How to Put Yourself on a Money Diet

Bundle of 100 Dollar bills with tape measure.

Not that she coined the phrase. “Money diet” is a term that’s been around since at least the 1980s. For a stretch of time, maybe a week and often a month, you spend no money, except on essentials like groceries, gas and medicine. Unlike a food diet, where you want to lose pounds, the goal is to gain money. And if you do it right, Cross says, you should have more money than usual at the end of the month, and you may gain better financial habits as well.

Cross has been putting herself on a money diet every January, for all 31 days. She writes about it and commiserates with her readers on her blog,

And while Cross does it every January – “it’s a good time of year when we’re motivated to make changes in our lives, and a lot of us have been spending a lot over the holidays,” she says – you can obviously go on a money diet any time. That said, some parts of the year are probably more challenging than others, such as the middle of summer, when you may want to do things like go

How to Save Money When You Go on a Cruise

Woman getting a sing bowl treatment at Acqualina Resort & Spa near Miami Beach, Florida. Cruising can be an awesome vacation for the budget conscious who want to get away for a while. As a matter of fact, I graduated at the height of the recession in 2008 and stepped right into working on a cruise ship. During the nearly five years I worked for that cruise line, the ship was always packed. I’d hear story after story of how bad things were back home and yet people were just lining up to cruise anyway.

There was good reason, too: You can go on a cruise for a really low price. Do you know why? Because cruise lines makes most of their money off of you once you’re on board. Selling you a $300 seven-day Caribbean cruise sounds like an absolute steal to you, but the odds of you not spending at least $500 while on board are pretty slim. And that’s a conservative measure.

Here are some ways to keep cruising in your budget, from someone who knows all their tricks.

Pick the Right Itinerary at the Right Time

You’re not going to find

10 Things Millennials Should Do to Reach the Next Financial Level

Various jars of money

Millennials have had a rough road when it comes to money. Not only did they come of age during the Great Recession, which made jobs scarce and benefits even scarcer, but many saw their parents lose big time in the stock or real estate markets, which scared them off of making their own investments. Still, there’s no more time for excuses, because millennials are all grown up and taking on increasing amounts of responsibility. From mortgages and parenthood to caring for aging parents, millennials are facing big financial milestones, whether they’re ready or not.

According to Bank of America’s Year-End Millennial Snapshot, which analyzed 2015 data from over 3,500 millennials, this young cohort of 20- and early 30-somethings continues to struggle financially: a tough job market, hesitancy to invest and student loans are just a few of the challenges in their way to prosperity. Still, the data suggest they are firmly committed to achieving financial independence one day. About half of millennials said the Great Recession changed the way they think about saving, investing and spending, with 40 percent saying they are more reluctant to invest in the stock market and 36 percent saying they

How to Choose the Right Bank For A Fixed Deposit Investment

A fixed deposit is a great option to save a part of your funds. It provides a steady interest stream and can be a lot safer than equity investments or mutual funds. However, when choosing the financial institution in which to make the deposit, carefully consider some important factors.

Choosing the Right Bank or Organisation

You can safely open an FD account with any PSU or large private sector bank. You can also open an FD account. Many corporates also invite fixed deposits at attractive interest rates, to raise funds for operations.

However, don’t decide where to invest based solely on the rate of interest offered on your deposit. It is one of the important considerations, but there are other details you need to look at.


Public and private sector banks operate under the control and supervision of the Reserve Bank of India. They have to comply with the rules and regulations of the RBI, and cannot default on payments.

However, if you opt for a corporate FD, they’re not regulated by the RBI, and you undertake a substantial amount of risk. Corporate FD might offer higher interest rates, but the safety of your money depends on the company’s financial stability.

Fees and Charges

If you decide

12 Personal Finance Tips To Survive The Credit Crunch

1. Use A Budget

You won’t know where your money is going and what kind of financial situation you are in if you don’t have a budget, or spending plan, to track your spending habits. Write down how much you bring home and then, beneath it, start to subtract what you spend the money on. You might be surprised at what you learn from this simple exercise.

2. Consolidate Debt

If you are an average American, you have some debt. If you have a lot of high interest credit card debt, you should consider taking out a loan from your local bank to pay if all off, and then work at paying off the bank loan which will have a much lower interest rate.

3. Don’t Add New Debt

Aim to pay cash or use a debit card from now on. You won’t be paying interest for that video game you bought six months ago if you use cash or debit cards. Also, you tend to spend less when you see the money in your wallet vanishing.

4. Create An Emergency Fund

Provide some insurance against emergencies by stashing away a small emergency fund which you only dip into when a true emergency happens–your car breaks down,

Creating a Budget

Help get control of where your money is going with a personal budget template.

Having control over your money is important, both for your financial well-being and for your peace of mind. Creating a budget with the help of a template can help you feel more in control of your finances and allow you to save more money for your short- or long-term goals.
The following strategies can help you build your personal budget worksheet.
Set your goals
Make a list of all the financial goals you want to accomplish over the short and long term. Ask yourself basic questions about why those goals are your priorities, how you are planning to achieve them and how quickly you need to see the results. Short-term goals should take no longer than a year to achieve. For example, you may want to pay off your credit card debt or save up for holiday presents. Long-term goals may take years to reach. A typical example would be saving for retirement or your child’s education. If you don’t know where your savings goal should be, start by using the Merrill Edge retirement calculator to figure out how much money you may need in retirement. For


Some people, burdened by the load of their debt, are regularly working endless hours, answering calls, addressing creditors or trying to think a way out of their debt. Trying to satisfy legal counselors, evading loan specialists and breaking free from the ever tightening grasp of their FICO rating, they have truly become the slaves of debt. Restoring your credit is a must on your way to financial independence.

Get Hold Of All The Records

It is normal for these people to seek out ways to repair their credit scores. They are not wrong in doing this, but doing it the right way is very important. The first and foremost thing to do when getting your credit score strength is to get hold of all the records on your credit report through a bank or a credit union or through government sponsored reports. This is particularly useful for homeowners who have experienced difficulties in paying their home loans. Similarly, you should have recent credit records, reports and your FICO assessment available to you. It also helps to keep a lookout for organizations to whom you can report your credit repair endeavours. This type of reporting helps you give a hint to creditors that

4 Crucial Finance Tips for Recent College Grads

1. Limit Credit Cards & Use Them Wisely

It’s very easy to get into credit card debt quickly. Compare cards to see which are most advantageous to your lifestyle. If traveling will be a big part of your life, look for cards that offer travel rewards. Other cards to consider are those offering cash back or point rewards you can redeem.

Check many before you choose including credit unions and local banks and pay attention to the interest rate. Many cards have more than one interest rate depending on the type of purchase and unpaid balances. Read all the terms and conditions, the fine print is where the rules on interest rates, fees and penalties lie.

Pay more than your minimum payment each month—or the entire balance in full when possible. If you are already in credit card debt from student cards, find a card where you can transfer the balances and close those accounts. Limit the number of cards you apply for. Most financial experts advise only one is necessary at the beginning of your career. Avoid applying for cards from retailers to gain a point of sale discount.

2. Start Investing

As soon as you can, start investing. Do this via a 401(k)

12 Personal Finance tips for young professionals

Here are a few personal finance tips that young professionals would well to be aware of:

  • Start investing early and appreciate the power of compounding: Rs 10,000 invested per month in a mutual fund can compound to Rs 23 lacs in 10 years and Rs 50 lacs in 15 years (assumed rate of return 12% p.a.). So, you can see difference if you are late by 5 years. Similarly, a rate of return of 10% will yield only Rs 20.5 lacs in 10 years and Rs 41.5 lacs in 15 years. You can see the difference if we let your money compound at a lower rate.
  • Save/invest first and spend later: Most of us do it the other way round. Even the legendary Warren Buffet subscribes to this philosophy. Of all things required to become the great investor that he is, this one is probably the easiest.
  • Never underestimate the power of inflation: If you are 30 and your monthly expenses are Rs 20,000 per month, at an inflation rate of 7% p.a., you would require Rs 1.52 lacs per month by the time you retire. Specific inflation (medical services, education etc) can be far higher than general inflation.
  • Do not borrow unnecessarily: Borrow

How to Save Money Fast

During a tough economy or times of trouble, many people need to know how to save money fast. If you have lost your job or have suddenly mounted some unexpected bills, you need to figure out where to cut expenses immediately to redirect money towards essential costs (housing, food) or towards debt. With some evaluation of your budget and some quick action, you should be able save money to bridge your immediate situation but will also learn some valuable lessons in how to save money long-term.

If you want to learn how to save money fast, you will need to understand the difference between essential and non-essential spending. Your mortgage or rental payment is an essential expense, your cable bill is non-essential. Make a list of all your monthly expenditures and label each expense as essential and non-essential.

Prioritize your non-essential expenditures based how important they are to you and then begin cutting the least important ones out. If you have a gym membership that you use infrequently, cancel it. If you rarely watch TV, cancel your cable bill. Get rid of as many expenditures as you can that are unnecessary.

After you have trimmed away the easy non-essential bills, it is time

Top Ten Financial Tips

Keys to Financial Success Although making resolutions to improve your financial situation is a good thing to do at any time of year, many people find it easier at the beginning of a new year. Regardless of when you begin, the basics remain the same. Here are my top ten keys to getting ahead financially.

1. Get Paid What You’re Worth and Spend Less Than You Earn

It sounds simplistic, but many people struggle with this first basic rule.

Make sure you know what your job is worth in the marketplace, by conducting an evaluation of your skills, productivity, job tasks, contribution to the company, and the going rate, both inside and outside the company, for what you do. Being underpaid even a thousand dollars a year can have a significant cumulative effect over the course of your working life.

No matter how much or how little you’re paid, you’ll never get ahead if you spend more than you earn. Often it’s easier to spend less than it is to earn more, and a little cost-cutting effort in a number of areas can result in big savings. It doesn’t always have to involve making big sacrifices.

2. Stick to a Budget

One of my favorite subjects:

8 Financial Tips For Young Adults

Unfortunately, personal finance has not yet become a required subject in high school or college, so you might be fairly clueless about how to manage your money when you’re out in the real world for the first time. If you think that understanding personal finance is way above your head, though, you’re wrong. All it takes to get started on the right path is the willingness to do a little reading – you don’t even need to be particularly good at math.

To help you get started, we’ll take a look at eight of the most important things to understand about money if you want to live a comfortable and prosperous life.

  1. Learn Self Control
    If you’re lucky, your parents taught you this skill when you were a kid. If not, keep in mind that the sooner you learn the fine art of delaying gratification, the sooner you’ll find it easy to keep your finances in order. Although you can effortlessly purchase an item on credit the minute you want it, it’s better to wait until you’ve actually saved up the money. Do you really want to pay interest on a pair of jeans or a box of cereal?If you

10 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Your Credit

After graduating from school, your credit score is probably the only grade you’re given that you care about deeply. Except this time it’s for your financial life. The three digit number is telling of how well (or how poorly) you’ve done with credit. Like academic grades, it’s also a big deal for your future.

Here are ten things that are crucial to know about building and keeping a good credit score:

  1. Your credit score can determine whether you get a loan. Banks and lenders look at your credit score when they are deciding to approve you for a loan or not, whether it’s for a car, a home or personal use. It’s also a factor when you apply for a credit card.
  2. Your credit score also helps determine your interest rates. A bad credit score can cost you real money, since lenders often charge higher interest rates to borrowers they view as risky. On the flip side, a high credit score can save you some serious cash, since you’ll be more likely to score the best interest rates.
  3. Your credit score is derived from your credit reports. There are three big credit bureaus and TransUnion — and you have one credit report from each. Your credit score is calculated based on the information in these reports. On them, you’ll find identification info (like current

3 Ways to Get Social Security Benefits

1. Social Security Retirement Benefits
For many Americans, the words “Social Security” mean retirement. And in fact, the retirement program of the SSA is the largest wing of the organization. Out of the 59 million Americans receiving monthly Social Security benefits, 42 million are retired or their dependents. Don’t count on Social Security to provide a comfortable retirement on its own, however, as the program only replaces about 40% of a retired worker’s income.

How Does Social Security Work?

While employed, you pay a 6.2% Social Security tax on earnings up to the 2016 maximum of $118,500, and your employer pays a matching 6.2%. If you are self-employed, you are responsible for the entire 12.4% tax yourself. The money is not held in a personal account like a bank account – the money you pay into Social Security today goes to provide monthly benefits for current retirees and other Social Security recipients.

How Do You Qualify?

To qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, you generally need to have worked for at least ten years. The SSA assigns “credits” to your paid taxes – as of 2016, you earn one credit for every $1,260 in earnings, with a maximum of four credits earned each year.

Generating Retirement Income: Top Strategies

Most working Americans sock away a portion of their incomes each year in order to save for retirement. But once they stop working, they often need to reallocate at least some of the holdings in their portfolios from growth instruments to vehicles that produce current income. There are several different types of investments that can generate income on a regular basis. You need to understand the characteristics of each one in order to know which options will best match your risk tolerance and time horizon.

The Basic Players
The type of income that you would like to receive can depend on several factors, such as your tax bracket, the taxable impact on your Social Security income and the amount of income that you need in order to cover your living expenses. Here are a few ideas that have successfully produced income for many investors.

• Bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs) – If you are a very conservative investor and can get by on a lower level of income, then Treasury securities and CDs may be able to get you where you want to go. The interest from Treasury securities is exempt from state and local taxation while the interest from all

7 Essential Ways to Save on Moving Costs

Moving is tough — boxes to pack, utilities to shut off, floors to clean, furniture to haul — and that’s before you even step foot into your new place. Because buying a house isn’t cheap, funds might be limited during your move. To avoid additional stress in the midst of your relocation, here are seven money saving tips to help your move.

#1 Cut down on what you move.

How many items are you bringing with you? Are all of them necessary? With a move coming up, it’s always a good idea to downsize your inventory. While it might be difficult to part with some items, you’ll thank yourself later for unloading the extra weight.

#2 Figure out if you will DIY the move or hire a pro.

Research the various DIY options available and compare them with professional movers in your area. Regardless of your decision, you should always:

●Get three quotes (from movers or moving truck rental companies).

●Look at ratings and reviews for DIY and/or professional services.

●Pick a time with low traffic — absolutely avoid rush hour.

#3 Always get a firm quote.

Never settle for a guesstimate. If an exact cost can’t be provided, consult another service. A guaranteed price is imperative no matter

How to Navigate Post-Holiday Sales

After a month of holiday excess, hitting stores to do even more shopping pretty much falls on the bottom of everyone’s “to-do” lists. But according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis price index, general retail prices were 2.9 percent lower in October 2015 compared to prices a year earlier. They continued to drop into December and are expected to continue to decline into 2016. What does this mean for the consumer? This year is going to be particularly good when it comes to scoring massive discounts on everything from electronics to clothing.

To help navigate through the sea of sales, check out these five rules of thumb to keep you saving:

Missed the Black Friday sale on TVs? January is the best month for electronics purchases: If you are in the market for a smart TV, sound system, DVD player, camera or computer, now is the time to purchase. Why? The Consumer Electronics Show just wrapped in Las Vegas and that is where all of the new models of electronics for the year are debuted. Once that happens, electronics retailers push to get all of their older merchandise out the door and in some cases discounted up to 60 percent. The older

How to Manage Your Finances

Part 1 of 4: Make a Budget

  1. For one month, keep track of all your expenses. You don’t have to limit yourself; just get an idea of what you spend money on during any given month. Save all your receipts, make note of how much cash you need versus how much you expense to credit cards, and figure out how much money you have left over when the calendar turns.
  2. After the first month, take stock of what you spent. Don’t write down what youwished you had spent; write down what you actually spent. Categorize your purchases in a way that makes sense to you. A simple list of your monthly expenses might look something like this:

    • Monthly income: $3,000
    • Expenses:
      • Rent/mortgage: $800
      • Household bills (utilities/electric/cable): $125
      • Groceries: $300
      • Dining out: $125
      • Gas: $100
      • Emergency medical: $200
      • Discretionary: $400
      • Savings: $900
  3. Now, write down your actual budget. Based on the month of actual expenses — and your own knowledge of your spending history — budget out how much of your income you want to allocate to each category every month. If desired, use an online budgeting platform, such as, to help you manage

5 Painless Ways to Save Money

Have you made any financial New Year’s resolutions? Chances are saving more money is on your list if you have. Who doesn’t want more money in their wallet? Unfortunately, it’s easy to say you want to save, but it’s another thing to take action on it.

That’s what this post will help you do. If you’re new to saving and associate it with depriving yourself, think again. There are plenty of painless ways to save money! Here are five.

1. Shop Around for Better Deals

One of the easiest and most common ways to save money is to shop around with various service providers. Do you still have cable? Make a phone call to inquire about lower rates. If there are other companies you’re willing to use, make that clear in the nicest way possible. After all, the goal is to reduce your bill, not to argue with the person on the other side.

You get bonus points if you find deals other competitors are offering, as this gives you leverage when negotiating. Some providers are willing to reduce your bill if you threaten to cancel, but be sure you’re ready and willing to walk away if it comes to that.

Perhaps you’re

9 Money Apps to Keep Your Retirement Planning on Track

Life is busy and you have a ton of things on your plate, which can sometimes make managing your money difficult to focus on. With today’s ever-growing lists of things to do, planning for your retirement can easily take a back seat. However, your money and what happens to it couldn’t play a more important role in whether or not you have a successful retirement. That’s why taking advantage of technology, especially with limited time on your hands, is an important step in planning your financial future. Here are nine money apps that make it easier to keep your retirement planning on track.

Budgeting and Net Worth Tracking:

Knowing where your money is going is a key first step in planning for your future. You can’t direct your money toward your goals and the things that are important to you until you identify the areas you need to adjust or cut back on first.

If you’re unsure of where your money is going, what you have left over and at what level you could be stashing away for your future, check out apps like Mint or You Need a Budget. These tools will help you identify the amounts you’re spending (or overspending) in certain