5 Tips to Get the Most Out of This Summer

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Summertime is a state of mind.

It’s the sun on your face, the pep in your step, the bring-it-on of late nights and good times, the dawning of exciting new possibilities.

The first day of summer happens when you switch from have-to to get-to, so kickstart your get-to with these goals leading to summery goodness.

1) Drink better coffee

Ah, coffee, that beautiful, fragrant source of motivation. It’s delicious, it’s comforting, and studies show that it may improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression (by the way, decaf offers the same health benefits). Whether you like it hot or prefer to make your own cold brew the easy way, there’s so much to love.

Better Coffee

Well, your perfect morning has arrived, thanks to the team behind MistoBox. Pick a coffee style and delivery schedule (1-4 deliveries per month), and you’ll start every day with impressive, freshly-roasted coffee. Three price tiers cover the gamut of coffee drinkers, from those who just need their daily kick to those looking for the best of the small-batch best.

2) Get outside and exercise

There’s no doubt about it: exercise is a miracle drug hiding among us. It boosts brainpower, melts stress, and makes you feel great. Maybe that’s why 81% of millennials say they exercise on a regular basis.

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Staying fit doesn’t have to feel like a chore. There’s camaraderie in the air– millennials are more drawn to exercise centered around working together than competing against each other. Groups like cycling, aerobics, and dance are more popular than ever, and there are over 50,000 athletic apps to help you track and share your activities.

Did you know the National Park Service turns 100 this year? If you’re looking for more relaxing outdoor exercise, use this handy tool to pick someplace beautiful and join the 40 million Americans going camping this year. Whether you sleep in a tent or a cabin or under a sky full of stars, you’ll be breathing fresh air, listening to birdsong, and banishing stress.

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There are 59 national parks across the country and a whopping 6,624 state parks. The oldest among them is majestic Niagara Falls State Park (est. 1885), but modern campgrounds are getting all kinds of upgrades –from better bathrooms to free Wi-Fi– so don’t assume that outdoors means offline. That’s up to you.

3) Try foods from around the world

Nothing rivals the adventure of leaving the country. Every detail is different from what everyday life conditions you to expect, from the bustle of the downtown streets to the tempting aromas of unknown dishes.

But if your summer budget doesn’t include get-off-a-plane-and-bust-out-the-map traveling, you can bring the world to you on the cheap.

Foods are an integral part of every culture and a great place to start exploring.

Ever try a strawberry Giant Caplico from Japan or crunchy yuca Biscoito de Polvilho from Brazil? How about “mouth quivering” Ghost Pops from South Africa? Yeah, me neither. Snack boxes from Treats have you sampling goodies from a new country each month. Want to stay in one place for a while? Aloha Crate brings the Hawaiian vibe, and if you’re curious about Japan’s mind-blowing snack scene, definitely check out Snakku.

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4) Automate your finances

Don’t let managing your finances become a dark cloud that follows you through the summer. Invest the spare change from your daily transactions with Acorns. Choose one of five portfolio profiles –from conservative to aggressive– and Acorns will invest for you using “round-ups” (for example, if you buy a latte for $3.25, Acorns will take an additional 75¢ and invest it). Paribus is a free service that gets you cash back whenever retailers drop prices on purchases you make online or forget to apply coupon codes. Make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t want with Truebill’s free online tool.  It shows you all of your recurring charges and lets you cancel any of them with a single click. No more waiting on hold to cancel that pesky Wi-Fi hotspot subscription you forgot about!

5) PARTY, PARTY, PARTY!!!

Summer is the perfect time to make new friends, keep the old, and celebrate with every single one of them. There’s a million ways to party, but you can’t go wrong sticking to the basics: good food, drinks, and some tunes to shake your booty to.

Want some help? Let’s start by whetting your whistle.

Summer wine parties are easy to throw, but lots of people are intimidated when picking bottles at the store by rack upon rack of unknown quantities.

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Rest easy– you’ve got a friend in Vinebox. Nestled inside each sleek, magnetically-sealed box are three wines from boutique wineries across Europe. You’ll get a glass of each –packaged in glass vials that are elegant and a touch futuristic– along with tasting notes, recommended food pairings, and the stories behind the wines. The wines are all limited production, so when you (inevitably) fall in love with one, tell Vinebox right away so you can get a full bottle… or ten.

For anyone worried about party food, a word of advice: skewers. They’re low-mess, easy to stroll around with, and they only require one hand. For a perfect wine party accompaniment, try this summery spin on a classic Italian appetizer: Peach Caprese Skewers.

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What you’ll need: fresh peaches, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, some balsamic vinegar, and skewers. Assemble the skewers by alternating chunks of peach and mozzarella with basil leaves folded in half. To punch up the flavors a notch, drizzle the skewers lightly with balsamic reduction. It’s easy to make– stir a cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over the lowest heat until it reduces by half.

Now that you’ve got stellar wines and appetizers, grab some speakers and pick a playlist: keep it chill with Brazilian samba and bossa nova, get your retro on with the best of the 70s and 80s, or stick with this summer’s biggest hits.

Well, cheers to an unforgettable summer! I could keep singing summer’s praises, but I think I’ll let the poet William Carlos Williams take us out instead.

“In summer, the song sings itself.”

4 Strategies to Pay off Your Debt Quickly

debt mountain

The average American has over $15,000 in credit card debt and 40 million people in the United States also have student loans. If you combine individuals’ credit card and student loan balances, their debt often outpaces their income, sometimes dramatically. College graduates have an average salary of $48,707 right out of school, meaning that their debt payments eat up a big chunk of their monthly income; many end up using 20 percent or more of their paycheck for debt payments. That leaves little money left over to pay for other essentials, like rent, transportation or groceries.

That hefty debt burden can really limit you, holding you back from building an emergency fund, moving to another city, buying a car or purchasing your first home. Carrying a large balance can weigh you down and make you feel stuck in a job you do not enjoy or in an apartment that is overpriced. It’s also very risky; one emergency, like an unexpected car repair or medical bill, and your cash reserve is wiped out. Taking charge of your debt and getting rid of the balance can give you an enormous sense of freedom and give you financial security.

If you feel like you are drowning in debt and have no idea how to pay it off, use these strategies to get a handle on your debt and minimize how much you pay in interest:

  1. Pay the highest interest debt first: While it might be tempting to tackle your lowest balance first to get it out of the way, that approach can end up costing you a lot of money in unnecessary interest costs. Instead, order your debt by interest rate, and tackle the highest interest rate first. Pay as much as you can above the minimum payment towards the high-interest debt and keep up minimum payments on the lower interest account. For instance, let’s say you have a student loan at 6.8 percent and a credit card with 12.99 percent interest. Regardless of the balance on either account, you should focus on the credit card first because of its high interest By doing so, you’ll pay off the debt more quickly, but also save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest.Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.22.02 PM
  2. Use balance transfers: If you have a high-interest credit card—some can be as high as 30 percent—and you are confident you can pay off your balance in a few months, transferring the card balance to a new card with a zero interest promotional offer can be a smart move. Then, all of your payments go towards the principal instead of interest, helping you pay it off faster and saving you money.
  1. Automatically use windfalls: If you have any unexpected windfalls, such as a work bonus, a raise or a present from a loved one, skip blowing it on rewards or more stuff. Instead, consider all extra money you get as money that immediately goes towards debt. As soon as any unexpected cash comes your way, automatically make a payment on your credit cards or student loans. Over time, these small extra payments add up, knocking months or even years off your repayment term and saving you money in interest as a result.Student Loan Refinance
  2. Refinance student loans: Depending on what kind of loans you took out, your student loans could have interest rates as high as eight percent. However, that does not mean you are stuck paying that rate for the next ten years. Instead, you can go through a private company and refinance your student loans, getting you a much lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment. By refinancing, you can get an interest rate as low as 2.15 percent, saving thousands over the term of your loan. And by bringing down the interest rate, you will have more money each month to put towards your high-interest debt, such as your credit card balance. This strategy is an excellent way to bring down the total you pay back over time while accelerating paying down your debt.

Coping with a mountain of student loan and credit card debt can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. It can make you feel hopeless, overwhelmed and like you’ll never get free of your debt. However, there are ways to manage your balances, bring down your interest rates and save money. By following these tips, you can start making real progress on paying down your debt and begin freeing yourself from huge balances. With careful planning, strategically using balance transfers and refinancing your loans to a lower interest rate, you can save thousands of dollars and become debt-free.

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7 Ways To Put a Few Extra $20’s in Your Wallet

7 Ways To Put a Few Extra $20’s in Your Wallet

Wouldn’t it be great to open your wallet and find a few extra twenties in there? Turns out it’s surprisingly easy to manage, and you can do it by improving your life instead of making huge sacrifices.

Here are eight things you can do today to ensure your greenery sticks around.

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  1. Put a few extra twenties in your wallet

I know, I know, the title. But I’m not going for sarcasm– carrying cash can save you money!

Sometimes, you’re walking down the street and a burrito mojado just calls out your name. Or maybe it’s the bartender telling you cash only. Well, who wants to buy their cash from a cheap ATM in the corner? $3 and $4 ATM fees add up quick. Keep a twenty or two handy, and save yourself from choosing between the fees and a long hike to your bank’s nearest ATM.

You don’t even need to make an extra trip to get those twenties. Next time you use your card in a store, use the cash back option. Fee-free twenties? Check.

  1. Clean out your closet

Unless you’re Marie Kondo (in which case, thanks for helping me clean my room!), you’ve probably accumulated things that you don’t need. Clothes are an easy target. Pick a day to go through your clothes and gather the ones you don’t like or wear anymore. Then trade them in for cash or store credit at a fashion resale retailer like Buffalo Exchange. Voila! You’ve got a cleaner closet and a fatter wallet.

Trade

  1. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use

Have you ever signed up for in-flight wifi only to find out six months later that you never stopped paying for it? Some companies out there try to trap customers into recurring charges, but it’s also easy to simply forget to cancel services when you no longer need them.

Truebill’s easy-to-use app instantly shows you your recurring charges and lets you cancel anything you don’t want with a single click. Over 25% of users cancel a subscription through the service, saving an average of $512 per year. Not bad for a free service.

Truebill Dashboard

  1. Hit the library

Libraries are dedicated to providing as much value as possible for free, from books and academic databases to magazines and more. The New Yorker is $7.99 an issue and the Wall Street Journal is $3.00, but you can read them and many more in the quiet of your well-lit local library any time.

These days, you don’t even have to leave your bed to reap library benefits. Netflix costs $8.99 a month to stream videos and Audible’s audiobooks will run you $14.95 a month, but your library account won’t charge a dime for videos, audiobooks, comics, books, and more accessible right on your phone, tablet, or computer.

  1. Get fit

Whether you’re young or old, outgoing or shy, you have affordable options for getting and staying fit. The adventurous set have their open water swims and bouldering clubs, but there’s also gentle water aerobics and free tai chi by the beach. Bored by routine? Triathlon clubs like Golden Gate TC are high value and a great way to mix it up while meeting people. Can’t take things so seriously? Join a hash run. They’re a boisterous good time… participants sometimes refer to as “a drinking club with a running problem.”

Pushups

However you do it, exercising is a great way to spend time instead of money. The New York Times just featured a vast British study that called exercise a “miracle cure,” pointing to study after study that shows even small amounts of exercise bring “global improvements in health across a range of conditions.” In the long-term, you’re gaining a lot more than a few twenties in your wallet.

  1. Cook for a crowd

Home cooking is easy! It’s healthier, less expensive, and (with practice) tastier than eating out. And as long as you’re making a dinner, why not make a bunch extra and freeze portions for later? You’ll be much less likely to eat out once you’ve given yourself the option of a scrumptious, heat-and-serve meal.

  1. Invite your friends over

And now that you’ve cooked a bunch extra, why not invite some of your favorite people over to eat it with you? Going out for dinner or a show and drinks can decimate your “fun” budget in no time, but when you have people over, you minimize expenses and share the savings.

And there you have it.

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With some exercise, your local library, and a little help from your friends, you’ll be putting some extra twenties in your wallet in no time. Saving money isn’t so bad after all!

 

This post originally appeared on One Smart Dollar.

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Truebill - Manage Subscriptions

Truebill Announces $1.4 Million Funding

Four months ago, we launched Truebill out of Y Combinator’s W16 batch with the mission to transform the way consumers access and control all of their paid subscriptions and recurring bills. Far too common were the remarks, “I had no idea I was getting charged for this!” or “I forgot to cancel that free trial!” We set out to build a simple but equally beautiful and powerful way to manage all your paid subscriptions in one place, and provide the tools we need to easily eliminate illegitimate subscriptions from reappearing on our bills.

Truebill just cancelled a subscription for me that’s been plaguing me for months. These guys kick ass (SaaS?) – @traviskimmel

We’re thrilled to announce today that we’ve raised a combined $1.75 million in seed funding from investors including David Baggett (Founder, ITA Software), Ellen Pao (former CEO, Reddit), Josh Goldman (Partner, Norwest Ventures), Social Capital, Sherpa Capital, and Transmedia Capital, who will join an already humbling group of investors including David Marcus (VP Messaging Products, Facebook), Hiten Shah (Founder, KissMetrics), Signatures Capital and YCombinator. You can read the full press release here.

We’re excited to expand our group of advisors and invest in the growth of Truebill. Here’s what we accomplished so far, what we’ve learned from millions of subscription transactions, and what you can expect to see from our team over the coming months.

  • Truebill now has over 40,000 users across 132 countries
  • Truebill is now tracking over $100 million in annual subscriptions
  • Truebill has linked to over 1400 banking institutions
  • Truebill has identified thousands of subscription services and recurring bills
  • Truebill launched a redesigned dashboard and interface

The way we spend money on goods and services is evolving. We’ve seen the average number of subscriptions double to 10 per person, up nearly 50% from 18 months ago. And with Apple’s recent announcement for new subscription-based payment options for apps, we expect to see that number skyrocket over the coming years.

The average user on Truebill saves over $500 per year by cancelling unwanted subscription services. Netflix, Amazon Prime and AT&T are the among the most popular subscriptions. Unsurprisingly, credit monitoring services including Score Sense, Instant Checkmate, and CreditExpert were among the top 20 most cancelled subscriptions on Truebill. For those unfamiliar, you can use Truebill to request to cancel any unwanted paid subscriptions, and we’ll take care of the process for you, for free.

Most Cancelled Subscriptions - Truebill Most Popular Subscriptions - Truebill

As a startup CEO, this is one of the most exciting time in our company history. We’re going to invest in hiring the brightest talent and build new products that will help us reach our goals. Our success will be made possible thanks to your ongoing support and feedback. Please email us at hello@truebill.com to share your stories and build a better Truebill.

Thank you and happy saving!

Yahya Mokhtarzada

CEO, Truebill

Truebill - Find, track and cancel subscriptions

Truebill’s new look and national TV spots!

Between watching the nail-biting Warriors games and presidential primaries, our team has been listening to hundreds of customer stories and user feedback to build a better and more useful Truebill. We’re focused on transforming the Truebill experience so that you can make wiser decisions about your paid subscriptions, and we’re excited to share our latest developments with you in this month’s round-up.

Redesigned Dashboard

Your Truebill dashboard has a new and improved look to help you manage all your subscription services faster and more efficiently. You can now view the sum of all your paid subscriptions, bills, and utilities and instantly toggle between your active and inactive paid subscriptions and recurring bills. By default, your dashboard will surface all of your active paid subscriptions. As a refresher, Active Subscriptions are any subscriptions you’re currently being billed for on a recurring basis, and Inactive Subscriptions are paid subscriptions you are no longer paying for.

Every subscription card will contain a wealth of information, including the bank account associated with transaction, the amount you’re being charged each month, and the sum of all the payments you’ve made to that particular subscription.

Sample Subscription Card

We’ve added a new option menu for you to manage each subscription in a matter of seconds. You can now rename the subscription, move the subscription to a different bill category, and even request to cancel directly from the options dropdown menu.

New Subscription Ratings & Reviews

Do you subscribe to a service that you love and want the world to know about? Or, conversely, did you find a pesky service that you think people should beware of? Now you can rate and review any subscription service directly from your dashboard. Simply click on a service and select the “Rate service” button.

Truebill on TV!

It’s only been a few short months since we first brought Truebill to the world, and we’re humbled by the flood of personal stories that have been shared with us. The response to Truebill has been tremendously rewarding and we want to thank all of our users for their ongoing support and feedback. In addition to receiving positive acclaims from CNN Money, Business Insider, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur Magazine, and dozens of other publications, we were able to tell the stories of our users on national television! Check out a few of the segments from Fox 9, NBC News, and CBS Local.

Want to share your story with us? Please drop us a line at hello@truebill.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Saving!

Truebill Team

The easiest way to manage your paid subscriptions