Tag: Holiday

 

3 Money Lessons from Holiday Songs

By Kim Galeta
December 21, 2019

Did you know that many of your favorite holiday songs have hidden financial messages in the lyrics? 

From ideas on saving money to planning ahead and being charitable, here is our list of money lessons from our favorite holiday songs. 

3 Money Lessons from Your Favorite Holiday Songs

1. My Favorite Things

Money Lesson: Find creative (read: free or cheap) ways to have fun this holiday season.

Did you know that this catchy tune from one of the most popular musicals has been featured on numerous holiday albums? 

This song is all about using your imagination to have a good time. And there’s no better season to remember this lesson than during the most expensive time of year.

The good news is that with a little creativity – as Maria encourages in the Sound of Music – you can create lasting memories without blowing your holiday budget. Examples of budget-friendly winter activities include building a snowman, stargazing, enjoying at-home movie nights and checking out local festivals. 

2. 12 Days of Christmas

Money Lesson: Less is more when it comes to gift-giving. And who really needs five golden rings?!

In other words, don’t be like the “true love” in the song and overspend on gifts during the holidays, especially if you can’t afford it. 

After all, Americans who went into debt during the holidays in 2018, found themselves $1,230 in the hole, an increase from $1,054 the year before according to a Magnify Money report. Plus, nearly half of individuals surveyed said it would take them at least five months to pay off their holiday debt, thus creating a lingering financial burden long after they take down their Christmas trees.

The good news is that with a bit of planning, you can create a solid gift-giving strategy that will allow you to avoid a financial hangover when the new year begins. 

3. All I Want for Christmas is You

Money Lesson: Remember the reason for the season.

The Queen of Christmas (AKA Mariah Carey) gets it so right with this pop holiday song. She truly doesn’t want a lot for Christmas. Instead of wishing for snow or worrying about presents under the tree, she only wants one thing: to see her loved one “standing right outside the door.”

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy that we forget the most important gift of all: spending time with those nearest and dearest to us. 

Final Thoughts

The next time you listen to your favorite holiday playlist, pay attention to the nuggets of wisdom about your financial sitch. This will help you get through this joyous season and beyond. 

Happy Holidays from the Chime family!

 

12 DIY Gift Ideas Everyone Will Love This Holiday Season

By Chonce Maddox
December 12, 2019

When it comes to buying gifts for your loved ones, it’s the thought that counts. Right? 

To that end, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on holiday gifts. If you’re on a tight budget, try going the DIY route with homemade Christmas gifts.

Not sure where to start? You don’t have to have the best knitting skills or take several weeks to plan out the perfect DIY gift. We’ve created a gift guide to help you come up with the perfect ideas for your loved ones. Plus, these DIY gifts can be created on the cheap and save you money. 

Here are our top 12 DIY gift ideas for this holiday season.

1. Bath Bombs

Homemade bath bombs are fun and easy to make. You’ll use natural ingredients like baking soda, citric acid, epsom salt, and essential oils – just to name a few. You’ll have to use molds to form the shape, but it takes only a few minutes to whip up your bath bombs. Once molded, they’ll take up to 24 hours to dry. 

2. Homemade Cookbook

If you know anyone who loves to cook or just moved to a new home, consider making a homemade cookbook instead of just buying one. 

Get a nice journal or blank scrapbook and add recipes that you know and love. You can print the recipes out online and paste them in the book or write the recipes out if you have nice handwriting. 

You can even include a few extra kitchen and baking utensils with your homemade cookbook to round off this creative gift.  

3. Caramel Apple Butter

This affordable and budget-friendly DIY holiday gift is definitely worth making this year. It costs just under $10 to make a whole batch of this delicious caramel apple butter

You’ll need about 15-16 medium-sized apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, unwrapped caramels, and a few other key ingredients. You can make it in your crockpot, and then wrap it up in small mason jars to give to your family and friends. 

4. Potpourri

Homemade potpourri can freshen up anyone’s home and it also makes a nice decor piece as well. You can make potpourri by baking simple grocery store ingredients like apple and orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Place the ingredients in a small jar and create a unique label for gifting.

5. Annual Calendar

Create an annual calendar or daily planner online for a holiday gift. Canva is a site that provides a lot of different templates to choose from and you can customize your calendar however you want. 

Canva’s basic version is free to use but you’ll have to spend a little money to print and bind the calendar. 

6. Custom Coffee Mug

Sites like VistaPrint and Shutterfly allow you to create your own custom coffee mugs to give as gifts. You can upload logos, inspirational quotes, and even family photos to design your mug. 

Photo gallery ceramic mugs on Shutterfly start at just under $9. 

 7. Mason Jar Treats

A few mason jars can go a long way – especially if you like to bake. You can place your favorite holiday treats in mason jars to give as holiday gifts for friends, colleagues, teachers, etc. 

You can even prepare a ‘hot chocolate kit’ gift by adding a package of instant hot cocoa along with some marshmallows, extra chocolate chips, and a little mixing spoon. If you’re short on creative ideas, Pinterest is the best resource for quick tutorials and easy DIY holiday jar gifts. Plus, you can give a double-whammy gift when you gift a mason jar filled with homemade caramel apple butter or potpourri (see above). 

8. Candles

Scented candles are an easy and affordable gift. Plus, they’re a very practical gift that everyone will likely use. You can buy candle-making kits on Amazon that include everything you need to make homemade candles.

You can even grab empty glass jars from your local dollar store and add whatever scents you’d like to the candle to really customize this gift. 

9. Drink Coasters

Consider making your own drink coasters to give as holiday gifts. You can find blank wooden coasters at your local craft store. 

You can cut out squares of wallpaper to cover your coasters, paint them, or even use another material. Check out some of these creative ideas

10. Jewelry

You don’t have to have any special skills to make your own jewelry. You can pick up everything from beads, earring clasps, charms, and even step-by-step kits from craft stores to help you create your own jewelry gifts. 

11. No-Sew Blanket Scarf

Blanket scarves are a fun and flexible fashion accessory that you can make with just one supply item. All you need is fabric that you can get from any store that sells it. 

This tutorial lays out the steps perfectly. You’ll basically need some flannel fabric that you can cut to size once you wash and dry it. Super easy project!

12. Football Trivet

This gift is perfect for anyone who loves football and enjoys hosting football watch parties. You’ll need a corkboard and a wood-burning crafting tool, which you can use to make several other creative cork board DIY gifts. 

Check out this step-by-step tutorial and surprise a friend or loved one with this cool gift.  

DIY to Personalize and Stretch Your Holiday Budget 

You can spend just as much time making some of these DIY holiday gifts as you’d spend shopping. Plus, you’ll probably save more money by making a few homemade gifts. 

For example, maybe you can make jewelry for some family members and candles for the rest. Or, whip up a batch of bath bombs for all of your child’s teachers and give mason jar treats to some co-workers. 

The sky is truly the limit. Plus, you will create memorable items that everyone will love! 

 

Money Traditions Celebrated for Lunar New Year

By Jackie Lam
February 5, 2019

Growing up Vietnamese-American, Chinese New Year is important to me. Instead of busting out bottles of bubbly and watching a ginormous ball drop at midnight, festivities include dragon dances, lion parades, and offerings of fruit baskets and moon cakes.

The best part of celebrating Chinese New Year? The money traditions. And while the date changes every year (it coincides with the new moon of the first lunar month), here are a few ways the dollar is used to ring in every Chinese New Year.

Lucky Money

Fact: Money doesn’t grow on trees. But it does (sorta) during Chinese New Year. Red envelopes containing money are given to kids or unmarried folks. If you’re an established couple or are bringing in the Benjamins, you’re expected to gift grandparents and other respected elders with these red envelopes. If you live in China, your boss might even hand you a red envelope with a small amount of cash.

The color red symbolizes good things: energy, happiness, prosperity and good luck. And the dollars inside – which should be crisp – are a sign that you wish goodwill and success to the recipients.

So how much money should you give out if you celebrate this holiday? It really depends on your relationship with the recipient. If you just got married, for example, you’re typically not expected to include as much money in a lucky envelope as someone who has been married for two decades.

This is a favorite money tradition for obvious reasons. Who doesn’t like free money?

What it teaches you about money: If you are gifted with red envelopes of cash, figure out how this can help your financial situation. Maybe you can sock some money away toward your e-fund, or use it toward debt repayment. I typically spend part of the money, and the rest goes toward savings.

On the flip side, if you’re expected to dole out cash, make sure to save for it well ahead of time. Figure out how much you’ll need, and auto-save so you can meet your gifting goals. If you’re a Chime Bank member, you can automatically put aside a set amount on payday.

Games

We’re not talking about mind games or outdoor games or kiddie games. We’re talking about games of chance, like Blackjack or Mahjong. Vietnamese folks like me play Bầu Cua Tôm Cá, a gambling game involving three dice. It’s pretty common to play these games during Chinese New Year, and at least in my family, it’s certainly more about the camaraderie than winning.

What it teaches you about money: Gambling is a big no-no for obvious reasons. If you want more money, you’ll need to save it, perhaps by using a money-saving app. You should also earn it or maybe invest it. But the idea is: Do the right thing with your money, and you’ll be more apt to increase your net worth after many years.

The Year of the Pig and Money

While you’d like to think that your Chinese Zodiac year is going to be 100 percent awesome sauce, the truth is: It can go either way. This year – 2019 – marks the year of the pig in the Chinese Zodiac system. If you were born in the year of the pig, which is the twelfth year in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle, this means you were born in 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019 – you get the point. It also means you’ll want to be cautious with your money as those born in the year of the pig tend to stress about money big-time.

You may also experience a stroke of good luck and get a windfall of cash, perhaps in the form of a donation, inheritance or bonus. And if you had a bad time with investments in years past, things might turn around for you in 2019. If we’re talking about which periods are best for those born in the year of the pig, it’s February, March and July. The least favorable period is the month of May.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Whether you were born in the year of the pig or not, it’s always important to make the most of your money, and treat it right. After all, you can’t depend on the Chinese Zodiac, fate, or the cosmos to work in your favor. It’s up to you to take steps to boost your finances.

 

How to Throw Your First New Year’s Eve Party on a Budget

By Rebecca Lake
December 12, 2018

As the year winds down, you may be ready to ring in the new one with a bangin’ celebration. What better way to do that than by hosting a party at your place? Except there’s one little wrinkle in your plans: You don’t have a lot of cash to spend.

Not to worry. You can still throw an amazing New Year’s Eve party, even with a tiny budget. Take a look at these 6 tips to help you pull off a successful soireé.

Create a Dedicated Party Account

Keeping track of your spending over the holidays can get crazy and having a separate bank account just for party purchases can make it easier.

“If you know you’re going to be hosting a party for the new year, start a party fund as soon as possible,” says Jacob Lunduski, financial industry analyst for Credit Card Insider.

You can easily do that with a Chime Spending or Savings Account. It takes less than 5 minutes to open a free bank account with Chime. You can fund your account by setting up a direct deposit through your employer or transferring money from an existing bank account. From there, you can manage your account through the Chime mobile app.

Once your account is open, you’ll need to add something to it.

“Consider putting aside a small amount from each paycheck towards your party,” Lunduski says.

He says budgeting $20 to $50 per payday is a good rule of thumb to follow, depending on how big of an event you’re planning.

Nail Down the Guest List Early

A party isn’t a party without guests and as you plan your New Year’s Eve blowout, think about who you’d like to invite. You might want to call up everyone you know but that can add to the cost. On the other hand, capping the guest list at a certain number can help you manage your costs.

Another tip: Clue in your invitees and tell them you’re planning a party. “Ask them to tentatively RSVP whether they can make it or not,” Lunduski says.

“This will give you a general idea of how much food, seating and alcohol people will need, and the cost associated.”

This step is important for planning your budget. For example, if you have $300 to spend and you want to invite 30 people, that breaks down to $10 you can spend per person. Paring the guest list back to 20 people bumps your per-person spend up to $15. You can then decide how that $15 should be divvied up between food, alcohol and other party supplies.

Buy in Bulk (and Ask for a Deal)

If you’re planning to hit a party supply store or shop online for cups, plates, napkins or even wine, buying in bulk can be a money saver. Finance expert and founder of Fiscal Nerd Stacy Caprio says getting to know your local party suppliers can work in your favor if you’re able to negotiate a bulk discount.

“Often, the owner of a small shop or business will be happy to accommodate a loyal customer as well as encourage bulk purchases, since that can be the bread and butter of their business,” she says.

“This makes them more willing to give you a discount when you ask.”

Consider BYOB or Potluck to Save on Food and Drinks

Food and alcohol can eat up a big chunk of your party budget. Greg Jenkins, partner and co-founder of event planning company Bravo Productions, says you can make party planning less stressful — and less expensive — by asking guests to contribute something for dinner and drinks.

For example, you might supply beer and cocktail mixers but ask attendees to bring a dish or a bottle of wine for everyone to share. If you’re planning to prepare food, Jenkins says it’s always better to keep it simple.

“Sit down dinners cost more to host,” he says. Even with just appetizers, you could overspend if you let the menu get away from you. So, stick with basic, inexpensive choices like ham sliders and mini desserts. Most importantly, “don’t waste money on things guests won’t eat,” Jenkins says.

Repurpose and Reuse Party Items Whenever Possible

Your first New Year’s Eve party is a big deal and while you may be tempted to go all out, your wallet will thank you if you think practically instead. Repurposing things you have around the house for your party or thinking about how the items you’re purchasing can be useful beyond New Year’s Eve can help you make smarter buying decisions.

For instance, say your favorite grocery store is running a sale on wine. If you drink wine year-round or if wine is something you can gift to friends and family, stocking up on it while it’s on sale might be a good move.

Also, consider what you plan to do for decorations to make the party complete. Jenkins says you can save money by using things you already have around the house. Fitted sheets, for example, can double as tablecloths. Or, you can leave up holiday decorations and lights and think about adding in some inexpensive paper streamers or confetti to capture the party mood. If you don’t have any twinkle lights handy, candles can create a similar effect.

If you’re planning to buy plastic or paper plates, cups, party hats, whistles or similar items, you can scoop those up at a dollar store. Stick with solid colors instead of ones that have “New Year’s Eve” printed on them and stash away any extras to reuse for your next party. If you need an extra table or chairs for seating, check your local thrift stores for low-cost finds.

Serve Up Affordable Entertainment

While you’re waiting for the clock to countdown to midnight, you’ll need to keep your guests entertained. Since it’s your first New Year’s Eve party, hiring a band may not be feasible, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy yourself as the hours tick by.

For example, you could set up a DIY photo booth for your guests. You just need a plain sheet or a curtain for the backdrop, some party props and a camera. The props may be things you’ve already purchased — think silly glasses, paper top hats, bead necklaces and noisemakers. Toss everything in a shoebox or a plastic bin and let your guests snap away.

Other low-key, low-cost options include board games, cards, charades or taking turns sharing your New Year’s resolutions. If you’re stumped for suggestions, poll your guests to see what inexpensive ideas they have for the big night.

All the New Year’s Eve Fun, Without the Financial Hangover

While you still may need to spend something on your first New Year’s Eve party, you don’t need to spend everything.

The more you plan your spending ahead of time and follow these 6 tips, the easier it is to keep your budget locked down. And when the ball drops, you can enjoy the moment knowing that you won’t be starting the new year off with money regrets.

 

How to Spend Your Money Based on the Love Languages

By Melanie Lockert
December 3, 2018

We all prefer to give and receive love in different ways. However, this isn’t always apparent, and can result in conflicts.

Have you ever received a gift — and it’s nice, but not necessarily how you would show love and appreciation? This can make the gift-giver feel bad and you feel unsatisfied. For situations like this, it’s helpful to know your love language, as well as the love languages of those you care about.

Read on to learn more about the language of love, and how you can spend your money based on someone else’s love language.

What are the love languages?

The book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman outlines five different “love languages” that express how we prefer to receive love. These languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Knowing your love language (take this free quiz to find out or get the book) can help you communicate how you prefer to receive love. It can also help you do a better job of showing others that you love them.

According to the book and the many quizzes you can take online, everyone has a primary and secondary love language. For example, my primary love language is acts of service and my secondary love language is words of affirmation.

Whether it’s gifts for the holiday season, your anniversary or birthday, there are specific things that you can spend money on that can relate to a person’s love language. Zeroing in on this language can help you purchase appropriate gifts and show the recipients that you love them in the ways they prefer to be shown love.

Words of affirmation

The words of affirmation love language is all about using the power of words to affirm someone else. Simply stated, it’s a way to show people you love them through your words.

For example, someone with this love language appreciates a nice card with a handwritten inscription. So, make sure the card and your written message is thoughtful and personal. A book can also be a good choice. Inside the cover of the book, write a note about why the book is special and why it’s a good fit for the recipient.

Another idea for a gift is artwork or decorative signs with empowering or loving phrases. Something like “You make this house a home.” Remember, the power of words should be at the forefront of these gifts.

Quality time

In today’s frantic and busy world, it seems our attention is always divided. Someone with quality time as a love language wants your undivided attention and to spend time with you in a meaningful way.

For quality time folks, consider booking a weekend getaway — with no screens. This means no phones. No computers. Just the two of you. If it’s a friend or family member, go out for dinner or to a botanical garden and catch up. Make sure you carve out the time — so that you’re not rushing or feeling like you have to check your phone.

You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Time is a finite resource we all have, so for people whose love language is quality time, give them the gift of your presence and time.

Receiving gifts

Another love language is receiving gifts. For these people, receiving gifts is the way they prefer to be shown love. If you know someone in your life who has this love language, don’t shortchange them when it comes to birthdays, holidays, etc.

As you get older, gifts can fall to the wayside, and you may only buy gifts for kids. That’s okay, but not if someone’s love language is receiving gifts!

If your loved one has this love language, spend your money on a gift that is important to him. Buy something that is special and has significance in your relationship. Pay attention to any hints this person may drop. Really zero in on a gift that is meaningful.

Once you’ve selected something special, wrap it up and don’t forget the card. The whole spectacle of getting a wrapped gift, unwrapping it, and enjoying it is part of the process. For these people, a gift card won’t do and a little effort goes a long way.

Acts of service

This is my primary love language and can be quite different from something like receiving gifts. In fact, once I learned my love language, I understood why lavish gifts didn’t impress me. It’s not because I’m a jerk. It’s because that’s not how I prefer to be shown love.

I prefer acts of service. For people with this love language, it’s all about the nice things that you can do to serve them. How can you help out? How can you make their life better or easier?

For example, consider booking a housecleaner or some other service that directly frees up your loved one’s time. Consider making a nice homemade meal and do all the planning and preparing. You can also book a babysitter or indulge in a savory and extravagant Postmates order. Or, perhaps create coupons for your loved ones like “good for doing the dishes” or “complimentary babysitting services”. The key to satisfying this love language is to really focus on how you can serve the person.

For me, I much prefer this to material gifts. It frees up mental space, time, and even the emotional labor of planning and doing everything myself.

Physical touch

If someone’s love language is physical touch, she prefers to be shown love through physical touch and intimacy.

For these people, a good gift may be a massage or a manicure. Another option may be to clear the schedule completely and just cuddle in bed watching Netflix with some hot cocoa. You can also consider a getaway for some much-needed alone time. Additionally, getting items that have a nice texture like silk pajamas, a velvety soft robe or cozy slippers could all be good options.

It’s important for those with this love language to feel loved through the power of touch. So if your partner has this love language, holding hands, kissing, cuddling, etc. isn’t just an extension of your relationship, it’s how they receive love from you. So even just a simple hug and kiss goodbye before you leave for work can make a huge difference in their day.

Getting the right gift for your loved one

When you spend money on someone else, you want that person to be happy, right?

By learning the five languages of love, you’ll be able to hone in on the particular languages that your loved ones relate to. And, by understanding these love languages, you’ll be on your way to giving meaningful gifts and showing just how much you care.

 

6 Steps to Enjoying a Debt-Free Holiday Season

By Chonce Maddox
December 1, 2018

The holidays can be an exciting time. ‘Tis the season to enjoy family get-togethers, time off from work, meaningful gift exchanges and more.

Yet, the holiday season can cost money – a lot of money. Indeed, you’re not alone if you worry about overspending. The average American racks up more than $1,000 in holiday debt each year.

Luckily, there are 6 steps you can take to enjoy a debt-free holiday season. Take a look:

1. Develop a Realistic Spending Plan

Your first step should be to develop a spending plan for the holidays, also known as a budget. By knowing how much you can spend, you can then set realistic expectations.

To start, list out all of the expenses you’ll incur over the next few weeks, and figure out how much you’re likely to spend on your holiday gifts. Once you know your limit, it’s time to start saving automatically. I’ll share some of the most creative budgeting methods below.

2. Shop Around for Deals

When doing your holiday shopping, be sure to compare stores and prices to find the best deals. Shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday can help you save so long as you don’t go overboard.

You can also use coupons and look for BOGO deals. And, don’t forget to take advantage of stores that offer price matching. Give yourself enough time to comparison shop by starting early. This way, you won’t feel rushed to buy the first thing you see.

If you see items you want to buy but don’t have enough cash, find out if the store offers a layaway service, This way you can pay as you get paid instead of charging your purchases immediately. Pro tip: If you set up direct deposit with Chime, you can get paid earlier, freeing up more immediate cash for you.

3. Pay for Everything with Cash

Forget about credit card reward points or cash back, particularly if you’re afraid you’ll get into holiday debt. In some cases, it’s just not worth it.

Instead of using a credit card for your holiday purchases, use the cash you set aside according to your budget. When you pay for all your holiday expenses in cash, it’s basically impossible to overspend and get into debt.

You can even try using the cash envelope budgeting method by assigning each category in your budget an envelope that you’ll fill with a designated amount of cash. Once an envelope is empty, that’s it. You’ll need to stop spending in that area. This budget does come with some drawbacks as you won’t be able to shop online and you’ll need to be organized so that you don’t misplace your envelopes filled with cash.

In the long-run, however, the envelope budget forces you to slow down when shopping and spend more mindfully.

4. DIY Hidden Costs

It’s easy to overspend on seemingly hidden things like decorations, greeting cards, white elephant gifts and party food. Instead of spending cashola, go the DIY route.

For starters, you can make your own holiday decor with craft supplies or dollar store items. I went to my local dollar store the other day and found everything from wreaths, ornaments, table decor, holiday lights, and more  – all for a buck each.

When it comes to making your own greeting cards, you can design them online using a free program called Canva. Rather than buying baked goods, you can also bake some of your favorite treats for cheap. Lastly, if you’re doing a gift exchange, you can always DIY gifts – whether it involves making homemade candles and bath bombs, or creating custom artwork.

5. Earn Extra Money

Once you’ve created a budget and have limited your holiday spending as much as possible, it may be time to start earning some extra money.

If finances are tight around this time of year, you can find more wiggle room by starting a side hustle or seeing if your can work overtime at your job. If you’re looking for something easy that pays quickly, you can drive for Uber or Lyft, deliver groceries with Instacart, babysit or pet sit, shovel snow, rent a room out in your home, design logos on Fiverr, or clean homes. These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

The key is to look for opportunities that you can start ASAP. This way you’ll be more apt to earn enough money to meet your holiday spending needs.

6. Focus on Experiences

The holiday season is not just about having and spending money. It’s also about showing gratitude, spending time with loved ones, and having positive experiences.

When you focus on experiences over money, you’ll be more likely to avoid overspending and going into debt during this time of year. And here’s the best part: Experiences can be free. For example, you can trade in a day of shopping for a day of binge-watching holiday movies while eating Christmas cookies and sipping hot cocoa. Or, you can drive around your neighborhood to look at Christmas lights, go sledding in the snow, or find a free local event to attend.

The Holidays Don’t Have to Be a Debt Sentence

Don’t sentence yourself to debt over the holidays. It’s not worth it and you have plenty of inexpensive ways to have fun, give gifts and enjoy the season. If you need inspiration, just turn to these 6 steps to a debt-free holiday season.

 

Money Lessons from Your Favorite Holiday Movies

By Rachel Slifka
November 26, 2018

The most wonderful time of the year is almost here. You’re bound to see holiday cheer spread everywhere, especially in the movies.

It seems like everywhere you look, there are holiday movies. These fan favorite films are repeatedly played on television, in theaters and even used in advertising. But, we bet you didn’t realize that there are valuable money lessons in your favorite holiday movies. It’s true.

From tidbits about the importance of saving extra cash to curbing your spending habits, you’ll get a kick out of the financial lessons these holiday movies can teach you. Take a look at some of our favorite holiday films – and the lessons they continue to teach us.

Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Lesson: The holidays remind us to be kind and not materialistic

Dr. Seuss’  classic book was turned into both an animated and live-action movie. While you can argue all you want about which version is your favorite, there is no doubt that both movies can teach viewers a valuable lesson: Be kind.

The main character, The Grinch, alienated himself from Whoville, the community where he grew up. He ends up pretending to be Santa but instead of delivering gifts to the village of Whoville, he ends up stealing gifts and decorations. The Grinch was then shocked to see Whoville bond together to celebrate the holiday, even when they all lost a great deal. Eventually, The Grinch has a change of heart, and ends up celebrating Christmas with the others in Whoville.

The lesson learned here is that you don’t have to get caught up in the materialism of the season in order to celebrate. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent over $967 on holiday spending in 2017. That’s a whole lotta dough! The Grinch serves as a good reminder that the holidays are about more than gifts and decorations. The holidays are about being together and being kind to others.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Lesson: You can enjoy the holidays without splurging

Ah, Charlie Brown. Poor Charlie is a character who constantly finds himself going against the status quo. During the Christmas season, all of his friends (and his beloved dog Snoopy) are writing their extensively long Christmas lists.

Instead of focusing on himself during the holiday season, Charlie volunteers to direct the Christmas play. To set the scene, Charlie must purchase a Christmas tree. After spending an evening looking at expensive, trendy (at the time) aluminum trees, he ends up purchasing a sad, tiny fir tree. He brings it back to the play and all of his friends laugh and ridicule Charlie for picking out such a pathetic, sparse tree.

But, after bonding together and getting creative, Charlie and his friends are able to turn the tree into a big, beautiful holiday centerpiece.

Charlie Brown reminds us that we don’t have to succumb to trends and buy the shiniest new toy. With a little elbow grease and love, you can turn even the strangest item into something beautiful.

“A Christmas Carol”

Lesson: Be generous

“A Christmas Carol,” originally a book by Charles Dickens, outlines the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, a classic character who is downright pessimistic, selfish and rude. A business owner, he makes harsh decisions and pushes everyone away.

After a series of strange dreams, Scrooge is haunted by Christmas past, present and future. Ultimately, he awakes to a new perspective on life, and becomes extremely cheerful and generous. He turns a complete 180, and his life is improved for the better.

“A Christmas Carol” goes to show you that focusing on just yourself won’t get you far. Generosity wins – time and time again.

“White Christmas”

Lesson: Always save for a rainy day

The story of “White Christmas” includes two ex-army men turned singers and dancers: Phil Davis and Bob Wallace. Davis and Wallace find themselves following two potential love interests to Vermont, where they all stay at a failing ski resort owned by their former Army general. The ski resort is failing due to a lack of snow, which ultimately results in a decrease in guests.

The rest of the movie goes on to show their attempts to save the struggling resort by performing their singing and dancing act.

Fortunately for us, the story of “White Christmas” reminds us of the importance of an emergency fund, particularly if you are a business owner. Don’t fall into the statistics. A survey by BankRate states that just four in 10 Americans have savings to rely on in the event of an emergency.

Emergency funds are vital for your overall financial wellness – whether you own a failing ski resort or not. Furthermore, “White Christmas” serves as a reminder to get creative when times are tough. You might just surprise yourself by doing so.

All in all

No matter what your financial situation is, it’s possible to enjoy the holiday season without spending a huge wad of cash. Remember, material gifts will soon be forgotten, but the memory of the holiday season can last a lifetime.

 

Why You Should Spend With Your Debit Card vs. Credit Card This Holiday Season

By Melanie Lockert
November 20, 2018

The holiday season is approaching and you know what that means — spending money. Whether it’s buying gifts for loved ones or booking flights to travel home, the holiday season typically means a spike in spending for many of us.

And, because you may spend more than at other times of the year, you’re probably going to use credit cards. But, did you know that while credit cards offer some cool rewards like cash back, using your debit card is often a wiser choice? Read on to learn why.

1. You spend only what you have

Everyone wants to think they’re responsible with credit and only buy what they can afford. Well, a lot of people are wrong. According to a 2017 study by Magnify Money, 68 percent of consumers attributed their holiday debt to credit cards.

Of the consumers surveyed, 44 percent racked up more than $1,000 and five percent accumulated more than $5,000 in credit card balances. More disturbing is the fact that half of those consumers noted that it will take more than three months to pay off the debt they accrued during the holidays. That’s more than a quarter of the entire year!

When you use a debit card, however, you spend only what you have in your bank account. And, this helps you become more mindful and realistic about your budget. Using a debit card during the holiday season can also help you avoid fees and that dreaded holiday credit card debt.

2. You don’t have to worry about making another payment

The holiday season can make the most organized person run around like a headless chicken. Everyone’s schedule seems packed to the brim and there’s always something else added to the to-do list (Think: “Buy white elephant gift for the company party.”)

When you’re so busy, some of your normal day-to-day duties can fall to the wayside. And, if you don’t have auto-pay set up, you can potentially miss a credit card payment. Another common problem during the busy holiday season: You say you’ll “do it later” and then when you remember to pay your bill, it’s late.

When you use a debit card, however, you don’t have to add anything else to your to-do list – including making yet another payment. The money comes straight from your bank account and you don’t have to do a thing.

3. A debit card is free to use

One of the biggest perks with using credit cards is the rewards, like cash-back and airline miles. But oftentime the best rewards cards come with an annual fee and the conversion on the rewards isn’t as great as you think. In many cases, miles are literally worth about a penny per mile or less.

So, you may actually be spending your money on an annual fee, high interest rates, late fees, and more – without getting much in return.

Here’s where debit cards take center stage. Debit cards are free and can help you avoid debt.

4. Your debit card can help you save

At Chime, we’re all about helping you save money when you spend money. It’s all about balance. Am I right?

With this in mind, check out Chime’s round-up savings program, where every time you use your debit card, we round-up the purchase to the nearest dollar and put it into your Savings Account. This way you can effortlessly save and know that you’re being financially responsible at the same time.

5. Stop fraud instantly

There are no two ways about it: Fraud can be rampant during the holiday season. A lot of credit card enthusiasts think this is a solid reason to use credit over debit.

But, your debit card can offer protections that are similar to your credit card. For example, if you suspect any fraudulent uses on your Chime card or your card goes missing, you can simply go into the app and immediately put a halt on purchases by disabling transactions. No need to stay on a long customer service line (who wants to talk on the phone?!) and no need for lengthy emails. Just put a stop to it, now.

Not only that, but Chime alerts you any time you use your debit card. So, if your debit card get into the wrong hands, you’ll know right away.

Bottom line

The holiday season should be a time of joy and fun, not stress and debt.

Using debit instead of credit can help you keep your spending in check, plus you’ll have one less thing to worry about. So, this holiday season: Try spending only what you have and enjoy the season with family and friends. It sure beats worrying about money!

 

Money Manners: Should you Stage a Money Intervention for Your Family?

By Jackie Lam
November 19, 2018

Talking about money with trusted pals and your boo may be hard enough. But, envisioning a holiday sit-down for a mature pow-wow with your family over finances? Well, that may feel like a far-fetched, unicorn scenario.

But, what should you do if you have a relative who is royally screwing up his finances, especially if you know this mess may have a ripple effect on other loved ones? You may need to step in and intervene.

Take a look at our tips for determining whether you should stage a money intervention with the fam bam during the holidays, and our shortlist on how to proceed.

Assess the Gravity of the Situation

Communicating about money matters is well, extremely complicated. Add to the mix deep-rooted resentment, history and family dynamics, and you may feel like you’re precariously tip-toeing over landmines.

To gauge whether you should set up a money intervention, figure out exactly how serious the matter is. Is someone committing an act of financial infidelity, such as running up credit card debt, hiding bank accounts, or keeping a huge sum of student loan debt under wraps from a significant other? Or, maybe you have a teenage cousin who has no idea how to manage her finances and constantly spends everything she has. This can turn ugly once she hits college.

If it’s a serious matter, think about what would happen if nobody stepped in to intervene. If doing nothing can lead to debilitating, long-term consequences, a money intervention may be in order.

Figure Out If It’s Appropriate to Stage an Intervention

On the flipside, let’s say your sister has been complaining about how her money habits don’t align with her boyfriend’s. Perhaps she’s a saver and he never puts enough in a savings account. This would perhaps be considered a minor “flare-ups” and may be better handled between the two of them. While you feel inclined—or may have even been asked —to have a “little talk” with the couple, it may heighten feelings of tension and cause resentment.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries around the types of money matters you’re comfortable discussing with your relatives. And, perhaps you can simply suggest resources such as a money management app or a mobile wallet that can help them with some of the issues they’re facing. Maybe this is all that’s needed to point your family members in the right direction.

Determine If You’re the Right Person

Let’s say that you’ve looked at the facts at hand, and determined that a money intervention is appropriate. If that’s a given, it’s time to decide whether you are the right person to facilitate this type of discussion.

Ideally, the facilitator should be an unbiased person who can remain calm throughout the intervention. Maybe a family friend who knows both parties would better suited. Or, you may want to bring in an experienced, trained professional, such as a financial therapist. Someone like this has no emotional ties to your family and may be the best person for the job.

If you’re the one handling the intervention, here are a few dos and don’ts to get started:

Don’t: Make Assumptions

Most of the time you only know one side of the story. For example, you may only hear from your Uncle Bill about how his wife Jane neglects to pay the bills on time. But to be fair, you may not have gotten wind from your Aunt Jane that Bill is no money saint, either.

It’s tough to do, but leave your assumptions at the door. Go into the situation with an open mind, and get the facts and details from everyone involved. If you take an unbiased, balanced perspective, you can then stage a more effective intervention.

Do: Time It Well

Just like it’s a major faux paus to ask for a loan during someone’s birthday party (yes, I’ve been guilty of this), a holiday gathering is not be the best time to stage a money intervention.

Instead, choose a time that works for everyone involved, and pick a private space so you can discreetly discuss touchy matters.

While the holidays are one of the few times during the year when all your family members may be in the same place, avoid discussing money matters over the dinner table. If you must have an intervention the day of a holiday gathering, schedule it before or after the festivities in a separate location.

Don’t: Go for the Jugular

While you may know what the main issue is, consider starting out by having a general conversation about money. This can lead into deep-seated matters, such as financial infidelity, debts that have remained long unpaid, issues with gambling or bouts of overspending.

The key here is to harbor healthy and respectful communication. Otherwise, it can escalate into a shouting match and reflexive rounds of pointing and blaming.

Do: Defer to a Professional If Necessary

As I mentioned above, it may be easier to bring in a pro, such as a licensed therapist or maybe even a money coach who works with couples or groups.

A money intervention can cause tension, and dredge up deep-seated, bad feelings. Without proper training, a well-intended conversation can quickly go south.

Handle the Situation Gently

When trying to decide whether staging a money intervention is appropriate and necessary, just keep this in mind: For every action, there is a reaction.

Do your best to create a safe space before bringing out the elephant in the room. And whatever you do, tread with care. If executed properly, facilitating a family financial intervention can shift your family’s money situation in a positive direction. It can also foster deeper communication and trust.

 

How to Avoid Black Friday Fails

By Jackie Lam
November 16, 2018

It’s no surprise that heavy-duty spending over the holidays is a major budget-buster. In fact, in 2017, Americans racked up an average of over $1,000 in holiday debt, according to a survey by MagnifyMoney.

And, perhaps the biggest contributor to this debt hangover is Black Friday. While seemingly innocuous, if you’re not careful, going overboard with end-of-year deals can put a serious dent in your bank account. Plus, you run the risk of spending more than you can afford or buying something you simply don’t need.

Take it from us: Going on a sales-fueled spending spree during Black Friday isn’t the best way to kick off the holidays. Here are some ways to avoid Black Friday fails:

Check the Money in Your Account

I personally avoid Black Friday like the plague. There’s no better sale than not spending money in the first place. But I get it. Let’s say you’ve been holding out for that shiny new laptop or gadget all year long. Black Friday or its equally evil cousin, Cyber Monday, may be the best time to purchase it.

If you must spend on these deal days, start by checking on how much money is sitting in your bank account—and how much you can safely spend. Look for surprise pockets of savings, such as money you have stashed away in your automatic savings account via a mobile banking app, or cash you’ve put into a savings goal bucket on your money saving app.

Stick to a List

Just like sticking to a list while grocery shopping can help you stay within your budget, you’ll want to create a shopping list before Black Friday. Otherwise you’ll be lured by the mountain of promotional emails landing in your inbox.

If it helps, make two separate lists: items you’ll purchase for gifts, as well things you’d like to buy for yourself.

Create a Budget

Next, gauge how much you can reasonably spend on Black Friday. Will you be purchasing stuff just for you, or for holiday gifts?

Figure out how much you have available to spend over the holidays. And don’t forget to factor in your expenses like holiday-related travel, attire for holiday work parties, gift wrap, gift cards, food for gatherings, and presents.

Do Your Research

Before you click “buy” during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, make sure you’re actually getting a good deal.

A lot of retailers may use “anchoring,” which shows the discounted price against the actual price. This gives consumer the illusion that an item is a bargain, when in fact it isn’t. To avoid bogus deals, do a bit of price comparison beforehand. There are a handful of price comparison websites, like PriceGrabber and Cyber Monday, that can help you find the best price for practically any item in existence. You may discover that the “killer mega Black Friday deal” you’re excited about isn’t actually netting you the best price. Bottom line: Shop smart.

Figure Out the Value Add

If you’re buying something for yourself, make sure the item adds value to your life in some way. This way you’re not spending money frivolously.

My partner said it best when he said that commitments are easy to fall into, but hard to get out of. And whether you like it or not, you have a commitment to the stuff you buy. So, let’s say that you buy a guitar at a huge discount. Once you do this, you’re held accountable for playing that thing. Or else you’ll just hear a nagging voice inside your head whispering “you should probably pick up that guitar.” That’s a slight mental anguish you’re probably better off not dealing with in the first place.

Figure Out the Cost-Use Ratio

When I’m quibbling over whether to buy something or not, I figure out how many times I need to use that item for it to be worth the price. For instance, let’s take a $50 pair of shoes purchased last year as an example. In my book, if I wore those shoes at least 10 times, they would have paid for themselves.

While there’s no perfect science to this, it’s important that you place a value on your item and make sure it’s worth purchasing to begin with. For instance, I could care less how many times I use a dish sponge before it goes into the trash. But for high-value items? I care. I spent $300 on a pair of boots last year. While this seems pricey, I wear them practically everyday. I got my money’s worth.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Time is money. And what’s more important, your precious time is a finite resource. You could be spending your time side hustling, with the fam bam, or having a leisurely, “do-nothing” afternoon.

So, if you see an inexpensive item you want to buy, just do it and don’t feel stressed out or guilty about it. Why shop around for a better price on two dollar dish towels? Um, not worth it.

Avoid Major Fallout

To avoid major Black Friday fails, you just need a little forethought and prep work. Sure, spending is a lot of fun, but you need boundaries – otherwise you may suffer from a regrettable case of holiday debt hangover once sale season subsides.

Instead, take a look at the tips here and shop wisely. You’ll be surprised by how much money you’ll save when you just make a few simple changes.

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