Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Manage Money

297 posts

A little while ago, I got a student credit card. One reason I did this was because I knew I needed to “build credit” ... but I didn’t actually know WHAT that meant.

 

After doing some research, I learned more about credit, as well as what’s considered “good” and “bad” credit scores. Hopefully, this info can help some other new credit card holders like myself who are still trying to figure credit out and how to use it wisely.

 

The Basics

 

A credit score is a tool that banks, landlords, employers, and others use to understand how you manage money. Essentially, the score puts a number on how risky you’ll be to lend money to, rent an apartment to, employ, etc.

 

The most commonly used credit score is the “FICO” score. Until a few weeks, this was just an acronym I saw in my credit card app. Now, I know that FICO stands for “Fair Isaac Co.,” and this is literally just the company that computes everyone’s credit scores.

 

Credit Score Ranges

 

The lowest FICO score you can get is 300. However, I found out that anything under 600 is generally considered “poor,” meaning you’d be seen as a risky borrower. The best FICO score you can get is 850, but anything above a 700 is generally considered excellent. In that range, you will likely be considered a  dependable borrower in terms of lending.

 

Different lenders can have different criteria for what they consider “poor” and “good” scores. That’s why it is important to have credit habits that are as good as possible. Ways to maintain and improve your score include paying your bill on time, not going over your credit limit, and paying at least (but not always) the minimum every month.

 

Late Payments

 

I also found out about something called delinquency. When you are delinquent on your credit card, it means you have missed a payment.

 

After the first missed payment, you are 1 day delinquent. By the second missed payment, you’ll be 30 days delinquent—which can start negatively affecting your credit score. Once delinquent payments get into your credit history, they can stay there for up to 7 years, which can hurt you long after you’ve payed off that debt. 

 

My Plan

 

After finding all of this out, I am trying to get my score to at least 750 before I start school in September, I’m currently at a 702. My credit card’s mobile app features my FICO score, and while I frequently checked it to see my how my credit score was doing, I now know what to look for.

 

I’m also going to be WAY more alert when it comes to paying my bill. The last thing I want is to make a minor mistake and be punished for it for 7 years.

 

Does anyone else know anything about credit scores? Any tips on how to maintain a really good one? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share below!

As someone who’s rented places in two different countries and three different U.S. cities, I’ve seen quite a lot when it comes to apartments. From pantry-robbing rats to a heatless winter in New York City, I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant situations.

 

During that abovementioned heatless winter, one of my roommates forgot to turn off one of the five space heaters we were using to keep warm. Thankfully, nothing caught in fire—but it was a close brush with disaster. And it got me thinking about renter’s insurance.

 

If your plans include renting an apartment or a room in an apartment, then you should strongly consider getting renter’s insurance for your stuff. Here’s why.

 

1. It’s A Good Habit To Form

 

I didn’t have renter’s insurance at that apartment in New York. I knew that it was a thing that existed, but I was too lazy to go out and buy it. What were the chances something terrible would happen to my apartment anyway?

 

When I moved to San Francisco, the space heater incident made me think twice about skipping out again. I got a policy the second my stuff arrived from the east coast, and have not regretted it. I’ll likely get a policy for as long as I keep renting.

 

Three months into my lease, my stove had a gas leak. I got it fixed before anything awful could happen, but at the time, I took solace in knowing that at least my stuff would have been protected from a disaster.

 

2. It Costs Almost Nothing

 

What if I told you that I could protect your possessions from damage, theft, or fire, all at the whopping cost of $100 per year? You’d probably take me up on that offer, right?

 

That’s essentially renter’s insurance. It protects almost all your stuff from a variety of unpleasant scenarios, and for all that it offers, it costs almost nothing.

 

If the yearly cost is intimidating, look at it in terms of months. A $100 renter’s insurance policy costs $8.33 per month. That’s roughly the equivalent of a month of Netflix, two Starbucks coffees, one takeout burrito, OR two roundtrip public transportation fares.

 

And while I’d never tell you to cancel your Netflix subscription, skipping a few coffees or walking to work 2 days out of the month is probably worth it to make renter’s insurance work for your budget.

 

3. You Don’t Know What Can Happen

 

It’s graduation season, which means that students are likely facing a lot of “new” things: new job, new city, and potentially, a new apartment, too. That’s a lot to plan for. And while insurance may not be the sexiest post-graduation present you get yourself, it’s great to have.

 

No, it won’t cover the food your greedy house rat steals, but it will cover some of the far more severe unfortunate situations that can happen. Such as your stuff going up in flames in an accidental fire due to a space heater or gas leak.

 

Long story short, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

 

Have thoughts on renter’s insurance? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments. 

One of my worst financial habits is continuously transferring money out of my savings account. I think most of us have fallen into the trap, leaving nothing in our savings for emergencies or to grow over time thanks to interest.

 

Now that I am 21, I’m taking my finances and how I manage my money much more seriously. I’m learning to curb spending, budget better, and take control of my financial future overall. This means leaving bad money management in the past.

 

This summer, I’m going to try a few new practices so I actually start saving for school in the fall. If you find yourself in the same situation, give these a shot as well.

 

Auto-Transfer

 

I’m going to automatically transfer funds from my checking account to my savings. I’m getting paid weekly this summer by my internship, so every week I will transfer a small amount from my check, $75-$150 (I need to budget before coming up with a final number). That way, I won’t have to manually save myself and will remove the temptation to spend more than I should.

 

In-Person Withdrawals

 

I plan to contact my bank to see if I set up my account so I can only transfer funds at a physical branch. My bank has different types of accounts, and I know they offer a few with this type of feature.

 

This will discourage me from impulse transfers because the only way I would ever go all the way to the branch is if I truly need the money. I mainly use my banking mobile app and various ATMs. I haven’t actually been to a branch in the past year.

 

Budget Better

 

I usually do a monthly budget. This was super convenient for me last summer because I lived in an apartment and my biggest expense was the monthly rent check. Now that I am back home, I do not have to worry about rent. So, I am going to break down my budget into weeks instead.

 

I’ll identify which weeks I will need to pay my cellphone and credit card  bills, then factor in the cost of public transportation per week (to and from my job), how much I will allow myself to spend on eating out (days that I don’t pack a lunch), and factor in weekends and other activities (concerts, expensive events, etc).

 

If you’re tech savvy like me, you’ll probably want to use a mobile app to handle this. I recommend Mint, as it has all these factored in, will divide your money accordingly, and tell you if you’re over or above your average spending limit per category.

 

Wait 24 Hours Before Impulse Purchases

 

This is one that I’m still trying to master. A lot of the time, I know I run out of money because I either (1) spent my budgeted money on something I just HAD to have or (2) transferred money into my checking so that I can buy something I just saw.

 

This summer, I’m going to try and build up my willpower. By waiting a full day, I can really evaluate whether or not I need whatever it is that I have my eye on.

 

These are just a few things I’ve thought of doing so far, but I am open to any other tips and tricks you guys have. Have any you fallen prey to the vicious checking-to-savings cycle? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know below!

I was recently speaking at a conference in Austin about why millennials shy away from credit cards. In case you didn’t know, data shows that more than 6 in 10 millennials don’t use a credit card.

 

I am not one of them. In fact, I’m personally “team credit card” all the way. But before getting into why, let me explain why millennials avoid using plastic.

 

Millennials Are Afraid—And With Good Reason

 

Based on conversations I’ve had with my blog readers, as well as many of the conversations I had at this conference, millennials shy away from credit cards because they are scared of getting into financial trouble.

 

First, they feel like they have enough debt to worry about in the form of student loans. Second, they often saw their parents or older siblings get into trouble with debt. And, third, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there about how to properly use a credit card.

 

The good news is millennials can overcome all of this with education. Now, here’s why you may want to consider using a credit card.

 

It Helps You Build Credit

 

I have an excellent credit score—and all of it is thanks to using credit cards responsibly. Read: I pay off my balance in full each month.

 

Why is it so important to build credit? Because it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. If you have a good credit score, you’ll shell out less money in interest if you ever find yourself needing to borrow money (like when you get a mortgage).

 

You Can Get Some Sweet Perks

 

I’ve gotten over 15 free flights thanks to credit cards. The good news for the consumer is there is major rewards war going on now among credit card issuers. Based on the conference I just attended, they are literally fighting trying to come up with the best rewards they can to get people to use their credit cards.

 

If you use these cards responsibly, you could see cash back, free flights, and hotel stays. You can even find a credit card that invests your cash back into an investment account. Other perks include extended warranties, automatic car rental insurance, and even concierge services.

 

The truth is debit cards don’t offer these kinds of perks (at least not yet), so take advantage by getting a good credit card and learning how to use it.

 

They Are—In Some Ways—Safer Than A Debit Card

 

When I had my wallet stolen a few years ago, I noticed how it was so much easier to resolve the issue with my credit cards versus my debit card.

 

If someone steals your credit card, all you have to do is call the issuer, cancel the card, and get a new one. The fraudulent charges are also reversed pretty quickly.

 

It’s a little more complicated with a debit card because they can literally drain your money right out of your account, and it could take a while to get it back. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

 

Do you use credit cards or do you shy away from them? Why or why not? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let us know in the comments below.

Summer is a time to relax and get a nice tan. However, it can also be a spending frenzy. Every time I go out, I am tempted to buy iced lemonade, ice cream, iced coffee, and any other type of delicious iced product.

 

And those are just small purchases! Let’s not forget the more expensive items, like concerts, sporting events, and vacations. Look, you want to have fun in the summer, but you can’t go overboard. Here are some ways I’ve limited my summer spending.

 

Vacations

 

As a college student, I was tempted to take a Euro trip. After realizing that I could not afford it, I was left visiting just my local park (which was nice, but not Europe).

 

If you want to go on an expensive vacation, try to tag along with your parents or family. When I was in graduate school, my parents planned a trip to Wisconsin Dells. As a 20-something, my parents weren’t my ideal travel companions, but they did pay for the hotel, food, and water park fees. All I spent money on was the golf course.

 

Cold Treats

 

Who doesn’t love a cold summer treat? If I am walking along the beach and see a delicious ice cream, I always want to buy it—regardless of the price. These purchases can add up quickly and hurt my pockets.

 

Instead of buying single items, make your own or buy in bulk. My sister makes ice cream with a mold she bought at the store for less than $5. Now, she can have ice cream bars whenever she wants. In the summer, I buy iced coffee packages, which cost $5 for five packets—compare that to $3.25 for just one medium iced coffee. Making your own products saves money and can even taste better.

 

Cookouts

 

With its amazing weather, the summer gives me time to grill outside. Buying chicken and meat in bulk and cooking out saves me money. A chicken plate at a restaurant runs up between $8 and $15 per person, when a bulk a chicken feeds four people for the same price. Plus, you get to enjoy time with friends and family—without the hassle of a restaurant.

 

How do you limit your spending over the summer? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips and tricks in the comments. 

As a foster kid for some time, the government had always covered my health insurance. But when I turned 18, I immediately “aged out” of this program. This was a problem for many reasons, including my college requiring incoming students to have insurance.

 

My school auto-enrolled me in its health insurance plan, but this didn’t cover everything.  I have asthma, so I need coverage for more than just check-ups. At one point freshman year, I actually ended up in my university's on-campus hospital and had to sign a waiver saying I was responsible for any charges my insurance didn’t cover. That was scary, and confusing.

 

Figuring out what to do was hard—but I knew I had to do something to improve my situation. I just did not know how or where to apply for insurance or what the process would even be like. Fortunately, I reached out to a caseworker at my school, who told me about a state health plan (MassHealth) that I may be eligible for.

 

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I applied for this plan through “MaHealthConnector,” a website dedicated to finding the right plan and coverage for you based on your needs and income. MassHealth is available for many different people with different incomes. The website asked me for my current address, tax information, and other personal information (was I a citizen, green card holder, etc).

 

Within a week of completing the online registration form, I received a document requesting proof of identification and citizenship status. Within the next 2 weeks, I received my health insurance card. The process was much easier than I thought it would be, and I feel much better with the coverage I now have.

 

Getting a hold of the information on what to do can feel difficult, so hopefully, this post helps those heading to school in the fall who need coverage. Most states require college students to have insurance. If you don’t, check out this article to learn more or contact someone at your school, like I did.

 

Do you use your school-provided health plan, or have you shopped for your own insurance? What did you learn from this experience? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your tips in the comments.

Now that we’re well into spring, my house isn’t the only thing I’m trying to clean up. Over the last few months, I’ve been paying attention to my credit card statements very closely, and I noticed something.

 

I pay for a lot of subscriptions and other monthly services that I don’t use. Sure, there’s an occasional day or two of the month when having a given service is handy, but for the other 28 days, I’m paying for something that I clearly don’t need.

 

So this past week, I made an effort to dive deep into all of the things I was subscribed to and terminate the extraneous subscriptions. It was beyond a hassle (I forget passwords all too easily), but here are the top three categories of things I ended up slashing.

 

1. Premium Dating Apps

 

Yes, I will shamefully admit that I was one of those poor souls paying extra money every month in the hope of finding true love on the internet.

 

My premium OkCupid account seemed like a good idea back when I first moved to San Francisco and didn’t know a soul, because you know, I needed all those unlimited messages to show myself off to the masses.

 

Nine months later, I haven’t even opened the app, let alone used any of the fancy “premium services.” This one was a pretty straightforward delete.

 

2. Writing Tools Subscriptions

 

Apparently, I had regularly been paying $10 a month for the last 3 years to a site called Writer’s Market, which connects writers to literary agents and other avenues to sell their work.

 

Well, 3 years later, I’m still working on a novel. Which means, it’s not nearly ready to put on any kind of marketplace anywhere yet.

 

While I thought about keeping the subscription for motivation, I stuck to my guns in the end and canned it. I’ll need it again one day, but that might not be for a while.

 

3. Cable

 

Well, this one is technically more aspirational then something I can take immediate action on (thanks to some sketchy contracts), but I never use my cable package. I’m barely home as it is, and when I have some hours of downtime, I’d rather be writing or reading a book anyway. My cable box has been collecting some serious dust, as you can imagine.

 

After spending an hour in customer service purgatory with my service provider, however, I determined I can’t cancel my service until November. While I’m not happy about needing to foot the bill for cable for the next few months, you can be sure canceling it will be one of the first things I do in November.

 

What about the rest of you? What subscriptions do you pay for that you could live without? Scan your credit card statement, then sign up or log in with your Salt account to share!

In the spring of 2016, I decided to start a podcast because I knew they were popular in the online and finance business space. I also thought it would be a lot of fun.

 

Two months into my project, I started receiving requests from different financial experts asking to be guests on the show. Now, I’ve interviewed more than 20 guests—and I’ve noticed some patterns as it pertains to managing money successfully.

 

Here are four of the most important money lessons I’ve learned from my guests.

 

1. Faith Plays A Major Role In Finances

 

Just about every guest I’ve interviewed has credited their success with finances to something bigger than themselves.

 

I’ve interviewed Buddhists, Christians, and people who consider themselves to be simply spiritual, and every single one of them has mentioned how having faith has helped them with their finances.

 

For me, “faith” doesn’t necessarily equal religion. But I’ve realized that it means trusting yourself to make the right decisions. I needed to have faith in myself to take risks like starting a business, asking for a raise, and investing money.

 

2. Money And Emotions Go Hand In Hand

 

One of my most popular podcast episodes is with Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt. During her episode, she shared how she was able to pay off $81,000 in student loan debt.

 

What really struck me about her interview is how open she was about the role of money in her mental health. Depression and anxiety are extremely common when we think of our financial situations, and our emotions play a major role in how we behave with money.

 

When I first started my financial journey, I let my emotions take over because I didn’t realize how emotional money actually was. For example, I’d spend my money because I was stressed at my job.

 

My guests have taught me techniques to help me determine whether I’m making financial decisions based on emotion or logic. Whether it’s meditating or gratitude lists, it all makes a difference in helping you stabilize your emotions.

 

 

3. Money Doesn’t Need To Destroy A Relationship

 

They say money issues are a common reason for divorce, but I’ve interviewed plenty of guests whose marriages have withstood major financial problems.

 

One such guest is Lauren Greutman, author of “The Recovering Spender.” She got herself into over $50,000 of consumer debt and hid it from her husband.

 

One day, she finally mustered up the courage to tell him and start fixing her financial life. Rather than asking for a divorce, her husband was on her team and they worked together to pay off the debt. Their marriage is now stronger than ever.

 

As I date, I now know that we need to have financial conversations early on. While money won’t necessarily break a relationship, it is important to get on the same page from the beginning.

 

4. There’s Always A Solution

 

The main lesson I’ve learned is there’s always a solution to every problem if you look for it. The solutions may not appear out of thin air, but they are often in plain sight. For example, I would complain about not earning enough income when the solution was as simple as just asking for more money. The solutions do take some work, but the rewards are worth it.

 

Do you listen to financial podcasts? What lessons have you learned? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

When I got married in January, I wasn’t really considering the financial ramifications—other than the fact that it was less expensive to elope. But soon after marriage, a lot of questions started to come up.

 

Here are the biggest ones I had, as well as the answers I found:

 

How do my taxes change?

 

Once you’re married, you have the option to file married jointly or married separately. You should provide your employer with a new W-4 that lets them know you’re married, and tax deductions will be calculated differently. You should do this whether you’re filing jointly or not, the number of allowances you’re claiming on your taxes will likely change.

On a joint tax return, both spouses are responsible for all the information and must sign the same return. Some couples opt to file separately, but most of the time this results in higher taxes for both parties.

 

Does my husband own my property? Is he responsible for my mortgage?

 

Back in 2015, I bought a home on my own. If you acquire assets like these before marriage, they are considered separate property. While a new spouse isn’t responsible for your mortgage as soon as you’re married (not paying it won’t affect their credit score), the financial obligation of a mortgage lingers after death. So, if something happens to the borrower, your spouse is usually the one responsible for paying it.
 

Are we responsible for each other’s debt? Student loans?

 

While federal loans are forgiven if your spouse dies, there are certain situations where your spouse could be responsible for your loans. If they cosigned your loans or if they live in a community property state while you took on new student loans or other debt, your spouse would be responsible. If your parents cosigned private student loans that don’t release you upon death, then your parents are most likely the ones who would be responsible.

 

What financial questions did you have after marriage? Or what answers surprised you? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

 

My nephew Ryan is marrying his girlfriend, Whitney, the end of this month. As an aunt, I am excited to witness this young couple make a long-term commitment to each other. I just love a wedding!

 

But as a money and emotions expert, I know that it is important for any engaged couple to realize that marriage is a financial commitment as well. Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributors to divorce is financial conflict.

 

Because I love Ryan, I plan on having a little chat with him before his wedding day. Here are some highlights of what I will say.

 

Work As A Team

 

Too many couples fight about finances and work against each other when it comes to spending and saving decisions. My husband and I have been married for 20 years. One thing we have done well is work as a financial team, in both good times and bad. Any young couple should strive to do the same.

 

Celebrate Differences

 

It is unrealistic to expect that you will always agree with each other. My husband and I come from different money histories, and we needed to spend time understanding each other’s money mindsets.

 

Celebrate these differences, and capitalize on each of your strengths. You will be emotionally and financially stronger as a result.

 

Go On Money Dates

 

My husband and I go on regular money dates. During these dates, we talk about money, ask each other curious questions about our respective financial histories and mindsets, and discuss how to proactively plan for our future together.

 

If you’re engaged, it may seem like you have plenty of years to talk about money. But do yourself a favor and discuss money matters now. Trust me—the last 20 years passed very quickly!

 

What money advice would you give to an about-to-be-married couple? Sign up or login in with your Salt account to share in the comments!

My son turned one last week. First birthdays mean a birthday party. Birthdays cost money, which inspired me to write this post.

 

Like when celebrating many “firsts,” there is a temptation to go all out. Often, these added bells and whistles cost money. Without skimping out on the birthday festivities, my wife and I made some decisions that helped keep costs low.

 

(And, let’s be honest, the kid is turning one. ONE. Is he really going to remember anything about his party? The answer is no.) Here is what we did:

 

Did It Ourselves

 

Obviously 1 year olds don’t talk (at least most of them don’t). When planning for a birthday theme, we couldn’t just ask Noah what he wanted.

 

He really likes his baseball toy with handles, so we chose a baseball-themed party. Red Sox, to be specific.

 

There are endless baseball/Red Sox-themed party supplies. To save money, we opted for some DIY decorations: recycled mason jars as baseball silverware holders, a tablecloth as the Green Monster, and caramel popcorn party favors. Total cost for all three of these? Less than $10.

 

Kept It Small

 

My wife has a large family—like 25 first cousins large. We discussed throwing a big bash for Noah’s first birthday. This would have required renting a hall, some type of entertainment, additional food costs, etc.

 

In the end, we decided to keep it small. Immediate family and grandparents. We hosted the party (forgoing the hall rental). Our parents were more than willing to bring some baseball-themed snacks, and we recruited my brother-in-law and his wife to swing by early and help set up.

 

Remembered The Purpose

 

We hear the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” all the time. There is a lot of temptation, and in some cases social pressure, to go all out with these milestones for your kids. For some people, that works. For us, we were hoping to avoid the temptation.

 

As I mentioned earlier, we could have gone all out with more bells and whistles. As we talked about birthday plans, we realized it was most important for us (and we will assume Noah) that he was surrounded by his family while some solid photo opportunities.

 

In the end, the party was a smashing success. As an added bonus, fewer people means fewer gifts, which means less junk fewer toys that he will use once and forget about.

 

What about it, Salt Community? Any cost-saving ideas for upcoming or past parties? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them in the comments!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Warren Buffet’s 25-5 rule. If you’re not familiar, it’s a simple exercise to help you figure out the things that matter to you most. You make a list of 25 things you want to achieve in your life, and circle five of them. Then, you instantly forget about the other 20—and focus only on achieving your top five.

 

The point? Spreading yourself too thin and not prioritizing your goals results in you getting none of them done. If you ruthlessly focus your time on only five, you’ve got a greater chance of success. And, if they truly were the top five, achieving them should maximize your happiness.

 

While I’ve tried to apply this rule to my life goals, I also thought Buffet’s advice applies nicely to personal finance. The idea came about when a friend told me they dropped $300 on a pair of Yves-Saint Laurent sneakers, and I had to collect my jaw off the floor.

 

I would never spend that much on shoes, but that’s just me. My friend obviously has fashion as a part of his top five—he’s chosen to prioritize spending his money on it instead of something else. So, after much internal debate, here is my financial top five—just in time for financial literacy month, too!

 

Keep in mind that these categories only relate to the money I’ve marked for spending. Other far more important categories like retirement savings, debt repayment, and more aren’t counted here because they’re funded beforehand. 

 

1. Travel

 

I’m a sucker for visiting new places and exploring the world. In general, I’d say I tend to prioritize spending money on experiences rather than material objects. Hence, why travel is so high up on the list for me.

 

Now that I live in a different part of the country from my family and close friends, travel has also become a way for me to reunite with my loved ones.

 

From plane tickets, to hotel stays, to rental cars and Ubers, I have very few reservations about sinking money into this category throughout the year. 

 

2. Books

 

I don’t think I’ve stepped foot in a bookstore in the last 5 years and not walked out with something in my hands. I’m a gigantic book nerd, and if Barnes & Noble had a loyalty card, I’d probably be on my fifth free book or something for the year.

 

While books are obviously material objects, I think they still help us generate lasting experiences and memories—just of the mental variety. Therefore, they’re worth it to me!

 

3. Personal Training And Gyms

 

It’s scarily easy to take good health for granted, and fitness is obviously key to maintaining it. And while I don’t think I’ll ever actually become one of those people that, you know, enjoys exercise, over the years I have found a few things that keep me going to the gym again and again.

 

Working with a personal trainer is probably the biggest of those things. Having somebody else hold me accountable for achieving my fitness goals has been a surprisingly effective way to stay motivated, so that I keep going back to the gym even when I don’t want to.

 

4. Good Food

 

Maybe living in San Francisco has ruined me, but I think I’ve officially become a n00b foodie. And while I’ve yet to degrade to the point of taking constant food Instagrams, I do like to splurge on a good meal out with friends.

 

For me, it’s less about the food, and more about enjoying the experience of trying out a new restaurant with other people. It’s a social and communal experience, and I think that’s what I value most about it.

 

5. Entertainment

 

I like to go out. Like, a lot more than I probably should (cue the “you’re only young once” narrative). From concerts, to DJ shows, to long nights at the bar, a good chunk of my cash goes to just having fun. And again, that’s totally OK by me because I know the memories that I’m making with my friends will last long after the bars close.

 

Have you thought about your financial top five? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share!

Last summer, I took an internship on campus and was faced with the decision of how to house myself for the summer months. This led to me getting my very first apartment … sort of. From early May to the end of August, I sublet an amazing apartment right by my school!

 

When you sublet, you sign an agreement with an apartment’s current tenants for a short period of time. While you may not be the direct renter, you are still a legal tenant of the place. This option is great for college students like me, who need to stay somewhere for a couple months for work, and those who travel.

 

But as great as the benefits are, there are some downsides too. So, for those who may be looking to sublet for the summer, here are my opinions on it!

 

The Pros

 

  • No need to buy furniture. Most sublets come fully furnished. At the apartment I stayed at over the summer, I had to buy nothing except groceries every week.
  • No credit check. If I was shopping for an apartment to actually lease, the process would be a lot more formal—and likely include a credit check. But most short-term sublets don’t require anything that formal. You just need to pay on time every month and treat the property well.
  • You can negotiate. I noticed that toward the end of the school year, prices got cheaper and cheaper. As much as you want to live in the apartment, the subleaser usually wants to get out just as bad. Nobody wants to pay for a place they're not using, so they are more willing to negotiate toward the end of the school year.
  • No security deposit. When you rent an apartment for yourself, you typically put down a security deposit to cover potential damages for the space. When you sublease, the sublessor will often waive this deposit.


The Cons

  • Limited control. If the current tenant gets their lease terminated for any reason, then you too are out of an apartment—and there's nothing you can really do about it, because you rent through the tenant and not their landlord.
  • Shady sublessors. You must definitely be careful when searching for a sublease. If you are in college, check if your campus has a website dedicated to searching for apartments nearby. My school has a website designed to help bring responsible tenants and landlords together. Some sublessors may not be truthful about the lease. For example, they may not be allowed to sublease the apartment or may have failed to run it by their landlord first. This can get you both in trouble. Others may try to jack up the price to make themselves some quick bucks.
  • Delayed services. If anything in the apartment breaks down or needs fixing, you must first go through the current tenant. Then, they must go to their landlord. So, fixes and repairs can take a bit of time.


These are just a few of my opinions based off my experiences on subleasing. Does anyone have similar experiences or advice? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your stories!

While I certainly look at all my financial goals every January, I like to think of April as the financial new year.

 

Seeing as how April is Financial Literacy Month and spring is in the air, it seems like a good time to clean your financial house. You also have to file your taxes in April, so you might as well keep the financial train going.

 

Here are a few of the ways that I personally like to celebrate Financial Literacy Month each year.

 

Review My Financial Goals

 

April is the time I check in on the financial goals I set back in January to see if I’m on track. Since I also run a business, this is the time I measure what’s going on in the business financials.

 

For example, I set a goal in January to have $10,000 in emergency savings. I also decided to make certain investments in my business with specific outcomes in mind. April is the time I see how I’m doing.

 

(I’m happy to announce that I’m almost at my savings goal, and I’m slowly starting to see the return on my investments.)

 

Talk To My Money Team

 

Since I’m a business owner, I have people on my money team that I speak with. For instance, I have an accountant I talk to every April for tax planning. However, I also crunch numbers with my business manager.

 

Sometimes we need other perspectives from experts in their field to really get a good sense of what’s going on in our financial lives. This helps you figure out what your next steps should be. Speaking of which ...

 

Start Taking The Next Logical Step

 

The final thing I like to do every April is to start taking action. More specifically, I take action on the next logical step for my financial life.

 

This year, that looks like researching different types of retirement accounts for business owners—and possibly making a switch for tax benefits.

 

What are you going to do to celebrate Financial Literacy Month? Or what’s the next logical step to take in your financial life? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let us know in the comments!

I just got back from a weeklong business trip in London. I hadn’t been there since I studied at Oxford as an exchange student—I almost forgot how much I love the U.K.!

 

I also almost forgot how expensive traveling abroad can be. From different currencies, to different expectations around gratuities and more, you can easily end up going way over budget on a trip abroad.

 

Here are three things I had to (re)learn the hard way about traveling abroad. Use them on your next trip outside of the States!

 

1. Memorize Common Currency Conversions

 

I got excited buying a ton of “inexpensive” £5 meals and £20 clothes throughout the week, until I realized that those amounts are the equivalent of $6 and $25, respectively. Not too drastic a difference, but still—I may have put down the $20 shirt if I knew it was really $25!

 

As you may expect, conversion gets more complicated as the numbers get larger. Doing mental math for quick dollar amounts is fine (and usually won’t have too much negative impact if you ***** up), but not understanding that £1,000 is $1,260 will have more adverse side effects for your budget.

 

I recommend memorizing common conversion amounts (like, the equivalent of $1, $5, $10, $50, and $100) so that way you can make quick gut checks as expenses pop up. You need not know the exact dollar equivalent, but having a rough idea will help you make smarter financial decisions.

 

2. Shop Tax Free Where Possible

 

There’s nothing fun about paying taxes to a government you don’t get any benefits from. When abroad, a lot of shops may offer tax-free shopping as an option. You’ll get a special receipt at checkout that records the amount of tax you paid for your goods. Then, if you take that receipt to a kiosk at the airport, you can get a refund for that amount.

 

Not every shop will offer this, and a lot of them are not transparent about it. The places I shopped were very open about their tax-free options, but at a few others, I had to actually talk to an employee to get the special tax receipt I needed.

 

If for whatever reason you plan to buy a big-ticket item abroad and take it back home with you, tax-free shopping can save you quite a bit!

 

3. Beware Hidden Fees And Different Expectations

 

Foreign countries will have different gratuity fees. In the U.K., for example, if you go to eat at a café, you may pay two different prices for the same item depending on if you eat it at the store or if you take it to go. That’s because there’s a small “service fee” bundled into dine-in orders that pays for the person bussing your table. It’s frowned upon if you get a to-go order and then sit down to eat it because you didn’t pay that extra fee.

 

Tipping can also be extremely different. In the U.K., it’s not common to tip because most service professionals have higher hourly rates. That said, there have been times where I wrote down a gratuity on a credit card slip out of habit. Nobody said anything to me about it, but I essentially walked away from a meal or two with a bit less money, and potentially appeared condescending because of it.

 

Do you have any other money-saving tips for traveling abroad? Sign up or log in with your Salt account and let me know in the comments!