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As we enter the new year, it’s time to reflect back and think about how we want to do things differently. There are lots of ways to make positive changes for the upcoming year, but starting with foundational elements like personal finances can have a ripple effect across the rest of your life.

Let’s start off the new year in a great way by simplifying your finances with these helpful tips.

#1 Give Yourself Permission To Let Go Of Sunk Costs And Move Forward

You may have made some decisions that didn’t go as well as you thought they would, or started a hobby that instead of bringing you enjoyment, brought you an endless pit of expenses. In the new year, allow yourself to let go of those burdens and start fresh—focus on doing what feels right for you right now, even if it means starting from scratch.

It might sting a bit to take a brief loss on a project you started but don’t want to finish, but it’s better than allowing it to drain additional resources well into 2018.

#2 Automate Your Savings Plan

The best way to make sure you hit a savings rate goal is to automate the process of saving itself. If you earn consistent paychecks from a job...

Many workers find themselves moving from company to company as they look to fast-track their careers or find just the right kind of work for them. Changing jobs can be a great way to gain experience and professional insight, but it can complicate saving for retirement. An Individual Retirement Account (IRA), a savings vehicle that is independent of your workplace, can really help.

Many job-hoppers lose out on company 401(k)s

Some companies, especially smaller ones, don’t offer a 401(k) retirement plan. And even if you join a company that has a 401(k), you may not get to participate right away. Indeed, you might need to be on the job for as long as one year before you can start putting money in. A one-year wait is the rule at 41% of small-company 401(k)s administered by one large retirement-plan provider.¹

An IRA provides a consistent and flexible way to save

With an IRA, you can quickly and easily get on the road to retirement saving. An IRA can keep your saving on track in the months before you are eligible for a new employer’s 401(k).

Once you set up an IRA, you can begin contributing right away and keep saving until you hit the maximum allowed for a calendar year. For example, for Traditional or Roth IRAs for 2017 and 2018, that maximum is generally $5,500, as long as you...

New Year’s resolutions are the holiday tradition that comes with the most eye rolls. I mean, who hasn’t promised themselves to eat healthier, get to the gym more, or cut down on social media starting January 1st – and then failed at it by Feb 1st.

But, if part of your list this year, includes finally taking that exotic vacation you have been dreaming about… well I’ve got some tips for you to turn that into a reality!

Pick a Specific Place & Date

Too often we tell ourselves; I resolve to travel more this year! Because that is so vague, and the world is so wide, we never actually book a trip and follow through.

This year instead, pick an actual spot and date. Been dreaming about Thailand, or maybe Japan? Pick a specific city (or island) and a month – or better yet an exact week – you aim to take your trip. This tiny bit of solid planning makes that dream resolution one step closer to reality. An actual city and date will give you a real deadline to work towards.

Saving For Your Big Trip Start Saving Now

If you haven’t already, you’re going to need to create a plan of action to save for your trip. This will...

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

January is the season of juice cleanses, detox meals and gym memberships. We all want to start the year feeling happier and healthier than ever. While the intentions are great, the prices of these “cleanses” can be hefty.

The truth is that even if drinking juice for five days makes you feel great – it’s not necessarily the best thing for your body. There is no need to under nourish your body in order to feel your healthiest. A true cleanse should look less like a diet and more like a boot camp to help heal your gut, digestion, nutrition, and overall wellbeing.

That’s what this program I’ve put together is all about: nourishing yourself in a way that can heal damage caused by holiday eating habits. It is a two day program, although you can feel free to extend it into a week-long program if you want! I’d even recommend adopting some of these habits into your life long-term. This...

If you’ve applied for credit recently – maybe for a store card over the holidays – you may have come across the term “inquiry.” Even if you’re not familiar with credit inquiries, it’s critical to understand what they are, how different ones work, and what they mean. Fortunately, we have answers to your credit-inquiry questions here.

What’s a credit inquiry?

A credit inquiry is a credit check. It’s a request to view your credit by lenders — retailers, financial institutions and others who are legally allowed to see your credit report.

Types of inquiries: hard and soft.

A hard inquiry happens when a potential lender looks at your credit report and uses that information to decide whether to offer you credit and what the terms of the offer might be. Think of hard inquiries as the types of credit checks that happen when you apply for credit, whether it be a credit card, mortgage, car loan or other type of financing. Hard inquiries must be made with your permission and in connection with specific transactions.

A soft inquiry, on the other hand, is more of a routine credit check that doesn’t need to be done with your permission. Importantly, soft inquiries won’t show up on the credit reports potential lenders request to evaluate your creditworthiness. Soft inquiries can happen for a variety of...

In the financial world, nothing evokes feelings of terror quite like the word “bankruptcy”. It’s become synonymous with a complete and utter collapse of one’s finances – a black hole that’s almost impossible to climb out of. When you declare bankruptcy, some would tell you, your life is all but over.

The reality of bankruptcy is a lot less dramatic.

Yes, it’s a major setback, but don’t forget that bankruptcy is actually a solution to a problem. People choose to file for bankruptcy because it actually improves their situation and allows them to begin mending their finances. It’s like getting major surgery – painful and exhausting, but ultimately in service of improving health and happiness.

If you’ve just filed or are considering it, know this: life after bankruptcy does exist, and it’s often a better life than you were living before.

Bankruptcy Basics

Bankruptcy is the legal dismissal of debts. Both individuals and corporations can file for bankruptcy, and there are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Filing Chapter 7 often discharges many types of consumer loans, such as credit card debt, medical debt and personal loans. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee takes over your finances and decides how to distribute your assets to creditors.

If you have a debt secured by collateral like an auto loan or mortgage, the debtor...

Are you in the credit rewards game?? We asked around and got some tips from savvy credit card gamers. Check out how users have paid for vacations, their wedding and more below! Have your own tips?? Share them in the comments!

Gaming for the Jet Set Lifestyle

My boyfriend and I love to travel internationally. We are able to do so through a strategic combination of saving, flight tracking, credit card points, and hotel points. A careful combination of these strategies, enable you to save tremendously on your future vacations.

We’ve included a couple of our recommendations below:

  • We use a combination of and Qapital to track our spending habits and save for future trips.
Flight Tracking
  • The “Discover Destinations” feature of Google Flights: Allows you to view prices of upcoming flights world-wide! Once you find your desired flight, you are able to select “Track Prices” and Google will email you when prices go up or down.
  • Hopper (available on iOS or Android) is another must-have. Hopper uses an algorithm to accurately predict future flight prices. Letting you know whether you should buy now or wait.
Credit Card Points
  • AMEX Platinum Card ($550 Annual Fee)
    • 5X Points on Flight and Hotels.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit.
    • $200 in Uber Credits.
    • Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass Lounge Network Access.
    • Elite Status with Hilton and Starwood (Starwood status is matched by Marriott).
    • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit.
    • Unlimited access...

If you choose to stay in a luxury hotel, that doesn’t mean your entire trip has to have a luxury price tag. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw I recently traveled to South Africa, with my husband, on what looked like, a luxury vacation. While we were there I realized some very important tips that will help you keep costs down while you travel, while still maintaining a luxurious feel.

Don’t let the luxury setting sway your mindset

When you arrive at your fabulous destination, you will get caught up in the luxury and start dreaming about extravagant dinners and pricey tours. Also, the concierges at these type of hotels will be recommending these type of activities.

First, acknowledge it is going to happen and talk to your partner/travel buddy about what you can and cannot afford to do before you leave. This makes it much easier to turn to one another and realize you are getting carried away.

Second, realize that it is ok to stay at a 5-star hotel and eat Nandos on the floor of your room one night. We actually did this while staying in 21 Nettleton, it was awesome. There is no right or wrong way to travel...

So many financial terms are often thrown around and used in every-day conversation, but do you really know what they mean? Our What the Finance series simplifies financial terms so you feel confident about your money decisions!

Checking your credit score can be a bit overwhelming and even anxiety-inducing. Where do you get your score? Should you pay for it? Should you get it for free through your bank or credit card issuer? Why is your score different everywhere you look?

With all the questions you may have, I figured it might be best to just bring it back to the basics.

Differences Between Credit Scores

It’s a common complaint: you checked your credit score online and when you applied for a loan or new credit card, your score was different. What gives?

Well, there isn’t just one main scoring model. In fact, there are several and sites, such as Turbo, that provide a free score may use a different model than the particular bank, lender or credit card issuer that you contacted.

For example, when you check your credit score for free on an app like Turbo, you’re using the new Vantage 3.0 model from TransUnion. Vantage 3.0 is the latest scoring vehicle that allows millions of people to access their credit scores. For instance, Vantage doesn’t require users to have at least six month’s worth of credit history or an update on their credit history every six months.

The advantage of the Vantage 3.0 score is that it compiles more information from users, which means lenders have a better...

Anna’s email requesting help with her finances began with a unique confession.

“Farnoosh, my money problem garners little sympathy,” the 32-year-old wrote. “My issue is that I make too much of it.”

Now, THIS is interesting, I thought. I immediately followed up with many questions.

Here’s what I learned through our conversation:

The Denver-based Mint user earns $220,000 per year as an engineer. Anna’s also benefited from years of big bonuses and her net worth, not including her home equity, is close to a million dollars.

After paying taxes and health benefits and maxing out her 401(k), Anna takes home between $8,000 and $10,000 each month. Her expenses mainly consist of a $1,200 mortgage payment, car insurance, gas, food and utilities, amounting to maybe a few thousand dollars per month.

The rest either goes into savings where she stashes about $5,000 to $10,000 for unexpected expenses or into a brokerage account where she has roughly $800,000 invested. A wealth management firm manages that portfolio and charges, she says, an annual 1% fee.

Anna has no consumer debt, besides her mortgage, which amounts to about $338,000. It’s a 30-year fixed rate loan with a 2.85% interest rate. The home has appreciated in recent years with about $100,000 in equity (including Anna’s initial 20% down payment).

So, what is the problem, exactly?

“My big worry is that I don’t have the habits to manage...

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

The holidays are full of gift giving, which is a beautiful yet expensive tradition. Even on a budget, I want to be able to give special gifts to the ones I love. That is why in the past few years I have turned to homemade presents and wrapping. It feels very special and allows me to keep costs down.

Making baked goods for gifts is a great way to save money. Once your pantry is stocked with the essentials (ie. flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, etc.) they are very inexpensive to make. I like to tailor my gifts to each person’s preferences – so everyone gets their own batch. This makes the gift feel even more personal and special.

It’s not just the physical gift that makes the holidays expensive; it’s everything else too – including little things like the wrapping. So I wanted to also provide a fun, inexpensive way to wrap your gifts beautifully. It is probably much easier to...

Are you looking to buy a house, but the thought of saving a huge amount of money for a down payment sounds like an insurmountable challenge? It doesn’t have to be that way.

For starters, you don’t have to lay out as much money as you may think to get into a home. Depending on the loan types you qualify for, you could buy a home with as little as between 3% and 5% down for a primary property.

Secondly, just because you’re saving for a down payment doesn’t mean you have to subsist on a diet of ramen noodles and PB&J. Working in pursuit of any goal does involve sacrifices, but they don’t need to be painful.

We’ll go over some strategies to help you save so you can buy that house without giving up all of your creature comforts in order to do it.

Make It Automatic

One of the hardest things to do when starting to save toward any goal is to make it a habit. Ideally, there would be a mechanism allowing you to save without having to think about it. Luckily, this isn’t a pipe dream anymore.

At the most basic level, our friends at BoostUp offer a savings account service. What makes this different is the automatic nature of the transfers....

New York City is often said to be one of the most expensive destinations in the world to travel to. While there are crazy expensive adventures to be had – like this $1,800 helicopter tour – NYC is also a city you can easily traverse on a budget.

I recently took to the city with only $25 in my pocket for the whole day. Here were my goals:

  • Spend a full day exploring like a true tourist
  • Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner while out
  • Grab a drink somewhere
  • See a show

Sounds impossible with a budget of $25, right? Read on to find out how I did it and tips for traveling like this in other big cities around the world. Don’t forget to watch the video above for a complete recap of my day and more insider tips.

Note: This budget didn’t include transport all day or your hotel accommodations.

Morning & Breakfast $4

Instead of splurging on fancy eggs in an upscale breakfast joint, I grabbed a coffee and bagel to-go at one of NYC’s delicious bagel shops. Here is a list of my favorite bagel spots, but NY bagels are a step above the rest, don’t be afraid to try something off-list. From there, I wandered into Central Park for...

It’s the time of year when you’ll probably see lots of messages saying how much money you can save by spending money on some great shopping deals. Despite the promises, be assured that there are better ways to both save money and find even greater contentment for yourself and the people you care about.

The start of a new year is always a very tempting time to “invest” in new gadgets, workout equipment, and more. While it might feel good to buy things that feel like a commitment to making positive changes in the new year, this can be something that I call a False First Step—the purchase feels like you’ve taken a real step towards our goals but all you’ve done is just spent money.

Before going out and buying #allthethings, consider an opposite approach that might bring you contentment that lasts much longer.

To start off, here are two questions you might want to ask to sort out what might be a False First Step:

  • Do the things I want to buy actually get me closer to doing what matters most to me or do I already have enough to get it done?
  • And more importantly, are the things I’m buying allowing me to serve others in the most meaningful possible way?

This same line...

It’s the holiday season, but it’s also not too early to start thinking about a happy, healthy new year. That’s especially true when it comes to credit cards and your credit health. Whether you don’t have any cards or don’t have room in your wallet for any more, the end of the year is a great time for a credit card review. But before you do, it pays to know how credit card decisions you make may factor into your credit health.

How might credit card usage be affecting my credit health?

If you’re not using too much of your available credit on any of your cards, that’s generally a good thing. However, if you’re regularly getting close to maxing out some or all of your cards, you may be hurting your credit health. That’s because when evaluating your creditworthiness, lenders typically view borrowers who regularly use up a lot of their available credit as a higher risk of default. That’s true even if you always pay off your (high) balances in full every month.

You should also know that missing even one credit card payment may have a dramatic effect on your credit health. Generally, on-time payment is a critical factor creditors look for when they’re considering lending you money.

How might opening card accounts affect my credit health?

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer usually makes...

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

The holidays are full of friends, family, and festivities – all of which can be expensive. But I believe that you can host a beautiful and delicious dinner party for your friends and family without breaking the bank. So I’ve put together some tips on how to decorate and what to serve, as well as provided an example dinner party menu.

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget 1. Thrift your plates.

Don’t fret if you don’t have a collection of nice china just waiting for the perfect occasion. Head to your local Goodwill or favorite thrift store and grab some mismatched plates! They can be fun and festive, or perhaps you’ll get lucky and find a set you love. Thrift store plates are often priced around $0.50 – $2.00, making them an amazingly cost effective way to decorate your table.

2. Use plants and spray paint to help you decorate cheaply.

Eucalyptus and evergreen leaves are a beautiful and seasonal way to bring life...

There’s no time like the present to start saving for retirement. We’re going to show you why you are a more powerful saver today than you will ever be again.

It’s about time and the power of compounding.

Compounding: Your money works for you

Compounding refers to how you can make money on an investment and then make more money on your profits. Let’s say you have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and begin by investing $5,500, the annual maximum that people younger than 50 can contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA in 2017 and 2018. If that account hypothetically returns 5% year after year, your account balance would grow by $275 during the first year. Each year after that, you’d start with a larger balance, so the 5% hypothetical return would generate more dollars. In the second year you’d collect almost $289 and in the third year, over $300. At an annual return of 5%, $5,500 would compound into $8,959 in 10 years, $14,593 in 20 years and $38,720 in 40 years.

You will hopefully keep adding to your retirement account year after year. This illustrative chart shows how an annual contribution of $5,500 that returns a steady 5% a year could produce a nest egg of nearly $700,000 after 40 years.

The holidays are time for family. Here are some ideas from our friends at Quotacy on how to make the most of this holiday season with your loved ones.

It’s the season of generosity. Not in the mood to buy another tchotchke? Neither are we. We’ve wrangled five holiday gift ideas that offer the joy of shared experiences and expanded horizons without the hassle of wrapping paper or waiting in post office lines. With prices ranging from the simple kindness of your heart to the sky is the limit—everyone can afford to be generous this holiday season.

#1 Give Education

Have a new baby in the family? Is your grade-schooler or grandchild growing faster than Jack’s beanstalk? Help the kiddos go to college by starting a tuition fund. Anyone can use CollegeBacker to kickstart a child’s college savings plan by inviting a community of friends and family to contribute to a tax-advantaged 529 plan. The online tuition investment service is simple to use and you can launch a giving campaign within five minutes. CollegeBacker is a SEC-registered investment advisor, so the money given will grow tax-free over time until your little genius is college-bound.

Many innovators, like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak at Woz-U, recognize that the next generation of tech-savvy workers need affordable online educational opportunities while they are still in...

When you think of credit cards you probably think: debt, fees, and compounding interest. But, if you use credit cards correctly it can actually save money. I’m serious. Travel credit cards, in particular, have a lot of perks built in, not only saving you money on vacation but also during normal life.

Before I begin, using credit cards comes with the following warning:

  • Always use credit cards responsibly.
  • Never spend money you don’t have.
  • Always pay your credit cards off, in full, at the end of the month.
Earning Free Travel

It goes without saying, the best way to save money with a travel credit card is using points to pay for your travel expenses. Big sign-up bonus can even fund an entire trip! Check out my article last week on exactly what to look for when signing up for a new travel card.

Airline Fee Credits

Airline fee credits are one of the best ways to utilize your credit cards and save you money while you travel. These credits usually cover a broad range of travel fees, from baggage fees before you board to wifi while in flight. It can also help you pay for extra food on planes or lounge access while you wait to board. Sign up for a card that complements your travel...