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8 Money Mantras That Financial Planners Always Follow

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Want to know how to really make your bank accounts grow? Copy what financial planners do. We grilled real financial planners to find out how they manage their own money.

1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST BY TRANSFERRING YOUR SAVINGS TO A DIFFERENT ACCOUNT.

"I always take my savings from my paycheck the day I’m paid and I transfer it to my savings account. The money is out of sight and out of mind. It is very rare to find a person who can’t spend more money if you give it to them. By taking the money out at first, you remove the temptation to spend those savings, and have a savings process in place."
Robert Finley, principal at Virtue Asset Management, a fee-only independent advisor serving the greater-Chicago area

2. PAY ALL YOUR BILLS EVERY PAYCHECK.

"I use credit cards to acquire the points from spending. By paying the credit cards off every two weeks [rather than once a month], I make sure I never forget a payment, and it helps keep my balances lower for reporting purposes. This process of paying bills every paycheck prevents missing bills or late payments. It also allows me to have a better handle on cash flow, because I am reviewing my financial picture every two weeks."
Finley

3. DON'T USE A DEBIT CARD OR ATM MACHINES.

"I use cash whenever possible, and I don’t want to have to pay the ATM transaction fees. I also believe I am in better control and am more mindful of my spending when I am using cash. Cash purchases make it feel very real."
Anne Brennan Malec, licensed clinical psychologist and financial therapist in Chicago

4. REVIEW ALL CHARGES.

"When I do use credit cards, I always review every charge to make sure no fraud has occurred and to bring an accountability to my spending—to make me aware of how much I spent in the last month on food, clothing, transportation. Awareness is the first step in the change process. I also review my Mint account to be sure I am spending within my budget."
 Malec

5. SUBSCRIBE TO FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES.

"Food and dining expenses can quickly add up each month, and will-power is a muscle that can tire at the end of the day. It is not uncommon to have the very best intentions to plan to stop at the grocery store after work and pick up some items for dinner, but because you are tired and hungry, you decide instead to order in. In order to defend against this very human impulse, I began to subscribe to Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh. These allow customers to order meals in advance, and deliver the complete food kit to your home. The benefit is that you are no longer faced with the 4 p.m. dilemma of what to make for dinner."
 Malec

6. PAY DOWN YOUR MORTGAGE BEFORE RETIREMENT.

"Not only is this one less payment to make, but it’s psychologically liberating."
 Marianela Collado, certified public accountant with Tobias Financial Advisors in Florida

7. MAKE THE KIDS PAY.

"Kids should have some skin in the game when it comes to college funding. This enables college kids to be vested in their degree versus not really appreciating the cost going into their education. It creates a sense of responsibility on them to be focused, to finish on time, and to make sure they have a degree that will enable them to get a job to pay off student loans, or to pay while in school."
Collado

8. SEPARATE DISCRETIONARY AND FIXED SPENDING.

"We have a set amount of cash that we use every two weeks for what we call "discretionary items"—groceries, kids activities, entertainment, and gas. This helps us keep our spending in check because these are the areas where we can get into trouble. For these, we put the money onto our debit card, and [use our bank's app to monitor the balance]. If the money isn’t available, we don’t go out to eat. All of my fixed bills (mortgage, phone, insurance, TV, etc.) are paid on the last of the month out of one separate account."
Paul Sydlansky, certified financial planner and founder of Lake Road Advisors in Binghamton, New York

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How Can I Save Money During Wedding Season?
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According to one survey, the average American spends more than $600 on wedding-related costs—and that’s just to attend as a guest. If you have two or more events coming up this year, that adds up quickly! But with careful planning and some inside tricks, you can make it through wedding season without breaking the bank. Here are some tips so that you can focus on the stuff that matters.

1. PUT YOUR REWARDS POINTS AND MILES TO GOOD USE.

You’ve been racking up airline miles for months (maybe even years), and now is the time to use them. Leverage those air miles you’ve earned, rent a car or book a hotel room with that cash back, or see if your credit card offers discounts to certain retailers where you can shop with reward points rather than cash. Some credit cards let you redeem your cashback rewards for boosted value gift cards, which means you could redeem for even more value.

2. MAKE A VACATION OUT OF IT.

If you’re already traveling a long distance, consider flying out a few days early. Since weddings usually require guests to travel at peak weekend times, you can save by flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday. You will be spending more on lodging each night you are there, so factor that in as you plan your budget.

Even if you don’t add any extra days, book your transportation as soon as you finalize your travel dates. Once upon a time you could save money waiting for last-minute flights, but with so many budget airline options, you won’t be doing yourself any favors waiting until the last minute.

3. RESEARCH HOTEL RATES.

The bride and groom will likely negotiate block room rates for their guests, but don’t assume that is the best price you can find. Before booking, check around the web to see if you can secure a room at the same hotel for a lower price. You also might find cheaper options farther away from the venue. A short drive can be worth it to save $30 each night, but be prepared to take cabs or skip the open bar so you can drive yourself back at night.

4. RENT A HOUSE WITH FRIENDS.

Rather than booking a bunch of hotel rooms, find a great group house online. Depending on the location, you can find some incredible homes for less than $100 per night. Even better, you can save money by cooking and socializing at home rather than out on the town. You will need to account for transportation from the rental property to the wedding, but a cab will likely be cheaper than opting for the hotel where the couple has arranged transportation. If you don’t know many people at the wedding, ask the couple if they have other friends looking to share accommodations. Not only will you save, you might make new friends!

5. DON’T WAIT TO BUY YOUR GIFT.

Find out where the couple has registered as soon as possible. The earlier you scope out the registry, the more options you will have to find a gift that fits your budget. Guests attending bridal showers and engagement parties tend to snap up the less expensive items ahead of the wedding, so try to purchase your gift at least four or five months out. Not only will you look totally on top of things, but shopping early will give you time to get on the mailing lists for the stores where the bride and groom are registered and keep an eye on sales.

6. POOL RESOURCES FOR A GROUP GIFT.

Get a bunch of friends together and go in on a big-ticket item that no one person can afford. Not only will you each likely spend less than you would alone, you will be able to get the couple an expensive item that they might not otherwise receive. (Added bonus: You’ll be first on the invite list when they christen their new grill.)

7. GO BEYOND THE REGISTRY.

Consider giving your time and/or your talents in lieu of a physical or monetary gift. Maybe you are a skilled photographer, makeup stylist, or hand letterer. There are lots of ways to contribute to your friends’ weddings that will save both of you money. Even offering to help run errands the weekend of the wedding will be greatly appreciated, and it will ultimately be a more meaningful gift than a $50 salad bowl.

8. BUY IN BULK.

It may not sound romantic, but when you see items like picture frames and champagne on sale – stock up! Then all you have to do is slip in a beautiful photo of the couple, get some nice wrapping paper, and you’re good to go!

9. INVEST IN A GREAT WEDDING OUTFIT...OR RENT ONE.

Unless you are part of the wedding party, you should not focus too much of your budget on your own attire. Women can invest in a classic black, navy, or gem-toned dress and mix it up with accessories. (Stay away from patterns; they are memorable.) It’s also a good idea to get a good, comfortable pair of neutral shoes that you can wear to every wedding. If you’re hesitant to wear the same dress in front of your friends, swap dresses with a friend or rent a designer dress.

Men will find it easy to change outfits just by mixing shirts and ties with one great suit. If you are attending a black-tie wedding, a black suit and black tie will fit the bill, or you can rent a tuxedo from a local shop or online.

10. IT IS OKAY TO RESPECTFULLY DECLINE AN INVITATION.

As much as you would love to attend every wedding, shower, or bachelor(ette) party, it isn’t always practical. You might have already taken a big vacation this year, so you cannot afford to attend a destination wedding in the Bahamas. Or maybe your friend’s fiancée invited you to her shower just to be polite. It is acceptable to say no. True friends will understand.

11. REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE THERE.

Don’t forget that you are there to celebrate your loved ones and the fact that they have found their partner in life. It’s not worth overspending and risking feeling resentful over what should be a happy occasion. Remember, your friends do not expect (nor want) you to go into debt so that you can be a part of their big day. They would much rather have the pleasure of your company than an expensive gift. Stick to what works for your personal budget and have a great time honoring your friends.

It’s that time of year: Wedding bells are ringing. And ringing. And ringing some more. Feeling overwhelmed by all the events on your calendar? The Discover it Miles Card will automatically match all the miles you earn at the end of your first year, which means 20,000 miles can turn into 40,000. The best part: There’s no limit to how much they’ll match. Terms apply. Visit Discover to learn more.

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5 Ways to Avoid Extra Rental Car Fees
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Walking into a rental car dealer should be a simple task. Walk in with a reservation, your ID, and your credit card, and walk out with a set of keys. But more often than not, picking up and returning a rental car is a dizzying array of add-on offers and potential fees. How do you make the most of your vacation without getting tripped up by unnecessary costs? Condé Nast Traveler has some smart tips for keeping it under budget, and we’ve added a few tips of our own as well. Because you can never save too much money.

1. DON'T BUY EXTRA INSURANCE.

Are you paying for your rental with a credit card? Your credit card company likely provides its own rental car insurance. Your own car insurance, too, will often cover rental car trips. Check with both to determine whether you really want to spend extra on the rental company’s collision damage package. No, you don’t want to be fully liable if you total your shiny rental car. But that doesn’t mean you need to shell out a pricey daily fee for peace of mind. In fact, some credit cards don’t offer rental car insurance if you’re also covered under the rental agency’s collision damage waiver, so you may be shooting yourself in the foot if you get it. Make sure to check whether your credit card coverage is primary or secondary insurance, though.

2. DON'T BUY THEIR GAS.

At some rental car agencies, you can prepay to have them fill your tank after you drop the car off. That means you’ll save time on the way back, and generally, the price-per-gallon seems relatively cheap. The problem? You’re probably not going to run your rental car down to empty right as you pull into the return lot, and then you’ve just given the agency free gas. It’s never a good idea to leave filling up to the agency. Unfortunately, that’s doubly true on the return end if you've opted for the prepay—you’ll get hit with a huge premium if you forget to fill the tank and have to buy gas from the company when you’re handing over the keys. You don’t want to get stuck paying $15 per gallon.

3. AVOID THE AIRPORT.

It’s super convenient to hop off the plane and go right to the rental car agency, but that convenience comes at a price. Airports charge rental agencies concession fees to operate on their property, and those costs get passed along to you. If you can take a quick (and cheap) train or cab ride to a nearby agency a few miles away from the airport, you’ll probably pay lower rates.

4. FIND A DISCOUNT.

If you’ve got a travel credit card, you might get a discount at some rental car partners. Citi cardholders, for instance, get up to 20 percent off Hertz rentals, while Visa cardholders can get up to 25 percent off National car rentals. Chase’s Sapphire Reserve credit card gives discounts at Avis, National, and Silvercar.

Your employer may also provide rental car discounts, as do some airline and hotel rewards programs. You can even find a discount on Groupon. So don’t reserve blindly. A little research into coupons could save you significant money.

5. DON'T BOTHER TO RETURN EARLY.

In most cases, it’s better to show up early than late. But with rental cars, you can be penalized for returning your car too early. Depending on when you return it, you could be charged a different rate than what you originally planned. If you return a car on Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning, you might end up with a weekday rate charge instead of a weekend rate. If you have a weekly rental, you’ll be paying for a full week whether you return it after five days or the full week. If you return a weekly rental after four days, you might end up paying the day rate, which could be more expensive. In short: You want to stick to your original plans as much as possible, and if you do need to return your car early, call the agency first to check how it will affect your bill.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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