Posts by Jess

Why A Weekly Spending Target Is The Best Budget To Have

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Creating and sticking to a budget can be hard. If you’ve ever felt too intimidated, too anxious, or too lazy to budget your money, you’re not alone. That’s why we challenged Qapital’s team of behavioral economists to design a more simple, more effective way to budget. The results? We’d like to introduce you to our Weekly Spending Target feature.

Do you ever contemplate what you should spend instead of what you could spend on a regular basis? A sustainable budget will comfortably pace the spending of your paycheck. But harmful budgets that encourage you to overspend (paying money you don’t have or need for unnecessary expenses) or underspend (limiting your ability to sustain the quality of life you deserve) hold you back from financial freedom. If you don’t feel balanced or in control, then you can’t be honest with yourself about your money.

That’s why we designed our Weekly Spending Target to let you customize a budget that fits your spending habits and income. It will automatically send you notifications that keep you updated throughout the week so you always know how you’re doing. You can adjust your target amount at any time so you have the flexibility to learn and grow with your spending habits.

How are we so sure we’ve made smart spending easier? Because we asked our Chief Behavioral Economist, famed researcher and professor Dan Ariely. If you have budgeting questions, he has the answers—and we built our Weekly Spending Target with those answers.

Qapital: Why should a budget be weekly? Why not set it monthly or yearly?

Dan Ariely: “If we have a yearly budget—let’s say $50,000—we’ll run out of that money way too soon. A monthly budget makes sense for some things—it fits the bill of rent and so on—but most of our discretionary expenses* are either weekly or daily.”

“We certainly need a monthly budget for monthly expenses—rent and so on—but for discretionary spending*, it’s much much better to have a weekly budget. In fact, some studies show that even if you have a two-week budget, people spend way too much in the beginning and don’t have enough by the end. So if we want to spread our money correctly, the right framework is to think about a week.”

Q: When should the week start?

Dan Ariely: “Should the week start on Friday or should the week start on Monday? Well, on the weekend we have more discretion. We can expand our spending [because] there are so many more things to do on the weekend. In fact, when you work, life is quite cheap; you don’t have enough time to spend all your money. But on the weekend, when you have more [free] time, you can expand your spending dramatically. It’s something to look forward to.”

“So what’s the right approach? If our week starts on Friday or Saturday, we end up spending way too much on the weekend and are left with no money by Wednesday or Thursday. But if we start on Monday we save some of the money because we want to keep it for the weekend, and then if we don’t have that much leftover it’s easy to shrink our amount spent over the weekend.”

Q: Should my budget have categories?

Dan Ariely: “The answer is yes only if you’re perfectly rational and if you enjoy budgeting. While it’s reasonable to have a budget for multiple categories, most people won’t stick to them. You don’t want to go for something that’s perfect, you want to go for something that is doable. For that, I recommend the strategy of creating one budget for all your discretionary spending.”

“Think about all the things you could live without. For example, grocery shopping is not one of those things. You can’t live without food. But take all the things you could live without, put them in one bucket, then think about what amount you want to spend on that category per week—coffee, drinks, going out, entertainment—and then think of that as a separate category, as a holistic category, without breaking it into components.”

The Weekly Spending Target tool is available only for users with a Qapital Visa® Debit Card. Sign up for a (free) Qapital Spending Account today and set a budget you can feel confident about.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

*Discretionary spending: non-essential purchases for things like leisure and entertainment.

 

 

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5 Holiday Shopping Tips To Get You Through Winter

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The winter holiday season is upon us! Stressed out about how much holiday cheer is going to cost you this year? Fret not! We’ve got a few holiday shopping tips to help you and your wallet survive all the meals, flights and gift-giving ahead.

1. Spend money on experiences, not just things.

Sure, a new game console or a pair of shoes are appealing, but when you’re thinking about gifts—for yourself or for someone else—remember the value of experiences, too. A ticket home to see Grandma could mean a lot more to you than an iPhone X down the line.

Sometimes it’s more about what you spend your money on rather than how much you spend. Buy an experience you will remember, an experience you can share. Memories are one of the few gifts that never stop giving, and the winter holiday season is famous for them.

2. Prepare yourself for unexpected holiday purchases.

Even if you don’t have an emergency or rainy day fund lying around, it’s good to expect the unexpected. Overestimating what you’ll pay for dinners with friends and presents for your family can help keep you from running into the red every time you swipe your Qapital Visa® Debit Card.*  

Some things are out of your control, for example, knowing exactly how much you’ll spend on that first night out at home with your best pals from high school or that spontaneous present you’ll buy your daughter when you see it in the store. Face the reality of holiday splurges! If you know you’re going to have hot chocolate every day it snows, then don’t lie to yourself and pretend you won’t buy one every morning. Budget it into your weekly spending.

3. Think of spending on others as spending on yourself.

As the saying goes, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” By that logic, every present you give to someone else is also a present you give yourself.

Don’t buy into the “giving is a gift in itself” ideology? Well, when you think about it, gifts that are experiences are gifts to anyone who partakes in them—including and especially you. So you treat yourself when you treat your best friend to a cup of coffee or shell out half a month’s pay to fly home for the holidays!

4. Choose debit over credit.

If you already have a Qapital Visa® Debit Card, you know the benefits of choosing debit over credit (especially when your debit card is synced up with Qapital Savings Rules). You can spend less time worrying or feeling guilty about purchases, and more time enjoying yourself over the holidays.

If you don’t have a Qapital Visa® Debit Card, what are you waiting for? They’re free, they’re sleek, and they come with our exclusive Weekly Spending Target budgeting tool.

5. Small indulgences can make the holidays feel decadent. Embrace them.

Everyone gives in to their guilty pleasures some time or another—those small indulgences that you crave all year long, all week long, all day long. Giving in to what Qapital’s Chief Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely refers to as the “what the hell effect” is all too normal. Enjoy what you know you can’t resist, and if you treat yourself to something nice, let go of the guilt before it grips you. Never underestimate the power of little things over our happiness.   

Happy holiday spending!

*Issued by Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC

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Introducing Qapital’s Weekly Spending Target

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We just made smart spending a whole lot easier. How, you ask? We built a tool that lets you customize a budget for your spending habits and stick to it, effortlessly. Say hello to Qapital’s Weekly Spending Target.

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Our Weekly Spending Target works exclusively with the Qapital Visa® Debit Card*—another reason to sign up for Qapital Spending in the app if you haven’t already.

*Issued by Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC

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How Saving With Qapital Helped Me Quit My Job To Pursue My Dream

This guest post is courtesy of Kassondra Cloos.

Photo by Nick Cote
Photo by Nick Cote

Becoming a freelancer is the dream for a lot of writers, who love the idea of trying to make it as their own boss. I first started thinking about making the leap in 2014 when I was a newspaper reporter and not making very much money. I considered quitting to waitress, travel, and pursue creating writing. With tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, though, I needed guaranteed income.

But last year, while working as an editor for an outdoor industry news website—a dream job in itself—I became addicted to saving with the Qapital app, and I started thinking about it again as my savings grew. I had met lots of successful travel writers who told me going freelance was the best decision they’d ever made, and I started preparing to give it a shot.

In December, sick of throwing away all my spare cash on student loan bills, I cleared out my checking and savings accounts to pay off my highest-interest loans. There was a moment of intense freedom, then a few weeks of living paycheck-to-paycheck while I rebuilt my safety net.

I watched my spending closely, and I wanted to hold myself accountable for saving the money I’d no longer need for my loans.

I found Qapital while Googling new savings accounts just after Christmas, and I opened an account immediately. I set up goals for student loans, quitting my job, and vacation, and a bunch of rules, like rounding up to the nearest $1 on every purchase, the 52-week rule (which saves $1 the first week then $2, then $3, and so on), and a guilty pleasure rule for withdrawing money from an ATM.

At first, I saved maybe $20 or $30 a week while I recovered from clearing out my funds to triple digits. But it quickly became like a game, and I created more and more rules. Automatic transfers held me accountable to save the $250 a month I had been spending on the loan I’d paid off, putting it just out of my reach so I couldn’t spend it frivolously. I loved how quickly spare change added up, so I took it a step further and changed my $1 round-up rule to a $5 round-up rule.

Saving with Qapital became addicting, and I’d check my account obsessively, every day, to see if I could round up a goal to a milestone by manually transferring an extra $5 or $10. In the spring, I started freelancing on the side as much as possible to build up my clips, establish relationships with publications I’d want to write for long-term, and save enough to quit.

I created a new goal for taxes, for a third of what I made from assignments, and I put nearly all of the rest into other Qapital savings goals. Instead of spending my extra cash on eating out or new clothes, I funneled every extra penny into my Qapital savings.

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Within just seven months, I saved over $9,000. A little more than half of that came from extra income outside of my regular job, and the rest was from filing away all the extra money I could. I used IFTTT, for example, to save $5 with one tap every time I avoided spending money on non-essential purchases.

With a safety net I finally felt comfortable with, I put in my notice in late July, and started freelancing full-time in mid-September. It’s a little early to know how successful I’ll be in the long term, but I do know that if every month is like this one, I’ll be just fine.

Photo by Nick Cote
Photo by Nick Cote

Kassondra Cloos is a freelance adventure travel and outdoor writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kassondracloos, and find more of her work at kassondracloos.com.

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Hey Siri, Save $25 For Honeymoon

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It’s a big week for your iPhone. Apple released the long-awaited iOS 11 operating system… And we have a surprise for you, too. You might have seen us featured on the app store’s “Hey Siri” page. That’s because we not only worked to make the Qapital app compatible with iOS 11, we also launched Siri integration!

What does that mean for you? It means instant updates on your Qapital account balances whenever you want. It means easy-peasy, handsfree transfers of money to your Goals while you’re cooking dinner or riding the bus. You can ask Siri to check your balance, transfer funds to a Goal, or show you how much you’ve saved so far towards that plane ticket to Barcelona.

Of course, Siri’s not the only way your iPhone and Qapital app work hand in hand… Don’t forget you can set up an AppleHealth Rule to link your fiscal habits and fitness routine.

Qapital makes saving money easy, and things just got easier.

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What Do Millennials Regret Spending Money On Most?

At Qapital, we aim to help your money make you happy. The last thing we want you to feel about your everyday saving and spending habits is regret.  

But how do we get to those squirm-inducing, regretful moments of buyer’s remorse? And more importantly, how do we avoid them? These are questions we ask when developing products to support you. In fact, we partnered with Common Cents Lab at Duke University and MetLife to conduct a Millennial Financial Regret Spending Study to do just that.  

Our team asked 1000 millennial participants to review their most recent financial transactions and fill out a questionnaire about which ones they regret the most and which ones they don’t. 28,000 data points later, we concluded some pretty useful insights. Peek the four big takeaways:   

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You can read more about the study findings here.

Wince less, smile more.

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