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The Importance of Volunteering

When you think about the benefits of volunteering, you probably consider the impact you make in the lives of the less fortunate. However, volunteering can also contribute positively to your life. Although everyone ought to give without expecting anything in return, the truth is that serving rewards you in many unexpected ways.

Build New Connections

During volunteer events, you are likely to meet like-minded people, from where you can develop lasting friendships. A volunteer connects with the community and makes it a better place for everyone. If you attend the events with a friend, you will have time to strengthen your relationships. Volunteering allows you an opportunity to develop and practice your social skills, which is a striking advantage for shy individuals.

Develop Communication & Networking Skills

For one to volunteer, they must have or develop specific skills, such as teamwork, project planning, organization, communication, task management, and task management. You are likely to be comfortable taking up some job opportunities when you are sure that the skills you have earned are adequate. During your experience as a volunteering experience, it is possible to meet people working in your area of interest..

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Top 5 Personal Finance Apps This Year

Personal finance management can be challenging but today’s personal finance apps make the job easier and less stressful. From budgeting and expense tracking to investments and peer-to-peer payments, the following are the 5 best personal finance apps of the year that are worth using.

Venmo for Peer Payments
Venmo, purchased by Paypal in 2013, combines social media and peer-to-peer payments in one intuitive format. Users can share personal QR codes to receive payments from friends and family. Money can be sent using a Venmo balance, bank account, or credit card. Transactions can even be viewed by other friends.

Mint for Budgeting and Saving
Intuit’s Mint has a well-earned reputation as one of the best money management apps ever made. This all-in-one app makes it easy to set up an effective budget, track spending in personalized categories, and manage savings. All credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, and monthly bills can be connected to track everything in one place. Mint sends alerts when bills are due and when a budgeted spending category is exceeded.

Acorns for Saving and Investing
A big barrier to investments for many consumers is the perceived expense. Acorn makes investing easier and more accessible by rounding up purchases and automatically investing the difference in a low-cost ETF portfolio based on the user’s chosen risk preference…

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Wise Giving: How to Choose the Right Charity

Wanting to give back to your community is an admirable ambition, but knowing how to get from that point to actually making your first donation can seem a bit overwhelming. There are dozens of causes in need of assistance and each one is worthy in its own way. By taking the time to think about your motives for donating and your personal interests, you can determine which charities best appeal to your philanthropic spirit.

Choose a Cause That Stirs Your Heart

It’s all too common to see a social media post that tears at our emotions and urges us to act. However, you can do the most good, when you choose to contribute to a cause that touches you on a deeper level. You should choose a charity that deeply concerns you. This will prompt you to investigate charities that have the greatest potential for creating change.

Determine How You Want Your Donation Used

Another factor to consider is how you want your money used to help others. If you want to see more immediate change, your efforts are probably best focused on locally operated charities, such as food drives or donating to an area school. If you’re more interested in contributing to a larger problem, you might be better off donating to national or international charities.

Research Your Charity

Before giving your money to any organization, it’s important to research their recent achievements. This can tell you how well they manage their donations and if your money will really be used to create positive changes in the world…

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Efficiently Managing Your Grocery Budget

Out of the many regular expenses that are deducted from your bank account, groceries is usually one that can make a pretty large dent.  Whether you’re a single adult with a minimal grocery list, or a large family on a tight budget, planning a grocery trip to make it financially efficient is a smart way to cut down on your costs and reduce the possibility of overspending. Depending on your food shopping frequency, you can easily create a plan to manage how much you spend, whether its weekly, bi-weekly or on a month to month basis.  Here are some simple tips for controlling a weekly food budget.

Look At the Supermarket Advertisements

Many supermarkets have online advertisements, and with careful planning, it is possible to shop for the best deals each week. When your supermarket of choice is offering items on sale, go through and see which ones you need for your household.  If the sale is more than just a few cents off, say a buy one get one free, take advantage of it. If it’s a regular item in your home, you’ll most benefit from buying more than one. Make sure to buy foods that won’t spoil so that the budget isn’t wasted on rotten fruits or vegetables.

Store Rewards Programs

Find out if your supermarket has a “shoppers card” or rewards program.  Patrons who hold shoppers card, or are rewards members are often able to obtain items on sale that are exclusive to cardholders.  Rewards programs at your local supermarket are often free to sign up and provide you with discounts, points systems, and helpful coupons.

Have Weekly Menu Plans

Planning out your shopping trip is essential if you’re looking to stay within budget.  Before you make your way to the store, take a look at the advertisements, and try to plan out things like breakfast, lunches, and dinners.  Doing this can ultimately prevent impulse shopping, and keep you on track to buying only what you need.   

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Boosting Your Retirement Savings

Retirement and financial preparation are two topics that can often be a little overwhelming to think about.  Life and finances, after you retire, are unknown. Common concerns that may come to mind are how you will make money after you retire and if you’ll have enough saved to live off of for an extended period of time.  With all of these concerns, it’s important to know that there are multiple steps to take to boost your retirement savings and maximize it’s potential. Here some strategies that individuals can use to boost their retirement savings.

Maximizing 401 (k) Contributions

There is a probability that an employer has a voluntary contribution plan such as the 401 (k). If an employee is not participating, it is important for them to start contributing the maximum amount required by the law. This strategy will increase the amount saved for retirement while at the same time reducing the taxable income, which softens the blow of maximum contributions.  Additionally, if your employer is matching contributions, you should contribute what you can to capitalize on the opportunity.

Pay Off Debts

Many people find it difficult to boost their retirement savings because a significant proportion of their income goes into paying debts and interests on debts. A person can consider paying off the debts at an earlier stage of their life so that they can free enough cash, which they can use in boosting their retirement savings.  Debts such as student loans, which are affecting an abundance of Millennials and future generations alike, can often be overwhelming, but when tackled correctly, can be reduced significantly before you retire. Focus on paying off unnecessary or large debts as soon as possible. Without having to worry about these, you can contribute more to your retirement savings as time goes on.

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Essential Saving Tips for College Students

It’s no secret that college students often struggle financially. Whether they have to save money for rent or make ends meet for food, college students notoriously have a hard time saving money. However, with a little bit of creativity, students can go from hungry penny-pincher to well-fed collegiate. Read on for the best money saving tips for college students.

Stick to Used Textbooks

One of the biggest expenses students face is having to purchase textbooks for class. Instead of buying a brand new book for a couple of hundred dollars, students should always buy used books. Students can find used textbooks online with Amazon.com or they can rent textbooks from Barnes & Noble’s or Chegg. If they prefer reading their books digitally, iFlipd is always a good option.

Save Money When Buying a Laptop

Don’t buy the first laptop on the shelf–be sure to shop through tax-free and discounted days. Always search for companies that offer discounts for college students, like Adobe, Apple, and Dell. If possible, buy a used laptop to save money instead of buying a brand new laptop.

Play it Safe with Credit Cards

There’s a reason credit card companies target college students. While it’s easy to get a credit card, students may find that they have trouble paying it off. If a student does get a card, it’s important to find one with a lower interest rate and only to use it when if it can be paid off in time. Then, be sure to pay the whole balance each month to prevent any late fees. This is the best way to use a credit card and will help build credit.

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Reasons People Don’t Donate To Charity

Donating to charity is one of the best things you can do. Many people are in need of food, water, clothing, shelter, and other necessities, and donations are the easiest way to give to those in need. However, some people refuse to donate to charity for quite a few reasons. Today, I will take some of those reasons and explain why they are not good excuses to avoid giving back.

I don’t make enough money.

Giving back to your community is not about the amount you give, but the fact that you care enough to give. Many people who are struggling to make ends meet think they can’t donate. However, consider this: how often do you eat take-out? Do you buy coffee on the way to work every day? Cutting out even one small expense saves you money that you can then pass along to people who may not have the ability to work or eat every day. Anyone who makes money has enough to give, even if it is pennies.

I don’t know where my money will go.

While it is true that there are far too many organizations who pay executives before the people who need help, it is typically quite easy to find out which charities are legitimate. Try looking up “[the charity’s name] scam” on Google and you will quickly find all the information you need. Furthermore, if the cause itself sounds suspicious, try reading more information from third-party sources, such as news sites or scholars who study these problems. If there is no other information out there, you may want to consider donating to a different cause.

I don’t get anything out of it.

Anyone who believes donating gets them nothing should reevaluate their mindset. Donating can give you joy, just knowing that you have done something to save someone else. However, donating can also give you physical rewards as well. Many donations are tax-deductible (which should be stated on the charity’s website), which is a nice bonus come tax season. You can also donate to charities on crowdfunding websites, where there are often rewards dependent on how much you give. Finally, if you have thousands of dollars to donate, try looking into Charitybuzz, which auctions off once-in-a-lifetime experiences and gives all of the proceeds to charity.

I don’t know how to donate.

Today, there are many options for how you can donate. The most common way is online through a charity’s website. Still, many charities accept checks in the mail or phone donations. Even if you are uncomfortable entering your bank information online, there is still a way for you to donate.

Ultimately, every excuse for donating comes down to just that — an excuse. If you have any reservations about donating, I suggest researching solutions to your problem. You will find that any issue out there has a resolution. After reading this, I urge you to take out your wallet, research a charity you feel passionate about, and give.

Originally posted on SylvesterKnox.org