Why You Should Buy a Home You Can't Afford
July 29 | 2016
A few years ago I was at Coachella, buying overpriced, under-seasoned food from a vendor who was particularly kind. Par for the course, all of these events are dominated by Square payments that provide the oh-so-convenient option to tip your gracious server. Oftentimes, the transaction is so quick, you’re wondering if you should even tip at all.
But in this case, I wanted to tip her. Since there wasn’t a homemade, pun-emblazoned tip jar present (most of these events are cashless), I hovered my finger over the 15%, 20%, and even 25% options before she stopped me. She informed me that she actually didn’t receive any of the money from those tips — they just gave the vendor more money.
While I can’t prove this is the case everywhere, or even if she truly knew this as fact, it was enough for me to be wary. I mean, why is there the option to tip the person who is simply giving you merch at concerts? I don’t normally tip the cashier at the mall…
Nonetheless, you feel like an awful person for not tipping when you’re prompted. The cashier is standing right in front of you, watching you sweat. And the person behind you in line is probably judging you, too. You so badly want to select the “Other” option and punch in a quick, cheaper tip…but what would this total stranger think?
Our culture is so accustomed to tipping that I went to the nail salon to get my eyebrows waxed through ClassPass — a monthly subscription where I can book wellness classes of any sort. Since I 'd technically prepaid, I decided to leave my wallet behind. Big mistake.
The woman at the counter refused to let me leave the establishment until I tipped, even though I insisted that I didn’t have my wallet on me. I had to go home and come back, saturated in embarrassment. While tipping is a way that most servers and stylists make a good amount of cash, my $2 tip on my $10 eyebrow wax is not worth my public humiliation.
Believe me, I’m all for tipping your drivers and servers, but there are times when you wonder: how much is too much? And, when the Square is flipped my way, why are the tip options so outrageous?
Recently at a Brooklyn Mirage event, where two double-vodka sodas cost $100, I noticed that not only were the drinks criminally expensive, but the tipping options were designed to take advantage of drunk people.
When you’ve had a few drinks, it’s easier to just click buttons and spend money. You’re not thinking straight, and neither is your bank account. After a few espresso martinis, I believe I'm Oprah! I get a drink, you get a drink, you get a drink, and even you, person I just met, get. A. Drink!
But that doesn’t mean you need to tip an egregious amount each time you order a drink when you go to a show or the stadium — even if they’re trying to make you think you should.
Sam Dan Truong via Unsplash
Back in August, Forbes showed us the following facts: “A recent survey by Bankrate found that roughly 66% of Americans have a negative view of tipping. Around 30% of respondents think that tipping culture is “out of control,” with more companies encouraging customers to tip at their counters than ever before. Patrons find the pre-entered tip screens aggravating (32%) and think businesses should pay their employees more rather than rely on gratuity (41%).”
The digitized payment method can be tricky. Your tip options can exceed 30%, with no option to give a custom tip. 75% of remote food and beverage transactions are now accompanied by encouragements to tip.
Forbes says it’s partially due to the pandemic, where we started tipping more simply to show support for restaurants and their workers for staying open. However, when the pandemic ended and everywhere re-opened, that tipflation stayed.
With the rise of the Square digital payment method, we are forced to think about tipping for counter service. If you think back, before the pandemic, we were still a 15-20% tipping culture for those providing us a service. But now, it’s more than that.
Do we tip our bartenders 20% for every single drink? Do we tip the girl who hands us our coffee every time? What is the correct way to tip?
Blake Wisz via Unsplash
If you’re happy with the service, give them a tip! It’s still customary to tip your server and the person who did your hair or your nails — basically, anyone who provided you with some sort of service. But it gets trickier when you’re at an event with all digitized payment methods.
You don’t need to tip the people at stadiums every single time, or when you’re at a festival. If you do feel obligated to tip, give what you can. You don’t need to choose the options provided, just look for “Other” or use cash.
Again, tipping is a way of showing gratitude for the service provided. If you are extremely unhappy with your service, you don’t have to tip. Whatever you’re able to give will be appreciated.
Everyone can always use some extra cash. There’s gotta be an easier way than working overtime or wasting your life on obscure side hustles. I’m sure you’ve had friends say, “just invest your money, bro” – if only it were that simple. With so many personal investment apps out there, it can be tough to find one that’s right for you. Whether you’re looking for a basic approach, automated investing, or sophisticated trading tools – there’s an app for everyone.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 personal investment apps on the market:
Robinhood – as the name suggests, brings investing to the people. With its sleek interface and user-friendly design, it's a breeze to use. No more scratching your head over complex financial jargon – Robinhood breaks it down in a way that even your grandma can understand. Plus, the commission-free trades make you feel like you've cracked the code to financial freedom without breaking the bank. If you're looking to trade stocks, options, ETFs, or crypto – Robinhood’s a terrific choice. However, this app doesn’t support mutual funds or fixed-income products, so it's best for beginner investors.
Meet Acorns, the app that's all about micro-investing. It rounds up your everyday purchases to the nearest dollar and tosses that spare change into a portfolio. Basically, it’s the investment equivalent of finding money in your couch cushions! Acorns works best for investors looking to be hands-off. A minor downside is the pricey account management fees, especially if you’re only investing a small amount.
If you've ever felt overwhelmed by the stock market's endless buffet, Stash will get you sorted. This app caters to your interests and values, allowing you to invest in themes like clean energy or your favorite tech giants. It's like choosing pizza toppings, but rather than pepperoni, you're choosing renewable energy stocks. There are small monthly fees, but it could be worth it if you want to buy fractional shares or a mixture of DIY and automated investing.
Imagine having your own personal finance Fairy Godmother. That's Betterment. This robo-advisor does the heavy lifting, making investment decisions based on your goals and risk tolerance. It's like having a financial planner, but without the awkward small talk. With their goal oriented tools and useful tax strategies, Betterment is definitely an underrated option.
Unlike other apps, E*TRADE has been around the block – it's the original gangster of online investing. With its roots firmly planted in the '90s, E*TRADE has weathered the dot-com bubble and the rise of smartphones. It's the app your older cousin used to trade tech stocks when the internet was still blurping and bleeping those dial-up noises. E*TRADE’s for the investor who wants a bit of tradition with a side of tech-savvy. Known for their exceptional customer support, E*TRADE also allows users to invest in futures, mutual funds, and advanced option strategies.
If you're all about simplicity and love a good visual, Robinhood might be your go-to. For the saver who wants an investing habit that’s an automatic reflex, Acorns is the one. Stash appeals to the investor with a cause, while Betterment caters to those who seek a stress-free experience. And if you're looking for more advanced trading tools, E*TRADE is a good old reliable choice.
Ultimately, the smartest investment app should align with your financial goals and make you excited about growing your wealth. The best way to learn is by giving them a try!
It’s almost 2024, but if there’s one thing you don’t want to save until the new year it’s putting your finances in order. When it comes to tackling money goals, the best time to start is always yesterday. But these days — given our digital-first landscape and online bank accounts — financial success takes more than balancing a checkbook. But this doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. No matter your financial goals, from understanding your accounts to growing your wealth, there are many impressive personal finance apps that make it easier for everyone and anyone to understand their money.
Financial apps are powerful tools to assist us, educate us, and empower us to understand our finances better, all from the comfort of our desktops or smartphones. Get a grasp of your finances, get on track with financial goals, and set yourself up for long-term financial accomplishments.
These apps aren't merely about tracking your expenses — though many can remove the tedium of keeping track of your card swipes and Apple pay purchases. They offer insights into your spending habits, help you plan for the future, and act as actual financial confidants. Are you planning to pay off debt? Are you saving for a dream vacation (if White Lotus is your ultimate inspiration, you’re not alone)? Invest for a secure retirement? It doesn’t matter what financial freedom looks like, personal finance apps can help you get there.
As your partners in success, these apps allow you to set specific financial goals, track your progress, and, most importantly, they absolutely hold you accountable. They offer a variety of approaches to budgeting, investing, and saving. Whether you prefer the hands-on approach of manual budgeting or the convenience of automation, there's an app to match your style.
So, let's take a journey through the best personal finance apps, each with its own pros and cons, so you can make the right choice for your financial future.
First up on our list is Mint, the all-around money management system by Intuit. Mint is a classic for a reason. A name synonymous with personal finance management. Imagine having a personal financial assistant who keeps an eye on your money 24/7. It helps you manage your accounts, budget for your success, and set a spending plan for a brighter financial future.
- Budget Tracking: Mint automatically categorizes your spending, helping you track your expenses and identify areas to cut back.
- Bill Reminders: Never miss a payment again with Mint's bill reminder feature.
- Credit Score Monitoring: Mint provides a free credit score and monitoring service to help you stay on top of your credit health.
- Investment Tracking: It also tracks investments, so you have a holistic view of your financial portfolio.
- Ads: Mint's free version comes with ads, which can be a bit of a nuisance for some users.
- Limited Investment Advice: While it tracks investments, it fails to provide in-depth investment advice or portfolio analysis.
The YNAB budgeting approach applies the zero-based budgeting method to your finances without the hassle of doing the calculations yourself or using a complex spreadsheet. YNAB gives every dollar a job causing you to be more intentional with your money. If you simply seek a 360 overview of your spending, this is the app for you.
- Zero-Based Budgeting: YNAB's core philosophy is built on assigning a purpose to each dollar, leading to a more controlled and mindful approach to spending.
- Educational Resources: YNAB offers free workshops and resources to help you gain a better grasp of budgeting.
- Goal Tracking: It allows you to set financial goals and track your progress.
- Debt Paydown Support: YNAB offers features to help you get out of debt faster.
- Subscription Model: YNAB operates on a subscription model which might deter users looking for a free option.
- Learning Curve: The zero-based budgeting system may take time to fully apprehend and implement.
Goodbudget is a unique app that brings the envelope budgeting method to your digital life, making budgeting tangible and visual. Paper envelopes can be a hassle to set up and keep track of — especially now that more and more places don’t take cash. Goodbudget gives you a visual and interactive way to keep track of your money.
- Envelope System: Goodbudget digitally replicates the envelope budgeting system, where you allocate funds to specific categories.
- Multi-Platform Support: It's available on both web and mobile devices, making it accessible wherever you are.
- Debt Tracking: It provides features for tracking and paying off debt.
- Limited Automation: Goodbudget relies on manual input for most transactions and budgeting, which can be time-consuming.
- Basic Reporting: The app's reporting capabilities are not as robust as some other options.
Created by financial guru Dave Ramsey, EveryDollar is a budgeting tool designed to help users take control of their money. However, Dave Ramsay’s methods are pretty controversial due to his ruthless and shame-based rhetoric. This may be best if you’re aggressively paying off debt, but not as a permanent addition to your lifestyle.
- Zero-Based Budgeting: Like YNAB, EveryDollar encourages zero-based budgeting, ensuring every dollar has a job.
- Dave Ramsey's Principles: The app incorporates Dave Ramsey's financial principles and strategies.
- Debt Snowball Tracking: EveryDollar assists users in following the debt snowball method to pay off debts.
- Cost: The full version of EveryDollar comes at a price, which may not be suitable for users seeking a free budgeting tool.
- Limited Features: It may lack some of the investment and credit tracking features present in other apps.
Cleo is a chatbot app that uses AI to help users with budgeting and financial management. It gives you an easy-to-understand overview of your money on demand. And can even provide advice on your spending based on what your accounts are looking like. It’s ideal for Gen Z due to its casual tone and approachable interface.
- Conversational Interface: Cleo makes budgeting more engaging and accessible through its chatbot interface.
- Expense Tracking: It tracks expenses and offers insights into your spending habits.
- Automatic Saving: Cleo can help automate your savings and set aside money for your goals.
- Bank-Level Security: It prioritizes security to protect your financial information.
- Subscription Model: Access to Cleo Plus, the premium version, comes at a monthly cost.
- Limited Investment Features: Cleo's primary focus is on budgeting and saving, not investment tracking.
SoFi offers a range of financial products and services, including banking, investing, loans, and more. It's a comprehensive financial platform designed to help users take control of their financial future. You can invest, trade, bank, and save on their platform, while also keeping track of any other bank accounts.
- Integrated Financial Services: SoFi provides a one-stop-shop for banking, investing, and borrowing.
- Robo-Advisory Services: SoFi Invest offers robo-advisory services for automated investing.
- Loan Refinancing: It's known for student loan refinancing and personal loans with competitive rates.
- Financial Planning: SoFi offers financial planning tools and advice.
- High Account Minimums: Some investment options have high account minimums, making them less accessible for beginners.
- Limited Banking Branches: SoFi Money accounts are online-only, which might not suit users who prefer in-person banking.
This is just a taste of what's to come in the world of personal finance apps for 2023. Financial success isn't only about the present; it's about building a secure future. As you navigate the vast array of personal finance apps, consider your long-term financial goals. Look for apps that not only assist with budgeting and expense tracking but also offer tools for debt management, investment, and retirement planning.
From robo-advisors that handle your investments to apps that help you pay down debt more efficiently, the choices are abundant. Some even provide educational resources and workshops to develop your financial literacy.
Investing in these apps is an investment in your financial future, bringing you one step closer to financial security and achieving your dreams.