Life Hacks

You Don’t Need More Money Advice, You Just Need Advice You Can Relate To

If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a little interested in getting your finances in order. Maybe you’ve even tried! Maybe you’ve read a bunch of advice, but nothing seems to work for you. If that sounds familiar, the solution might not be to find more advice. Instead, focus on finding advice that speaks to you.

Personal finance is, you know, personal. It’s right there in the name, but people seem to forget just how much money management has to do with your own unique situation, habits, and behaviors. Some money writers focus on their personal debt stories. Others, like me, usually focus on practical tips. And some financial experts focus on the mindset of money in our society. At its core, though, all of this personal finance advice is more or less the same. It’s the approach that’s different. The best money advice, then, is the advice you can actually relate to.

Find a Story That Motivates You

When I first started reading and writing about money, so many people recommended Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich, saying it completely changed their life. Sethi offers the same advice that’s worked for ages, but he packages it in a way that speaks to a lot of people. For example, he’s not into cutting back on lattes. Instead of being frugal and saving $3 at a time, he argues, you should focus on saving money where it matters—housing, food, and other large expenses.

Many people find this attitude refreshing. The idea that they can still enjoy small pleasures, like a daily latte, makes them totally want to do this money thing. The advice seems to contradict traditional personal finance advice, which makes it appealing, but when you really dig into it, the advice is standard: cut back on stuff you don’t care about so you have more money to spend on things you do care about. What sets Sethi’s advice apart, though, is his mindset toward money. And that’s everything.

In other words, he has a relatable story: the guy bucking frugality to take control and do what works for him. People…

5 Simple Hacks To Increase Your Retirement Savings

best way to save for retirement
best way to save for retirement

Are you saving for your retirement?

If you haven’t been able to start saving for retirement, you are not alone. The number of Americans who have no cash in their bank accounts is staggering.

According to a Federal Reserve report, almost 30% of Americans have literally no money in their accounts while 62% have…

Remains of the Day: Apple Quietly Updates the iPad

Apple added a couple of new products to their lineup this morning to little fanfare. The new red iPhone, in partnership with the (RED) charity, may be the only head-turner but they also upgraded the most popular size of lower-end iPad.

  • The new 9.7 inch iPad is a slight upgrade over the iPad Air 2, with a starting price of $329. That simplifies things a little bit; now the whole lineup includes the iPad Mini, the normal iPad, the iPad Pro, and a jumbo iPad Pro. Apple also announced a weird video app that they’re developing called Clips, which lets you create videos to be shared on other services. It’s sort of like Apple’s version of Snapchat minus the actual chat. You can add emojis and filters and all that jazz and do simple video editing. Clips will be available in April. [Apple]
  • In other news, following the U.S. ban…

Do Not Lease A Car For A Teenager

A lot of parents help their kids with a car purchase, and so some of them are floating the idea of leasing a brand new car instead of buying a used one. While this might sound like an inexpensive way to get the newest and safest car, it isn’t the best solution for a new driver.

I’ve given car buying advice to many parents on how to select and shop for a quality vehicle for their kid. Usually, my advice goes like this: research cars that are known to be reliable, make sure you get it inspected by a trusted mechanic, and stick with private sellers over dealerships because you will often get a little more for your money.

But over the past year or so, I’ve encountered several parents that have gotten frustrated with the used car buying process. Often they lack the time, patience, and/or knowledge to successfully buy a quality used car. These folks will sometimes get tempted by super cheap lease deals and think that a sub-$200 car payment doesn’t seem so bad compared to shelling out a few grand in cash, or higher payments, for something that will probably have a bit of miles on it and most likely be out of warranty.

But leasing a car for a new driver could be more of a risk and won’t save you money in the long run.

First, let’s examine the numbers. You could lease something like a brand new Chevy Cruze for $190 a month with $2,000 out of pocket (not including tax and fees) for 39 months, and that means your total cost would be about $9,400 over the course of the lease. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money to spend for a car with an MSRP of around $22,000. But what people often forget about leases is that at the end of the term, you have to give the car back and start all over again.

So if you leased a car for a 17-year-old, by the…

Magnet for Mac Is the Window Management Tool I’ve Desperately Needed

We’ve seen a few different tools for Windows-esque window management on Mac over the years, but none of those ever fit well with my workflow. Magnet is an app that’s been around for a while, but a few recent updates have finally made it the app I need.

At a glance, Magnet ($4.99, but it’s on sale right now for 99¢) is like any window snapping tool. You can organize windows neatly side-by-side, in fullscreen, quarters, thirds, or any combination of those you want. You can manage windows by dragging them, setting up keyboard shortcuts, or by using the menu bar. This alone is helpful for someone like me, who typically has dozens of windows open of varying sizes all stacked in a disorganized way that makes me spend more time in the app switcher than I’d like. If I do ever bother to manually resize a window, it’s usually just to make it large enough to peak out from another stack of apps.

What sets Magnet apart from other options is the sheer amount of polish. It doesn’t get confused by multiple displays (and in fact supports up to six external displays) and you can customize the keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs. It also supports any combination of window areas. For example, you can cram one window in the top right, another in the bottom right, then expand one window to take up the other half of the screen. Magnet also just added options for left/center/right thirds, which turns out to be the feature I was truly waiting for.

What’s especially nice about Magnet is that it doesn’t force any specific move set on you. Whether you’re a keyboard shortcut type of person, a menu person, or a mouse person, you can make user of Magnet. Let’s take a look at how all of these different options look in action.

Organize Windows…

You Can Now Clear Out Wasted Storage in the Twitter iPhone App

iPhone: Twitter has rolled out an update for the official Twitter app that solves the pesky problem of app bloating. Now, you can manually clear out the cache in the app.

A lot of apps on iOS have a problem where they bloat up in size over use, which can cause issues with those of us with 16GB phones. The best workaround I’ve found for this involves downloading a giant app to force iOS to clear the…

If You’re Going to Look At Your Phone All Day, At Least Take Care of Your Neck

Neck pain and poor posture come from a myriad of problems, and looking down at your phone constantly may be one trigger. In her video, Doctor Jo, DPT and a licensed physical therapist, suggests a couple of neck stretches to help counter the effects of all that texting and reading Lifehacker on your phone.

When you bend your neck forward, over time the muscles in the front of your neck, shoulders, and upper chest tighten up and tend to pull your shoulders and neck slightly forward, which altogether looks like bad posture. So Doctor Joe demonstrates a couple of stretches here:

5 Myths About Credit Cards That Won’t Go Away

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The idea of evaluating a person’s creditworthiness goes back as early as 1899, when Equifax (originally called Retail Credit Company) would keep a list of consumers and a series of factors to determine their likelihood to pay back debts. However, credit cards didn’t make an appearance until the 1950s, and the FICO score as we know it today wasn’t introduced until 1989.

Due to these timing differences, many U.S. consumers hold on to damaging myths about credit cards. Let’s dispel five of these widely held but false beliefs and find out what to do to continue improving your credit score.

Myth #1: Closing unused cards is good for credit

Remember when United Colors of Benetton used to be all the rage and you shopped there all the time? Fast forward a decade; you don’t shop there anymore, and you’re thinking about shutting down that store credit card. Not so fast! Closing that old credit card may do more harm than good to your credit score.

Your length of credit history contributes 15 percent of your FICO score. If that credit card is your oldest card, then closing it would bring down the average age of your accounts and hurt your score. This is particularly true when there is a gap of several years between your oldest and second-to-oldest card. Another point to consider is that when you close a credit card, you’re reducing your amount of available credit. This drops your credit utilization ratio, which makes up 30 percent of your FICO score.

What to do: Keep those old credit cards open, especially when they are the oldest ones that you have. Just make sure that you’re keeping on top of any applicable annual fees and they’re not tempting you to spend beyond your means.

Myth #2: Holding a credit card balance is good for credit

Your payment history is a more influential factor to your FICO score than your total amount owed to lenders (35 percent versus 30 percent, respectively). This means that if you have a choice between paying off and holding on to debt, it’s generally better to pay it off. However, responsible…

10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy

The more electricity you use, the more you pay for it. And in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon tech devices, something’s gotta give. Luckily, there’s a way to save money on those bills and help the environment, all at the same time. You just need to capture those intense rays of sunshine and use them for free energy. There are many ways you can harvest energy from the sun. Some methods are free and have been in use for thousands of years. Others require an investment in technology, but in some cases you can even make money by capturing free energy from the sun and selling it!

1. Solar panels

A few years ago, it would have been unusual to spot a house with solar panels on the roof, but now solar panels seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over. If you have a south-facing roof (or west-facing) and get lots of sunny days in your area, installing solar panels to generate electricity can be a smart investment. The cost of solar panels has dropped in recent years, and with major players such as Tesla starting to produce solar panels, further price drops and improvements in capability may lie ahead. If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, in many states you can sell this extra energy to the utility company and make money through net metering programs.

Cost: Thousands of dollars up front, depending on square footage installed.

Potential savings: About a thousand dollars per year, depending on your location.

DIY? No, solar panels typically require professional installation.

2. Passive solar heating

This method of harvesting energy from the sun is not new and does not require any special technology. My house has a solarium with south-facing windows to allow sunlight to flood in during winter months. The solarium walls capture the warmth and radiate it back into the house, providing free heating. Any south-facing windows you have in your house will work to provide heating benefits in winter. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on winter days to let light and heat in. Close curtains at night during winter and when the sun is shining in during the summer.

Cost: Free if you have south-facing windows.

Potential savings: Hundreds of dollars per year.

DIY? No, look for south-facing windows when choosing or building a house.

3. Solar water heater

Heating water requires a lot of energy, so why not capture some of that free energy from the sun instead of running up your electric or gas bill? A solar water heater circulates water through an insulated collector using a water tank that is painted black to maximize heat collection. This hot water can be used directly or can be fed into a traditional water heater to save energy.

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