blue Apron free trial.  I was eager to try and cook my way through a new and adventurous meal, something I wouldn’t normally eat.

As this was a Blue Apron free trial, I had nothing to lose.  I had three meals delivered right to my door.  All of the packaging was recyclable, and it came with a couple of nice reusable freezer packs.  Here is my experience:

Blue Apron Meal: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

Blue Apron Free Trial: Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf

What I expected:

Blue Apron said the prep time for this meal was just 10 minutes with the cooking time of the meal being between 35-45 minutes.  The card (included in the picture) came with a quick description of the meal along with all of the ingredients for the meal.  Each ingredient listed even came with a picture in case you weren’t sure.  The flip side of the card also came with step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal. Additionally, there were some pictures to assist you along the way.  I laid out all of the ingredients on top of my counter along with the card and began.

The Good: 

You have all of the ingredients you need to create a unique dish.  If you tried to go to the grocery store and buy all of the necessary items to create something similar, you would spend way more than $10/meal.  Also, all of the items looked fresh and appeared top notch.  Everything from the beef, to the potatoes, to the garlic looked like it had been prepared just mere days before.  Finally, Blue Apron also pairs each of the dishes with a wine.

The Bad: 

While the meal card said the prep time was just 10 minutes, this was not the case.  It took me about double that time to prepare the meal.  The only way someone could have done the prep in 10 minutes is if they were highly experienced in the kitchen or if they had prepared this meal before.  The meal also lacked a side of vegetables.  While this might seem quite minor in the details, some healthy vegetables to go along with this meal would have made it complete.  I ended up cooking some green beans to go along with the meat and potatoes.  You also needed some cooking experience to help guide you through.  I don’t believe these meals are for the complete rookie.  For instance, you had to mince garlic, slice potatoes, and needed a few kitchen accessories to complete the meal.

Chipotle-Glazed Meatloaf Dish

Final Opinion of Blue Apron’s Free Trial

Ultimately my Blue Apron free trial was a success.  I was able to create a delicious, unique meal all by myself.  At just around $10/meal, it is also a great value because the same ingredients would cost much more if you purchased them at the store.  Downsides would be that it requires some basic kitchen knowledge and elementary kitchen items.  This meal service is great for a couple who enjoys cooking together and wants to spend some time create different dishes and bonding over the experience.

Continuing Beyond the Free Trial

If you decide to continue purchasing Blue Apron meals after the trial, you have a variety of meal options. The website is very user friendly and lets you browse through their selections easily. Furthermore, they cater to specific dietary needs as well. Pricing varies based on the serving size and the plan you choose. However, you receive a discount for your first week and free shipping. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to the program, the Blue Apron free trial is perfect for you. There’s no risk and you’ll have the chance to sample new dishes for free!

Are you interested in Blue Apron? Get $30 off your first week using this link.

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Why Are More Young Americans Living with Their Parents?

More Young Americans Are Living with Their Parents

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Institute reported that more young Americans are living with their parents than ever before. While there are a myriad of reason why children move home, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising unemployment rates have been important contributing factors. With no clear end in sight and our financially stability in question, many young adults are looking to save money any way possible.

The Lost Generation

Let me begin by stating that I am a Millennial, born between 1981 and 1996. Let me then preface this first statement by debunking the stereotypes associated with my generation. Many call us lazy and self-righteous, soft and coddled children. We are not ungrateful or demanding. On the contrary, many of us are just trying to survive.

Some have dubbed us “the lost generation.” We grew up in the age before cell phones, witnessed the birth of the internet, and lived through a terrorist attack on home soil all before we graduated high school. Then, we were forced to take expensive loans in order to get a college education only to graduate in the midst of the mortgage crisis. We are now facing a second economic downturn just as we are reaching our prime earning years.

The promises we had been fed about working hard and getting a good education have fallen short. However, living through such adversity has taught us to adapt and be resilient. The majority of us are simply getting by. Like most Americans, we live paycheck to paycheck, and pray not to get sick or lose our jobs right now.

How Covid-19 Has Affected Employment

Although we are better educated than previous generations, we are the first generation to be worse off than our parents. Most young adults have little savings and fewer investments. Few of us can afford our own homes because we have outstanding debts to pay off first. The only thing that keeps this precarious boat afloat is a steady income. Unfortunately, recent closures and quarantine measures have left thousands of people out of work.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, American unemployment rates have skyrocketed. Millennials have been hit especially hard since many hold jobs in the service industry. The reported job losses in the wake of the economic downturn are the highest ever since the Great Depression. These conditions have forced many young adults to move back in with their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Americans ages 18-30 live with one or both of their parents. While unemployment is not the only reason for children moving home, it is a significant factor. Furthermore, no one is certain how long conditions will continue or an economic recovery will take.

Financial Stability of Young Americans

Another intangible mark this has left on our generation is an attitude of pessimism and lack of trust in financial institutions. Paying monthly bills has become a challenge with reduced hours and widespread layoffs. The first stimulus check issued by the government offered some temporary relief, but when rent comes due many tenants will be unable to pay. It’s no wonder why many young Americans are living with their parents. Cutting out a monthly rent payment offers a huge financial relief.

The uncertainty of just how long conditions will persist only exacerbates these negative feelings. Conservative predictions estimate that it will take the better part of a decade for the economy to fully recover. This further complicates any plans to pay off debt, purchase homes, invest and retire. I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s safe to say that most young adults do not want to live with their parents. Unfortunately, with little savings and job opportunities it is becoming more of a necessity until we can better understand the full and lasting economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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Should You Roll Over A Retirement Plan Distribution

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Different circumstances arise that call for one to rollover their retirement plan. You may be left with little time and tough decisions to make. The decisions you make on whether you rollover your retirement plan and how you rollover your retirement plan distribution can have profound effects on several areas of your life, including how much you are taxed. Whether or not you rollover your distribution is not a decision to be taken lightly.  Continue reading

How I Save Costs as a Sports Fan

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A study has found that being a fan of a professional sports team can cost you almost $ 86,453 over a lifetime. Fans of sports like football, motor racing or soccer can expect to pay over $1,294 a year for entry and entrance prices, transport and retail expenses. For some, the expense is even greater with more than a fifth reporting that they spend an average of about $267 a year. Continue reading