4 of the Best Personal Finance Resources

Whether you’re managing money your own money or balancing the books for an entire household, personal finance is a huge responsibility. Luckily, we live in an age where a seemingly endless amount of resources are available to help us budget and invest wisely.

If you’re not sure where to get started, visit your local bank or give them a ring. Your bank is intimately familiar with your finances and can offer recommendations based on your unique needs. Many banks have staff employed to help you understand your accounts and all of the services available to you.

Here are a few of the best personal finance resources we found this year:

  1. Read Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins

In his latest book released in 2017, motivational speaker and smart investor Tony Robbins is sharing his secrets to help empower readers to take control of their finances. Unshakeable comes highly recommended by billionaires Oprah Winfrey and Allen Greenspan. This easy read is full of valuable advice that will apply no matter what your income level.

  1. Subscribe to a personal finances podcast

Podcasts are a great way to pass the time while sitting in traffic and there are plenty of shows on the topic of financial literacy. One of our favorites is the So Money podcast with Farnoosh Torabi, which covers topics ranging from investment to entrepreneurship and more. So Money is a short daily podcast that makes it easy to stay up-to-date with financial news. If your primary concern is increasing your cash flow, we recommend the Cash Flow Diary podcast with Gary Douglas.

  1. Join a personal finance forum online.

Online forums are a great tool for participating in lively conversations and staying up to date on financial news. FICO has a great online forum that provides information about credit scores and a wide range of financial topics. YNAB Forums is a great option for anyone who’s ready to get serious about budgeting.

  1. Study finance at the Khan Academy

The Khan Academy is a nonprofit that provides free video presentations on various topics, including financial topics. The Khan Academy helps viewers make the connection between their personal financial choices and the larger economic climate with easy-to-digest personalized videos. They even have lesson plans and tests to help you track your know-how.

Adulting 101: How to Save Money on Pet Care

How to Save Money on Pet Care

Wondering how to save money on pet care? Owning a pet takes on a whole new meaning when you’re out of mom and dad’s house! Just like having a child, bringing a new pet into your home is a potential 18-year commitment, so it’s important to be aware of the different challenges and costs that come with pet care. Here are a few tips on how to save money on pet care so that you and your fur babies don’t run into financial trouble down the road:

1) Adopt

More and more places are cracking down on corrupt puppy and kitty mills that force animals to breed, and then the mills sell the litters for outrageous prices. Although the urge to own a purebred pup might be strong, with a little due diligence you can often find them at shelters for a fraction of the cost. Animals in shelters are often abandoned, abused, and many are euthanized if they can’t be placed in a home. You can make a difference by giving them a new life full of love and security. Often the funds you do spend will go towards keeping these facilities in operation. Check out the app AllPaws, which helps pair hopeful pet parents with their perfect match based on activity level, housing type, and other variables.

2) Buy pet food in bulk

Whether you prefer to put your pet on a specific diet or a simple, no-frills routine, you can often buy your pet food in bulk on sites like Amazon or Chewy.com. Membership warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club and big chains like Target also sell bulk pet food to help you cut costs. Avoid paying extra for pet foods that promise “premium” nutrition without specifying their value. According to Consumer Reports, any pet foods, including store brands, labeled “complete and balanced,” “total nutrition” or “100 percent nutritious” will meet nutritional standards.

3) Make homemade pet toys

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of moving with a cat in tow, you’ve probably witnessed them go crazy climbing in and out of empty boxes. We always want our pets to have the best of the best when it comes to entertainment, but they’re much easier to please than we are. A simple string, laser pointer, or empty box can do wonders for keeping a kitty busy, and a few tennis balls can last a lifetime with an energetic pup. Here are a few fun ideas to get you started.

4) Save on pet meds

A healthy pet should have fairly low veterinary costs, and you can cut those further by ordering meds from 1-800-PETMEDS or PetCareRX, which offer regular deals and discounts, unlike your local vet’s office. Do a little research on the prescription and see if you can find a generic version at Rite Aid or Walmart for a fraction of the cost.

5) DIY grooming

You’ll notice your pet’s coat change with the seasons depending on where its breed originates from and if they’re long or short-haired. Invest in a pet shampoo and perhaps a cheap plastic kiddie pool (or a bathtub depending on the size of your animal) and groom them regularly at home instead. By brushing their teeth, clipping nails, and washing them every week or two, you will cut your grooming visits down to a few times a year.

Just like with a child, there are ways to budget and make your money go further with pet care. And unlike an infant, you won’t have to worry about the costs of daycare, health insurance or college down the line. As more people recognize the financial advantages of raising a furry friend, there’s a chance that the millennial generation might end up having more pets than children!

Is Dating Draining Your Bank Account? Consider Vietnam.

In places with a high cost of living, such as Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, dating can seem like an unnecessary expense. Though these cities never want for entertainment, their respective restaurant and bar scenes make simple dates like dinner and a drink seem like ill-advised investments.

Perhaps that’s one reason why some millennials have been flocking to Vietnam to put down roots instead. The country has a booming tech scene, and many speculate that foreign investments could make it the next Silicon Valley. Not only is Vietnam more affordable than most stateside metropolises, but it’s also beating out other hotspots in Asia for its high quality of life, reasonable cost of living, and numerous entrepreneurial opportunities.

Vietnamese were recently rated as the most satisfied lovers in Asia, with 83% of Vietnamese claiming that they are fulfilled by their primary relationship. According to the survey, finances are the leading source of conflict for Vietnamese couples as compared to couples in other Asian countries, likely because 78% of Vietnamese couples share a joint bank account—the highest rate in Asia. Nevertheless, just 7% of couples in Vietnam report having weekly arguments of any kind compared to 25% of all Asian couples. In addition, whereas 28% of couples in Thailand think about leaving their partners at least once a week, only 8% of Vietnamese couples make those same considerations.

Ho Chi Minh City emerged as the most affordable dating destination in Asia, with dates averaging approximately US$35 compared to US$80 for a date in Singapore. With that amount, lovebirds can satiate their appetites at a dinner for two, catch a movie, and still have money left over for cocktails at the end of the night.

With a booming craft beer scene and plentiful night markets, Vietnam is the perfect place for young romantics to fall in love. No longer will they be forced to “Netflix and chill” at home. Instead, they can go out and explore the city together without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature nerd, or looking for a bustling nightlife, Vietnam has something for you.

Next time you find yourself getting frustrated at your local dating scene, consider that “the one” might be waiting for you on the other side of the world. The good news is that with all the money you’ll save by moving to Vietnam, you’ll be able to treat him or her to adventures that you would have never thought possible!

7 Ways to Live Affordably in an Unaffordable City

With financial experts suggesting that San Francisco residents need to earn six-figure incomes to live affordably in the city, it’s become clear that America’s growing cities are becoming less affordable, particularly for the millennials who seem to favor them.

For those who want the big city experience without the financial strain, here are a few ways to make it possible to live affordably in an unaffordable city:

  1. Get roommates

One of the easiest ways to cut your cost of living is to share your rent. A SmartAsset analysis found that in some cities, a renter who shares a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate saves more than $800 a month compared to someone who lives in a one-bedroom alone. You’re not just cutting back on the cost of rent though, you’ll also be able to split utility costs, which between internet, energy and water, can eat up more than 20 percent of your after-tax income according to the ACCCE.

Find someone you’re comfortable living with and cash in on these savings. In cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, you might need more roommates to make the rent reasonable.

  1. Secure a long lease

If you find an apartment or a home that you love at a reasonable cost, do whatever you can to lock that price in for as long as possible. Apartment managers like long-term tenants and might find the idea of an 18-month or even 24-month lease attractive. It will also ensure that your rent doesn’t go up for the duration of your lease.

  1. Move when the rental market is less competitive

The rental market slows during the holidays, especially in places that experience cold weather that is not conducive to moving, like New York City. According to a study from RentHop, rents in New York City are lowest in December and January and peak during the summer. The difference is roughly 4.5 percent for a one-bedroom apartment, or about $140 a month. If you can’t avoid moving during the summer months, avoid areas near colleges and universities that are popular for students.

  1. Cut miscellaneous costs

It’s not just the rents that make city living so expensive. Cost of living also trickles down to transportation, groceries, fitness and other discretionary spending. One way to cut back on these costs is to take advantage of public transportation, walking and biking whenever possible. If those options aren’t feasible, try the carpool options available through Uber or Lyft and avoiding ordering a car during prime time hours. Also, host dinners instead of going out to eat and plan your meals ahead of time to avoid impulsive food buys.

  1. Purge your closet

Take the time to purge your closet at least once a season. It will help you stay organized and reduce clutter in your home, and you can also make some easy cash on the side. Sell whatever you’re willing to part with to a local consignment store or list your clothes on apps like Poshmark. Consignment stores tend to favor trendy clothes that are in season, so be strategic about what you sell.

  1. Take advantage of free events

Rent in major metro areas might be expensive, but going out doesn’t have to be. Live affordably and fully by finding free or cheap events on websites like DoStuff Media, Meetup and Eventbrite. Most cities have free outdoor movies and concerts during the summer and most museums offer free entry a few days a month. With a little bit of research and planning ahead, you can maintain your vibrant social life without hitting your wallet too hard.

  1. Settle in the suburbs

Another way to live affordably in a big city is to settle in a nearby suburb. You’ll still be close enough to enjoy most of the benefits of the city, but for a fraction of the cost. Studies show that millennials tend to prioritize work-life balance, which can be difficult to achieve when you’re busy hustling in the big city. Living in the suburbs can free up time and money that could be spent on outings with friends, travel or even an eventual down payment on a home.

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Believe it or not, healthy eating on a budget is possible! Check out these tips for whipping your beach body into shape for summer vacation and beyond!

  1. Plan your meals

One tip for healthy eating on a budget is to plan meals in advance, which will help you curb food spending and stick to your diet. Set aside a few hours once or twice a week to pre-cook and package your meals.  You’ll be a lot less tempted to buy food on the go or accept a last minute dinner invitation when you’ve got ready-made meals in your refrigerator. Check out this 31-day healthy meal plan to help get you started. Don’t forget to bring some nonperishable, in-between meal snacks to keep you on track while you’re out and about.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water (most experts recommend you drink about half of your body weight in ounces of water per day) is not only the key to great skin, boosted energy and countless other benefits, but it can also prevent you from mistaking your thirst for hunger and eating unnecessarily. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in between meal times and try cutting back on high-fat and high-sugar foods so that you can better distinguish your thirst. Try spacing your meal times every 3-4 hours and if you get hungry within that time, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes to see if the hunger passes.

  1. Share meals at restaurants

Many of us assume that we’ll have to sacrifice eating out when we become more conscious of our eating habits, but really we just have to make an extra effort to moderate our eating. Restaurants are notorious for creating too-large portions, and it can be tempting to eat all of the food in front of you, even after you’re full. One way to avoid overeating at restaurants is to make sure you don’t arrive at dinner too hungry. We often overestimate our hunger and order too much food and then feel bad about wasting it. So we stuff ourselves instead. Eat a handful of nuts or munch on some fruit before your dinner date so you can approach the menu with a clear head. Control your portions by offering to share appetizers or an entrée. You can also ask the waitstaff for a to-go box with your food and box some of it right away so you’re not tempted to eat everything.

  1. Cut back on sugary drinks and alcohol

Despite studies that claim a glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour in the gym, you’ll see more results when you cut alcohol and soda out of your diet altogether, especially if you’re a regular drinker. The benefits don’t stop there though. You’ll also be more alert, have more energy and sleep better. You’ll also save money by avoiding long bar tabs. Try ordering a sparkling water with lime in between drinks so that you won’t be so tempted to over-imbibe.

  1. Use technology to hold you accountable

Maybe you lead a busy lifestyle, and it’s difficult to count calories on the go or keep track of what you ate and when. Thankfully, plenty of technology has been invented to help you stay accountable to your fitness goals. There are wearable devices like FitBit, which counts your daily steps and reminds you to be active throughout the day. There are also apps like MyFitnessPal which help monitor your calorie intake and exercise regime. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about changing your lifestyle on your own, check out these options to help you get started.

Now that you have some tips for healthy eating on a budget, don’t forget the counterpart to a healthy diet—exercise!

8 Money Tips from Millionaires You May Never Have Considered

A few of these money tips simply may be reminders, while others may be things you’ve never considered. Millionaires make being rich look easy, but in reality many of them have long-established habits in place that help them retain and increase their wealth.

Some of the richest people in the world started from nothing, so don’t be discouraged if you’re in a financial bind. Try these simple money tips to help change your relationship with your bank account.

  1. Pay yourself first.

Many of us are in the habit of paying our bills first when we receive our paychecks, but that often leaves us with little to put towards savings. If you pay yourself first by setting aside money for your savings, you’ll be less stressed in the long run and better prepared for emergencies. Try saving at least 10% of your monthly income to start.

  1. Keep a balanced budget.

Do you know where your money is going? Are you living within your means? Millionaires don’t get where they are by spending frivolously. Take a closer look at your monthly earnings and set some spending limits. This will help you curb unnecessary spending and save money for a more lavish lifestyle later on.

  1. Earn passive income to increase your earnings.

Multiple streams of income are a great way to increase your earnings, and passive income is one way to achieve that. You can create passive income in numerous ways. Try becoming a referral source by asking local businesses you frequent if they have a referral fee. Many will reward you with a small incentive for passing business along.

If you have credit cards, take advantage of cash back rewards. Use your credit card on essential purchases to earn airline mileage or fuel rewards. And don’t forget about SocialBoost (coming soon!) which provides the opportunity for Meed users to earn money from the bank every month just for getting friends and family to become Meed users too.

  1. Invest in yourself.

One trait that many millionaires share is that they never stop learning. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates lack college degrees, but they make up for it through self-education. Make sure you’re current on trends if you’re in a specialized field and become more well-rounded by seeking information outside your expertise. This could include setting aside an hour to read each day or finding a mentor you can learn from.

  1. Be prepared for emergencies.

Not only will an emergency fund reduce stress, it will also help you avoid falling into debt due to an unexpected crisis. Make sure you have life, car and health insurance, and create another savings account for emergencies outside of that. Strive towards having at least 12 months of income set aside.

  1. Automate your spending.

You can’t miss money you never see, so try to automate your spending where possible. This will prevent you from missing bill payments and incurring late fees, but also can be used for long-term savings if you have a 401K or retirement plan at work. With the Meed app, each time you earn SocialBoost income, half of it will go directly into your Meed secured savings account.

  1. Be decisive.

Napoleon Hill interviewed hundreds of millionaires for his book Think and Grow Rich, and one trait he claims they all have is the ability to make quick, yet smart decisions. Impulsive, irresponsible decisions often happen because of “decision fatigue,” when we spend too much time fretting over simple decisions, so our brains have less energy to spend on more important ones later on.

You can reduce decision fatigue by simplifying your wardrobe or meal planning in advance. This will free up space to give financial decisions the consideration they deserve.

  1. Be grateful for what you have.

Self-made millionaire Tony Robbins makes gratitude a part of his morning routine. This may seem difficult if you’re struggling, but it’s important to appreciate what you have in order to bring more abundance into your life. Try incorporating it into your morning routine to get your day started off right.

Even if we don’t all reach millionaire status in our lives, these money tips can help us afford the luxuries of the wealthy more often. And more importantly, these money tips can help us build a foundation for long-term financial security for ourselves and the generations after us.

To learn more about how Meed can help you achieve financial freedom, sign up with us at https://meed.net!

9 Wedding Tips for Cutting Costs Without Sacrificing Style

Looking for wedding tips to keep your bank account in the black? Those of us who began dreaming about our wedding day as young children rarely factored our budget into our fantasies. However, as we got older the reality of how much that wedding venue would cost became clear, and many of us were forced to reel in our expectations as a result.

The fact of the matter is, as memorable as your wedding day might be, it is still only just that: a day. It becomes hard to justify costs when the same amount of money could be spent towards a down payment on a house or a college savings plan for future children.

Wedding Tips from Meed

 Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to cut back on costs without sacrificing style. Here are our top nine wedding tips for planning your dream wedding on a budget:

  1. Cut back on floral decorations
    Fresh flowers are enticing and make for great photos, but the costs add up quickly. Couples that opt for in-season flowers or forage their own bouquets will be surprised at their savings, and those who opt to grow centerpieces like succulents instead of hiring a florist have the option of gifting them as wedding favors at the end of the evening.
  1. Digital Invites
    Stationery costs add up quickly, especially for those who include a keepsake with their wedding invites or save-the-dates, such as magnets or photos. We conduct so much of our lives online these days, what’s the harm in sending an invitation by email and saving on postage? You can still send along a photo for guests to keep and your RSVPs will arrive in a more timely fashion.
  1. Limited bar options
    While an open bar might be alluring to guests, the costs can be astronomical. Taking liquor off the menu and serving up beer, wine and champagne instead can make a big difference to your budget. Or get creative with a small mini cocktail menu to cut back on ingredients.
  1. Be mindful which credit card you’re spending on
    It’s a good rule of thumb that you shouldn’t charge more than you can pay back in a month, but you should also take note of the different rewards that come with spending on various cards. Earning points or other incentives while you spend might be the icing on the wedding cake.
  1. Choose an off-season wedding date
    When it comes to venues, there are certain times of year that are guaranteed to be competitive. Not only will you avoid crowds by choosing an off-season date, but venue costs will be lower, giving you bargaining leverage with vendors.
  1. Skip the wedding planner
    Wedding planning can be stressful and many couples hire wedding planners to take some of the pressure off. However, with apps like Wedding Happy, couples can get organized without breaking the bank. If you’re still in need of additional help, hire a day-of coordinator to lend a hand.
  1. Get creative with dessert
    Besides the bride and groom, the wedding cake is the star of the party. Stacked cakes can get expensive though, especially with the array of flavor options offered. Cupcakes get the job done just as well and make for less mess since there’s no cutting involved. Other creative and cost-effective dessert options include cookies or donuts.
  1. Keep tabs on your wedding budget
    Whether you use a mobile banking app or another tool that reminds you of saving goals, it’s important to keep one eye on your bank accounts as costs can add up quickly. Apps like Wedding Budget Calculator do the work for you and allow you to keep your budget in check.
  1. Elope!
    Not every woman dreams of an extravagant wedding day, and if that’s not you, don’t fight it. There’s no shame in doing an intimate ceremony and announcing the news later on with a reception. Be true to yourself, whether that’s indulging in all of the bells and whistles, or sneaking off with your soon-to-be partner alone.

We hope these wedding tips can help you save money for life after the big day! Best wishes!

5 Things to Do in Vietnam That Won’t Break the Bank

You’ll find many awesome things to do in Vietnam, but we picked five to get you started. As Vietnam continues attracting foreign investors and growing its economy, its popularity as a travel destination is increasing. Encompassed in this diverse region are secluded coral reef beaches, uninterrupted sand dunes, Amazonian-like jungles and foggy mountain ranges where hidden temples lie.

Vietnam is also one of the most culturally diverse countries in Asia, with more than 50 ethnic groups represented. As one of the most affordable destinations in Southeast Asia, and with a dry season that begins in November, Vietnam is the perfect place to visit to beat your winter blues.

Cat Tien National Park

If you’re in the southern region of Vietnam, the 177,915-acre Cat Tien National Park is a must-see. The park spans an impressive biodiverse area of lowland tropical rain forest and offers some of the best hiking, mountain biking and bird watching in the region. Many visit the park to see primates, specifically gibbons and langur monkeys. You’ll have to head in early or book a night tour to see most of the wildlife, or you can visit one of the park’s animal rescue centers, Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre or Cat Tien Bear Rescue Centre. The park can only accommodate a limited amount of visitors so there’s no need to worry about overcrowding, but reservations should be made in advance. Entrance to the park is only 50,000VND, about $2.25, but be warned that fees into different areas of the park can add up and many tour guides offer inclusive rates.

Floating Markets at Cai Rang

Floating markets are one of the more touristy things to do in Vietnam on this list, but for good reason. The Cai Rang Floating Market is the largest in the Mekong Delta, starting around 5:00am and running through midday. It’s worth waking up before the sun to beat the boatloads of tourists. Cai Rang is a wholesale market and sellers tie their products to long poles above their boats to advertise to smaller traders.

Cai Rang can be seen from the road and there is even a bridge that offers a perfect perch for photography. Still, taking a boat to the market is a one-of-a-kind experience and well worth the $10-15 price tag. A boat tour includes a breakfast break at a local orchard, and you’ll be led around a fairly large garden growing a big variety of local fruits free for sampling. After breakfast, you’ll return to the boat and get to explore some of Mekong’s canals. The tour concludes around mid-afternoon just as humidity reaches its peak.

Temple of Literature

If you’re in the bustling city of Hanoi, the historical Temple of Literature is a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture and honors the nation’s most esteemed scholars. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, the Temple of Literature is dedicated to Confucius (Khong Tu). Inside you’ll find a pond known as the ‘Well of Heavenly Clarity’, a low-slung pagoda and statues of Confucius and his disciples. It is the site of Vietnam’s first university, established in 1076, when entrance was granted only to those of noble birth.

After 1442, a more egalitarian approach was adopted and gifted students from all over the nation attended the university to study the principles of Confucianism, literature and poetry. In 1484, Emperor Ly Thanh Tong ordered that stelae be erected to record the names, places of birth and achievements of exceptional scholars. 82 of 116 stelae remain standing. Paths lead from the tiered gateway on P Quoc Tu Giam through formal gardens to the Khue Van pavilion, constructed in 1802. Admission to the temple is 30,000VND or approximately $1.50, making this one of the least expensive things to do in Vietnam on our list.

Water Puppetry

If you’re craving some local culture, look no further than water puppetry, a tradition that dates back to the 11th century, where it originated in the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam. Many villages in Vietnam have communal ponds that are perfect stages for these impromptu performances, encouraging the widespread popularity of the art form. Water puppetry is shown in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The themes of the skits reflect rural culture with a strong reference to Vietnamese folklore, stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. The popular Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is located in Hanoi and ticket prices range from 60,000-100,000VND, or no more than $5.

Pirate Islands

Formally known as Hà Tiên Islands, this island group is located in the gulf of Thailand and earned its nickname from pirates who were known to plague the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. There have even been rumors that pirate treasure is hidden on the islands, and in 1983 two men armed with a 300-year-old map secretly scouted them for buried bounties. In 2009, some fishermen were surprised to stumble upon some ancient coins.

With less than 2,000 inhabitants spread throughout seven islands, Pirate Islands is certainly remote and probably one of the least touristy things to do in Vietnam on our list. There’s limited electricity until 10pm, after which the only light comes from candles and boat lights. While this may seem primitive to some, a nighttime boat ride allows for a beautiful view of sparkly fish leaping through the water, thanks to a phosphorescence phenomenon.

Pirate Islands are reachable by green cargo boat or passenger boat, both of which cost under $5. There are a few simple homestays on the islands and if you buy seafood from the fisherman, your hosts will gladly cook you dinner.

So there you have it. Five awesome things to do in Vietnam on a budget!

How Social Media Savvy Keeps Money in Your Pocket

Social Media Ads Made Just for Us

Ever think about how social media might be impacting your bank account? Probably not. But maybe you should, considering almost 40% of American adults say that seeing other people’s purchases and vacations on social media have prompted them to look into similar purchases.

As social media platforms invent new ways to advertise and integrate spending into their products, it’s becoming increasingly important to be aware of the different tactics they use to encourage impulse spending.

One such tactic is ad targeting, which allows companies to target consumers based on location, demographics, interests and even behaviors. If an ad seems like it was tailored for you, it’s because it more than likely was!

The most skilled marketers craft high quality sponsored posts and viral videos so we can’t help but share. And oftentimes we don’t even realize we’re being sold a product.

Celebrities use social media to engage with their fans, but they also accept endorsements that help brands get established and raise sales. It might be tempting to buy the same products your favorite celebrity swears by, but your wallet will thank you for resisting the temptation if it’s not something you truly want or need.

Check Yourself before Buying Stuff You See on Social Media

One of the criticisms of social media is that it presents a false reality of perfection since people tend to only share their best moments. It can also breed a sense of competition, and might result in a splurge at that fancy new sushi restaurant just for the purposes of sharing a perfectly plated dinner. While one or two meals out isn’t going to break the bank, it’s hard to defend a purchase inspired by your high school frenemy’s #ThrowbackThursday post.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more in attempts to attain that perfect life some seem to portray on social media, but there are some good tools to help you keep a healthy budget. The 50/30/20 Rule is one strategy that breaks your total monthly household income into three distinct silos: Needs, Wants and Savings.

And when you don’t have time for math, a quick survey can help you ward off temptations and spend smarter. Ask yourself sincerely:

  1. Is it a need, as opposed to merely a want?
  2. Is this purchase within budget?
  3. Is there something more sensible you should be spending your money on?

Keep your financial goals at the forefront when browsing online and you’ll soon find those seductive ads easy to ignore when you can’t answer yes to all three questions above!