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Apple Is Starting to Catch up to Spotify + How to Catch up with Your Savings Goals

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With BestBuy and Target announcing that they will stop selling CD’s in their stores, it is safe to say that digital music has taken over. Now that it’s all about the streams everyone is looking to see who will reign supreme. Spotify has had a lead in the market, but word on the street is that the lead is disappearing. According to Digital Music News, It’s expected that Apple Music will match Spotify’s subscribers in the U.S. by next month, although Apple may already be ahead. This time last year, Spotify subscribers in the U.S. outnumbered those subscribing to Apple by about 4 million. Apple has been able to catch up quickly because it can tap into users of its devices, says CNBC. This advantage that Apple has is why many expect the lead to continue to grow in favor of Apple.

When it comes to our personal finances, there are many advantages we have if we want to live our best financial lives, but we often neglect them which results in us losing ground. The older you get, the more important it is that you are saving and growing your money to create financial freedom. In this world of tight budgets and economic uncertainty, the need for a method to catch up to your savings goals is necessary. It is tempting to find one or two things that will save a household a lot of money, but the best way to do it is by altering several small things. In those areas, you might only save a few pennies here and there, but you will find that it is the little things that can add up to a lot. Many of these ways might not be very obvious to you, and some might be ideas that will have you scratching your head and asking why you hadn’t thought of this earlier. Here are five ideas:

1- Stop shopping at convenience stores

Convenience stores are notorious for marking up the price on items significantly compared to grocery stores. If it isn’t worth the hassle to go to a grocery store, you probably don’t need it anyway.

2- Avoid late fees when paying bills

Pay your bills on time so that you aren’t charged that unnecessary extra amount. If the problem is a lack of organization and forgetting the dates, use a reminder service like Google’s calendar feature that can send you a text or email to let you know when due dates are approaching. If you are worried about not having enough funds, call ahead and see about changing the due date or getting an extension.

3- Save your change

Make it a habit to keep all that pocket change in a jar. Use cash to pay for most things and instead of trying to give the right change, only use the bills. When you get home, drop that coinage in a jar and let it accumulate. You will be surprised at how quickly it adds up.

4- Buy Used or Discounted

You can find a decent collection of clothes and other needs if you will buy used or at discount stores. Shopping at consignment shops or Goodwill will provide you with some good options. Discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Century21 are good places to find good designer clothes for a cheap price. Yard sales are good places to look for things that you need for the home. Discount food stores will give you the most value on food products. The names of the brands may not be familiar, but you won’t notice much of a difference in taste or quality.

You can find many more ways to save money, but the keys are to get organized, be disciplined, and learn to sacrifice. There won’t be many how to save money tips that will save you much money on their own, but using several together will net you the results that you want.

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Valentines Day Proves That Money Can Buy Love + 4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Taxes

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There has always been the long-standing argument that money cannot buy love! And many preach this like gospel so vehemently you would think this is an undeniable fact. But if you let the numbers tell it Valentine’s Day may prove that money can buy love. That’s because Valentine’s Day is one of the priciest holidays in the U.S., with Americans spending on average $267 to mark the occasion, according to Bankrate’s 2019 Valentine’s Day survey. Consumers are set to spend $20.7 billion this year for Valentine’s Day, says the National Retail Federation, beating the 2016 record of $19.7 billion. And although men spend significantly more for the day ($339, versus women who spend on average $64) men also expect their partners to spend more on them — at least $211 to be exact, while women expect their partners to spend around $154.

So now that we have settled that, the next big love of our life that is on everyone’s mind is… those dreaded taxes that we have to file every year. For some reason, taxes have gotten a bad rap, but truth be told if you knew the secrets, you would fall in love with doing your taxes more than Kanye loves Kanye (they’re not really secrets, but it sounded cool to say). Face it, you work hard and meet your obligations all year round, so why shouldn’t you be rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to?

You absolutely should be rewarded! And to help you reap those rewards, check out the following five tips for filing taxes that will help you start to fall in love with the process.

Lovely Tips for Filing Taxes

1) You can possibly get tax credits and deductions for higher education.

For many Americans, especially millennials, student loans are one of the most concerning things keeping them up late at night. But, most don’t realize that they may be eligible for many deductions that will give them a bigger return come income tax time.

For example, the student loan interest deduction allows you to deduct the amount you paid in student loan interest, up to $2,500 per year. Some other deductions include: the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. Visit IRS.gov for a complete list of deductions.

2) Staying healthy can come with financial kickbacks.

With the rising cost of health insurance these days, it may be tempting to forgo health insurance and take your chances, however, not only would that be a big health mistake, but it would also be a big financial mistake due to the penalty charged to those who are uninsured.

One thing that may make you fall in love with taxes is the fact that you can contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). In order to pay for those high deductible health insurance plans pre-tax, contributing to an HSA can save you thousands of dollars when you file your taxes. For the 2015 tax filing year, the minimum annual deductible is $1,300 for individual coverage and $2,600 for families and the maximum annual deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses is $6,550 and $13,100 for families.

3) Doing good can be financially rewarding.

There are two universal laws that I live by: 1. “the more you give the more you get” and 2. “to whom much is given, much is required.”

Not only is giving back a noble thing, but it can also help give you substantial tax savings. If you made donations to a charity, you might be able to use them as deductions on your taxes. To qualify, your donations have to be made to a nonprofit organization that can prove they have 501(c)(3) tax status. Legitimate charities usually have their status clearly stated on their websites, or you can verify it directly from the IRS by visiting http://www.IRS.gov/charities, then click on the tab that says, Contributors.

The second criterion is that you must have a receipt from your donations. Not all of your donations count, and there are limits on what can be deducted, so make sure you check with a tax accountant to verify your eligibility. Some common deductions include real estate, furniture, clothing, cars, electronic equipment, office supplies, mileage, cash donations, and tithes paid.

4) Your side hustle can pay your dividends.

We now live in a time where starting a business is not only easier than ever, but it can be done with low overhead, which results in showing a profit earlier on. With many people now leaping faith to become their own bosses, it would behoove you to take advantage of the many associated benefits.

Starting a home-based business can cause two things related to your taxes to happen. First, with your initial investment into the business, it can increase your tax refund. And secondly, you can deduct things like your home office, telephone, Internet service, and office supplies. The deductions aren’t anything to sneeze at either. On average, a home-business can bring in around $3,000 to $9,000 in tax savings. The great thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you run your business full-time or part-time—you can still benefit from running a home business.

😉

Starting to fall in love with the idea of filing your taxes as much as you already love mobile banking? Just remember that in all things, love is a process!

Disclaimer: All material is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide tax, legal or financial advice.  Paradigm Money does not provide tax, legal or financial advice, so you should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors before making a decision or taking any action.

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The Daily Digm (News)

Another Partial Government Shutdown May Be Avoided + How to Avoid a Financial Shutdown

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Another partial government shutdown may be avoided as lawmakers reached an agreement “in principle” to fund the government. Top House and Senate negotiators said that if the deal received approval from leadership including President Trump, it could fix the immigration dispute, according to The New York Times. A deal needed to be reached by Monday for Congress to have enough time to consider and pass the agreement by Friday’s deadline. This is good news especially for the 800,000 plus workers that could potentially be affected. But how do you avoid a financial shutdown if there’s a government shutdown? The answer… Start a business!

But I know what you’re thinking: “How can I possibly start a business when I currently have full-time work, full-time school, or full-time mommy/daddy duties (or all of the above)?” Well have no fear, the good news is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Besides, isn’t that what cakes are made for? The following are four ways that you can start your own business while juggling other priorities.

Step 1: Use your time wisely

It’s a fact: you have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyoncé, Bill Gates and Oprah. However, it’s how you use those 24 hours that will determine if you are successful in your new business or not. Before you launch your business, make sure that that you put aside at least two to three hours a day to focus on your business. No matter how crazy you may think your life is, proper time management will help you find a few hours to contribute towards your goal. For example, even if you work or go to school full-time, that’s 8 hours in your day plus two to account for travel time plus another two to account for getting ready. That’s 12 hours out of your 24 hours with 12 more hours to spare. Even if you sleep for eight hours, you still have four hours left every single day to work on your business. That’s 28 hours a week or 112 hours a month, which is enough time to get something meaningful started.

Step 2: Set goals 

Once you’ve fleshed out your ideas and have come up with a strategy to execute them, make sure you set goals for yourself and your business, so you’re held accountable. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound). They should also be broken up into short and long-term.

Step 3: Learn more about your business 

As you launch your new venture, understand that it’s not possible to have too much knowledge. One of the best ways to learn as much about your business as possible is to perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Knowing each component will give you the information you need to decide whether your business is a viable option.

Step 4: Launch and spread the word

Once you determine you have a great business idea, it’s time to launch and start spreading the word. When launching your business, it ’s imperative you tell your friends, family, co-workers, church congregation, classmates, strangers and anyone else you run into!

Bonus: Lower your cost of living 

One of the main reasons businesses don’t get off the ground is because they don’t have the money needed to push the business forward. Since it is tough to get a business loan at the early stages of a venture, many people have to rely on personal finances, friends, and family. Lowering your cost of living will give you a well-needed cushion to infuse into the business if needed. This means that you should focus on the things that you need rather than spending so much on your wants.

It is also wise to keep your money in a fee-free or low-fee bank account to help avoid any unnecessary fees. This will help during any monetary highs and lows (and trust me, they will happen) that your business experiences.

So what do you say? Are you ready to begin the exciting journey of starting your own business? If so, let us help you stay committed to your goal and provide you with empowering tools and resources to help you stay motivated through the process.

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The Daily Digm (News)

Your Tax Return May Be a Little Light + How to Make Your Money Go Further

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It’s been a full year since Congress overhauled the tax code, and early federal tax filers have found refund checks to be about 8% lower on average, reports CNN. Refunds for 2018 so far averaged $1,865, compared with $2,035 for the 2017 tax year, according to IRS data.

For many, they will be missing out on money they were looking forward to getting a head start on this year financially. If you are one of those people how do you stretch your money? Stretching your money can be about a lot more than clipping coupons, though that shouldn’t be underestimated. The following are some tips on how to stretch your money:

Pay Down Debt

Of course the most obvious is to pay down debt. You are most likely paying through the nose on interest rates for your credit cards. Getting that debt paid off as soon as possible will not only free up more money every month, it will also mean that you don’t grossly overpay for the things you buy.

When you go out and buy a new product because you need it, and it is a bargain, it ends up being a lot less of a bargain when you pay 18% or even higher interest on that product for a year or more. That one-time “bargain” has now become something that you wasted money on.

Get to Know Generic Brands

Learn how to shop better. Depending on what store you shop at, most of the store brands are every bit as good as the national brands, but they cost a lot less. On occasion, you may find something that you don’t like so you don’t buy that one thing again, but the majority of items will be the same.

The only difference you will notice is the amount of money you start to save each week.

Make Your Car Run More Efficiently

To save money on gas make sure your car is tuned up, keep your tire pressure at the right amount and try to cut back on driving. Simple things that anyone can do. Plan your trips ahead of time and consolidate all your errands into one trip when possible.

The Bottom Line

Doing all these things will allow you to save money every month. You can probably save a few hundred dollars a month if you start making these simple changes. Then you can add that extra money to your minimum payments on your credit cards. Doing this will enable you to get out of debt sooner. You thought I was going to say shop online but nope… Get out of debt first!!!

Stretching your money is not that hard. It will require you to make some changes and maybe a few sacrifices here and there, but the relief you get from being in control of your finances will far outweigh any of the changes you have had to make.

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