The creation of online tax preparation was genius. It allows people to file their taxes from the comfort of their home.
Plus many online tax filing programs are affordable and even free! But not all programs are right for all tax situations. And some are easier to use than others. Which one do you choose?
You’ll want to know which tax preparation websites are best – and cheapest. As a consumer, you have several options to choose from. We’ll outline some of the most popular choices. Most of these have a free option, be sure to read the details below.
|Company||Cost for Federal||Cost for State|
|Turbo Tax||Free, $40 to $150||Free, $37 per state|
|TaxAct||Free, $30 to $60||Free, $37 per state|
|H&R Block||Free, $35 to $75||Free, $40 per state|
|Credit Karma Tax||Free||Free|
|E-file.com||Free, $25 to $46||Free, $19 for a state or $24 for unlimited|
Turbo Tax has been offering cheap and free tax return filing since the 1980s. Intuit acquired the company in 1993. That was a good move. It’s been one of the most popular online tax filing websites ever since.
Check out the different programs Turbo Tax has to offer. Each program has distinct features and benefits. However, they all have great things to offer.
Turbo Tax’s Free Edition costs nothing. You’ll pay $0 for federal returns, $0 for state returns and $0 for filing fees. To be eligible for this product you have to meet specific requirements.
These are the broad parameters for filing a 1040EZ or 1040A form. However, if you qualify, it makes you eligible for Turbo Tax’s Free Edition.
This program could work for you if you have a clean-cut tax situation. W-2 income, no deductions and no other odd inclusions.
This is Turbo Tax’s most popular edition. It costs $39.99 for federal tax filing and $36.99 for state filing. Turbo Tax Deluxe has everything included in the Free Edition.
Also, this program can itemize deductions. You can add charitable deductions, mortgage interest and more. And they include on-demand tax help from their customer service team.
Their automated Deduction Finder is amazing. It will search more than 350 tax deductions to guarantee you the largest refund.
The Turbo Tax Premier Edition is for those with investment holdings. Also, it’s for those with real estate holdings over and above a primary home.
It costs $59.99 to file your federal return using this edition. And you’ll pay $36.99 to file your state return. With this edition, you get all that comes in the Deluxe Edition.
Also, you can import your investment information. You’ll need to have the numbers from the company that holds your accounts. Turbo Tax Premier will help you calculate capital gains, losses, etc.
This program offers step-by-step guidance in adding in new rental properties. This is a nice addition if you use Premier every year. Bonus: you have full access to the on-demand help center.
The Self-Employed Edition has everything the Premier Edition has. It includes these additional features as well:
This edition costs $89.99 for federal filing and $36.99 for state filing.
This version is a new offering this year from Turbo Tax. With the live edition, you get all the benefits of the Self-Employed Edition. Plus, you get a free one-on-one review with a tax expert. They have CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) on staff.
You’ll get live tax advice from experienced experts in the field too. The Live version costs $149.99 for the federal return and $36.99 for the state return. This can be a great option for those with complicated returns. And for those who want expert guidance as they file on their own.
As you can see, there is a lot to choose from with Turbo Tax. They also have a guaranteed maximum refund program too. And guaranteed accurate calculations. So if you find a mistake, you get your money back.
TaxAct has been in business since 1998. They provide serious competition with Turbo Tax. Here’s the scoop on the different products they have to offer. I’ll share what each one costs too.
TaxAct’s free edition is similar to Turbo Tax’s in that it’s free. It costs nothing to file your state or federal tax return. This edition is limited to 1040EZ and 1040A form filers. Remember that 1040EZ filers and 1040A filers can take limited deductions. It all depends on the form they use.
1040EZ filers have to make under $100k a year. They can’t have any itemized deductions either. And you can’t claim any dependents or interest earned over $1500.
1040A filers have expanded options for filing. One benefit is the ability to include other sources of income.
Do you want to know whether you qualify to file a 1040EZ or 1040A? Check out this IRS article.
TaxAct’s Plus Edition is for those with standard itemized deductions. It costs $29.95 to file a federal return and $37 to file a state return. If you’ve got deductions, this version could work for you. You’ll want to use it if you have charitable deductions. Or if you have mortgage interest deductions and investment income.
Some of the features of TaxAct Plus include:
They have a price lock guarantee with this version too. The promise guarantees you’ll pay the price they quoted as you started your return. So it doesn’t matter when you decide to file.
If you’re a freelancer, this edition can help you file your taxes. Are you an independent contractor or sole proprietor? If so, this could be the best TaxAct version for you. Your federal return for this version will cost $44.95. And if you file with the state, your state return will cost $37.
Some of the benefits of this version include:
This is an excellent version for those who run a small, independent business. Or those with no additional employees.
TaxAct offers the TaxAct Premium Edition too. According to their website, it’s for filers seeking “ultimate peace of mind.”
The Premium version will guide you step-by-step through the tax filing process. This helps to ensure you don’t make mistakes. The Premium Edition costs $59.95 for federal tax returns. And it costs $37 for state tax returns.
In addition to the Freelancer Edition benefits, buyers of Premium get others too. One benefit is TaxAct’s Audit Defense feature. This feature helps you defend yourself in case of an audit.
Most 1040EZ and 1040A filers won’t benefit from this version. But it’s great if you want the “peace of mind” aspect. And it could be beneficial for those with itemized deductions. If you itemize and are nervous to file on your own, you’ll like this version.
There are many great choices for prospective TaxAct clients and Turbo Tax clients. Let’s move onto another long-standing tax preparation company, H & R Block.
H&R Block is by far the tax preparation company with the most experience. They opened their doors over 60 years ago in 1955. I remember seeing H&R Block commercials as a kid (I’m 50 now).
This company has four different tax filing options. By using one of them, you may be able to save money when filing your taxes. Here’s the scoop on each one.
The H&R Block More Zero plan costs $0 for federal filing and $0 for state filing. Their website says it’s best for new filers, simple filers and homeowners. This means you can deduct mortgage interest with this version.
Besides, you can deduct donations, student loan interest and child care expenses too. This is a nice difference from other free products we’ve discussed.
Also, H&R Block has a feature you can add on called Tax Pro Review. This feature gives you access to an online review of your return. You’ll talk to an H&R Block tax pro. It’s meant to give you peace of mind that you haven’t missed anything.
When you use the More Zero program, it costs $49.99 to get Tax Pro Review as an add-on.
This program includes all of the features of the More Zero program. It has additional benefits as well. For instance, you can add in hobby income. This is better known in the Well Kept Wallet world as “side hustle income 😊.” You can add Health Savings Account deductions too.
The Deluxe version has a handy tool known as their Deduction Pro. It will help you not to miss any deductions. And you can get unlimited tax advice via chat too.
The H&R Block Deluxe program costs $34.99 to file your federal return. And it’ll cost $36.99 to file your state return. Also, if you want to add on Tax Pro Review with this package, it’ll cost you $79.99. This is different than the $49.99 you’d pay with the More Zero program. But the cost variance is justified because there will be more information to review.
H&R Block says their Premium program is best for freelancers. It’s great for independent contractors and investors. And rental property owners will like it too.
This program comes with all of the features of the Deluxe program. Also, you can import expense information from apps such as Stride. And you get unlimited tax advice via chat with this version too.
The H&R Block website says that this program is for those with under $5,000 in income. However, you can input stock income and rental property income too.
The cost for this version is $54.99 for your federal return. You’ll pay $36.99 for your state return. It’ll cost you $89.99 to add on Tax Pro Review with this version.
This program is for those who are self-employed with a higher income. It’s not for smaller income side hustlers. Conversely, this program is for those who freelance as a serious business. You’ll get all of the Premium version benefits with additional ones. And you can include all of your small business income and expenses.
The Self-Employed version costs $74.99 for federal filers. It costs $36.99 to add your state return. Also, if you want to purchase Tax Pro Review with this version, it’ll cost you $89.99.
There is a nice roundup of options from H&R Block. However, it seems like they offer the most to simple tax return filers. And to the self-employed.
You might be surprised to see this addition to our online tax filing choices. Credit Karma has long been known as a free credit management site. Since 2007, they’ve helped people check and monitor their credit score for free.
Now Credit Karma has stepped into the world of online tax filing. Credit Karma Tax helps you file your federal and state taxes for free. And there’s no income limit to do so.
Also, Credit Karma Tax has a 100% maximum refund guarantee and a 100% accuracy guarantee as well. And if you used H&R Block, Turbo Tax or TaxAct last year, you can import your information to Credit Karma Tax.
But you do need to sign up to be a Credit Karma member to use Credit Karma Tax. However, Credit Karma is free. And it’s a great way to be able to see your credit scores and monitor your report. Credit Karma Tax is a terrific addition to an already great service.
If you’re eligible to file a 1040ez, you can file for free with E-file.com. E-file says most filers with simple tax returns can file online in 15 minutes. The easy-to-use E-file.com software makes it so.
To use E-file.com, all you have to do is create a free account. And you’ll need to enter your tax information, income, deductions too. The software will calculate and prepare your return.
Then you have the option to file it online instantly. Or you can print and mail in your tax return.
Also, E-file.com has online customer service support to answer your questions. So this may save you from needing to call the IRS and sit on hold. Or from having to see a tax pro in person to ask a question.
Don’t qualify to file a 1040ez? You do have other options you can use with E-file.com.
Deluxe Plus E-file is $24.99 for federal and $19 for state. Do you plan to deduct mortgage interest or file with dependents? Or do you have a retirement income? If so, this is the plan you will need.
Also, this plan comes with form 1040A support too.
Premium Plus E-file is $45.99 for federal and $19 for state.
This version supports all tax credits and deductions. Plus you can also use it for business and personal income. So if you plan to itemize your deductions, this is the plan you will need.
I’d honestly never heard of TaxSlayer until this year. A friend of my daughter’s mentioned he used it. When I started looking into what they offer, I was surprised to learn they’ve been around since 1965.
I probably would have heard of them if I was into college football. That’s because TaxSlayer struck a deal in 2014 to rename Florida’s Gator Bowl the TaxSlayer Bowl. But that’s not relevant. So let’s move onto their products.
TaxSlayer’s Simply Free program costs $0 for both federal and state returns. However, you have to file using the 1040EZ form to use this version. The free version includes live phone support and free email support. But so do the other TaxSlayer programs.
The TaxSlayer Classic program costs $17 to file your federal return. Also, you’ll pay an additional $22 to file your state return. You can use this version with all major IRS forms.
However, the Classic program has some limitations. The TaxSlayer website doesn’t state what they are, though.
TaxSlayer’s Premium version costs $35 for your federal tax return. And you’ll pay an additional $22 for your state return.
Along with the benefits of the Classic program, you get Audit Assistance. For instance, you’ll get Ask a Tax Pro assistance, Live Chat Support and Priority Support too.
This sounds like a good version for those with standard deductions. So consider Premium if you have mortgage interest. Or if you have charitable deductions, etc.
This version is best for freelancers and independent contractors. It’ll work for rental property owners too. This version has all of the benefits of the Premium version. In addition, you’ll get the ability to file your state return for free. The cost for this package: $55.
All of the TaxSlayer versions include their Deduction Finder tool. But this benefit might not do much good for free version customers. This is because you can only use the free version when you file the 1040EZ form.
However, it’s nice for those who purchase the other versions. It’d be beneficial for the self-employed.
All in all, there is a nice variety of choices from TaxSlayer. However, we still have other companies to discuss. eSmart Tax is another online tax prep company on our list.
Another online tax prep company I hadn’t heard of is eSmart Tax. They have several programs to choose from. And you can save money on their programs with Ebates. So make sure you sign on with Ebates before you use eSmart Tax.
The free program eSmart tax offers is similar to other free versions. It supports the 1040EZ form. But it supports a Schedule B too. There’s no cost to file your federal taxes with this version. However, it’ll cost you $29.99 to file your state returns.
Besides, free chat and email support are available with all eSmart Tax programs.
The eSmart Tax Basic program costs $24.95 for federal filers. It’s an additional $35.95 if you want to include your state return.
Basic version purchasers get all of the features of the Free version. Plus, they get to include itemized deductions.
You can include business income and basic business expenses too. And you can add depreciation and health savings account deductions. Also, you can add interest income too.
This version works with the 1040 form, the 8853 form and schedules A and B. The website says this version is best for families with various minor deductions.
eSmart Tax’s Deluxe version costs $38.95 for federal filers. It’s an additional $35.95 to add your state return. This version, according to the website, is best suited for investors. You get all of the features of the Basic version.
Plus, you’ll have the ability to add in sole proprietor income too. And that includes home office deductions.
This version supports forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136 and schedules A, B and C. If you’re a self-employed person this might be a better version for you. Also, it’s good for full-time investors too.
The eSmart Premium version is for those who are self-employed. It has all of the features of the Deluxe version. Plus, you can include income from several real estate rentals.
You can add gains, profit and loss and S Corp information too. And you can add any sale of home information.
This version costs $49.99 for federal filers and $35.95 for state filers. You can use this version for almost any tax filing situation. See the eSmart Tax website for additional information.
Also, eSmart Tax offers live support for its customers. They’ll help you answer any questions you may have. eSmart Tax is lesser known than some of the other companies we’ve mentioned.
However, they do offer many of the same guarantees. They promise you’ll get the maximum refund. And they assure you they’ll file an accurate return.
You might be wondering if you can file taxes online directly through the IRS. Yes, you can. The IRS has a filing tool they call Free File. This tool allows you to file your federal tax return directly with the IRS.
However, they only have two versions available. One is for those who have income below $66,000 for the year. The other is for those who have income above $66,000 per year.
But don’t ask me which version to use if you have exactly $66,000 in income. It doesn’t specify. 😊
This could be a good tax filing option for some. Although, I see a problem with the IRS’s Free File program. And is a big one. It doesn’t offer technical support. You’ll find that all of the other products we’ve mentioned do.
Do you have a super easy return or know a lot about the tax laws? If so, the Free File program could be right for you. But it’s going to require some serious work on your part. You’ll need to learn what information to include on your return.
There’s another hurdle with using Free File through the IRS. They don’t support your state return. This means you’ll be starting from scratch as you file your state return.
However, using one of the paid-for versions above eliminates that issue. You’ll get the ability to transfer your information to the state form. This will save you loads of time. And time is money, as the saying goes.
Some people would rather learn all there is to learn about filing their taxes. Then they’ll have a skill they can use for life. It allows them to file their taxes for free every year. If that’s you, more power to you.
Do you find learning that type of content interesting? Are you okay with educating yourself on tax law changes every year? If so, it could be beneficial to learn to do your own return.
Yet if you’re like me, you’ll find that type of information mundane. In that case, you may be better off leaving your tax returns to the experts. Use a service like the ones mentioned above. Or find a local provider to make your life easier.
Only you can choose whether to use a free program offered by the IRS. Or if you’ll want to use a free version provided by a tax company.
If you’re not able to file for free, you’ll have to decide what’s important to you. Is it worth paying for the ease and convenience of what tax pros have to offer?
As for me, I’ll pay for convenience every time. Tax pros save me hours of work about a subject I don’t know much about. Filing my taxes is one task I’ll leave to the experts. Yes, I have to pay for the service. But it’s worth the money to me.
We’ve shared lots of information on the various online tax prep companies. As you can see, there are many cheap – and free – ways to file your taxes online.
Which one will you choose? Have you tried any of the companies mentioned here in the past?
This “Budgeting for Dummies” article will help you learn to budget quickly and easily. And don’t be offended by the “dummies” term. Why?
Just because you don’t know something, it doesn’t mean you’re dumb! After all, you can’t know what you haven’t learned.
So you might not know about budgeting. But we’re going to take care of that. I can promise that if you make and use your budget, it will give you power over your money. And you’ll become budget savvy.
Let’s start by talking about what a budget is. Simply put, a budget is a plan for your money. You plan your day, scheduling the activities and tasks you need to do, right? With a budget, you can plan your money as well.
Does the word “budgeting” bring up negative thoughts in your mind? Or are you a bit intimidated at the thought of creating and living by a budget?
There’s no judgment here. I used to feel the same way.
When I read about or thought about budgeting, I’d get this knot in my stomach. I’d have visions of living on rice and beans for the rest of my life.
Then I learned the real reasons why budgeting is so important. And I learned how to live using a simple budget that made my life easier and happier.
Now my budget and I are BFFs. I love that thing and visit it several times a month. If you don’t know the reason, it may be that there are a few secrets to budgeting you’re not aware of yet.
Knowing those secrets might help you to love living by one too.
There are several reasons why a budget is important. And dare I say, it can even be fun!
Let me tell you how a budget has changed my financial life. Also, I’ll share how living with a budget can change your life as well.
Okay, this is my absolute favorite part of budgeting – and no, I’m not a control freak. 😊 I used to view budgets as a path to losing control – control over what I could buy and when I could buy it.
But in fact, budgeting is the one tool that puts you in total control over your money. Here’s why.
When you create a budget, you get to decide how you will spend each dollar of your income. Have you heard the term “give each dollar a job?” Budgeting helps you assign each dollar of your income a job every single month.
You might assign $900 of your money toward rent. Or you’ll assign $300 of your money toward optional spending on entertainment. The choice about which jobs you assign each dollar of your income belongs completely to you.
I realized that creating a budget every month helped me be in control of my spending. So my fear of budgeting started to dissipate. I liked the idea of being in control of where my money went.
Before budgeting, it seemed to me that my money simply disappeared. I never had any money, but I didn’t understand why.
When I wrote my income and bills down on paper, it seemed that I should have enough to go around. However, I was always short at the end of the month.
It wasn’t until I started making a plan for my money each month that I could seal up that black hole of spending. It used to suck all of my extra funds into a disappearing funnel, never to be seen again.
Now I know where each dollar goes every month, and it goes where I tell it to.
Which brings me to my next point. Budgeting is a rockstar solution to overspending. When you budget, you get a clear view of how much money you have coming in each month. Therefore, you can better determine how that money goes out each month.
Before I started budgeting, I would simply spend as I saw fit. The biggest problem with this….ummm.. tactic… is that I was spending more than I made every month. In the process of this non-plan, I was getting deeper in debt too.
And I couldn’t figure out why. I thought the problem was my income – that I didn’t earn enough. However, in reality, the problem was that I was overspending and didn’t know it.
When you create a budget that determines where each of your dollars go every month, this will stop. You can discover and conquer any overspending patterns.
In my case, a large part of my overspending was going toward drive-thru runs and eating out. Mind you; I didn’t plan for these excursions for the enjoyment of time with family and friends.
Instead, they were those impromptu little trips to the fast food drive-thru and buying the big box store snack bar, etc. They added up to big money over the course of each month, mostly because they almost all involved my four kids.
Once you start budgeting, you can do like I did and set specific dollar amounts for those types of expenditures.
That way you are spending what you want to be spending in each area. Not spending more than you want to be spending.
This brings up another great benefit of budgeting. Budgeting is a great way to help you prioritize your spending. When I realized how much money I was spending on snack bar trips and drive-thru runs, I had to ask myself a question:
Is the amount of money I’m spending each month on this stuff worth the time it takes me to earn it?
The answer was a clear “no,” and that made me re-think those expenditures. I cut way back on spending in that area.
Budgeting helped me to discover which expenses were important to me, and which were not. This is a crucial step if you want to have your money work for you in a way that brings you peace and joy.
As you make your budget each month, ask yourself one simple question: How important is this expense to me?
If it’s worth it, keep the expense. If it’s not, find a way to reduce or eliminate it. That way you can spend that money on something that has a bigger priority in your life.
This is called value-based spending. Value-based spending helps ensure you’re spending your money on the things that matter most to you.
And budgeting is a great way to help you implement a value-based spending program.
What other added benefit will a value-based spending program bring to your life? Well, combined with your budget it will help you reach your financial goals.
Just a question: have you ever given some thought to what your financial goals are? If so, great!! Then you’ve probably already reaped the benefits of identifying your financial goals.
If not, you’re missing out, my friend. Benjamin Franklin once said:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
That quote speaks volumes to me. And it certainly rings true in the personal finance arena.
Writing down your goals is shown to increase your chances of meeting them exponentially. Check out this article by Forbes for more info on that.
Once you’ve determined what your financial goals are – and written them down – you can use your budget to help you reach those goals.
For instance, let’s say you want to save $25,000 as a down payment on a house in the next five years. All you have to do to reach that goal is to create a budget.
Make sure it allows you to put $417 a month into a savings account targeted toward your house down payment. Then continue to do so for the next 60 months. See how that works?
With each financial goal you have, you can do the same thing. Just work those numbers into your monthly budget. It might require that you reduce spending in other areas. However, you’ll be okay with that if you’re using a value-based spending program.
As an example, let’s say you’re spending $120 a month on a cable TV subscription. You might decide that is not as important to you as your goal to pay cash for a new-to-you car.
So, you cancel your cable subscription. Then you use your budget to re-route that $120 a month to your new car savings fund.
This will help you to prioritize your spending and reach your financial goals faster.
So many aspects of budgeting can be truly life-changing. But one of my personal favorites is the incredible peace of mind that budgeting can bring.
Since I began budgeting over five years ago, the peace of mind I have is increasing every month. The more in control I am over my money, the closer I get to my financial goals and the more at peace I feel.
Before I started budgeting I worried about money constantly – on nearly a daily basis. Now that fear is largely gone thanks to the fact that I implement a solid plan every month for my money.
If you crave peace of mind about your finances, I strongly encourage you to start budgeting. I’m convinced that your budget will help you just as much as mine helps me.
Now let’s talk about how to create a budget.
I’ve already shown you why creating a budget is important. However, creating a budget that works for you is equally important. There’s no one-size-fits-all budget.
Your budget has to be specific to your financial goals and your lifestyle. Here’s how you can create a tailor-made budget that will work for you if you use it.
Yet budgeting doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, Well Kept Wallet has a great starter budget form that can help you create your first budget.
Or you can create your personalized budget on a simple Excel spreadsheet. You might even prefer to use a notebook as I do.
Tip: Make it even easier to pull your expenses into a spreadsheet automatically with Tiller! Try it free for 30-days!
This is a very important step – especially if you share finances with a spouse. Note that I strongly suggest budgeting be done together if you do have a spouse or partner. Grab your spouse by the hand and sit down. Create a list of financial goals.
Note that it might take some discussion to come up with a unified list if you are budgeting with a spouse. I suggest making a list of three goals:
For instance, you might have a short-term goal of paying off a $2,000 loan within the year. Plus, a medium-term goal of saving to purchase a car within three years. And a long-term goal to retire early in ten years.
Goals are essential to budgets because they help you spend your money in the way that’s most important to you. Remember, value-based spending is nothing more than spending your money in the way that brings you the most value.
Maybe you want a paid-for house, get rid of your consumer debt once and for all or achieve financial independence. In short, a budget can help you get there.
After you establish your goals, you’ll create your zero-sum budget.
Your first step will be to write down your entire monthly income. You can write down your gross income and then list taxes and other deductions as expenses.
Or you can list your net income and not list deductions as expenses. Some like to use gross income to have a clear idea of what they’re spending on medical insurance, 401k deposits, etc.
After you’ve determined your income, make a list of your expenses. Start by writing down the ones you’re sure of such as rent, debt payments, etc. You may need to estimate when you move on to fluid expenses such as groceries, gas, fun money, etc.
Don’t forget occasional expenses such as gifts, clothing, car repairs, annual car insurance, etc. Take those expenses as an annual and divide by 12 to include in your budget.
Now, subtract your expenses from your income. If your expenses outweigh your income, you’ll have to cut costs or find a way to increase your income. If you have money left over, put the money as a line item toward financial goals you have.
For example, you might want to put some toward extra debt payoff, more in savings, some toward vacations, etc. Use your goals list to determine how you can achieve your goals faster with the money you have left over.
Budgeting in a way that gives every dollar a job is called zero-sum budgeting. Zero-sum budgeting is an effective way to make the best use of all of your income.
Now that you’ve made a budget, you’ve got to be intentional about using it. There are several ways to do this. You can use a simple Excel spreadsheet and track everything. Ensure you don’t go over your designated amounts as you spend.
There are also free online tools that can help you budget. Personal Capital is a comprehensive free tool. It helps you budget, track expenses and monitors your net worth all in one place.
YNAB (You Need a Budget) is another great budgeting tool. Its goal is to help you save more and pay off debt. YNAB does cost $7 a month, but it’s a great budgeting tool.
Remember that you have to use your budget to reap the benefits of it. This might take some practice, but it’ll be worth your efforts.
During the first few months of using your budget, you may find you need to tweak or modify it. Expenses in some areas may be higher or lower than expected. Or you might have forgotten about an area.
Check out this article on budget categories and recommended spending percentages to help you budget.
It’s also important to review your budget regularly. See what’s working for you and what’s not. Then change it up. Work to ensure your spending plan is helping you achieve your financial goals.
Look for any non-value based purchases and talk about how to eliminate them. This article on the Challenge Everything Budget will help you get the most benefits out of your budget.
By following the above steps, you should be a pro at budgeting in no time.
I can’t talk about budgeting without talking about spend tracking. This sister to budgeting involves writing down each dollar you spend into specific categories. For example, you’ll have a category for groceries, entertainment, transportation, housing, clothing, gifts, etc.
How will spend tracking help you? It gives you a clear, real-time picture of where all of your money is going. Plus, you can see how much you’ve spent during the month. That way you can make changes to your spending quickly if you’re spending more in a given area than you want to.
For instance, let’s say you’ve budgeted $200 a month for entertainment expenses. By the 20th of the month, you look at your spend tracking sheet and see that you’ve already spent $197 on entertainment. Then you know right now that you have exactly $3 left to spend. You’ll know you need to start planning some at-home fun or other free activities for the remaining days of the month.
This real-time assessment of your spending helps you keep your spending priorities in line.
Bonus: it gives you a rear-view assessment of how your spending changes over the years. I love looking back over the years and seeing what I’ve spent in each category for the year. Plus this hindsight view also helps me set my goals for the coming year.
There are just so many benefits to spend tracking that I can’t even count them all. I highly recommend you use at least one month to track all of your spendings. This way you can see in real time where each dollar you earn goes.
In fact, budgeting combined with spend tracking has helped me cut my family’s grocery costs nearly in half. I went from spending $900 a month to under $500 a month – even with four kids!
If you want a more secure and financially stable existence, I highly recommend budgeting. So make your money plan today and create a budget for yourself.
I can promise that if you make and use your budget, it will give you power over your money. And you’ll become budget savvy.
It will help you take those strides toward achieving every aspect of your money plan.
Do you use a budget for managing your money? If so, what type of system do you use and is it working for you? If not, what’s stopping you? Share in the comments on our Facebook page.
If you read articles about how to make money online, you may know there are a few different ways to make money by filling out online surveys.
Some online survey companies are legitimate. You really can make money with them. Others, not so much. Today we’ll talk about one popular survey company: Vindale Research.
I’ll share how sign-up works, the details about how (or if) you can make money with them, and what others are saying. This review will help you better determine whether or not Vindale Research is a good fit for you.
Let’s start with a company history and overview.
Vindale Research is a valid, trusted survey company that will pay you to do surveys. In my research and personal experience, I found it to be a legitimate source of income.
Vindale Research has been around for over a decade. The Better Business Bureau says it was opened and incorporated in New York in October of 2005.
It’s owned by a company called iGain LLC. Vindale’s paid survey community covers the United States, the U.K. Canada and Australia.
The Vindale Research website itself doesn’t have much information about the company, other than to say that Vindale works to help companies improve their products through surveys on a variety of topics including:
The site also says Vindale Research has a full service support team you can contact via phone or email. In addition, the company has a zero-tolerance spam policy.
The site says Vindale will never share your personal information with anyone without your permission. Also, it’ll only use your email address to contact you regarding Vindale Research services and promotions.
Signing up with Vindale Research is super easy. You just have to enter your email address to get started.
They’ll ask you some other information too, such as:
You then create a password. You might be wondering why Vindale needs your address, birthday, gender and ethnicity information.
It needs your address to make sure you’re a legit person. And it needs your birth date, gender and ethnicity information to help match you to surveys.
You see, Vindale’s clients use the information provided by Vindale Research to help improve their products and services. Those companies usually want opinions from people of a certain age or ethnicity who are a part of their target market.
Giving Vindale this information allows it to better match you to surveys you’ll qualify for.
Note: Depending on your initial demographics answers, you may qualify for Vindale’s bonus opportunity surveys. If you do, Vindale will ask you a few additional short questions.
In addition, answering these questions could qualify you to work with Vindale’s trusted partners; i.e., other survey companies.
Bonus: You’ll earn $1 just for signing up (and completing your qualification information) with Vindale Research.
After you complete your initial sign-up, you’ll get directed to a new member questionnaire. This questionnaire consists of simple yes or no questions. The answers are sent to Vindale’s partners to find more surveys for you.
If you don’t want Vindale to send your information to survey partners, just check “no” for all of the boxes. After I checked “no” for all of the boxes, I was redirected to another page of similar questions. I simply checked “no” again to the offers I wasn’t interested in.
After that, I was directed to check my email inbox for a verification email. I hit the “confirm and start earning” button.
Right away, a separate internet tab popped up with more questions to see what surveys I might qualify for.
Note that these questions are pretty extensive. They ask about things like:
Again, I know these types of questions may sound invasive. However, survey companies need to know this kind of information in order to match you with qualifying surveys.
This $1 qualification survey took me 22 minutes to complete. That averages out to a pretty dismal hourly wage.
Now it’s time to see if you can start making some real money.
The Vindale Research website says it’s paid out nearly $7 million to members so far. That’s some serious cash. But how are people earning that cash? In several ways.
The primary way Vindale Research says people earn money is by taking surveys. One thing I noticed is that the number of surveys available is pretty high, at least for my demographic. After I signed up, I got several survey opportunities each day via email.
This was nice because it meant I had several chances per day to earn money. There is a wide variety of subject matters in the surveys. This was nice for combating boredom.
Note that most of the surveys don’t pay much. You’ll earn between 25 cents and $1 or $2 for most surveys. There are other surveys that pay more, but not many in my experience.
Luckily, there are other ways you can earn with Vindale. Here are some of your options for earning more cash with Vindale Research.
Vindale Research will pay you money for referring friends. In fact, it’ll pay you $5 for every friend you get to sign up. That could be a nice way to earn some passive income.
However, there are some stipulations that come with the $5 referral bonus. First of all, the person you refer has to sign up with Vindale using your specific referral link. If they don’t, you won’t get credit.
Second, the person you refer has to complete at least one $1 survey in order for you to get your referral pay. And that doesn’t include the $1 tutorial/qualification survey I talked about earlier.
If the person you refer doesn’t complete at least one $1 survey, you won’t get paid. Because so many of Vindale Research’s surveys pay under $1, this could take some time.
Also, you cannot refer people who live in your house or use your computer. On the upside, there’s no limit to the number of people you can get paid for referring.
This leaves the door wide open for some serious referral earnings from Vindale. But you’ll likely need to do some networking and marketing to get those referrals.
You can also earn by opting in to Vindale Research’s rewards email program. By doing so, you’ll receive emails that Vindale will pay you just to open.
Don’t expect to receive a lot of paid emails, but it is one more way to increase your earnings.
Some Vindale Research members are eligible for paid video surveys. You watch the video, give feedback and Vindale pays you for doing so.
Not everyone is eligible to do the paid video surveys. The website says that if you are eligible, you’ll have a “videos” tab on your survey page.
I didn’t have the “videos” tab on my page. Therefore, I can’t give any more information about the specifics of the paid videos.
Vindale will also pay you $5 for sending in a photo of yourself holding your Vindale Research payment. That’s $5 for snapping a quick photo and sending it in. This is a time-worthy endeavor.
Vindale will pay you for finding their reward codes too. They publish reward codes on their social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, they publish reward codes on their website blog. The reward codes can be a string of letters, numbers or both.
Sometimes Vindale has questions posted on its social media sites. If you answer a question, you might get a reward code.
Once you’ve found a rewards code, go to the Vindale Research website. Click on the Reward Codes tab at the top of the page. Then, just enter the code.
Once you redeem the code, you’ll get money credited to your account. Note that reward codes do expire, and you have to redeem them before they expire in order to get your money.
As you can see, there are lots of ways you can earn money with Vindale Research. This is one benefit of taking surveys through the company.
Next, we’ll go over some other benefits and downsides that I found while using Vindale Research to earn money.
Here is a brief summary of the pros and cons I found when using Vindale Research.
There are several positive things about working with Vindale Research. Here are some of them.
There are also some cons to working with Vindale Research, as there are with all companies.
The biggest cons for me were the low pay per survey and the long process to even see if you qualify for some surveys. My attention span isn’t good for those types of deals. I prefer to know what I need to do to earn the cash and get it done quickly.
However, if you’re a bit more patient than I am and don’t mind the low pay for earning whenever you’ve got a few minutes, you might like the earning flexibility Vindale offers.
The way to approach survey taking is to consider it a way to earn a few extra bucks here and there when you have a few spare minutes. Complete surveys when you’re watching TV, waiting for an appointment or have nothing else to do in between your day’s activities. If you look at it that way, it could be worth your time.
I don’t think the cons I found with Vindale Research were any worse than with other survey companies. However, the pros of Vindale Research outweighed the pros of a lot of other survey companies.
Overall, Vindale ranks up there among the top survey companies I’ve tried. There are others that don’t have as great of a reputation or as high of pay.
I thought I would check a few other trusted sources to see if I could find any reviews or write-ups regarding Vindale Research. I found two: one at the Better Business Bureau and one through Trustpilot.
Vindale had information listed on the Better Business Bureau under its parent company name, iGain. iGain has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since January of 2016. Its BBB file was opened in 2006.
The company has an “A” rating with the BBB, and has 41 complaints closed in the last three years. Most of the complaints I read revolved around getting paid or accounts being involuntarily closed.
All of the complaints I saw were marked resolved or answered. The average customer rating on the BBB site was three out of five stars.
Trustpilot is a 12-year-old company that manages a consumer review website. Its “TrustScore” rating for Vindale Research is 8.1 out of 10 stars. Trustpilot showed that 61% of the reviews left by consumers were marked as “excellent” and 19% of the reviews were marked as “great.”
Most of the negative reviews I read revolved around not qualifying for surveys. Others commented on the low per-survey pay.
All in all, however, the Trustpilot and BBB scores were pretty high. This says something positive about the company. Objective reviews are a great way to research companies such as Vindale.
You can look for reviews on other blogs, too. However, know that some blogs get paid to write positive things about companies. Although Well Kept Wallet does receive affiliate revenue when readers click on the links we we provide to Vindale Research, all of our reviews are objective looks at products and services.
Vindale Research is a valid, trusted survey company that will pay you to do surveys. In my research and personal experience, I found it to be a legitimate source of income. And it’s nice that you can complete the surveys at your convenience.
Most surveys aren’t long, so you can earn money in short spurts when you have a few minutes available here and there. You’re not going to earn “replace my income” side hustle money with this site.
Have you ever tried Vindale Research? Have you tried other survey companies? Let us know on our Facebook page.
In January 2018, I got my real estate license. It’s something I’d been considering for quite a few years. When I was in my 30s, I spent five years working as a sales assistant to a top mortgage broker in Saint Paul-Minneapolis.
It was then that I fell in love with the real estate industry. If you’re feeling drawn toward becoming a real estate agent, know that you can do it with just a few easy steps.
You’ll need to study and take a state exam to get your license. But once you’re in the game, working as a real estate agent is fun and can be very lucrative. With some commitment and effort, you could produce a six-figure income as a full-time agent.
Becoming a real estate agent will take some preliminary work. Once you’re licensed, it’ll take more work to get your career off the ground. Here are some steps you can take to begin your own career as a real estate agent.
Before you become a real estate agent, it’s a good idea to get to know the industry. Check qualified real estate websites that can give you an idea of what being an agent entails.
As a newer agent myself, here are some things I think you should know about the industry before you start.
One of my biggest fears about entering the real estate business was that I am NOT a salesperson. In fact, I hate selling stuff.
However, I am a dedicated service person. I love helping people. And I’ve learned in this business that while some sales skills help, dedicated service will get you far further.
My managing broker told me after I completed my first year that I had a great year for a first-year agent. I sold several houses. And one of the compliments I consistently got from my clients (and still do) is, “Laurie always works hard for me. She returns calls promptly and does what I ask her to do.”
This is total service stuff. If you have a heart for helping people, you’ve got a great start. The rest can all be learned.
Working with mortgages and real estate can be very stressful. You’re dealing with people’s emotions — especially if you’re selling residential as opposed to commercial properties. Buying a house can be trying for clients.
Clients put an offer on a home and immediately make plans in their heads about “their” home long before closing. On the other end, there are oodles of regulations to be followed and paperwork to be done before a home can be sold.
Sometimes paperwork requirements or issues with a home get in the way of closings. Buyers’ emotions get fired up as agents scramble to fix the issues. And there are stringent time deadlines in real estate. It helps to know that going in and be prepared for some days to be stressful.
Do everything that you can do to help, but then know that that’s enough. You can’t control everything.
It’s important to know that real estate can be a 24/7 on-call job. Some long-time agents have made it a rule that they’ll only work or show houses during certain hours.
However, until you have a rock-solid client base, you’ll probably spend some serious time working nights and weekends.
When considering a career in real estate, it’s important to know the basics but not too many details. Too much knowledge may scare you away from trying. Just learn the major details.
As a real estate agent, you need to be licensed through a brokerage firm. A brokerage firm is a real estate company such as RE/MAX or Keller Williams. Each office has a managing broker who runs the office and holds a broker’s license.
A broker is a licensed real estate agent who has taken additional classes and tests to be approved to manage a real estate office. Until you get your own broker’s license (if you choose to) you need to be licensed under a broker.
It’s important to interview with several brokerage firms in your area before choosing one to sign with. Every firm runs its business a bit differently. They all offer agents different things.
Some firms are very hands-off. They just want you to do your job and sell. Other firms are very hands-on and offer an abundance of training and support.
I chose my firm (Edina Realty) after a recommendation from a friend who is a long-time agent. He suggested Edina because they offer a lot of support and training. As it turned out, this was the perfect atmosphere for me to begin my career in.
You’ll want to interview several firms in your area to find the right fit for you. Ask each firm for a comprehensive list of their features and benefits. Ask them about their philosophies.
Here are some other questions you can ask as you interview with real estate firms.
Knowing how each firm works is important. However, know that you can have different types of managing brokers within a firm, too.
My managing broker is very team oriented. She’s great at working on maintaining and improving the cohesiveness of our group. This, for me, makes it extra fun to work for her as I am a team player by nature.
However, I know that at other Edina Realty offices, the managing brokers handle their teams differently. You’ll have to find the right firm and the right managing broker to fit your style and personality.
Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished your interview process you’ll have a fairly certain idea of which brokerage firm and manager you want to work with.
At that point, if you decide that a career in real estate is right for you, you can start the process of getting your license.
If you’ve decided after your interviews that you are ready to get licensed, it’s time to start researching training options.
Most states have at least two or three options for real estate license training. And most states have courses you can take in person or online.
Here are the basics for real estate license training. You’ll want to ask yourself a couple of questions before deciding on training.
Decide Which Training Company/Method is for You
You’ll have to decide which real estate license training company you want to go with. In addition, you’ll need to decide whether you want to do online training or classroom training.
As far as the training company you choose to use is concerned, I would begin by asking any recently licensed agents you know which company they used. Ask how they felt about the training and if they would use the provider again.
Checking online reviews is helpful as well. Look for independent reviews if you can find them.
Whether you take classroom courses or online courses is up to you. Ask yourself some of these questions to determine which classroom setting might work best for you:
In my case, I chose to take the online classes. There were several reasons for this decision:
The downside of taking the online courses was that it took me three months to get my license. If I had taken the in-person classes I could’ve been licensed in less than a month.
However, you can complete the online classes as quickly as you wish. There is typically a limit to how long you can stretch them out, though.
And know that, at least in Minnesota, if you take the online classes, each course must be followed by a proctored exam.
These are exams given by the education company that are meant to ensure you really did listen to the online classes. The exams mimic the state exam in a way. They’re multiple choice and usually dozens of questions long. I liked taking the proctored exams because they helped me retain the information I’d learned online.
Once you’ve decided which company you’re going to train with and whether you’ll train online or in person, you can start your courses. Here’s how the sequence of courses and the exam worked in my state of Minnesota.
The types of licensing courses you’ll need to take and total number of hours of training you’ll need vary by state. In Minnesota, there are three courses you need to take to get licensed: Course I, Course II and Course III. You need a total of 90 hours of classroom or online training.
Note that state-required training hours for real estate licenses vary widely throughout the U.S. Here are some examples of other states’ education requirements for real estate licensing:
Check with your state’s department of commerce for its licensing requirements. It may also be able to direct you to a real estate licensing school in your state.
I took my courses through Kaplan. They have classroom locations throughout the U.S. In Minnesota, each of their courses is 30 hours long.
Here’s how Kaplan sets up their real estate license training for Minnesota. Again, your state requirements may vary. But this will give you an idea of what you might expect.
Pre-license Course I teaches the fundamentals, principles and language of real estate. It covers the basic facts of real estate licensing that you’ll need in order to pass the exam.
The course includes information about state and national laws, and various real estate terms. It’s important because real estate laws are pretty stringent. You need to know what they are in order to conduct your real estate business in a lawful manner.
You take the real estate licensing exam for the state of Minnesota after you pass Course I. However, you can’t officially get licensed until you complete Courses II and III.
The licensing exam for the state of Minnesota consists of two parts: a national exam and a state exam. The national exam consists of 80 questions. You need to answer 60 correctly (75%) to pass.
The state exam consists of 40 questions. You need to answer 30 correctly (75%) to pass. There’s a four-hour time limit for completing both tests, but many people get it finished faster than that.
Again, these details are specific to Minnesota. Your state’s licensing requirements and exam details may be different. Visit your state’s commerce department website for more information on licensing.
After you pass your licensing exam, you can move on to Course II. Course II in Minnesota covers the nuts and bolts of real estate transactions. You’ll learn things like:
This course is all about practical application of forms and documents in the business.
Course III was my favorite. To me, it was more fun than the others. You learn about selling, architectural styles and different conditions the property might be in. The course was a lot less labor-intensive than courses I and II, but still contained important details.
Once you’ve finished all required courses and taken your state exam, you’re officially ready to be licensed!
Now it’s time to talk to your managing broker. Let him or her know that you’ve taken your courses and passed your exam.
If you haven’t chosen a brokerage yet, now is the time to do additional research. The sooner you make a decision as to which brokerage you want to sign with, the sooner you can start training and begin your career.
After you’ve signed on with your brokerage firm, your manager will help you join the various real estate associations.
For instance, you may have heard the two terms, real estate agent and Realtor. What’s the difference?
A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to conduct real estate business. A Realtor is someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.
Not all members of the association are agents. Property managers, home appraisers and real estate brokers can also be members and are therefore called Realtors, too.
You don’t have to join the National Association of Realtors to become an agent, although some brokerage firms may require it. Realtors have the added responsibility of committing to higher ethics standards in order to protect their clients.
There are fees associated with becoming a Realtor. However, there are benefits to doing so as well. The main one is that, because of the ethics code, some consumers may prefer to work with a Realtor over a regular agent.
In addition to the National Association of Realtors, there are state and local clubs and associations. Again, your manager can help you learn which associations will be beneficial for you to join.
Most real estate licensing schools and realty companies offer additional training as well. They’ll train you in how to gain a client base, expert customer service practices, more detailed practical tips and more.
I suggest taking as much training as you can. However, space it out, especially in your first year of being licensed. There’s a lot to learn and you don’t want to get overwhelmed.
In addition, all states have Continuing Education (CE) requirements. These are class hours you have to take in order to maintain your license. Your manager can help you manage your required CE hours and find classes.
Having spent a full year now working as a part-time real estate agent, I can say with confidence that it’s an awesome career. It’s not for everyone. You have to have a love for houses and for people. You also need some organizational and computer skills — or at least the willingness to learn them.
If you’re willing to master what you need to know to become a successful agent, you can make a fun and lucrative career for yourself. Or, you can save yourself thousands of dollars if you want your license for the purpose of investing in real estate.
Have you ever thought about getting your real estate license? Or do you have your license? Share your thoughts on our social media pages.
PayPal has become a staple of the modern pay system. Individuals and companies everywhere use it to quickly send and receive payments electronically.
PayPal is likely the most well-known service for conducting pay transactions online. People use it daily to receive income from jobs, sales of goods and other online income sources.
Consumers use it to pay merchants and private parties. You may have used PayPal to buy products or to send money to family and friends. Or, you might have used it to receive money from online companies that pay for tasks you do.
However, as online financial transactions increase more and more, so do PayPal alternatives.
In this article we’ll show you what some of the best PayPal alternatives are. And we’ll give you insight on how each one works so you can decide which might be best for you.
PayPal was founded way back in 1998. At that time, it was called Confinity. It started as a company that developed security software for handheld devices.
However, within a year Confinity launched the money transfer service that would eventually come to be known as PayPal.
In July of 2002, eBay bought PayPal for an estimated $1.5 billion, then spun it off in 2015. Today, PayPal boasts 244 million users.
PayPal makes money by charging users fees for certain transactions. Senders of the money don’t pay the fees — receivers of the money do.
The fee typically amounts to 2.9% of the money received, plus an additional 30-cent flat fee on each transaction. Note that these are the U.S. fees, and that fees in other countries may vary.
Note: PayPal doesn’t charge a fee if you get money from family or friends. However, if you send an invoice to someone through PayPal, PayPal will charge you once you get paid.
As with all good things, PayPal alternatives have risen up over the years. Here are some of the more popular PayPal alternatives, and some information about how they work.
Dwolla is among the more popular PayPal alternatives. The company was founded in 2008 in Des Moines, Iowa. Today it services clients in the entire U.S.
If you transfer an amount under $10 with Dwolla, there’s no service fee. However, any transfer over $10 gets charged a 25-cent fee for the receiver. There’s no percentage-based fee like there is with PayPal.
This can be a huge money saver for those who have a freelance business and get paid online. The reason Dwolla can charge so much less is that it doesn’t work through credit and debit cards.
Instead, it only transfers to and from bank accounts. This enables Dwolla to avoid passing on the interchange fees that credit and debit card networks charge.
Another difference between PayPal and Dwolla is that PayPal won’t charge you a thing if you send or receive via family and friends. Dwolla still has the same fee structure whether you’re getting money from a business or from family or friends.
Additionally, some might see Dwolla as a bit more of a security risk. This is because it’s running directly to and from bank accounts without having a credit card as a buffer.
You may want to check the Dwolla website for more information on the security measures it uses. However, as far as money savings is concerned, Dwolla definitely beats out PayPal.
Venmo is another one of PayPal’s top competitors. Venmo was started in 2008 by a couple of former college roommates. Interestingly, PayPal purchased Venmo in 2013 and still owns it today.
Well, technically, PayPal purchased Braintree, which had purchased Venmo in 2012. But the fact remains that Venmo is owned by PayPal.
As far as fees, using Venmo is free — as long as you transfer the money from your bank account. If you choose to use a credit card, Venmo will charge you a 3% fee.
Venmo is more geared toward individuals conducting personal transactions. For instance, it’s for paying back a friend for half of a restaurant dinner check.
It’s not really meant for business transactions like freelancer payments. In fact, the Venmo website specifically says you may not use Venmo to accept payment from another person or company for goods or services.
PayPal has clearly set up Venmo in a way that it won’t directly compete with PayPal’s business transaction market. However, if you need to send money to a family member or friend, Venmo is a good alternative since it’s free for both the sender and receiver.
Google Pay is an updated, consolidated version of Android Pay and Google Wallet. You can use Google Pay in a few different ways.
Each function of Google Pay is approved to work in specific countries. For instance, you can only use Google Pay to send money to family and friends if you live in the U.S., the U.K. or India.
If you’re paying in-store or online, you have a lot more countries that qualify for Google Pay. However, not all countries can use Google Pay. In addition, not a ton of stores accept Google Pay yet. Some that do include Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and McDonald’s.
Google Pay is free if you are sending money from your checking account. However, if you want to use a credit card to pay for something, it’ll charge you a 2.9% fee.
Skrill was started in 2001 under another name and is based in London. It supports 40 currencies as of this writing.
The company allows you to send and receive money to and from different sources, including cards whose details you can store online. Once you’ve received your money, you can transfer it to various sources as well, such as your bank account.
You can use the site for things like sending and receiving money from friends, shopping online or making purchases within games.
There’s no fee when you use Skrill to send money directly to a bank account. Skrill does charge a fee of 1.45% to send money to someone whose bank account information you don’t have. This fee equates to less than half of what PayPal charges when you include its 30-cent transaction fee.
However, Skrill charges other fees. To upload funds, you’ll pay between 1% and 6%, depending on your payment method. And to withdraw funds, you’ll pay another $5.50.
Stripe was founded in 2011 as a way for individuals and businesses to receive payments over the internet. It’s primarily a platform for ecommerce businesses. As with PayPal, you can use Stripe to make online purchases or to send money to a family or friend.
Its fees run the same as PayPal: 2.9% and a 30-cent per-transaction fee. It does charge extra to use international cards and for currency exchanges.
Payoneer allows you to pay money to people all over the globe. It was founded in 2005 and now has several offices around the world.
Payoneer seems to specialize in paying overseas freelancers. So, if you are a freelancer or you employ a freelancer who is located in another country, Payoneer could be a good choice for you.
Depending on how you choose to receive payment (or send payment), the fees will vary. Typically, Payoneer charges between 0% and 3%.
Payza doesn’t charge any fees for those who want to send money. However, the Payza website says it charges 2.9% plus a 30-cent fee to receive funds. That’s the same as PayPal.
But if you want to add funds to your account using a credit card, you’ll pay 3.5%. To add funds via bank wire, there’s a flat $8 fee. Topping up your account using Bitcoin is free.
Payza will charge you for receiving money in different currencies as well. It supports over 25 currencies worldwide. The good news is that Payza doesn’t charge anything to sign up, and the site is easy to use.
2Checkout is an electronic payment service that allows merchants to accept online credit card payments.
According to its website, 2Checkout works in over 180 countries and currently services over 17,000 clients. Because it works in so many countries, 2Checkout could be good for businesses with a worldwide client base.
Fees vary depending on which country you live in. In the U.S., fees run the same as PayPal: 2.9% plus a 30-cent flat fee to receive payments.
WePay was founded in 2008 in Boston and was acquired by JP Morgan Chase in 2017. Companies such as Constant Contact and GoFundMe use WePay to accept payments.
WePay’s primary focus is on merchant services. For online transactions, you’ll pay 2.9% plus a 30-cent per transaction fee like you would with PayPal.
ProPay is similar to WePay. It focuses on providing pay solutions for merchants. You might find it if you’re making payments to industries such as:
ProPay fees vary. See the website for more information. ProPay doesn’t service transfers to family and friends like PayPal does.
TransferWise was founded in 2011 and touts itself as a cheaper way to send money internationally. Basically, it charges you an exchange rate fee to send the money. That rate is the mid-market rate, the midpoint between demand and supply for a currency. It’s considered the fairest exchange rate.
The site says that banks often charge higher rates for sending money internationally. If you need to send money to family and friends that are in different countries, you might try TransferWise.
Amazon Pay lets you pay third-party merchants using the payment methods stored in your Amazon account. The main benefit for consumers is that you don’t have to sign up for an account with the third-party merchant and input your payment card details again.
You can also use Amazon Pay to make donations to some sites. Amazon says that thousands of website are affiliated with and accept Amazon Pay.
Note that Amazon Pay doesn’t charge you as a payer for this service. Also, you can’t use Amazon gift cards to make your third-party payments.
We live in a time when money exchanges hands via the internet. Some people still have trouble buying into this concept. And I get that.
It’s a somewhat unfathomable concept that the days of going to the bank, mailing checks and paying with cash are slipping away. It seems a bit risky from a security standpoint. However, the security measures payment processing companies take are solid and the benefits are hugely convenient.
Payment processing companies like PayPal and its competitors have changed the world in many ways. They allow people to have great online jobs where they can work and get paid right from the comfort of their own homes.
For me personally, being able to work and get paid from home has allowed me to homeschool my four kids. If it weren’t for online side hustles and payment processors like PayPal, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
It’s nice to know that, along with PayPal, there are other options out there for sending money to merchants, family and friends.
Have you ever used any of these payment processing sites? Do you have a favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section on our social media accounts.
This post is an affiliate post sponsored by H&R Block. While this is a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.
With the new tax reform bill that passed a year ago, virtually everyone’s tax filing situation has changed. This might leave you feeling uncertain about how to navigate your upcoming tax return.
Complicating things is the fact that it’s not always cheap to have a professional do your taxes for you. Luckily, H&R Block has a full spectrum of options to help you navigate the new tax laws.
Bonus: With Well Kept Wallet exclusive deals, you can save money and get expert tax filing help.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in 30 years. If you’re like me, just that statement alone sounds intimidating.
There are many components to the new tax reform bill. Changes were written into the bill for many major taxation areas. Those areas include:
Depending on your individual tax situation, you may find the changes positive. Then again, you may find just the opposite. Either way, you’ll need to know the best way to save the most money on your taxes.
How do we as tax filers navigate through all of the new changes without spending a fortune on filing our taxes? I don’t know about you, but I’m not up for reading the 1,000+ pages of the bill itself and accompanying report.
Some things are better left to the experts, and that’s one of them. H&R Block has been in the tax business for over 60 years. That means it’s successfully navigated major tax reform bills since the 1950’s.
Pricing transparency is a big deal in the world of tax preparation. Some companies will quote you one price. Then they’ll hit you with additional mystery fees when it comes time to pay your tax preparation bill.
H&R Block has a great online feature called Price Preview. With Price Preview, you’ll be able to see exactly what it will cost you to have the company prepare your return. This way there are no surprises.
And if you go into an H&R Block office to get your taxes done, you get the same upfront price information before you file. This way you won’t get hit with unexpected fees.
Like nearly all online tax filing programs, H&R Block has free and paid options. However, it also has one feature that not all other companies have: Ask a Tax Pro.
Nearly all online tax programs offer unlimited, on-demand access to a tax professional while you use their materials to complete your return.
Ask A Tax Pro lets you chat and share screenshots as you complete your return. That way, an H&R Block tax expert can see exactly what you see and answer any questions you may have. In addition, you have the option to talk directly with a tax expert if the chat system isn’t your favorite mode of communication.
H&R Block’s certified network of tax professionals have an average of 15 years of experience in tax filing. This means your Ask a Pro expert will know how to find the answers to your tax questions.
H&R Block has several tax filing options. The one you choose will depend on your personal tax situation, as well as personal preference.
Many people are turning to online tax filing these days. In fact, the IRS Tax Filing Statistics page shows that most people are filing their taxes online.
H&R Block has more than 12,000 tax offices worldwide. If you like getting your taxes done in person, just stop into your local H&R Block office.
H&R Block has several e-filing options to fit every taxpayer need. Here is a brief summary of the H&R Block tax filing products.
H&R Block’s free online filing product really is free. Whereas other companies may give you a free federal return but charge to file with the state, H&R Block lets you file your federal and state returns for free.
With the H&R Block free program, you can prepare and file your 1040EZ, 1040A and 1040 forms for free. Filers taking advantage of the new higher standard deduction can file for free too.
The new standard deduction is $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married filers. This is a great program for filing your taxes quickly and easily if you’re not itemizing at all.
Not only does H&R Block Free allow you to continue filing federal and state taxes for free, but it also includes more credits and deductions than its competitors. It has 45 tax forms, more than twice as many as TurboTax. People who are filing with the following are also able to file with H&R Block Free, which is not the case with TurboTax:
H&R Block also has several paid online products to fit any tax filing scenario. As a part of the exclusive Well Kept Wallet offer with H&R Block, you’ll get 35% off the cost of filing your taxes online with H&R Block when you choose one of its paid online products.
Other benefits to using H&R Blocks paid online products include:
Here are your options when choosing an H&R Block paid online filing product.
H&R Block’s Deluxe online tax filing program is best for homeowners, as well as tax filers who made large charitable donations and/or have Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Here are some of the basic features and benefits of this program:
This could be the best program for you if you have a few basic deductions.
H&R Block’s Premium online tax filing program is best suited for you if you have a few tax situations besides homeownership and an HSA. Here are some of the basic features and benefits of the Premium program:
H&R Block’s Self-Employed online tax filing program is best suited for you if you are a small business owner. Here are some of the features and benefits of the Self-Employed program:
If you’ve got a bona fide small business, this could be the best H&R Block online filing program for you.
If you’re not crazy about the idea of preparing your taxes online yourself, TaxPro Go might be the perfect solution for you.
With TaxPro Go, you just answer a few simple questions about your tax situation. H&R Block will then match you with a virtual tax pro who will:
This is a secure and easy way to have your taxes done online without having to step foot in a tax preparer’s office.
In addition, the turnaround is quick and H&R Block offers easy payment options. And of course, you’ll approve your TaxPro Go return before your taxes are submitted.
Note that only the H&R Block paid online products are eligible for the Well Kept Wallet 35% discount special offer. This discount does not apply to H&R Block retail offices or software purchases.
H&R Block online tax filing uses the company’s decades-long expertise to help you do your taxes in whatever way is most convenient for you. From DIY solutions to fully assisted tax prep, H&R block has programs that will get you the maximum refund possible, guaranteed.
Have you heard of EveryDollar? EveryDollar is a budgeting app that was created by famed financial expert Dave Ramsey. The budgeting app is meant to piggyback off of Ramsey’s most popular book, The Total Money Makeover.
In the book, Ramsey describes his seven “baby steps” to financial independence. Budgeting is a big part of his plan, and thus, the EveryDollar budgeting app was born.
In this article, we’ll go over the features and other details of the app. We’ll give you plenty of information so you can decide whether the EveryDollar budgeting app is worth your time and money.
I tried the app myself to get a clear idea of how it works, so I’ll share my personal experience with it as well.
Let’s start with some basic details about the EveryDollar app and how it works.
EveryDollar is a great app. I found it easy to use even for me, a self-admitted non-techie person. The one and only thing that bugged me about the app was that it costs money. Although $8.25 a month (averaged out) isn’t terribly expensive, it can be hard to part with if you’re uber-frugal like me. Plus there are plenty of other, free, options to choose from.
The signup process for EveryDollar is very simple. You start by visiting the EveryDollar home page and clicking the “Sign up — it’s free” button.
After you click on that button, you’ll get directed to a short signup form. It’ll ask for your name, email address, ZIP code and country of residence. In addition, you’ll need to create your EveryDollar password on this page.
Once you’ve entered all of that information, you’ll click “Create My Account.” At that point, an email verification will be sent to the email address you entered when you signed up.
After you’ve clicked on the verification box contained within the email, you’ll get taken to a landing page with a “Take me to my budget” box. Click on the box and you’re ready to get started!
From the “Take me to my budget” landing page, you’ll get directed to a goals page. You have a choice to choose one or more of the following six goals:
You can choose as many of the six boxes as you’d like. I chose the first three: pay off debt, save for retirement, stop living pay to pay.
After you choose your goals, the site will ask you some other questions about your financial situation, such as:
Again, you’ll simply choose all that apply here. In the next step, you’ll enter your monthly income.
There’s a space to add each source of income you have. The default for one person is two pay sources. However, you do have the ability to add more if necessary.
After you’ve entered your monthly income, the site will take you to the actual budget. This is where you’ll enter your basic expenses.
The boxes all have default names, but you can change the names of the boxes. For instance, one default box asked for our monthly water costs.
Since we live in a rural area and get our water from a well, I don’t have a monthly or quarterly water bill. So I changed the name of that default expense box to Phone/Internet and put our monthly costs for that bill in there.
The default budget has six boxes for basic expenses, but gives you the ability to change names and add more as needed. Don’t worry about adding in groceries, etc. at this point; EveryDollar will ask you about this stuff later.
The next step in the budget is to add in your transportation costs. Any car payment you have won’t be included at this point, but they’ll ask you about it later. Gasoline and maintenance costs are the only default boxes mentioned here, but as with all expense sections, you have the option to add boxes.
Food expenses come next. The app will ask you what you spend on groceries, as well as what you spend on restaurant meals.
After that, you’ll enter personal expenses. The Personal Expenses section covers items such as:
Note: Be sure to add all miscellaneous expenses not covered (excluding debts) up to this point.
Again, you can add additional boxes if that doesn’t cover your personal expenses, or you can modify the existing boxes.
The insurance expenses section covers health, life, auto, homeowners insurance and more. Since most health insurance costs are taken out pre-tax by employers, you may want to modify that section.
Either skip the expense, knowing that it is already figured into your net income, or modify your income as if it weren’t.
The same goes for your homeowners insurance if it’s escrowed in with your mortgage payment. Either separate escrow expenses out and record them individually, or just lump them in with the mortgage payment and skip the homeowners insurance expense section.
This section is where you’ll enter pet expenses, child care expenses and entertainment expenses. You’ll need to add additional boxes if you have other lifestyle costs.
For instance, you may want to add a section for extracurricular activities. Also, note that entertainment expenses are listed here. We often include going out to eat as an entertainment expense.
You’ll have to decide whether you put restaurant expenses up with food or in with your entertainment budget.
In the Health section, you’ll record expenses such as gym memberships and medicine and vitamin expenses.
You’ll also record expenses for visits with doctors, dentists and other health professionals. If you have an HSA (Health Savings Account) that covers these costs, you can skip this section altogether.
Otherwise, you can record the HSA savings deposits and offset them with the expenses that are paid for by the HSA. Just do whatever is easiest for you and what suits your budgeting habits.
Note that this part of the process could be a bit tedious if you aren’t already familiar with your budget and spending habits. I’ve been budgeting manually with an Excel spreadsheet for years, so I have a pretty clear idea of what my family’s monthly expenses are.
If you don’t already have a clear idea of your budget, do your best estimate for the first one and then modify from there if you need to.
Next on the list is your giving budget. There are two default boxes in this section: Church and Charity. You can modify them as you see fit, and you can add additional boxes.
The system will also ask you about savings habits. You can use the default Emergency Fund box or edit/add your own savings goals.
In this next step, you’ll enter your debt payments. Enter the name of each debtor and the monthly payment.
After you finish this step, the system will tell you how much in monthly payments your debt is stealing each month. It’ll also tell you if you’ve got money left over or if you’re in the hole from a payment perspective.
Just for fun, I wrote my budget in a way that showed me having more month than money. Doing so prompted a screen that showed me how much I was short.
Then it asked me to edit my budget to add in more income or modify my expenses. If you’ve got money left over, it’ll prompt you to assign that money to a spending (or savings) category.
Once your budget is balanced to have zero dollars left over, you’re finished. This is called a zero sum budget, and it’s one of my favorite budgeting tools. When you give every dollar a job, it leaves little room for waste.
This covers the basics of putting your budget together. What happens next depends on which plan you choose.
EveryDollar has two plans you can choose from: The Free Plan and EveryDollar Plus.
The EveryDollar Free Plan is, obviously, free. It comes with the following features:
This is a good basic starter plan. However, it does require you to add in all of your expenditures manually.
The EveryDollar Plus Plan does cost money. However, it also includes some great added benefits. The main one is the ability to auto-download transactions from your bank.
The Plus version costs $99 per year, billed on an annual basis. This works out to an average of $8.25 a month.
Note: Since Ramsey touts paying all bills with cash/debit cards, you can’t pay for your EveryDollar Plus membership with your credit card. Debit cards only, please.
If you want to sign up for the Plus plan and get your transactions automatically downloaded, you’ll have to let the system connect to your bank account.
Once you enter your bank information, the EveryDollar system will pull all of your accounts from that bank. You’ll have to manually delete all accounts you don’t want to show up here, but that is pretty easy.
With the paid plan, the system will automatically download your transactions from your bank. It lists them in the right sidebar. From there you can easily drag each transaction into a budget category. As you do, it’ll show you the remaining budget in that category.
If you don’t want to list a certain bank transaction on EveryDollar, you can just delete it. The system really does make it easy to work on your budget, including entering modifications.
You can add transactions manually at any time to your budget. You don’t need to go solely off the updates from your bank.
I was a little worried at first that the system wouldn’t allow me to download my credit card transactions. I use my credit card for rewards points and then pay in full each month.
But the system did have a place for that and it worked just fine in conjunction with my credit card purchases.
Also, when my credit card information downloaded from the bank, the balance didn’t automatically enter into my debt list. I liked this feature, since I’d already entered the debt manually.
However, it did show the debt as a negative in my overall financial picture.
I had a bit of trouble figuring out the Debt Snowball part of the system. It doesn’t give you an auto-prompt to set it up. However, the EveryDollar Help Center showed me how to do that quite quickly, and it’s pretty easy.
Just click on the debt where it lists the monthly payment for your budget. A separate box will pop up that will allow you to enter each debt’s balance.
After you’ve added in all debt balances, you have an option to sort the debts from smallest to largest. This is a nice feature if you’re using the debt snowball to pay off your debts.
As you make payments toward your debts, you’ll be able to see the balance you started with for the month. You’ll also be able to see your budgeted payment, whether or not you’ve made the payment. And you’ll be able to see the new total balance.
EveryDollar’s dashboard is attractive and functional. One of the things I really like about the dashboard is that it summarizes the percentages of your income spent on expenses.
If you like the thought of staying within recommended budget percentages as you manage your money, this is a great feature.
I did a test to see what happens if you go over in a budget line item. I’d put in my average electricity bill of $130 a month when I made my budget.
However, the actual bill for December was $157.73. (No, we’re not energy hogs. Part of our heating system will run on electric depending on the temperature.)
When I dragged the energy payment transaction to my budget, it showed it as a negative number remaining to be paid.
From there I just had to adjust my budgeted amount for electricity. Then, I had to adjust my total budgeting numbers, as the system’s goal is to zero out your month’s leftover money.
Honestly, there’s a lot to like about EveryDollar. The system is fairly easy to use, especially if you get the Plus Plan that lets you automatically download your transactions.
The app paints a pretty clear picture of where you are financially. I really like that you create a new budget each month. Since not all months are the same, this can help you keep better track of expenditures.
Also, the ability to modify downloaded transactions is really nice. I do a lot of goofy things with my bank account. For instance, I’ll pay for something extra the kids want and then transfer money from their accounts into mine.
When those transactions show up in EveryDollar, I can just delete them and the system ignores them.
And I really like the zero sum budget concept the app uses. It is truly an amazing system for minimizing budget waste.
Before I started using the zero sum budget, I would just use leftover budget money to spend as my heart desired. As you can imagine, this habit led to a LOT of wasted money each month.
Now that I’m using the zero sum budget, every dollar has a job. Because of that, I’m much more conscious of my spending as a whole. It’s important to me to to stay within the parameters I’ve created for my budget.
When I wasn’t using the zero sum concept it seemed I had this subconscious attitude that I could just use all of the leftovers as blow money.
Really, the one and only thing that bugged me about the app was that it costs money. Although $8.25 a month (averaged out) isn’t terribly expensive, it can be hard to part with if you’re uber-frugal like me.
This is especially true when other programs like Personal Capital and Mint will auto-download transactions for free that you can use in budgeting.
EveryDollar is a great app. I found it easy to use even for me, a self-admitted non-techie person.
If you’re not committed to a Challenge Everything Budget system where you challenge every expense, the cost is probably pretty easy to stomach.
After all, $8.25 a month isn’t going to break most people. However, if the cost of the EveryDollar app really bothers, you you might want to consider using something like Personal Capital.
But the EveryDollar app does what it says it does. It makes budgeting and personal finance management easier.
Have you ever used the EveryDollar or similar apps? Or, have you ever used a more detailed system like Personal Capital? Share your experiences with us on the Well Kept Wallet Facebook page.
Have you ever heard of You Need a Budget (YNAB)? YNAB is a budgeting tool created to help you have better control over your finances.
It’s a great product. In fact, I’m going to give you the details on what it is and how it works. That way you can decide if it’s right for you.
However, I’m also going to share some YNAB alternatives. Depending on your budgeting style, you might not find YNAB a good fit.
We’ll show you some similar software programs to help you decide which budgeting program will offer you the most help.
There are many reasons why budgeting is important, and these tools will help you to do it better.
Let’s start by talking about how YNAB works. The goal of YNAB is to help you do three things better with your money:
How is it able to help you meet these goals? First, you’ll link your bank and debt accounts to your YNAB account. It starts by asking you to define what’s most important to you. Is it your pets? Travel? Your kid’s sports programs?
Next, it’ll help you learn how to give every dollar you earn a job. Essentially, that’s all a budget is. The site helps you to put every dollar to work in the way that’s best for you.
You’ll assign some dollars for paying bills and others for paying fluid expenses. Other dollars will get assigned toward savings goals. For instance, you can make a goal to save up for a new smartphone.
And, you can change your budget line items whenever you need to. Let’s say that one month you’ve got an unexpected vet bill. Just adjust your YNAB numbers to cover for that by spending less in a different area — for example, eating out.
The YNAB website says that the average new user will save $200 in the first month alone. Your first 34 days with YNAB are free. This means you can try it out for a whole month to see if it’s right for you.
After that, you’ll pay $84 a year to keep using the system. That’s about $7 a month. And if for some reason you decide YNAB isn’t for you, it has a 100% money back guarantee.
Now you know about YNAB, but what else is out there? Let’s talk about some YNAB alternatives.
There are a few different options you may want to check out. Each one helps you reach your financial goals better, but they all work differently.
Here are some details on each of the five You Need a Budget alternatives we found.
Personal Capital will help you manage your money. However, it does so in a much more comprehensive way than YNAB.
When you sign up with Personal Capital, you start by linking all of your financial accounts. You’ll include checking, savings, credit card, loan, retirement and investment accounts. Now you’ve got a complete picture of your entire financial situation in one place.
Next, you need to choose between the services Personal Capital offers. One is a free financial tracking service. The others are paid financial advisory, wealth management and private banking services.
The free financial tracking tools help you keep an eye on your overall financial situation. It’s nice because you don’t have to check each account manually online.
Instead, you just pull up your Personal Capital account and get a full view of your net worth and financial picture. This service is completely free.
That said, you will regularly get calls from advisers whose goal is to have you upgrade to a paid service. You may find these annoying. Just keep in mind that you are not required to upgrade. As long as you follow the terms and conditions, you can use the free service for as long as you want.
Personal Capital also offers to manage your investments, for a fee. If you sign up for paid services, you’ll get access to a team of financial advisers. There’s a $25,000 minimum investment for this service, which is higher than competitor websites. If you’ve got $200,000 or more, you’ll get two dedicated financial advisers. As of this writing, the fees for paid investment services are as follows:
These are also higher than competitors’ fees. Wealthfront, SigFig and Betterment for example, charge 0.25% to 0.35%. But Personal Capital’s overall package is considered one of the most comprehensive in the field.
The main difference between YNAB and the free Personal Capital tool is that the Personal Capital tracking tool gives you a long-term view.
With YNAB, you can manage your budget in line with your paycheck. It’ll help you manage your money for the current week, two-week period or month.
Personal Capital is able to give you a big-picture, long-term view of your money. This is because it includes retirement and other accounts. Also, it shows you how your retirement savings picture looks based on your current spending.
It pulls together current spending numbers, spending goals and more to help make sure you’re on track to save enough for retirement.
Plus, this version of Personal Capital is totally free. You’ll only pay if you decide to use their advisory services.
Tiller Money is another YNAB alternative. It puts much less emphasis on investing than Personal Capital. But it’s great for budgeting, expense tracking and deb payoff. In that way, it’s closer to YNAB.
The main difference between Tiller and the other options on this list is that it uses Excel and Google spreadsheets.
When you sign up with Tiller Money, you link up your accounts, just as you do with YNAB. Next, you’ll create customized spreadsheets to help you manage your money, such as:
The worksheets are attractively designed and super easy to view and use. In fact, I signed up for Tiller a while back and am loving it. It’s thorough but easy enough for tech novices like me to use.
And it’s affordable. Tiller Money costs $59 a year. That averages out to $4.92 per month.
Read more about it in my full review of Tiller Money.
Another great feature of Tiller Money is that it’ll send you an email every day. The email notifies you of any new transactions that occurred in your accounts in the previous 24 hours.
To me, this is a nice way to ensure you can catch any unauthorized transactions on your accounts early. And it’s nice to see how much money I spent the day before at a glance. All in all, the system is pretty thorough.
The main difference between Tiller Money and YNAB is the customization aspect. Tiller Money does a great job at creating great spreadsheets that are completely customizable.
And it’ll automatically update every spreadsheet you create. Bonus: Tiller Money is cheaper than YNAB by about $2 a month. That’s not a lot, but we budget-obsessed people know that it all adds up.
Mint was founded in 2006 and is currently owned by Intuit. It offers you a way to budget and track your money in one place.
Like the other services listed here, Mint gives you easy access to your bank, credit card, investment and loan accounts all in one place.
It’ll also send you alerts if your bank account is running low or you have payments due on loans or credit cards. This is a nice feature because it helps ensure that you won’t accidentally forget to make a payment.
Late payments often result in late fees and raised interest rates. So in that way, Mint can help you save money.
In addition, Mint will let you know how much you’re paying in ATM and other fees. And it’ll alert you if there are any large or unusual transactions on your accounts.
Bonus: Mint helps you keep track of your net worth. It’s displayed at the top of your account every time you sign in.
Both Mint and YNAB do a great job of helping you budget. Their interfaces and features are pretty similar.
However, Mint is completely free. There’s no charge to use it. That fact might leave you wondering how Mint makes money.
Mint makes money in a few ways:
Since the Mint and YNAB budgeting tools are pretty much equally great, the biggest reason Mint might be better for you is that it’s free. And free is good.
In addition, Mint has several additional features that YNAB doesn’t. It offers a more complete view of your finances and an alert system. Check out the Mint website for more information.
CountAbout was founded in 2012. Its main goal is to be a step up from Quicken. In fact, you can seamlessly migrate from Quicken to CountAbout.
The site will automatically sync your Quicken data into the CountAbout system. One nice thing about CountAbout is that you can rename spending categories as you see fit.
CountAbout’s prices are also very reasonable. It costs $9.99 per year for the basic budgeting plan.
If you’re willing to upgrade to the premium plan, you’ll get an added benefit: automatic download of transactions. The premium plan is only $39.99 per year. That equates to a bit over $3 a month.
Along with budgeting tools, CountAbout also provides:
It’s a fairly thorough system that should meet the needs of most basic budgeters.
The only big difference between CountAbout and YNAB is that YNAB allows investment tracking and CountAbout doesn’t.
And of course, CountAbout is cheaper, even if you do choose to sign up for the premium program.
EveryDollar is the budgeting brainchild of well-known personal finance expert Dave Ramsey. The website says it’ll help you create your first budget in less than 10 minutes. It’s a simple program that’s fairly easy to use for people of almost any technical skill level.
EveryDollar has a free version where you can add income, spending and budgeting information manually.
It also has a premium version called EveryDollar Plus. This version costs $99 per year ($8.25 a month) and gives you the convenient benefit of automatic downloads for your transactions.
There are a few differences between EveryDollar and YNAB. YNAB has investment tracking and bill management, whereas EveryDollar does not.
On the other hand, EveryDollar has tax reporting capabilities. YNAB does not.
In addition, EveryDollar is available in the U.S. and Canada, while YNAB is only available in the U.S.
Using a budgeting program like the ones we’ve mentioned here is important. It helps you avoid common budgeting mistakes that can have a long-term impact on your finances.
You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a popular budgeting tool that’s been around for a long time. It has a way of making budgeting more fun.
Bonus: The site has a light-hearted feel to it. Check out its “About” page for some laughs.
That being said, there are alternative budgeting options out there if you find YNAB isn’t working for you. Depending on what you need, one of the budgeting programs here is likely to suit you.
Have you ever used YNAB or any of the other programs we talked about? Share your thoughts about them on our social media accounts.
Have you ever thought about making money online but are worried about the time commitment? Maybe you’ve got younger kids running around that need your attention.
Or, maybe you just have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow for a lot of free time. Luckily, you can still make money online.
There are several websites that will pay you for doing quick tasks. In many cases, the tasks take just a few seconds or minutes to complete.
This means you can earn money even if you only have a few minutes at a time to set aside. In other words, you can make a bit of extra cash no matter how busy your schedule.
The following sites will pay you to do short tasks. We’ll tell you what kind of tasks each site asks you to do, how much they pay, and how you’ll get paid when you’re done. Isn’t it great to know that you can make money, even when you’ve just got a few extra minutes available?
Here are some of our favorite quick task sites you can check out.
You may have heard of Swagbucks. It’s one of the most popular short tasks sites out there. In fact, Swagbucks has paid more than $300 million dollars to its members so far.
Swagbucks will pay you to do a number of quick tasks, such as:
You’ll earn what are called SB points for every task you complete. When you reach the minimum number of points, you can cash them out for cash or gift cards.
Swagbucks will transfer money to your PayPal account, or they’ll give you gift cards to popular retailers such as Amazon, Walmart or Starbucks.
It’s free to sign up for Swagbucks, and you’ll get a $10 bonus when you use our Swagbucks link.
Note that each task on Swagbucks typically only pays you a few cents. You won’t get rich on the site, but it’s not uncommon to earn $20 to $30 a month.
Bonus: Swagbucks will pay you for referring others who sign up, too.
CashCrate is another popular short task site. It’s been around since 2006 and has more than 7 million members.
CashCrate will pay you for a number of tasks, including:
Every time your earnings get up to at least $20, you can cash out. You get paid the month following your cashout request. So, if you cash out in June, you’ll get paid in July.
Depending on your member level, you can get paid via Dwolla, a mailed check, direct deposit or PayPal. As with Swagbucks, you can expect to earn just a few dollars a month with CashCrate.
InboxDollars has been around since the year 2000 and has paid out over $57 million to members. When you become a member, they’ll pay you for activities such as:
InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but you could earn $10 to $20 each month. Once you reach $30 in earnings you can request your cash. InboxDollars will pay you via egift cards, Visa cards or check.
Fiverr works a bit differently than the sites we’ve mentioned so far. With Fiverr, you get paid to do short tasks as requested by users.
It’s a freelancing site that serves the market of people who need quick tasks done. When you register with Fiverr, you can create a profile offering tasks or search for tasks that need to be done.
Some of the tasks you might find available with Fiverr include:
And others. There is a wide variety of tasks available on Fiverr, and most are quick tasks that will just take a few minutes. Those are the target $5 tasks that the site promotes.
Want to earn more money? Fiverr also has options for bigger, longer term tasks that pay more. After you complete your task(s), Fiverr will send your money via PayPal or other options.
Amazon Mechanical Turk — or MTurk as it’s commonly called — is a quick task site backed by Amazon. The site offers thousands of available HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) for those wanting to earn some cash.
With MTurk you might be asked to do tasks like:
Or other work. Each job pays a few pennies to a few dollars. When you’re new, your earnings will be held until you’ve been active on Mechanical Turk for at least 10 days, starting from the day you finish your first task. After that, you can transfer whatever is in your account once a day.
You can request payment to a bank account or or get an Amazon gift card for your work. The amount of money you’ll earn on MTurk depends largely on how quickly and efficiently you complete the tasks.
The tasks themselves only pay a few cents. However, if you can crank them out quickly you can earn a lot more per hour.
Shopkick will pay you for completing various online and in-store tasks. You’ll earn points — called “kicks” — for each task you complete. Here are some of the tasks you can do with Shopkick:
The number of tasks you can do to earn money with Shopkick is pretty long. Shopkick will pay you via egift cards for the points you earn. You can get an egift card to Amazon, Target, Walmart and dozens of other stores.
The Shopkick website says most members earn their first gift card within a week of joining. How much you earn on Shopkick will depend on the earning avenues you choose. The task-based projects typically pay under a dollar each. However, if you’re making online purchases you can earn a lot more.
FusionCash works like a lot of other get-paid-to (GPT) sites. It’ll pay you for doing a variety of short tasks, such as:
Like other GPT sites, FusionCash that will only pay you a few cents for each completed task.
However, it’ll give you a $5 bonus just for signing up. It pays you for referring new members as well.
Once you meet the minimum withdrawal threshold ($25), you can request payment via direct deposit, mailed check or PayPal.
Note that some offers through FusionCash require you to give your credit card number, but there are plenty of tasks that don’t require card information.
Figure Eight works sort of like Amazon’s MTurk. They’ll pay you for completing short human intelligence tasks. Some of the tasks Figure Eight might ask you to do include:
Figure Eight will compensate you for each task you complete. The site isn’t clear about what or how they pay.
Note: You may have heard of a similar site called Crowdflower. Crowdflower has now merged with and is a part of Figure Eight.
Clickworker is a company that uses independent contractors to help companies with small tasks. As a clickworker, you’ll get paid to complete those tasks.
Typically, you’ll have access to micro tasks that involve:
The tasks are short, and you get to bid on each job. Once you complete a job and reach the minimum payout amount, you get paid via PayPal.
The Clickworker site says jobs pay anywhere from a few cents to double-digit dollars each.
Clickworker has been in business for over 13 years. It boasts big companies such as Honda and T-Mobile as its clients.
Rev is a service provider for other companies. It hires at-home workers to do small and larger tasks such as:
Jobs are typically paid by how many minutes of content you work on, or how many words or pages there are in the project. For instance, translations pay 10 cents per word. Foreign subtitles pay $3 to $7 per minute of video that you subtitle.
You’ll get paid every week via PayPal for the work you complete.
Fancy Hands hires virtual assistants who are good on the phone. In addition, it’ll want you to be good at research. As a virtual assistant at Fancy Hands, you’ll complete tasks like:
And more. Each Fancy Hands task will pay you between $2.50 and $7. You’ll get paid every week for your work via Dwolla.
Note that you have to have an audio headset for your computer to work this job.
Humanatic helps companies review calls and improve service. You know when you call a company and they say, “This call is being recorded?” Humanatic hires independent contractors to review those calls. As a reviewer, you can review calls when you like, day or night.
And, you can work as much or as little as you like. Note that the higher your level of accuracy, the more you will get paid. The Humanatic website says the pay isn’t terribly high: between $1 and $4.50 an hour for most workers.
With User Testing, you get paid to offer feedback about a company’s website. You visit the site, then speak your thoughts about its usability and clarity into audio or video recordings. You can do the same type of reviewing for videos you watch. In some cases, you can do tasks that require live conversations with others.
The User Testing website says you get paid $10 for tests and that they take about 10 to 20 minutes. You get paid more for live conversations.
Payment is made via PayPal one week after you complete each task. The website says you won’t get rich working for them, but you can make some extra cash.
OneSpace provides services for other companies and hires online short-task freelancers to perform them. Some of the services you can do if you work with OneSpace include:
Note: There is a qualification test you can take. If you pass, you’ll get higher paying tasks. But the OneSpace site doesn’t specify how much it pays per task.
You’ll get paid daily via PayPal for the work you complete with OneSpace. In addition, you can work as much or as little as you like.
JustAnswer specializes in getting professional answers to questions for people. When you become a JustAnswer expert, you can choose the tasks you complete.
Some are longer tasks, some are shorter tasks. Note that in order to become an expert for JustAnswer, you need to have some proof of expertise in the field you sign up for, such as a degree.
The company provides answers for clients in over 170 categories. Some of the fields JustAnswer needs experts in include:
Customers to the site set the price they’re willing to pay for each answer. Online reviews say that most asked questions pay at least $20. The site says that top experts are earning thousands of dollars per year.
You can choose the jobs you want to take with JustAnswer, putting in as much or as little time as you wish.
Spare5 operates on a simple premise. You sign up to do short tasks when you please, choosing the jobs you want.
You’ll get paid weekly for the tasks you complete. The tasks Spare5 offers help companies train their artificial intelligence programs and algorithms to work better. Here are some examples of the tasks you might be doing as a Spare5 member:
Other tasks are available, too. Each task pays just a few cents, so it’s not a great way to make money. You might consider doing it as a way to help advance technology if that interests you.
You’ll get paid via PayPal, and you can also ask Spare5 to donate your earnings to charity.
Survey Junkie will pay you for completing surveys and sharing your opinions. Once you open a free account and complete your profile, Survey Junkie will begin matching you to surveys.
For every survey you complete, you’ll earn points that can be converted to PayPal cash. You can use your points to get gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon, too.
The longer the survey, the more you can earn. The average survey pays $1 to $3, but some pay as much as $45.
Earnably works like other short task sites such as Swagbucks. With Earnably, you’ll get paid to take surveys, watch videos or complete other short tasks.
You get paid for your tasks with free gift cards to retailers like Starbucks or Amazon. Don’t expect to earn life changing money with this or other GPT sites. A few dollars a month is about average.
Earning Station will pay you to do short tasks such as:
It’s free to join, and you get paid via PayPal or via gift cards to retailers like Walmart and Amazon. Again, if you work hard you can earn $10 to $20 a month on Earning Station and similar sites.
Ipsos i-Say will pay you to complete surveys. You get points for each survey you complete, and you can use your points to get a cash deposit to your PayPal account.
If you want, you can choose to get a gift card to a popular retailer with your points, too. Most surveys only pay a few cents. Longer surveys will pay up to a few dollars.
As you can see, it’s easy to make some extra cash by setting aside a few minutes here and there to do short tasks online. The great thing about these income avenues is that you can use them even if you only have a few minutes to spare.
It’s true that most of these sites won’t pay you enough to replace your regular income. However, they can help you earn cash for extra expenses like gifts or mini-vacations.
Have you ever tried any of these short-task sites? If so, what was your experience? Share your thoughts on our social media pages.
It was January of 2013 and I had just woken up to the stark realization that I was deep in debt. $60,000 deep. And that didn’t include the mortgage.
I knew I needed to get a handle on things, but where to start? After a quick Google search on “how to get out of debt,” I stumbled upon the blessed world of personal finance blogs.
This very blog, Well Kept Wallet, was one of the first ones I found. Deacon and Kim Hayes’s story of paying off $52,000 in debt in just 18 months inspired and motivated me.
The more I searched, the more great debt blogs I found. Those blogs were instrumental in helping me get my financial act together and work toward debt freedom.
So today I’m sharing a list of some of the very best debt blogs to help you tackle your debt. Each blog brings its own personality and style to the world of debt freedom.
Check them out and use them as motivation to begin your own journey to being debt-free.
There are lots of personal finance blogs out there. Debt blogs are in a class by themselves because they have a big focus on helping people learn how to get out of debt.
Other blogs, such as FIRE (financial independence, retire early) blogs are great. However, a huge part of reaching financial independence is getting free of debt.
If you can find some debt blogs that motivate you to be debt-free earlier, use them to your full advantage. Here are some of the most popular debt blogs on the internet today.
When I think of the Money Peach blog I think of two words: contagious energy. Money Peach is the brainchild of Chris Peach.
Peach and his wife knocked their debt out of the park in record time: $52,000 paid off in just seven months. Yes, I said seven months!
The Money Peach blog shares money-making and frugal-living tips to help you pay off your debt. Bonus: Peach has an online course called the Awesome Money Course.
The Awesome Money Course will show you how to use a step-by-step system to become debt-free fast.
And the Money Peach blog posts and podcasts will give you all of the tools you need to kick your debt to the curb.
The tagline for the Life and My Finances blog reads, “Get out of debt, save money and be rich”. And Derek Sall, the Life and My Finances owner, will show you exactly how he did that. He’ll show you how you can, too.
I’ll let you read the story for yourself. But suffice it to say, Derek’s financial story started out pretty tough. Yet he chose to work all-out and turn it around.
Along with tips for getting out of debt, Derek talks about:
And more. He even throws some health-related posts in there. Derek and his wife are using real estate as their primary avenue to passive income, so he’s got real-estate related posts, too.
This is an all-around, well-established blog with lots of great advice.
Good Financial Cents is another long-running debt blog. Owner Jeff Rose talks about paying off debt, earning money, insurance, retirement and more.
He’s very relatable, and his posts are informative and easy to read. Jeff’s also a certified financial planner. The CFP title gives him some great knowledge on investing and saving for retirement.
But don’t worry. He talks like a regular guy in his blog, and his advice is easy to follow.
Bonus: Jeff has additional info on his GFC podcast and GFC TV channel as well. No shortage of information here.
Robert Farrington, founder and owner of The College Investor, started blogging about debt in 2009. His goal? Help people like us get out of student loan debt and start building wealth.
The College Investor has articles on escaping debt, earning money, saving money, investing, and more. In addition, the site has a forum where readers discuss a variety of personal finance and student loan issues.
The blog’s focus on student loan debt is important. After all, the average student loan borrower who graduated in 2017 carried $39,400 in student loans at the time of graduation.
It’s nice to have a blog whose purpose is helping people tackle this particular type of debt.
Speaking of student loans, you may want to check out the Making Sense of Cents blog. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, the blog’s owner, paid off $38,000 in student loans in just seven months.
That was in 2012. Soon after that, Michelle learned the secret to making money by blogging. She gave up her career as a financial analyst and now earns over $1 million a year with her blog.
This type of financial freedom allows Michelle and her husband to travel the world. They live on their sailboat full time!
Michelle talks about a variety of topics on her blog, such as:
If you’re looking for another comprehensive blog to teach you the ins and outs of personal finance, Making Sense of Cents can help.
Debt Roundup is another of my favorite debt payoff blogs. Grayson Bell’s been blogging about debt payoff and earning/saving money since I can remember.
It was 2012 when Grayson had his wake-up call. He realized he was sitting with $75,000 in consumer debt in his mid-twenties.
Four years later, he had it all paid off. Today, he’s married, has a couple of kids and is running a successful web tech and design business. He’s a rockstar resource for bloggers who need help with their blogs.
Grayson really knows his stuff when it comes to debt payoff.
Club Thrifty started off as a debt blog, but now focuses on other subjects at least as much as it does on debt. Its articles cover travel, saving money, earning money, etc. However, it also shares some seriously awesome debt payoff stories. That’s why it’s made our list.
Greg and Holly Johnson, Club Thrifty’s owners, spent their early marriage years struggling. They were living from paycheck to paycheck and deep in debt.
Using a zero-sum budget, they paid off $50,000 in consumer debt and then tackled their mortgage. Along the way, they learned about making money online.
Now they both work from home making big bucks and traveling the world.
The Two Cup House blog is the online home of Claudia and Garrett Pennington. This millennial couple had over $208,000 in debt when they started their debt payoff journey.
Two years later, they’d paid off every last cent. Today, they blog about life, money and all sorts of other fun topics.
Visit their blog and you’ll learn about their own personal journey to debt freedom. In addition, you’ll find tips on saving money, making money and more.
Jackie Beck was one of the very first debt bloggers I found when I decided to start working my way out of debt. She and her family started with $147,000 in debt.
They paid it off, and Jackie still has a serious passion for helping others become debt-free, too. She and her team write motivating and inspiring articles on how to pay off debt.
Jackie even created an award-winning Pay off Debt app to help you speed up your journey to debt freedom.
Seedtime is a long-running blog that used to go by the name ChristianPF. The owner, Bob Lotich, shares his fascinating story of going from financial mess to financially blessed.
His blog posts talk about various ways to manage money, life and getting on solid financial ground. Bob has a podcast, TV channel and several books for sale as well.
Bonus: If you’re Christian, you may find the Bible-based theme running throughout the blog encouraging and uplifting.
brokeGIRLrich is a blog started by Melissa Bondar in 2014. Melissa was 30 and realized she had no idea how to do money.
She learned, and now she’s sharing her wisdom with you and me. Melissa talks about topics such as:
And more. I think you’ll find her blog fun, educational and entertaining.
Bible Money Matters is another personal finance/debt blog that has a Christian theme. Peter Anderson started the blog years ago. It’s now grown to become one of the go-to Christian personal finance blogs.
One of the reasons I like this blog so much is because Peter covers so many topics. Along with giving solid advice on eliminating your debt, he’ll tell you how to save money, make money, budget and more.
Good content and helpful advice throughout.
Choncé Maddox, the owner of My Debt Epiphany, has an amazing story. In 2013 she was a single mom living on government assistance.
By 2015 she’d paid off her $11,000 in debt, all while making less than $35,000 per year.
Today, she’s married and running her own successful business. And she teaches you how to do what she’s done so gracefully.
Choncé’s blog shares advice on how to pay off debt, save money, live frugally and more. This is a woman who pulled herself up by the bootstraps and made things happen!
And I’m betting she’ll motivate you to be better with money just as much as she motivates me.
Anna Newell Jones is a pioneer of sorts in the world of debt blogs. She started her blog in 2010 and was able to pay off more than $23,000 in debt in just 15 months!
Today, her blog, And Then We Saved, is still focused primarily on how to get out of debt. She’s even published a popular book that tells her story.
She also shares tips on earning more money and living frugally.
I had to put this one on the list. Amber Masters and her husband Danny have quite the story. The short version: They started off with $650,000 in student loan debt.
I’ll let you read the rest. Amber blogs at Deeply in Debt about paying off debt, earning money and living frugally. Her style is truly relatable, and she offers solid advice.
David Carlson of Young Adult Money is another long-time blogger. He even has a great, easy-to-read book called Hustle Away Debt.
David’s blog shares a variety of personal finance tips including:
This is a well-rounded blog with a plethora of good information.
Maria Nedeva founded The Money Principle in 2009 after realizing she was sitting with $160,000 in debt. Three years later, the British blogger was debt free.
The Money Principle shares tips on making money, controlling spending, getting out of debt, and investing for the future.
Dear Debt was started by Melanie Lockert in January of 2013. Melanie worked her tail off and paid off $81,000 in student loans in less than three years.
Melanie teaches about money and life on her blog. There isn’t an abundance of articles relating specifically to debt payoff. However, Melanie’s blog hit on a great little idea that makes readers keep coming back.
Dear Debt is full of letters submitted by readers who are ready to break up with their debt. For inspiration and motivation in a supportive setting, start here.
If you’re looking for help getting out of debt, there are many resources. Along with reading our tips here on Well Kept Wallet, check out the many other blogs dedicated to helping you become debt free.