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Posts Tagged ‘saving money’

By Jeffrey Strain

Would you be willing to put money where your mouth is and bet that you could lose a certain amount of weight over a certain amount of time? If money is a motivating factor to help you accomplish goals you want to achieve, then the social dieting website DietBet may be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a site that lets you bet on your own weight loss and allows you to make money if you lose the weight. The catch? If you fail to reach the weight loss goal, you lose the money that you bet.

The system worked for Sara Luggar who, according to CNN was able to make more than $330 while losing 140 pounds.

Here is her before:

weight loss 1

and after:

weight loss 2

The reality is that in order for her to make that amount of money, many others who were trying to lose weight along with her ended up failing. Here’s how the DietBet system works:

Weight Loss Bets

There are two ways that you are able to bet on your weight loss on the site. The first is a 4-week (28-day) challenge called “The Kickstarter” where the goal is to lose 4% of your body weight. The second is a 6 month challenge called “The Challenger” where the goal is to lose 10% of your body weight. You look through the site for a challenge for the amount of money that you want to join, or you can create one for yourself if you want. The amount you can bet ranges from $10 – $500 which you deposit when you make your bet.

For example, as I write this there is a “Spring is Here!” 4-week game open to anyone with $100 bet and 194 players making the current pot worth $19,400. If you join and lose 4% of your weight over the 4-week period, you would split that $19,400 (less the 20% fee the site takes for bets between $100 and $249) among all the other players who succeeded in losing 4% of their weight during the game period. If you fail to lose that 4% weight reduction, you lose the entire $100 you bet.

The key to how much money you earn is that the payout depends on how many of the participants in the game you’ve signed up for manage to succeed. The more players who fail to take off 4% of their weight, the more money those who do succeed get paid. It’s also possible that everyone participating succeeds, in which case you would get your money back, but not earn any money.

Can You Get Paid to Lose Weight?

As the Sara Luggar story suggests, if you are able to meet the percentage reduction of weight during the game period, it’s certainly possible to earn money this way. It’s also quite clear from the same example that there are a lot of people who make the bet thinking they can lose the weight, but ultimately fail. If betting money is a motivational tool that helps you succeed, then this can be a good way to make some extra money while getting down to your ideal weight. As a bonus, you’ll likely also be saving money as you lose weight as well. On the other hand, if you think that making the bet will not make it easier for you to lose weight, you’re likely going to be one of the many who is helping others get paid while you lose your entire bet.

 

By April Lewis-Parks

There are more than 10.3 million single moms heading up American households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and more than 2.6 million single dads. You are not alone in your solo-parenting journey, but that fact doesn’t make it any less stressful when it comes to finances. While there is no one right way to plan for your financial future as a single parent, we do have some savvy budgeting tips for you:

Get It All Down on Paper

Figure out your fixed monthly expenses, like your mortgage or rent payment, car payment and child care and grocery bills, and write them down. Subtract the total from your monthly take-home pay. Ask your payroll rep at work to automatically put the difference into a savings account instead of your checking, and then don’t touch this money unless absolutely necessary. Doing this makes it more difficult to get to, and it will accrue a little interest in the meantime.

Get Help Budgeting

Use an app like Mint.com to keep track of how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. The app helps you figure out how much you can spend on everything from food to recreation and shows you when you’ve met your budget threshold.

Get Coupon Apps

Apps like Cellfire or Coupons.com can send deals to your loyalty cards or your email, ready to be printed. The Grocery IQ app matches your shopping list with available coupons. You can add your items to the list by speaking them, scanning a bar code or just adding them manually through a master list.

Include Your Kids in the Process

While you don’t need to divulge all your money woes to your kids, explain that your income limits the family to a specific spending threshold. Enlist their help setting up the apps and brainstorming fun and cheap things to do. Search online for free events in your area, give them a set amount of money for recreation and tell them to set up their own budget.

Get Creative

Look into ways you can create an additional revenue stream. Consider cleaning houses on the weekends, tutoring or running errands in your community. Or, start a babysitting or dog-walking service. If you receive structured settlement or annuity payments, consider contacting a company that buys future payments for a lump sum of cash now. You can then use the money to help pay off debt or help with monthly bills. For more information, visit the J.G. Wentworth FaceBook page.

Need childcare while you pursue another job or side income? Start a babysitting co-op in your neighborhood with other single parents. The idea is everyone takes turns watching each other’s kids for a limited amount of hours each month for free. You can get started using BabysittingCoop.com.

Look Into Tax Credits

Research special tax credits and deductions for lower-income parents with children. Don’t forget alimony counts as taxable income for the recipient and a tax deduction for the payer. Look into the child tax credit, which provides filers with up to $1,000 a year per child. That credit is subtracted from the amount of your total taxes owed. But there are restrictions; the children must be under 17, you must be the only one claiming them as your dependents and they must have lived with you for more than half the year.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host of MissMoneyBee.com, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+.

 

By Jessica Williams

DIY projects all have the hidden agenda of saving you money. When you begin to take a look at your finances, chances are that you will begin to see exactly how much you are overpaying for everyday conveniences.

From ordering take out a few time a week to paying for a cleaning service, making things easier on your schedule can often create a strain on your finances.

Here are some Do-It-Yourself tricks that can help you keep some additional money in your pocket:

Shorten your dryer-vent hose
Disconnect the hose and vacuum it out. Trim the hose length so that it’s long enough for you to pull the dryer a few feet from the wall. A short and unobstructed line makes your fryer run more efficiently, while saving you $25 a year on electric, gas, or propane. In addition, your clothes will also dry about 20 percent faster.

Closing closet doors to can lower the square footage you’re heating and cooling. Shutting closet doors along the exterior walls help to insulate the house saving you an average of $50 a year off of your total energy bills.

Make your own cleaning solutions. Go ahead and create your own cleaning products using inexpensive kitchen items, such as white vinegar and baking soda. You can also check out The Green Guide (http://www.thegreenguide.com/) for recipes. Not only will you have cleansers that don’t contain any harsh chemicals, you will also be saving $50 or more per year on commercial cleansers.

Replace central air-conditioning filters. Every month during the summer, make sure that you replace your air-conditioner filers to keep air flowing freely through the ducts and to reduce strain on the blower motor. Not only will these new filters keep dust and mold from collecting on the condenser coils, it also extends the life of the equipment while saving you at least $40 on cooling costs.

Use your laptop instead of your desktop. Your laptop runs on batteries, which uses 80 percent less electricity than a desktop computer, saving you $30 per year off of your electricity bill.

Replace your grill, lawnmower, or patio furniture during the fall. Waiting to replace these items until the fall season can end up saving you over $150 as stores normally mark down their inventory pricing to make room for holiday decorations and snowblowers. What’s better is that most of the online retailers often provide free shipping on leftover warm-weather gear.

Plug up a Smart Strip. Three-quarters of the energy that electronics burn is consumed when the equipment is turned off. Instead of unplugging them, hook them up to a Smart Strip surge protector, which automatically kills power to electronics when you turn them off. This small switch can save you over $240 a year on energy costs.

Install a shower timer. Put one in the kid’s bathroom. This battery-operated device limits showers to 5, 8, and 11 minutes saving you almost $200 a more a year on your water bill. In addition, this also speeds up your child’s morning routines of eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, and making sure they make it out the door on time.

Cancel your phone line. Cancelling your phone line and replacing with a magicJack can save you over $400 a year. This tiny gadget instantly transforms your broadband phone access into a free phone service with unlimited calling, free long distance in the US and Canada.

Install a wireless light switch. Simply attach a batter-operated device to the wall and screw its receptor into the lamp socket. It costs about $27 for a wireless light socket switch and can end up saving you $300 once it has been installed.

These are just a few small do-it-yourself projects that can help you save money.

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and SouthPromo.com, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.

 

By Katie Bryan

America Saves Week, February 24 – March 1, 2014, is a time to review your finances, decide what you want to save for, and set up a system that will allow you to save automatically. That’s why the America Saves Week theme is Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? Even if you are already saving, it’s good to take a look at your goals and decide if you can save more or start a new savings goal. Join thousands of others who are pledging to pay down debt, save money, and take financial action during America Saves Week.

Not sure what to save for or what to save for next? Here are the most popular saving goals of those who have pledged to save through America Saves:

Save for Emergencies – Only 37 percent of low-to-moderate income households have a savings or money market account at a bank or credit union and nearly a quarter of savers who have pledged to save have chosen “emergency savings” as their first wealth-building goal. Learn more.

Save for Education – Saving for education is the second most popular goal savers select when they pledge to save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when saving and paying for college. Learn more.

Pay Down Debt – Getting out of debt is the #3 goal Savers select when they pledge to save. That does not come as a surprise since a 2012 survey found that 45% of families with annual incomes under $50,000 rely on credit cards to pay for basic needs such as rent, utilities, insurance and food. Learn more.

Save for a Home – For decades, home ownership has been the main path to wealth for most Americans. Today, home equity – the market value of a home minus the balance on any home loans – represents more than four-fifths of the typical family’s wealth. Learn more.

Save for Retirement – Retirement savings is a top priority for many Savers. Saving for retirement now will ensure that you have enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living when you stop or reduce the amount of hours you work. Learn more.

Not sure how to save for your goals? Here are some saving strategies to help:

Save Automatically – The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans save at their bank or credit union, and how millions of employees save through 401(k) and other retirement programs at work. Learn more.

Save at Tax Time – Do you spend weeks eagerly anticipating your tax refund? When the money finally comes in, is it gone tomorrow? Many people view tax refunds as unplanned bonuses. They see the money as a gift from the government, to use for splurges or treats. But a tax refund provides the opportunity to improve your financial situation. Learn more.

Take the America Saves Pledge (or re-pledge) today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. When you take the pledge you can also choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal. And don’t forget to follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

 

By Jessica Williams

Organizations from across the Unites States will be participating in this year’s America Saves Week, which starts today and ends Friday, February 28, 2014.

America Saves Week is an annual week that is set aside by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council to help promote good savings behaviors while teaching individuals how to assess their own saving habits.

Here are a list of free events and activities that are open to the public to attend this week.

• eXtension is hosting a #eXASchat Twitter chat on Monday, Feb 24 from 7:00PM – 8:00PM EST hosted by Dr. Barbara O’Neill and special guest America Saves.

• Florida Saves will be hosting a free “How to Save $500 – Quick, easy steps!” webinar on Monday, Feb 24 from 12:30PM – 1:30PM EST

• Experian will be hosting a #CreditChat with America Saves on Wednesday, Feb 26 from 12:00PM – 1:00 PM PST at Experian.com (http://www.experian.com/blogs/news/about/creditchat/)

• Florida Saves will be hosting a free “Women & Money: Unique Issues” webinar on Wednesday, Feb 26 from 12:30PM – 1:30PM EST

• Wise Bread and America Saves have teamed up to host a Tweet chat on Thursday, Feb 27 from 12:00PM – 1:00PM PST called “#WBChat: How to Develop Savings Habits.” On this chat, they will be giving away $100. Click here (http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-on-thursday-227-12pm-pst-for-a-chance-to-win-100-in-prizes) for more information.

• Experian is hosting a Google Hangout on Friday, Feb 28 from 12:00PM – 1:00PM PST with special guest America Saves via Experian.com (http://www.experian.com/blogs/news/about/america-saves)

Other Activities

2014 America Saves Challenge

As part of America Saves Week (February 24-March 1, 2014), a time set aside annually to promote good savings behavior, the Cooperative Extension system is launching an online “2014 America Saves Challenge.” This free five-week program, open to anyone who enrolls online, will be held from Sunday, February 23, through Saturday, March 29, 2014. Prizes will be awarded for participants who report the highest point totals at the end of each week and at the end of the challenge.

To participate in the America Saves Challenge, visit the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ Challenge Web site at http://rutgers.ancc.net/. Set up a user name and password and download a one-page user’s guide with instructions about how to proceed. Enroll in the Challenge titled “2014 America Saves Challenge.” This challenge will be among a list of names of online challenges that are currently available to participate in.

Save Your Refund Sweepstakes

The SaveYourRefund Sweepstakes makes you a winner this tax season– win $250 in weekly drawings or a GRAND PRIZE of $25,000 by simply saving $50 of your federal refund!

Jessica Williams is Consolidated Credit’s Marketing Communications New Media Coordinator. As a member of the education team, Jessica focuses on helping consumers make better financial decisions while living debt-free. She has previously worked with Take Stock In Children, where she was a mentor and communications specialist, and SouthPromo.com, where she managed community relations, event planning, marketing, and public relations. Jessica attended both the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida where she received her B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communications and Marketing. Connect with Jessica on Google+.