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A Not-So-Frugal Hobby: How to Save Money on Running

We have a special treat for your today, our friend Vanessa from Vanessa’s Money is here sharing her tips on how to save money on running.  If you want to get outside and get active this summer she’s got all the goods.  Please welcome her to Blonde & Balanced and share your own money saving tips.

Running is a fun hobby which used to be pretty frugal – the only cost was the price of a pair of running shoes. These days though, it seems like everyone is trying to Keep Up With The Running Jones’ and the hobby is getting increasingly more expensive. Here’s how to keep running costs down.

Save Money On Running Gear

Like at the gym, running trails can be packed with people wearing the latest gear and comparing themselves to one another. While Lululemon and Fabletics are the hot running wear brands this year, they can cost $100s of dollars for a single outfit! By shopping at Old Navy or Target instead, runners can find comparable items for a fraction of the cost.

Running shoes are a different matter – runners need to have the proper running shoes or risk serious injury. That being said runners don’t need to have the most expensive running shoes. Buying a pair of shoes from last season or from an outlet store can help runners save money on their most important piece of gear.

Road Races

Road races are the best part of running for some people. Today road races have become a huge expense for runners with popular races costing over $300 if you even get selected to race! With so much media attention on the prestigious races, hobby runners sometimes get sucked into the excitement of competing without thinking of the expense involved.

Rather, hobbyists should stick to local or inexpensive races if they’d like to keep costs down. Fancy medals and t-shirts are a sign that a race will cost a lot of money and that frugal runners should stay away.  If you want to lose weight on a budget then look for discounts.

If you want to be frugal but just can’t miss the hottest races of the year, look into discount codes for bulk purchases. Some races team up with other cities to offer passes that allow runners to run multiple races for a single cost. Be careful though – airfare and hotel costs could quickly eat up the savings from entry fees!

Racers should also beware of “early bird discounts”. While it sounds like a great deal to save money by paying an entry fee ahead of time, injuries, a lack of preparation or stop a runner from attending a race, which means flushing the entry fee money away. If you aren’t sure about a race, ignore the impulse to save $10-20 on an early bird entry fee and only book it when you know that you can compete.

The Ultimate Money Saving Tip

The biggest frugal tip for working out on a budget is one that can be applied to a dozen other parts of your life – don’t do it. Don’t get caught up in wearing trendy gear or name brand shoes. Don’t sign-up for races you don’t absolutely want to do or can’t afford just because they’re trendy or prestigious. Run because you love running, not because you’re trying to keep up with Mr. Jones running ahead of you.

If you loved this article be sure to check out Vanessa on her blog Vanessa’s Money and on Twitter.

6 Budget Summer Travel Tips

summer travelMemorial Day weekend is just around the corner and that means summer is almost here.  The weather is warmer, the sun is shining and it’s time to start planning your summer travel.  Planning a vacation – especially during peak times – can be expensive, but that shouldn’t stop you.

Use these summer travel tips to plan an amazing vacation on a budget:

Set travel alerts for price drops

If you’re looking for a hotel, airline flight or vacation package one of the best ways to find the best deal is to sign up for price drops.  Being on a mailing list means that you’ll receive notifications in your inbox long after your summer travel is over, but the email clutter is worth it.

When you search for hotels, flights and vacation packages on discount travel websites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Hotels.com they will ask you to sign up by email and get notified if the prices drop.  If the option isn’t available come back and check prices every few days to see if they’re going down. Now is a good time to start looking for deals in July or August because it gives you time to plan – booking at the last minute can be pricey.

Think outside traditional hotels

With room share services, Air BnB and people buying condos for investment properties there’s no need to pay a hefty hotel bill.  If you can’t find a good deal on a hotel price that fits into your budget then start looking for alterative accommodations.

If you want to be really adventurous pack up the car and go camping for your summer vacation.  If the outdoors are your cup of tea there’s no time like the summer to pitch a tent, enjoy some fresh air and take a long hike in the sunshine.

Travel during down times

Leaving on Saturday and coming back on Saturday may not be the best laid plans.  Traveling on popular days causes prices to go up.  When researching your summer travel plans play around with the dates or choose flexible dates and let the hotel or airline show you the best offer.  Sometimes leaving on a Sunday or Monday can help save big bucks on the cost of your accommodations and travel.

Set a food budget and try to cook

Experiencing local cuisine is part of the fun of  traveling, but the costs of eating out three meals a day can quickly add up.  The odds are you don’t eat out for three meals a day at home, so why do it while on vacation.  Food is part of our everyday lives, but the less you spend on food the more you can spend on other things such as excursions and shopping.

When booking your  you have a kitchen available cooking at least one meal a day can help save money.  Splurge on lunch because generally the prices are cheaper than dinner menus

Take public transportation

Taxi cabs can be expensive and I’m still not 100% sure that Uber is a safe method of transportation if you are traveling alone.  Although travelling by car is much more efficient and a lot faster, taking public transportation is always an option.

Travelling by bus, subway, rented bike or even walking lets you explore your surroundings and even discover new places to eat, see, visit and shop.   A $3 subway ride beats a $15 cab ride every single time and you won’t be stuck in traffic.

Get the best price on your rental car

The Huffington Post says that you can save money on your rental car by getting a free upgrade.  “Book the cheapest rental car you can live with and arrive early in the day, before most customers have returned their cars. Result? The agency may not have any cheap cars to give you, and they are obligated to give you a bigger model at no extra charge. If they try to sell you an upgrade, say no. If it turns out they haven’t run out of cheap cars, politely ask for a free upgrade.”

Where are you planning your summer vacation this year?

 

 

Binary Options Scams 101 – An Interactive Guide

office-620822_640Binary options trading is your basic “profit or nothing” proposition, with a severe bent on the latter. As such, binary options is the least likely path to sudden riches.

So, believe it when I tell you that those fancy brokers, signal providers and experts claiming that you can make a fortune in just a few days of binary options trading are out to scam you. I’ll even go as far as telling you that, in the world of investment scams, binary options are really making their mark! No, really.

The Expiry Time Scam

One way this scam operates is that you place your contract: size, asset type, duration and all. But then, when the duration of the contract is over, and the clock has run down to zero, your contract is left open for up to about a minute or so.

Meanwhile, the broker is telling you that the contract is “expiring”, but in reality, the broker is waiting for the price to change against you in the slightest degree and your win will turn into a loss. Attempts to contact the brokers will bring up excuses such as technical errors, if at all the broker is considerate enough to respond to you. 

The Trading Software Scam

This scam is run by providers of binary options signals (don’t click on any links on that site – as it’s advertisement, but serves to prove how these providers work), which I have observed grow in numbers over the last few years. Basically, you sign up with a company operating a seemingly legit site that promises you accuracy rates of up to 100%.

The catch is that you have to make a deposit first, usually a couple of hundred dollars. And then from there, you will get constant calls to deposit more of your money with the company, having already lost your initial deposit. Obviously, any additional funds you deposit will be lost to you for sure.

Account Deposits Scam

Another popular scam operated by some ingenuous binary options companies is with regard to client deposits. Essentially, with this scam, you open an account with the broker, which goes very smoothly. Even the deposits get credited to your trading account very efficiently.

From here, you get calls from your “personal account manager” encouraging you to make more deposits. Who is unto you if you fall for this and make more deposits, because you will never get your money back. Withdrawal requests are canceled, and any attempts to get in touch with the support usually fail to succeed.

Generally, the best way to know about this scam is to see if your broker pesters you about making a deposit, initial or subsequent, when you open an account. If you already had a deposit, try to reverse it and find a better broker. On the other hand, if you had not made a deposit and all the broker constantly wants is for you to make a deposit, then you are lucky to have gotten away unscathed.

Identity Theft Scam

Believe it or not, some binary options companies are not after your money only, but your identity as well. What these binary options brokers want is your personal information such as credit card numbers and driving license numbers. What this information is used for is anyone’s guess.

 

But you can rest assured that the information will be used for illicit activities that could land you in all sorts of trouble down the road. The information can even be used to steal money from you.

Since all financial services companies are generally required to verify your identity before allowing you to deposit and withdraw funds, this scam can be hard to spot.

But generally, any broker that does not make it apparent that you need to verify your identity as you open an account and make a deposit, but makes relentless demands for identity information when you try to make withdrawals is a possible culprit. The brokers will even take your identity documents and refuse your withdrawals, executing two scams at once.

Changing Payouts Scam

You may go into a trade expecting an 80% payout, but when the trade eventually closes in your favor, you might realize that the payout has taken a dip. In that case, you may have fallen for yet another binary options scam, whereby the broker shaves off some of your winnings. If you notice a pattern of this injustice, you would better start looking for another broker and withdraw your money.

Conclusion

Binary options scams are so popular now that they do not even make news. Many scammers in the industry, ranging from brokers to signal providers, are working round the clock to steal from those trying to make money from binary options trading.

Basically, when it’s all said and done, any suspicious behavior by a broker should be a sign that you might be the victim of a scam. So, be on the look out: there are binary options companies out there looking to screw you out of your money six ways from Sunday; and its up to you to spot them.

Should Millennials Hire a Financial Planner?

hire a financial plannerIn simple words the answer is absolutely yes.  People of every age both old and young need financial guidance and therefore we should all hire a financial planner.  We may think we’re doing what’s best for our money, we may even think that no one knows what’s best for us better than us, but the truth is a little professional help never hurt nobody.

Here are six reasons why everyone – even millennials – should hire a financial planner:

You don’t need to be a millionaire

Young people often think that there’s no need to hire a financial planner because they don’t have any money.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth, actually the exact opposite is true.  If you want to have money in the bank someday then professional advice can help you get there.

If you don’t have a lot of savings, if you have a lot of student loans and are living paycheck to paycheck ask yourself if you always want your life to be that way.  The answer is probably no.  A financial planner can help change your financial habits, prioritize your goals and be on your way to becoming debt free.

You spend everything because YOLO

As a financial planner myself I absolutely hate the excuse of YOLO as a reason why millennials don’t save money.  There is no reason why you can’t have more than one financial goal.  You can spend, have fun and still save for retirement as well as pay off y our debt – if you want to.  Living in the moment doesn’t mean living paycheck to paycheck and whoever thinks that way really needs to hire a financial planner so they can set you on the right track.

Make a list of all your goals both short and long term, then prioritize that list and take it to the bank.  You won’t be able to cash it yet, but you will be able to start saving for your goals.

Everyone needs to plan for the future

If you’re young you may not even be thinking about the future, but the truth is if you want to buy a car, buy a house, pay for a wedding, start a business, have children or travel the world someday you need to plan for it.  Those life events don’t just happen overnight and all of them require money – at least to do it successfully.

Talking with a professional can help set timelines and allocate savings towards your goals.  Buying a house and starting a business are both really big financial commitments and a financial planner can walk you through the necessary steps to get them done.

Start saving for retirement

If you want to stop working someday, even if that day is 30 years away you still need to start saving for it.  The government funding available isn’t enough to live off of, not happily anyways.  If you want to have a financially sound retirement then you need to plan for it.

The sooner you start saving and investing the less invasive it will be on your monthly budget.  You can save less over a longer period of time, if you only started saving in your 40s you would be playing catch up and therefore need to make larger contributions.  Talk to a financial planner about your retirement savings options such as a 401k or IRA.

Learn to stay calm during market fluctuations

Popular financial website Nerd Wallet says that millennials have a harder time adjusting to changes in the value of their savings and a financial planner can help set their minds at ease.

“Younger investors have come of age during terrible market conditions. Two extreme market drops since 2000 have not left them with much confidence or a desire to save. Many have stayed out of the market or been overly risk averse, despite the fact that time is their best asset.”

Let a financial planner help pay off your debt

If you’re drowning in credit card debt or student loans a financial planner can help show you the light at the end of the dark debt tunnel.  Maybe you’re overspending, but setting a monthly budget can help free up money to allocate towards paying off your debt.

Let a professional analyze your current situation and help pay off your debt sooner.  Just think of all the other things you could be doing with your money – other than paying back debt and being charged for interest.  That alone should be motivation enough to hire a financial planner.