Category Archives: Money

The Best Smartphone Apps To Send and Receive Money

People are always looking for more convenient ways to send and receive money. We researched various apps that help you in this regard. Don’t worry about going to each website, we summarized the major pros and cons here.

4 Popular Apps to Send and Receive Money

PayPal – Buying on eBay comes to mind when people think of the word PayPal, but it also allows you to send and receive money.

There are no fees to:

  1. Send money from your PayPal balance or bank account.
  2. Purchase goods using PayPal.
  3. Transfer money from your PayPal balance to your bank account.

There are fees to:

  1. Receive money via debit or credit cards. Per PayPal’s site, its fees are 2.9% + $0.30 for these types of transactions. That works out to $6.40 in fees on a $200 transfer.
  2. Get transfers from outside of the U.S. (3.9%+.30 for payments under $3K) (https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/marketingweb?cmd=_display-xborder-fees-outside).
  3. Have your PayPal balance sent to you in the form of a check. The check fee is $1.50. Translation avoid it if at all possible.

Google Wallet – Unsurprisingly, Google got in the business of sending and receiving money. Here are the important facts.

  1. You can send money from and receive it to your bank account at no fee.
  2. It is also free to send money from your Wallet balance.
  3. The charge to use a credit card is 2.9%.

Being part of Google, it has other benefits.

  1. You can send money to anyone with a gmail account.
  2. If you purchased anything from Google Play, you already have a wallet. No fiddling around with the set up process.

Venmo – Venmo advertises itself as a digital wallet to help you with everyday situations like when you split a restaurant bill with someone and that person needs to pay you back. If you transfer money from your Venmo account to a friend’s Venmo, it happens immediately.

It is always free to receive money on Venmo. There are no fees when you pay with your Venmo balance, bank account, or what Venmo describes as a major debit card. Venmo charges fees of 3% for using it to pay via credit card or non-major debit card. Many of my friends use Venmo primarily instead of PayPal, but I haven’t found a reason why it’s better, yet. The only reason they’ve been able to give about why it’s better is that there is no sign-in process on your phone. To me, that sounds like a vulnerability, but I suppose to some it’s a feature.

Facebook Messenger AppFacebook’s messenger app allows you to send and receive money, and the best part is that it is free. The only downside appears to be that you can only connect a Visa or MasterCard debit card (and this is a major downside for me).

Other Apps

There are two less well known apps that are worth checking out. Dwolla offers transfers with a low .25 fee charged to the recipient. Keep in mind, you cannot use credit or debit cards with Dwolla (https://www.dwolla.com/about). Square Cash is another app that allows you to send money to another Square Cash user free (http://www.bankrate.com/finance/banking/money-transfer-app.aspx).

A Different Type of Risk

Even today, people have to worry about losing cash or misplacing a paper check. Mobile apps have their own risks (i.e. hackers). Make sure you are comfortable with the security policy before signing up with one of these provider. We all work hard for our money so stay safe.

How To Save on Work Related Expenses

How To Save on Work Related ExpensesTransitioning from college to work is always difficult (I remember being exhausted in meetings at my first job and struggling to stay awake). Aside from paying for rent, insurance, and student loans for the first time, work related expenses add up quickly. Here are some tips to help you save money on costs associated with having a job that your employer won’t cover.

Bring Your Own Beverage

Water – A bottled water or soda typically costs $1. If you buy one bottled drink per day you work, it ends up totaling about $250 each year. Cut this cost by buying a reusable water bottle. I got one on Amazon for $12 and it ended up encouraging me to drink more water throughout the day, too.

Added Benefit: Recycling containers are not always easily available. Only about 30% of plastic bottles are recycled, so by bringing your own water bottle, you reduce the amount of waste out there.

Coffee – There are many jokes about how expensive it is to buy coffee at Starbucks. However, online calculators can help compare the costs of making it at home versus purchasing from Starbucks. According to USA Today’s calculator, one cup of coffee a day from Starbucks will end up costing you $766.50 a year compared to just $29.20 if you make your cup of coffee at home. The cost of coffee isn’t astronomical, but if you’re looking to save, this is a great place to start.

Buying Gas

Driving a car is a necessity in most of America. There are several ways to reduce your gas costs:

  1. Research before you buy a car – When you go to buy a car, check to make sure it does not need Premium gas and that the car you buy gets decent gas mileage.
  2. Gas saving apps – You no longer need to drive around (and waste gas) searching for a good deal. Apps like GasBuddy help you find the lowest gas prices in your area. If it’s not out of the way, it’s definitely worth it.
  3. Gas Rewards Programs – Some credit cards offer cash back on gas purchases. Check for grocery stores that also sell gas in your area as they often have discounts.

Lunch

This one is the most controversial. You might wonder how much you save when you add in the time it takes to prepare a lunch. There is also the social aspect of lunch (i.e. developing relationships with co-workers and managers) so this isn’t always exclusively a financial decision.

You can realize savings from taking your lunch to work (brown bagging). If you spend $3 on the lunch you bring vs. $9 on a take out meal (which is about the norm where I am), you would save an average of $130 per month. You also save time and gas money because you are not driving to and from restaurants. Even if you allow yourself to go out with coworkers once a week, you can still pocket about $100 a month in savings by packing yourself a lunch each day.

Added Benefit: You will probably eat healthier if you bring your own lunch.

Freeing Up Money

Your place of employment is where you should be raking in the dough, not spending it. While some work related expenses are unavoidable, you can limit the financial impact they’ll have on you. When you save money on costs like gas, food, and drinks, you free up your money for other priorities, like saving in a Roth IRA. Temptations like restaurant meals and nice outfits can suck money out of your bank account at the age when it’s easiest to save money. Try visualizing yourself attaining a financial goal (like a student loan balance of zero) to develop and maintain good money saving habits.

The Fantastic Benefits Of Health Savings Accounts

The Fantastic Benefits Of Health Savings AccountsEven Americans with health insurance worry about medical expenses. The reason is high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Here are facts about expenses paid by the insured.

A Way to Pay – HSAs

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were designed to help people with high deductible health plans pay for their uncovered medical expenses. At this point, you probably wonder what constitutes a “high deductible health plan.” For 2015, the deductible needs to be at least $1,300 for an individual policy or $2,600 for family coverage for it to meet the definition of a high deductible health plan.

Many banks and brokerages offer HSAs to their customers, and employers often make contributions if you use their chosen administrator. According to the IRS, the 2015 contribution limits for people under 55 are $3,350 for an individual and $6,650 for a family.

HSA Benefits for You

There are several good reasons for you to start on HSA.

  1. Tax Advantages – There are three tax benefits of HSAs. First, you can deduct all of your contributions from your taxes. Second, any money you get from an employer is tax free. Third, the growth is tax free. This is the best of both worlds, if you have access to an HAS, you should definitely take advantage!
  1. Use it for a Wide Range of Medical Expenses – You can use it to pay for medical expenses you incur before you meet your deductible. HSA funds can also help pay medical expenses that include prescription drugs, insulin, and dental procedures.
  1. Flexibility / Portability – When you set aside money in an HSA, you do not need to use it all within a calendar year. The amount rolls over and grows from year to year. This means you can use HSA money for retirement expenses. HSAs have some portability benefits. If you leave your job and become self-employed, you can take the HSA with you. Your spouse can inherit your HSA. You can even change administrators.
  1. Your Account Will Grow – With an HSA account, you can invest in a wide array of investments. You’re only limited by what your administrator offers. HAS Bank, for example, lets you invest in Vanguard funds.

Ask about HSAs

HSAs are only for qualified medical expenses. There are tax penalties if you use the funds for non-medical purposes. Make sure you comply with your plan’s record keeping requirements. Also, the plan needs to clearly communicate what does and does not count as a “qualified medical expense.”

Not only can you or your employer make contributions, parent can contribute too. This way the can help you start a nest egg for healthcare expenses. HSAs are a great tool to help with medical expenses. Look in to HSAs and take action if it is right for you.