21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

Saving more money is one of those broad goals everyone sets for themselves at the start of a new year. But with so many tips and tricks out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to begin, especially when the temptation to buy a new pair of sneakers is always looming in the back of your head. Fear not, budget newbies! The tips below are so doable, even a shopaholic can accomplish them on a daily basis. Get ready to save some major dough.

1. Skip out on your daily skinny vanilla latte. “Sorry, Starbucks, but we’re taking a break. It’s not you, it’s me.” This one may be hard, especially if you rely on caffeine to jump-start your day, but a coffee maker is a worthy investment when you realize how much this seemingly innocent cost can add up. And if you simply can’t go your separate ways from Starbucks, try out one of its cheaper drink options.

2. Start painting your own nails. Sure, sometimes a salon mani-pedi is just what you need to unwind and treat yourself, but those visits add up. A bottle of nail polish can cost anywhere from $4 to $15 and will last you years, whereas a pedicure can cost as much as $20. The math says it all.

3. Cook your own dinner most nights. You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to prepare an enjoyable meal. There are plenty of simple dinner recipes out there that are easy on the wallet. Bonus points if you cook enough to give you leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day!

4. Speaking of lunch, make your own every day. This one’s a no-brainer, but the temptation of a fancy $10 salad often cancels it out. Sticking to this tip throughout the year will save you major bucks.

5. Discontinue your cable subscription. Unless you’re really utilizing your cable every day, it may be time to consider a more affordable online-streaming option like Netflix or Hulu.

6. Stow away a dollar a day. Invest in an adult-approved piggy bank and stash away a dollar (or your loose change at the very least, if you can’t stand to part with your precious Washingtons every day). At the end of the month, you’ll have around $30!

7. Buy a reusable water bottle and actually use it. Investing in a high-quality water bottle will save both the environment and your budget. The cost of those plastic water bottles adds up, and Mother Earth will give you a pat on the back for this one.

8. Sip on some drinks at home before hitting the bars. College students had the right idea with their beer-chugging “pregames.” Enjoying a few drinks at home ensures that you won’t fall victim to buying one too many overpriced drinks once you get to the bar or club.

9. Always remember to turn off your lights and air conditioning. Those little expenses can add up to a whopping utilities bill at the end of the month. Get in the habit of hitting the light switch every time you leave a room in your house or apartment.

10. Consider selling your random knickknacks. Though this is technically a money-making tip, the end result is still having more cash in your wallet. Set up an eBay account and finally get rid of that random dog figurine that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet.

11. Seek out discounts. Whether you become a coupon champ at the supermarket or start taking advantage of sites with heavily discounted clothes, it’s best to think twice before paying full price for something. Examine all your options before swiping your card. The website RetailMeNot is a great resource for tracking down discounts from some of your favorite stores and websites in real time. It does the legwork for you!

12. Make a shopping list before stepping foot in a store – and don’t stray from it. Precisely planning out your meals, down to the exact ingredients you need each week, is crucial for saving some green. Venture down the aisles with a written checklist of items in hand rather than aimlessly browsing your options. The same goes for when you hit the mall for clothes.

13. Speaking of groceries, try to only buy versatile staples. OK, that random exotic vegetable may look cool, but is it really worth $5? Stick to those adaptable and affordable essentials like eggs, canned beans, and pasta.

14. Roll up your sleeves and become a DIY pro. When it comes to DIY projects, the options are endless. You can make your own cleaning products, holiday gifts, and decorations. Before throwing away things like old jeans or books, consider how you can upcycle them.

15. Think twice about your transportation options. This is mostly dependent on where you live. If you reside in a car-reliant city like Los Angeles, consider carpooling to split the cost of gas. In a bustling city like New York, try walking or taking the bus or subway instead of an overpriced cab. And if you’re traveling somewhere like the airport, opting for UberPool instead of UberX is always the way to go.

16. Quit smoking. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Your wallet (and your lungs) will thank you.

17. Go for the generic brands at the store. With goods like toothpaste and soap, the generic brand is usually just about the same as the more expensive, well-known brands. We all have that one brand we’re loyal to, but is it really worth it to pay an extra $3 for body wash if the off-brand version is just as effective at getting the job done?

18. Take an inventory of your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t need. Unless you’re really reading every single page of that one magazine or constantly listening to music from that one streaming service, it may be time to nix that monthly cost.

19. Buy your home staples in bulk. Purchasing toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels – aka those pesky items we hate lugging home from the grocery store – in bulk will always pay off in the long run.

20. Suggest free activities when hanging out with friends. Those happy hours and dinner dates add up over time. Instead, research fun and free activities like doing outdoor yoga, checking out a museum with free admission, or watching the sunset.

21. Take five before making impulse buys. Ask yourself, “Is this something I want or something I really need?” Your response should reveal if it’s a worthy purchase or not, so try your best to answer honestly. And if anything, reach out to your mom or a trusty friend who will give their honest opinion about whether it’s something you should really spend money on.

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No More Banks or FICO Reports? Economist Describes Ways Blockchain Technology Will Change How We Allocate Credit

In our lifetime we will see many of the traditional banks and credit reporting systems become irrelevant as blockchain technology brings about a radical transformation of the institutional nature of our banking system – a system that is based on a centralized ledger to manage transactions, says Virginia Tech economist David Bieri.

According to Bieri, “the distributed ledger technology of the blockchain offers new ways of economic coordination and governance whereby a information flows are shared almost instantaneously across all participants in a networked system, opening the door for new possibilities such as de-nationalized currencies and a radical democratization of different forms of trust.”

Bieri is an associate professor at Virginia Tech who has also held positions in central banking across the globe.

Quoting Bieri

“The information monopoly of the three credit bureaus is rapidly being dismantled as big data and AI allow fintech companies to engineer something that is much more accurate than the FICO score, from the social media and other personal information they have on you. Several fintech companies are already basing their lending information on this. It has similar logic to FICO, but is based off of their proprietary information.”

“There is significant power in the distributed network because in order for someone to tamper with it they would need to change every copy at the same time and hack every computer separately. Because this is much harder to do than hack a central single location, it makes the data more secure.”

Background and research

Bieri is leading a collaborative research project with two of the largest blockchain-based fintech consortia, R3 and Hyperledger, to develop standards as well as examine how the banking system is reorganizing itself to embrace blockchain, the very thing that might render it obsolete. Project Information – “Disruption, Dislocation or Delusion? Fintech and the Digital Macrofoundations of the Next Global Financial Order” (David Bieri and Giselle Datz)

About Bieri

David Bieri is an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and in the department of economics at Virginia Tech. His current research examines the dynamics of financialization and its role in the process of urbanization. He also writes about regulatory aspects of international finance and global monetary governance. Previously, Bieri held positions in central banking at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland and in investment banking in London.

How Chinese Products Went From Cheap & Cheerful To Weapons In US Trade War

Tensions are escalating between China and the US over trade. The Chinese government has announced retaliatory measures on a range of American products including cars and some American agriculture products after the US listed 1,333 Chinese products to be hit by punitive tariffs of 25%.

Yet a trade war does not make economic sense for either side. Bilateral trade between the US and China was worth about US$711 billion in 2017 and Boeing’s single deal with China signed during Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in 2016 was worth about US$37 billion alone.

The jobs and livelihoods at risk are huge. So why is there no particular desire, especially from Trump, to ease the tension and find a new solution?

There has been much talk about the US trade deficit with China and allegations that China steals US intellectual property. But the answer could lie in US fears of the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative and how it signals the growing threat of China as an economic rival. That the official US Trade Representative’s recent investigation into Chinese trade practices mentioned the Made in China 2025 initiative more than 100 times, suggests this is the case.

Image problems

Made in China 2025 was launched by the Chinese government in 2015 to upgrade the country’s manufacturing capabilities. It is a plan to transform what China produces from a low-cost, labour-intensive model to advanced and smart manufacturing. Certain key industries such as aerospace, robotics and high-tech medical equipment have been prioritised. The hope is that China will gradually match developed countries’ manufacturing capabilities and become industry leaders.

A lot of the products from these key industries, such as industrial robots, aviation and aerospace equipment, new energy and power supplies and advanced rail machinery were all included in the tariff target list published by the US Trade Representative. So it would seem that the current situation is not simply a trade issue aimed to reduce America’s trade deficit with China. Instead, it is likely targeted at the future competition China will pose.

Made in China 2.0. shutterstock.com

China’s Made in China 2025 strategy makes perfect sense in my field of research, which concerns where products are manufactured and how this effects their popularity in the global market place. A strong and positive image of a country can generate what economists call “halo effects” on its products. So, Germans have built good reputations for their cars and engineering, France and Italy for their wine and fashion, and the US for their innovative products.

This worldwide reputation brings with it prestige and higher price premiums. Although there is still debate around whether brand origin could be more important than where the product is produced (Apple, for example designs its products in the US but manufactures them in China), there is no doubt that “Made in China” suffers from an image problem.

Chinese products have long been associated with a cheap and cheerful perception that they are not good in terms of quality or ingenuity. The Chinese government has long been aware of this view and keen to change it.

At the turn of the 21st century, it set up a policy called “Going Out” to encourage leading Chinese firms to expand internationally, acquire new technology and the tools to innovate. The two big examples were IT firm Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s personal computer division in 2005 and Geely automotive’s purchase of Volvo in 2010. Made in China 2025 serves the same purpose – to boost China’s technology and innovation capabilities and to improve the image of Chinese products.

Impressive growth

There is no doubt that China has come a long way since the 1990s. It has built 22,000km of advanced high speed rail network within the last decade, which is more than the rest of the world combined. It is also considered as the global leader in renewable energy and technology, patent filings, commercial drones, industrial robotics and e-commerce and mobile payments.

China is already a leader in some tech. shutterstock.com

Chinese telecommunications company Huawei typifies the transformation of Chinese products in recent years. Within the last decade, Huawei has surpassed Ericsson and Nokia to become the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier and has just overtaken Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung.

What’s more remarkable about these statistics is that Huawei has transformed itself from a cheap phone maker to an accepted premium brand that can compete with Apple and Samsung. Its latest releases the top of the range Huawei P20 Pro will retail for US$1,100 and its top end model Huawei Porsche Design Mate RS will sell for US$2,109 – even more than the iPhone X.

There is no doubt that some in the US are uncomfortable with China’s impressive growth and feel threatened by it. It suggests the current trade dispute is not just about imports and exports, but also an incumbent superpower feeling the threat of a growing challenger.

Walmart has long-term plans for Flipkart

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon (left) with Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal. Walmart is viewing Flipkart as a long-term bet that may take years, or even decades, to yield excellent financial returns. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: A Flipkart IPO is unlikely to happen for many years to come, as Walmart Inc. will have to invest heavily to make its $16-billion acquisition work.

Last week, Walmart agreed to buy a 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion with the rest being held by minority investors, chiefly Tiger Global Management, Tencent Holdings, Microsoft and co-founder Binny Bansal. It also said it supported Flipkart’s ambition to go public.

Walmart has told Flipkart’s leadership team to not worry about an IPO anytime soon, according to two people familiar with the matter. Walmart is viewing Flipkart as a long-term bet that may take years, or even decades, to yield excellent financial returns, these people said. Both of them requested anonymity.

“They have said they are taking a 20-year view on Flipkart. An IPO is not going to happen any time soon,” one of the people cited above said.

On Friday, Walmart had said in a regulatory filing in the US that Flipkart’s board or its minority shareholders could force the company to go for an initial share sale four years after the deal closes.

However, there is an important clause that can prevent minority shareholders from forcing an IPO—if after four years, Walmart owns over 85% of Flipkart, minority shareholders of the latter will lose their veto rights on business decisions and transactions at Flipkart.

Walmart has already indicated that it may end up investing an additional $3 billion in the Indian e-commerce company within the first year of the deal closing.

According to the filing, Walmart has the right to appoint five directors to Flipkart’s board, which will have three other members—Binny Bansal and nominees from Tiger Global and Tencent. Walmart may increase the board size to nine members later.

For Walmart, a lot is riding on Flipkart, its biggest acquisition yet. But the hammering that its stock received on Wednesday after the buyout was announced may just be the beginning of the challenges that the retailer faces in making its Indian acquisition work.

Cutting Flipkart’s massive losses while keeping Amazon India at bay, building up the company’s depleted senior leadership team, retaining key middle managers and making the combination of Binny Bansal and CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy work are some of the immediate challenges that Walmart faces.

In any case, it’s evident that the looming battle with Amazon, which was in the race to buy Flipkart, in the $18 billion e-commerce market will require billions of dollars in fresh investments.

But Walmart’s investors will not be that forgiving.

During a conference call with investors after the Flipkart-Walmart deal, the US firm’s top management team was grilled by analysts and investors on whether it would cut the e-commerce company’s massive losses anytime soon, with some of them even wondering whether Flipkart would ever turn profitable.

The US-based retail giant’s top management put up a brave face and defended the acquisition, saying that it was a long-term bet in a market that was too large to ignore.