Paying Online: How Much Does it Cost You?

Taking your wallet out of your pocket and handing over the cash to the merchant is by far the cheapest way to pay today – and it has been ever since the invention of money. Today, we have many other – more convenient – forms of payment at hand that allows us to walk around with no cash at hand, pay for stuff over the internet or even order the next revolutionary thing from a TV shop. But all these cost us money – and, depending on the form of payment chosen, this cost can add up to a nice sum at the end of the year. Today, let us take a look at what payment solutions are the most common and how much they cost the payer – you.

E-Wallet services

E-Wallets have seen a rise in the last decade, becoming a widespread payment method online. No wonder – they are an instant and quite convenient way to send and receive money to and from people all over the world. One of the many reasons for their spread was the emergence of online casinos, services that were made possible by the introduction of secure online payment services. Today, Red Flush offers safe and secure banking in an amazing variety to its players, covering everything from traditional bank transfers to a variety of web wallets. Using a web wallet makes it easy for Red Flush players to top up their accounts, and allows the Red Flush to transfer their winnings to them faster, thanks to the instant transactions offered by these services. But how much do they cost?

Depending on the service you use, there might be no charge for you sending money to someone else (or a business) or there might be a small fee deducted on your side. Besides, there may be currency exchange fees applied to your payment, too. Make sure to check them before committing to one or another. Yet there is no maintenance fee applied to your account ever, which makes this method perhaps the cheapest way to pay online.

Credit / debit card payments online

Another method that won’t cost you a thing – in short term. By using any payment gateway online, you will be able to pay for the products and services you order online with no further costs to you. The costs of handling such payments fall on the payee, the merchant or service provider accepting your payment. Well, most of the times.

When using a debit card, which only allows you to pay as much money you have in your account, this is where it all stops – aside from the monthly fee you pay for the card and the bank account it is attached to (usually not a very large amount). When it comes to credit cards, though, going into credit can be pretty costly – that if you don’t top up your card quickly. In that case, you may have to take out quick loans to get you through. Usually, you have a varied amount of time at hand – anywhere from two weeks to two months – to return the cash you borrowed without paying any fees. But after that, you’ll likely have to pay interest and various other fees on the amount, which makes this method a relatively expensive way to pay online.

Fast money transfer methods

Western Union, Moneygram, and their likes – these money transfer services have the massive advantage of being fast, but at a cost. They do provide a service that allows you to put cash into the funnel on one side of the world and have it end up in the hands of another person half a world away, but they do have fees that can be prohibitive in some cases.

These services represent the fastest way to get money from your hand to another – literally. But with great speed come great costs, too, so only use such a method to pay for your internet purchases if you have no other option.

Budgeting Advice: Ways to Keep your Finances in Check

There’s the old saying that ‘money makes the world go around’, but in reality, it should be ‘money makes your world go around’ as ultimately this resource is what makes our existence more enjoyable. For many of us it’s also something that can be quite scarce or not as plentiful as we’d like and as such it means we need to manage our money as best we can.

Trying to fit this around your day-to-day schedule can be a challenge though, but fortunately for you there are some simple steps you can take to get your finances in order. What follows are a number of approaches for you to consider:

Review your Expenditure

The first thing you can do is review your expenditure and create a chart or list of everything you need to pay for each month. Use estimations on things like utilities and your food bills and see how much this costs against your typical income on a monthly basis.

Implement Cost-Cutting Strategies

With this list of expenses, you can then look at areas where you could cut costs and make savings. Whether this is through being more efficient with your energy and installing a Smart meter to monitor this, or simply cutting down on how much you spend on groceries and treats, you could hopefully start to see an improvement in your finances.

Budget for Different Things

That’s not to say you shouldn’t cut down on everything enjoyable in your life. Make sure you can still budget for social and leisure time, as you should still treat yourself when you can. Just factor this into your budgeting each month and spend money if you feel there are special purchases you can afford.

Seek Professional Advice

There’s also nothing to stop you from looking to external support with your money. If you feel you’ve already tried a number of approaches to save but they aren’t working, then you could turn to wealth management companies such as Sanlam. These firms can assess your situation and help you create strategies and plans to safeguard the future of your finances.

While not all the above will apply to you and your money, the wise move is to start putting at least a few of these approaches into place now to help improve your situation. Eventually, you should start to see a healthier bank balance at the end of each month and hopefully a happier existence for you and any loved ones.

Whole List of Promo Codes

Here is a whole list of promo codes that you will find especially useful for saving money while shopping online. Whether you are shopping for athletic supply gear, vaping equipment, appliances or even psychic services, you will find sweet deals at MyFavDeal.org/stores.

Do you do a lot of Amazon shopping? If you check out the page at www.myfavdeal.org/stores, you will find dozens of Amazon coupons. Everything from ventriloquist dummies based on popular comedy acts to electric wine openers to standing desks to Kindle Unlimited memberships.

Have a special someone in your life? And are you getting ready to pop the question? This whole list of promo codes can get you sweet deals at DiamondDelight.com or other online diamond jewlery dealers on the World Wide Web. And you can rest assured that you dealing with conflict-free diamonds. Even if you are happily married, you could probably stand to get a nice diamond necklace or pair of diamond earrings to make your wife the envy of the country club.

What about health products? Do you need herbs to make your remember stuff or lift your depression? You might need vitamins that will help you achieve your best you. MyFavDeals is the place that will provide a whole list of promo codes that will give you savings on healthy juice products supplements and serious stuff to free you of almost any disease.

And when you have all the supplements you need, you can head over to TrekDesk.com to get a walking desk. Spending all those hours at your desk, hunched over typing and scouring the Internet for the best online shopping deals you can find can be hell on your back and shoulders and wrists. Take back your physical prowess with a walking treadmill desk that will get your blood flowing and the pounds shedding.

When you head out on the links, I bet you are losing balls by the bucketful. One swing and your super expensive Taylormade is swimming with Luca Brazi. Stop wasting cash on expensive golf balls that you are just going to shank into the woods anyway. This whole list of promo codes will get you deals at SchwettyBalls.com and a whole host of other golf equipment sites.

So the deal is this: if you need to shop online to get the goods you need, you have to use www.myfavdeal.org/stores to get the best coupons and the best deals. It is the only way to go.

Should we be Using Mobile Banking?

Our smartphones have revolutionized the way we live our lives. They have become integral to communication, to organization, and now to banking. Mobile banking applications are becoming increasingly popular and are slowly but surely overtaking more conventional means of making financial transactions.

Acknowledging the fact that convenience is a key selling point, most major commercial bank offer the capacity to send money and make deposits using a mobile app. Bank of America has stated that more of their customers use their mobile banking platform than their online banking service and the technology is improving daily. Mobile phones can now even be used as contactless credit cards using near-field communication (NFC) technology. This means that PIN numbers and debit cards might one day become a thing of the past.

All of this advancement sounds incredible, yet there are often downsides to every innovation. So how do the benefits of mobile phone banking stack up against these drawbacks? And are we increasingly becoming reliant on technology that we don’t even fully understand?

Mobile banking is easy to set up

Getting started with mobile banking is easy and straightforward for those familiar with technology and mobile apps. With just a few swipes of your finger, you can get your mobile banking set up and running. You simply use your existing internet banking details and then everything is available to you at the touch of a button. The majority of banks even offer a customer service line that you can contact at any hour of the day.

Mobile banking saves a lot of time

There is no denying that mobile banking saves a considerable amount of time. Gone are the days when we used to waste what seemed like hours lining up to be served by a cashier at the bank. With mobile banking, you can check account balances, send and receive payments, schedule transactions, and transfer money at a moment’s notice from any location.

Mobile banking is unarguably convenient

Last year, research from the US Federal Reserve revealed that 87% of US adults own a mobile phone, and 71% of these mobile phones are internet-enabled smartphones. This was a 10% increase from 2014. This same research showed that 39% of adults with mobile phones used them for banking. This data demonstrates both the growing reliance on mobile phone technology and the increasing willingness of people to use mobile banking due to how conveniently it works in their modern lives.

People are wary of security risks

One major concern surrounding mobile banking is that of security. Smartphones are such a large part of our lives that we often forget how new the technology is and how badly things could go wrong if security was breached. There are risks with any banking method you choose, but there are steps that you can put in place to minimize the likelihood of fraud.

Ensure that you have malware software on your smartphone and always certify that the banking app you pick is authentic and not created by fraudsters. Ensure that your phone’s locking mechanism is active and that it requires a PIN, passcode, or fingerprint to open. Set up your phone to lock automatically after a set time. Update your mobile banking app whenever a new version becomes available. All of this should make it more difficult for hackers to reverse-engineer viruses or to find weak points in security. Out-of-date banking applications are much more vulnerable to attacks. Having said this, in many ways mobile banking beat out traditional security measures such as PIN codes and signatures. It is much easier to fake someone’s signature than to steal their phone.

Beware of impulse overspending

With enthusiasm and innovative new mobile technology comes the temptation to spend especially when access to our own money is so easy. Regardless of how inviting it might be to take to the internet and spoil yourself with an impulse buy, it is best to reign in this behavior. New research shows how mobile banking apps are causing young people (aged 18 to 34) to be far too willing to embrace compulsive spending with the impulse spending of this age group being double that of those aged 55 and over.

 

Reckless spending and lack of control can easily send you down a debt spiral. If this occurs, consult an expert in debt management. These professionals have access to innovative insolvency software, which can help track your incomings and outgoings and calculate payment plans, thereby getting you back on sturdy financial ground.

How to Live Your Life on a Budget

Are you in complete despair when reviewing your monthly expenses? Realistically it’s not surprising, for last year the minimum total of expenses for a UK region was a shocking £427.50; with the highest total being £616.30 in Greater London.

If you’re concerned about your finances, perhaps it’s time to cut corners through comprehensive spending to ultimately save those costs. Check out this guide on how to live life on a budget without sacrificing quality.

Road to Change 

Create a Plan:

First off, there’s no point mindlessly jumping straight into altering your finances with no considerations, for you are effectively changing your entire lifestyle. You still need to live, so boycotting all expenditures will simply fail. Start by creating a plan that covers all your current overheads to work out A) how much you’re spending and B) what’s costing the most. Software like Excel is brilliant for producing spreadsheets that are easy to interpret.

Suit Your Circumstances: 

One scheme of planning definitely won’t suit everyone, so make sure yours suits you. Take into account when you get paid (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to ensure your smarter spending complies. Another important factor to reflect on is the amount of people living in your home. Naturally if you live alone you’ll have fewer essential expenses than a family of four so set a limit per person to create an overall figure.

Set Goals:

Once you’re aware of the individual expenses, start setting some goals that’ll help you achieve and most importantly, stick to your targets. These need to be sensible and realistic, for example – reduce expenses on groceries by £50 a month. Putting these goals in a visible place like the refrigerator or a pin board will ensure everyone in the household is aware of these goals; increasing your chances of everyone sticking to them.


Separate Wants From Needs:

Be honest, how many items do consider a need when they actually aren’t? A need is something you simply couldn’t survive without (food, water & shelter); whereas a want covers the things you desire to have that you realistically could live without (expensive holidays and designer clothes). Categorising these separately will ensure you’re saving on the wants and focusing more on the needs.

Food

Create a Food Budget:

The average UK household spends approximately £60.00 a week on groceries, that’s over £3,100 per year… Considering a family with children throws away £700.00 worth of food annually, perhaps you’re buying way more than necessary. Implement a weekly or monthly food budget that sets a limit per person in the household to make the budgeting fairer and easier to manage. Also if you want to be really thorough, it might be beneficial to research each supermarket to gain a comparison on which will work best for you. In May 2016 Aldi once again triumphed over all six leading UK supermarkets, ranking £10.68 cheaper than ASDA and over £20.00 cheaper than Sainsbury’s.

Buy Multipurpose Foods:

Stocking up on your staples is a brilliant solution to making food last longer. Always having staples means you’ll have a variety of cheap meals to cook, allowing you to focus the rest of your food budget on fresh produce. Some great staple foods include:

– Rice

– Cooking oil (light olive oil)

– Butter

– Eggs

– Frozen vegetables

– Tinned fish

– Tinned tomatoes

– Dry beans

– Pasta

– Spices

Less Meat:

You can save money by skipping the meat and going vegetarian. A recent study identified a vegetarian diet can save you up to £530.00 a year in comparison to a meat diet. However, if you’re not prepared to go cold turkey on the meat, try incorporating some vegetarian meals throughout the week to reduce meat consumption. Cheaper cuts can be sourced through economy meat (sausages, chicken wings, mince and even organ meat), combine these with vegetables to produce both tasty and cheap stews, casseroles, soups and bakes.

Purchase in Season:

Fruit & vegetables are at their cheapest in season, so as it is summer you could focus on purchasing: strawberries, cherries, cauliflower, mangetout and asparagus. Thankfully there are vegetables that grow all year: carrots, potatoes, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes as they can withstand the winter months.

Luxury Alternatives

Exercise for Free:

The UK wastes a total of £37 million a year on unused gym memberships, and with the average membership costing a gym-goer £442.00 annually, are you really getting the most out of yours? Ditch the gym and workout at home for free. Plan your own weekly workout routine (e.g. Monday – run for two hours, Tuesday – do an hour of aerobics, etc.) You could even set up an exercise group that meets in the park every week if you prefer a group workout.

Eat Meals at Home:

According to a recent study Britons spend £4,000.00 a year on dining out, that’s a ¼ of the average annual living income! Saving leftovers is a great way to avoid having to cook and not spending a fortune in a restaurant. Planning a weekly menu at home will ensure the time duration of each meal complies with your daily schedule.

Ditch the Habits:

Smoking is not only unhealthy, but it costs a fortune. In 2015, an average 20-a-day smoker spent £3,000.00 on cigarettes, that’s almost a year’s worth of food.  This will test how determined you are, for kicking a habit is never easy, but dedication will always prevail. Another habit you could kick are all those work morning coffees. Buying a coffee everyday costs you £519.00 a year, so either invest in a flask or wait until you get to the office.

Clothing Cutbacks:

Clothes are always something we have more of than we actually use; making them a fantastic cost cutting solution. Before you purchase new clothes go through your old garments and choose between the ones you do and don’t wear. Try selling these at car boots or online, that way you can reinvest any money earnt into new garments. Sticking to sale racks and avoiding expensive clothing is essential for making your money go further; the beauty of fashion nowadays is the versatility -nothing ever really ages.

Homemaking

Purchase Inexpensive Furnishings:

There is absolutely no need to splash out on brand new furniture when there are fantastic alternative methods, for example – instead of purchasing a new oak wood cupboard for storage when you can buy plastic containers for considerably cheaper; these can even be decorated with wrapping paper for extra appeal.

Fix & Update Instead of Replace:

Shabby chic furniture is extremely popular right now, so don’t throw away and replace broken furniture, try fixing them instead. If the legs on old chairs are coming loose then retighten the joints; don’t throw them away for the sake of a little DIY. When things the kitchen cupboards are looking tiresome and outdated, add a coat of paint to revamp them.

Energy Saving Solutions:

It costs 7.3p to run ten lightbulbs for an hour, and although this doesn’t seem like a huge amount the cost quickly adds up. To prevent the gradual cost increase, optimise natural lighting for as long as possible by opening the curtains and cleaning your windows. In the colder months, turn down the heating and opt for blankets and hot water bottles for added comfort without the added heating bill.

Accessorize Inexpensively:

Accessorizing your home doesn’t need to involve fancy cushions and overpriced candles. Add house plants for extra colour and freshness; these can be purchased very cheaply at almost all supermarkets for considerably less than gardening shop prices. Picture frames are also great for brightening up plain walls without having to purchase expensive wallpaper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could sew your own cushion and sofa covers for a sense of uniqueness, discarded pieces of fabric can be purchased from most charity shops for a fraction of their original price.

You wish you could be like me.

At the end of each calendar year I review our financials, update my Excel spreadsheet, and calculate just how much Girl Ninja and I were able to increase our net worth (NW) by.

We started 2014 with a NW of $234,000, and ended with a NW of $288,000.

In other words, we improved our financial position by $54,000 last year, an average of $4,500 per month.

You wish you could be like me.

DON’T YOU!!! 

I mean, we managed to increase our NW by more than the 2014 national median household income ($53,000). That means half of the households in the United States couldn’t save as much as we did, even if they paid no taxes and saved 100% of their GROSS income.

Like the title of this post says; You Wish You Could Be Like Me

…or do you? 

I hope for your sake, you were nothing like me in 2014.

While increasing our net worth by $50,000 in a single year might be impressive, it becomes significantly less so when you consider we made about $110,000 in 2014.

Girl Ninja and I were fortunate to have a healthy income, so it only makes sense that were are able to save and invest more than many other American families could.

An increasing net worth on a $110,000 per year household income shouldn’t be something to brag about.

It should be expected. 

You see, our big financial gains in 2014 are only really half of the story.

…The better half.

…The prettier half.

…The half that I like blogging about.

But there is another side to this personal finance tale and it is ugly.

How ugly you ask?

Try $45,000 ugly. 

That amount represents exactly how much money Girl Ninja and I spent on our credit card last year.

We use our credit card for virtually everything we can and pay the balance in full at the end of each month.

I’m used to seeing a couple thousand dollar balance each month, but I had never taken the time to figure out just how much we were charging over the course of a full calendar year.

$45,000 makes me sick to my stomach. Especially when you consider that doesn’t count any of the money that came out of our checking account, which would be another $30,000 or so for mortgage payments, utilities, and the occasional check or ATM withdrawal.

Sure, Girl Ninja and I improved our financial situation by $50,000 last year, but we spent nearly $75,000 along the way.

I’m disgusted. 

I write about the “Joneses” as though they are some family that Girl Ninja and I are nothing like, but numbers don’t lie.

When you spend $75,000 per year, you are a Jones.

At the time I was justifying purchases with thoughts like…

…”We’ve worked hard, it’s time to upgrade to a more sophisticated couch” ($1,700 in July)

…”Our kitchen isn’t how we want it, we have the money, let’s improve it” ($4,000 in August)

…”Baby Ninja’s upstairs is the worst part of our house, let’s demo it” ($5,000 March)

…”We deserve a vacation. Let’s go somewhere.” ($4,500 in April)

While I believe an occasional splurge is appropriate every now and again, Girl Ninja and I could hardly argue that our splurges were limited or appropriate.

To put it bluntly I’m embarrassed by my failed leadership. 

I have a responsibility to ensure Girl Ninja and I are being good stewards of the finances we have been granted. Somehow, I lost sight of that.

And that really makes me sad. 

Our 2015 budget

New Year. New Budget.

Things are about to get a whole lot less exciting with this year’s budget. We’ve been growing our net worth by $50,000+ per year over the last four years, but with Girl Ninja no longer working, we’re definitely gonna be slowing things down in the “getting filthy rich” category. What else would we expect when we voluntarily walk away from an extra $35,000/year.

Fortunately, we value family over finances, so although we might not make as much this year, I have a smokin’ hot wife and an awesome kid.

 

 

Below you’ll find a screenshot of our 2015 budget coupled with our 2015 financial goals/predictions.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at Jan 20, 2015, 11.24.16 PM

If you want to view the spreadsheet at normal resolution just give it a little click.

Before Tax Income:

I still think it’s stupid we have our gross income included in our budget. But yet again, I leave it anyways.

It’s only purpose in my budget seems to be to remind me how much of “my” money I don’t get to keep thanks to taxes and other deductions.

You’ll notice below my gross income, I have a section titled Side Hustle. This is money I think I’ll make from random opportunities (puppysitting, odd job, etc). As you can see, at $100/mo I’m not expecting anything too crazy. A few years back I sold my PF soul and brought in five figures per year from this site, but I decided to bring it back to my roots and say “no thanks” to advertisers.

I hate when other bloggers host “guest posts” that are clearly articles they got paid to publish. Or when they mention some product or service and include a billion affiliate links to said service.

Investments:

Still planning to throw 10% of my income towards my 401k. As a government employee I have access to some of the cheapest funds in existence so it would be silly for me to not take advantage of the virtually non-existent expense ratios.

I’m planning to make our annual Roth IRA contribution here in the coming days. It’s always painful parting with $5,500 from my bank account, but then I have to remind myself that $5,500 is going to be worth a heck of a lot more down the road. I

Retirement isn’t going to pay for itself and there’s no better time to start investing for the future than yesterday now.

Expenses:

Pretty self-explanatory. I include a 10% “other” category at the bottom of the expenses section as it seems most months have unexpected or non-budgeted things come up (household stuff, a weekend trip, birthday parties, etc). Instead of making random guesses how much we spend on cleaning products or clothes each month; we just try to keep all those miscellaneous expenses less than 10% of our net income.

We also tithe/donate to charity monthly, but didn’t think it was necessary/appropriate to put those numbers in the spreadsheet.

Left Over:

This is the most important part of the budget, the green box titled Total Cash Savings Ability (to the right of the expenses section) is how much I anticipate we will be able to add to our cash reserves on top of our retirement contributions. Some years we increased our cash position by $30k or more. Nowadays we’re hoping to add just a smidge over $10,000 to our liquidity. It’s a good thing we don’t use our Net Worth to measure our actual worth.

Goals:

In the top right of the spreadsheet you will see a section for my annual financial predictions. In 2015 I’m hoping our overall Net Worth will increase to about $315,000. This would be a $27,000 increase from our current position. For my retirement accounts I’m estimating 7% growth over the year (2013 had like 25% growth while 2014 had 6.5%) and a 3% appreciation on our house. Obviously, if the markets do way better (or worse) these figures will be off. All I can do is guess.

We’re going on six years of solid improvement and as long as the Big Man upstairs continues to grant us a generous income, we’ll do our best to be responsible (and generous) with it. That’s really our only goal after all.

How do you budget? You do budget right? Anything I do with mine that you think is weird? What’s your preferred budgeting tool (Mint, Quicken, Excel, Paper/pencil)?

Oh and check out this awesome video of Baby Ninja and I beatboxing together…