The Pros and Cons of Buy Now Pay Later Platforms Explained


With the rise of digital technologies, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms have become increasingly popular. It is an alternative to traditional credit cards for making purchases. Despite the convenience and flexibility, it is also essential to understand the budgeting concerns and payment delays with BNPL pay models.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using BNPL platforms so you can make an informed decision. It may not be for everyone.

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms are alternative payment methods that allow consumers to purchase goods. Instead of using traditional forms of payment (such as credit cards or cash), customers can divide the total cost of their purchase into smaller installments over an agreed period. The financing and payment option here is often attractive to people who don’t have access to a credit card or prefer to pay installments with no upfront cost.

Pros and Cons of BNPL Platforms

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms can help manage your budget and avoid taking on credit card debt. It comes with flexibility, convenience, and rewards points. 

However, there are some potential drawbacks as well. You can wind up with higher interest rates, late fees, or purchasing something you don’t need or afford. 

It’s essential to weigh up financing options and the pros and cons carefully before deciding whether this option is right for you.

Pros of BNPL Platforms

Timely payments & improved cash flow

Making timely payments to your Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) lender can positively affect your cash flow. When you pay off the installments of your purchase on time, it prevents you from needing to take out additional loans or use up more of your existing credit line. 

Sometimes you need more cash flow. When the wallet is tight, you must decide between using enough money for the essential purchase or funding a project. With Buy Now Pay Later services, you have more money to invest in other projects and take advantage of potential opportunities.

The type of payment method can also help improve your credit history over time if you make all payments on time.

No Credit Scores Impact

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit use typically does not impact your credit history. Unlike credit card applications, these platforms usually do not perform credit checks or report information to the major credit bureaus. 

Therefore using a Buy Now Pay Later service will not affect your ability to get loans or other forms of credit in the future. However, making timely payments on your own BNPL loans and accounts is crucial—not only for financial reasons but also to build strong spending habits.

Consumer Confidence & Purchase Power Boast 

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit increases consumers’ confidence and purchasing power. With BNPL, users can pace their payment plan and spread them out over a while. It makes buying items more affordable and allows them to purchase more important or expensive items without paying the total price upfront. Plus, making timely payments on your BNPL accounts can help improve your own financial situation and standing in the long run.

Lower Overall Costs

With Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit, users enjoy the benefit of lower overall costs due to the lack of interest fees. Unlike traditional credit products, BNPL offers no-interest financing for eligible purchases, meaning consumers can pay off their assets over time without worrying about accruing any additional costs. It makes BNPL financing an attractive option for those looking to make large or more expensive purchases without worrying about interest charges later.

The Cons of BNPL Platforms

Difficulty in Budgeting & High Debt Levels

While Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit can be a helpful tool in budgeting and making more expensive purchases, it can also be a double-edged sword. BNPL credit use can lead to high debt levels without proper budgeting and monitoring. 

It can be easier to pay off, primarily with credit card interest rates if you spread multiple payments over an extended period. For this reason, consumers need to take the time to properly assess their overall finances before signing up for BNPL accounts and committing to additional payments.

Payment Processing Delays & Fees

When using Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit, it is essential to be aware of the potential delays with payment processing. BNPL providers often require multiple payments over an extended period, which may take some time to process. 

Additional fees may be associated with Buy Now Pay Later accounts or late payment, further complicating the budgeting process. For this reason, consumers should ensure they are fully aware of all possible charges before signing up for a BNPL account.

Higher Risk of Draud & Identity Theft From Online Purchases

Making purchases online with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit can have a higher risk of fraud and identity theft. With BNPL accounts, consumers provide personal information such as their name and address that can easily be compromised. 

And since payments are often spread out over multiple months, fraudsters may have more time to attempt fraudulent purchases. Consumers should ensure they use secure payment methods on trusted websites and never share confidential information online to help protect against these risks.

Lack of Accountability from Retailers 

When shopping with Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit, consumers should be aware that they may have different levels of accountability or recourse if something goes wrong with the purchased product or service. 

Retailers offering BNPL services are often not responsible for resolving any issues related to product quality or customer service caused by using their platform, leaving consumers needing a way to address any potential problems. Consumers should read all terms and conditions associated with any BNPL bank account, before purchasing to be fully aware of their rights as customers.


Using Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) credit platforms can give consumers access to products they may not otherwise be able to purchase outright. It also allows them to spread out payments over multiple months, so they don’t have to pay the total amount upfront. 

However, it can also bring higher risks of fraud and identity theft and less accountability from the retailer regarding product quality or customer service issues related to the platform’s usage later services. Consumers should read all terms and conditions associated with any bnpl loans before purchasing to be fully aware of their rights as customers.

43 Must-Know Money Saving Tips for Expecting Parents: How to Get Ahead Financially

saving money while having a baby
saving money while having a baby

Are you having a baby? Congrats! While you might be excited and nervous about your new baby, you are probably wondering how you will be paying for it all! Having a baby is expensive; it can be tough saving money for expecting parents.

Expert Advice

I asked many people: mothers, fathers, money experts, and parenting experts what their best advice is for expectant parents trying to save money on baby expenses. They did not disappoint! Read on to see their advice and how you can save money on your little bundle of (expensive) joy.

Save Money Slowly

money saving tips for expecting parents

Mckayla from Everyday She Moms said, “Save your money slowly and in a different savings or bank account. You’ll be less likely to touch it if it’s not easily accessible or transferrable to your debit card. Start with $25 per week, and you’ll have around $900 by the time baby arrives. Another way to do it is to map out your expenses for one month and plan to save that amount but broken into weekly “payments” to savings. For example, if I’m contributing $1,700 per month to our bills, I need to save $42.10 per week. It’s worked for baby #1, baby #2, and now baby #3!”

Buy Used

Arnie Nicola said, “Babies outgrow their stuff so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to buy everything brand new. Check out Facebook marketplace for gently used baby items. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to buy a bag full of baby clothing for a fraction of the price. Just make sure to sanitize and/or wash everything properly before use, especially if it’s for a newborn.”

Michelle Onaka from Intentional Money Life said, “Join local free and for sale Facebook groups to get free and cheap used clothes, toys, and other baby-related things.”

Sign Up For A Library Card!

Allison from Storyshine Club said, “Sign up for a library card! From board books to storytimes to online access to educational videos and apps, libraries have so much to offer for FREE. Some even have take-home crafts, toys, and games you can check out.”

Return Gifts

Return gift from a store

Rachel from Glad To Be Mama said, “My best money-saving tip for expecting parents is to not feel bad for returning unwanted or duplicate gifts. Sometimes throughout your pregnancy, you might receive some gifts you know you won’t use or don’t like.

Instead of keeping the gifts and having them stashed in a closet, never to be touched, return them and use the refunded money to get baby items you really need or want. Just remember to give the gift giver a thank you note for the original gift, thanking them for their thoughtfulness.”

Avoid Single-Use

Karee Blunt from Our Woven Journey said, “Skip any single-purpose gadgets. This includes the (not-so-amazing) diaper genies, bottle warmers, shopping cart covers, etc. Babies don’t require all the extras, and you can save yourself a lot of money and space by skipping things that don’t pull double duty. It’s just as easy to put a dirty diaper in a bag and toss it straight into your trash can!”

Open A 529 Account

Mark Patrick from Financial Pilgrimage said, “Our best money-saving tip for expecting parents is to open up a 529 college savings account before your little one arrives. That way, you’ll be ready to go when someone asks what type of gift they would like for an early birthday. Getting started saving for college early can set up your bun in the oven for a lifetime of success.”

Put Aside A Bit Of Your Paycheck

Lauren Kat from Freedom Not Fate said, “One of my best money-saving tips for expecting parents is to put aside a bit of your paycheck into savings, if possible, for sudden expenses that may come up. If you’re not already saving, now is the time to start! Another great way to stretch your money is by asking for items you may need on your baby registry. Family and friends often want to help, and a baby shower can be a great time to ask for resources and help.”

Start A 529 Plan ASAP

Josh Dudick from Top Dollar Investor said, “Start a 529 plan as soon as possible, with whatever you can afford to save. There is no substitute for time when it comes to tax-deferred growth. The current annual limit is $17,000 per individual for a given beneficiary.”

Don’t Buy Fancy Pretty Clothes

April from Chaos and Wine said, “Don’t buy fancy pretty clothes or brand-name items! I have a few nice outfits and a couple of good solid purchases, but they outgrow clothes, toys, and gear so fast it just isn’t a good investment! A few cute and nice outfits in one size are perfectly fine – they go through clothes so fast you probably won’t even get a chance to wear them all if you have a drawer full! Practical is best in all aspects when purchasing baby gear, clothes and toys!”

Get Hand Me Downs

Krissy Hadick from The Hadicks said, “One of the best ways to save money for expecting parents is through hand-me-downs from friends and family. During the first couple of years, your child will quickly outgrow clothing, toys, and baby gear. Using gently used items instead of buying brand new ones will help keep your finances in check while still providing all the care your little one will need.”

Take Advantage Of Second-Hand Stores

Steve from Paddle About said, “One of the best money-saving tips I can offer expecting parents is to take advantage of second-hand stores. You can often find quality used items like furniture, toys, clothes, and other baby gear nearly as good as new for a fraction of the price. In some cases, my wife and I found items that had never been worn with the tags still on them. There’s no need to invest in the fanciest items if a simple alternative does just as good a job.”

Join Local FB Groups

Esther from NZ Muse said, “Join your local FB groups – the buy nothing, pay it forward type ones! You can scoop up bundles of stuff in great condition for nothing (weirdly, it’s so hard to GET what you need and then equally to get RID of it when you’re done), Bulk lots of clothing, toys, sippy cups, whatever… it’s amazing. Cost-effective, good for the planet, and so convenient.”

Just Buy Essentials

Anouk Briere-Godbout from Family Moments said, “Buy the essentials before the baby is born and do research for the rest because it’s easy to buy after when you know if you really need it. And then buy second-hand clothes as much as possible, as they outgrow them fast!”

Make Your Own Puréed Baby Food

Isabelle from Mama’s Buzz said, “You can save a ton of money making your own puréed baby food at home! If making purées isn’t your style, check out the apple sauce and other fruit purées available for adults and older kids. You’ll often find them available in bulk with the same organic ingredients at a fraction of the price. Individual pouches of puréed baby food are always quite a bit more expensive.”

Pre-Clear Any Care

Madison Sharick, CFA, CFP from Madi Manages Money, says, “To minimize insurance surprises, call your insurance company ahead of time to pre-clear any care you anticipate needing. Your doctor can give you a list of all tests and scans to expect during prenatal care and during delivery. During this phone call, I’d also recommend double-checking that where you plan to deliver is indeed in-network and how many days are covered by insurance.”

Find Free And Cheap Secondhand Baby Gear

Elizabeth from Shoestring Baby said, “My favorite money-saving tip for expecting parents is to join local Facebook groups to find free and cheap secondhand baby gear. Local “buy nothing” groups and neighborhood parenting groups are a treasure trove of all the baby stuff you could possibly need. Babies grow out of items so quickly that used baby gear is often in excellent condition. I got nearly all of our baby things secondhand from local Facebook groups, saving us hundreds of dollars every month. Don’t drop $200 on a new bouncer your baby will only use for a few months — save money buying it secondhand hand and put the savings towards something more impactful, like daycare costs or in a 529 for college.”

Only Buy Things You Need

Jeanne Visser from Have Twins First said, “There are many things expecting parents can do to save money on expensive baby gear. First and foremost, be mindful to purchase the baby items you will need and use. Parents-to-be can join their local Facebook Buy Nothing groups and buy big ticket items used online or at consignment shops.”

You Don’t Need Much

Jana Dziak from The Peasant’s Daughter said, “Babies don’t need much. And it’s okay if you haven’t bought everything you think they need. When my first son was born, we were living out of boxes in my in-law’s basement as we waited for our house to be finished. Everything was in disarray, and nothing was set up — we slept on a mattress. And you know what? It was great.”

Subscribe And Save

Holly Nordenberg from I’mwithHolly said, “Use Subscribe and Save on Amazon, Target, or Walmart. You’ll save money and have your staples delivered on a schedule so you don’t have to remember to pick them up when you run out (where you could pay considerably more for convenience).”

Buy Secondhand

Sara from Our Kind of Crazy said, “Buy secondhand where it makes sense. Bouncers, walkers, swings, etc., will only be used for a short time. Changing tables, high chairs, and cribs are also great places to save by purchasing secondhand. There are so many great deals on local marketplaces, where you can get barely used items for super cheap. Buy new for things that really matter to you, but secondhand will help save you lots of money.”

Do Your Research

Anika Jindal from What Anika Says said, “As a parent, you always want to buy the best baby gear, but that doesn’t mean that the expensive ones are only the best. There are 100s of options available in the market with various features; you might not require all of them. So do your research to compare products and go for the ones that provide the best value for money.”

Make A List

Farwa from Peachy Fours said, “Create a shopping list that includes only the necessary items, get your list approved by a person who recently became a parent, and then STICK TO THE LIST. Do not go for add-ons and other fascinating items that are not absolutely required. Keep writing the cost of every item you purchase. Having a written plan and sticking to it will help you save money.”

Accept Help

Marina from A Mum to Mum said, “My money-saving tip for expecting parents would be to accept the help from their friends and take the clothes their kids outgrew. You will help them to make space in their closets, and you won’t have to spend as much on new clothes. Once your kids grow, pass it on as well, and help others.”

Buy Nearly New

Jo from Me, Them and the Others said, “I recommend buying nearly new. Babies only use clothes for a short time, often a matter of weeks, and equipment is often only used for a few months. This means that nearly new items are usually in great condition and can save you a fortune. It also has the bonus of being better for the environment. Make sure you buy new car seats and mattresses as these items aren’t safe when bought used.”

Use Cloth Diapers

Emma Reed said, “I would really recommend looking into using reusable nappies and wipes both for money-saving reasons and environmental reasons. Yes, these do come with upfront costs, but over the course of the years, you could save yourself over £1000. The nappies can also be sold once your child/children have potty trained, so you’ll be able to make some of your money back.”

Make A Plan

Sophia, from The Organized Family Blog, said,  “Expecting a baby is such an exciting time! I loved so much daydreaming about setting up the nursery, cute little clothes, baby toys… If you are on a tight budget, it does not mean that you can not fulfill your dreams. However, planning and arranging your budget is key, especially in this case!
1. You should agree on your budget for buying the essentials for the baby.
2. Have a list of things you need (or you would like to buy).
3. Check what you can borrow from friends or family, what can be bought second-hand, and in which stores you can find discounts.”

Use It For More Than One Kid

Jenni from Chilling with Lucas said, “Don’t underestimate the power of the hand-me-down. One way to save money if you’re about to have baby number two, for example, is to make use of what you bought your firstborn. Utilise friends, charity shops, vinted, and Facebook groups to buy second-hand.”

Reuse And Recycle

Sarah from Arthurwears said, “Shop around on preloved clothes websites such as Vinted for bundles of baby clothes – you can pick up some absolute bargains this way, and most are in excellent condition due to the fact babies grow out of their clothes so quickly! This saves you money and is also better for the environment by reusing and recycling.”

Don’t Buy “All The Things”

Lisa Lightner from A Day in our Shoes said, “You don’t have to buy “all the things.” Newborns need surprisingly little stuff during those first few months. There is no shortage of books, magazines, TV segments, and websites telling you about everything your baby “needs.” They really only need clothes, food, and sleep for a while.”

Have A Diaper Party

Pranali from Empirical Mama said, “It is exciting to find out that you are going to have a baby. But out of excitement, it is not advisable to stock up on baby clothes, especially for newborns. Newborns do not need fancy clothing; only 10 -15 onesies will do. And if you need more, you can always buy as you need them. I would rather stock up on diapers. The easiest way to save money on diapers is to throw a co-ed diaper party. Your guests will bring a box of diapers and wipes.”

Check Your Benefits

Ram Chakradhar from Dollarforcent said, “Welcoming a baby is both exciting and overwhelming. You should review your current health insurance plans to see if they have any maternity support benefits. The benefits could cover the cost of compression socks, support bands, and premium-brand breast pumps. Some even come with free debit cards (with cash up to a limit) and online nurse consultations. Also, everything you use at the delivery hospital, be it a postpartum pad, leftover baby formula, diapers, breast pump kits, medicines, and perineal care kits, is yours to keep. You may also request some extras.”

Borrow Baby Items

Chhavi from Mrs. Daaku Studio said, “If you have friends or siblings who have baby things they are not using, ask them to hand down to you or sell them to you. Certain items like car seats, strollers, etc. are almost always in good condition and can save a lot of money.”

Compound Interest Is Your Friend

Margarita Ibbott from DownshiftingPRO said, “Put money away for college – now. Find a tax-saving account and have it taken off your paycheck. It doesn’t have to be big but start now. Compound interest is your long-term friend.”

Buy Groceries Online

Mia from Tiny Hands, Tidy Home, said, “My best money-saving advice that makes life easier is buying groceries online and taking advantage of curbside pickup services. This will save you a lot of money by limiting impulse buys and save you so much time and energy. You don’t have to worry about lugging your items to the car, not to mention being able to grab everything on your list and avoiding the temptation of buying unnecessary items, all while trying to keep an infant happy in the store. Trust me – curbside grocery pickup has been a game-changer for our family!”

Cut Wipes

Noreen from Our Two Family said, “Cut wipes in half! Most of the time, you don’t really use the whole thing. Boom, now your wipes are 50% off.”

Only Simple Clothes

Claire from Money Saving Central said, “As a mum of five, I fast learned that it was so easy to get suckered into buying gorgeous baby outfits. They might make your baby look as cute as a button, but in reality, they are a huge waste of money. Most outfits get no more than one use, and nine times out of 10, they are extremely Ill-fitting and don’t get worn at all.

My third, fourth and fifth (twins) children only wore outfits if it was a special occasion such as a wedding or christening, and for the first year of their lives, they only wore babygros [sleepers]! This saved me £100s over the course of a year.”

Shop At Aldi

Andrew from Wealthy Nickel said, “Aldi is a lifesaver for new parents. They stock all the basics, such as diapers, bath soap, and baby food, at less than half the price of what you would pay for name-brand products. When I was a new parent, I was initially skeptical, but I found the quality of their products to be equal or better than more expensive alternatives.”

Pay Down Debt

Brooke from Bump To Busy Mama said, “When my husband and I found out we were expecting, we saved 10% of every paycheck. We used any extra money to pay off our credit card debt. Doing this for the duration of my pregnancy helped us tremendously! We also began buying some baby items in advance. For example, we bought diapers and wipes in bulk. You will save money buying diapers and wipes in bulk from BJ’s or Costco. You never want to run out of those! Especially with a new baby!”

Wait To Buy

Stacy from Blessed Farm Mama Life said, “Buy secondhand and wait to buy things as baby gets older and you see what he is she likes. Don’t purchase sit-up chairs and bouncers until later, and only buy one at a time. They probably won’t like them all.”

Go To Consignment Sales

Kristy M.  from Mommy to Many said, “Buy most items used from consignment sales or online sources! They grow so fast that you will be selling all the big gear that has barely been touched, and you will have clothes you don’t even take the tags off.”

Travel When They Are Young

Mitch Glass from Project Untethered said, “If you’re a travel lover, adding a new member to the family means heftier vacation bills. The good news is, if you’re willing to do some exploring with a baby, you can knock out your bucket list destinations before they’re old enough to require a plane ticket. Most airlines do not charge for children under two years old if they sit on your lap. So, expecting parents should start researching their dream trips in advance. That way, they’ll be ready to squeeze it in before having to fork over money for extra tickets.”

Stop And Think Through Your Purchases

Jon Dulin from MoneySmartGuides said, “Stop and think through your purchases to make sure you actually need and will use the item. We easily get caught up in being the best parents and buy things we don’t need. For us, it was a wipe warmer. Was it necessary? No, but it sounded like a good idea at the time. Turns out we never used it, along with many other things. The next time you see something you think you need, put it on a note for later and review it after a week or two to see if you still want it. Chances are you will realize you don’t need it. If you do find you still want it, actively look for how to get it on sale, or in some cases, used on Facebook Marketplace.”

Try Before You Buy

Melissa Price from Loving Life with Less said, “Try before you buy. Just because you’ve read rave reviews about things you HAVE to have for your baby doesn’t mean your baby (or even you) will like them. Things like cloth diapers, carriers, swaddles, and swings can often be borrowed or tested out for a little while so you can decide if they are right for you. And you may find you can forgo many of the big ticket items, like nursery furniture, fancy strollers, and even infant car seats, in favor of a convertible one, depending on your family’s needs. But my biggest tip is that no amount of “stuff” will do more for your child than a loving home. Ignore the pressure to keep up with the mom groups and do everything “perfect.” You’ve got this!”

Create A Budget

Greg from ChaChingQueen says, “The best money-saving tip for expecting parents is to start preparing for your baby’s expenses early, such as creating a budget and identifying all potential costs. Additionally, try to purchase items like diapers and clothing in bulk when possible to take advantage of discounts.”

Use Cloth Diapers

Erin of ClothDiaperBasics says, “We are big fans of cloth diapers. We saved thousands of dollars by using them with our three kids.”

I hope you found this list helpful! Enjoy your little one!

This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.

How inflation has affected credit card use by region

inflation induced credit card utilization
inflation induced credit card utilization

How inflation has affected credit card use by region

Americans are increasingly borrowing money to cover their expenses as inflation continues to hit household budgets nationwide.

Experian analyzed how credit card usage has changed in every state and compared it to regional inflation using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional credit card usage was calculated by summing population-weighted state averages.

Regions that saw slower growth in consumer prices saw more growth in credit card usage, according to Experian and the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, all 50 states and Washington, D.C., saw an increase in credit card spending compared with the prior year.

With interest rates on the rise, consumers could feel a heavier burden if they don’t pay their full credit card balance each month. By the second quarter (Q2) of 2022, the average interest rate for a credit card issued by a commercial bank was 16.65%—a near return to pre-pandemic levels after dipping slightly at the end of 2021. In the third quarter, that rate has continued to tick upward, reaching 18.43% in August, according to the Federal Reserve.

Consumers have also seen their purchasing power decrease. Retailers, businesses, gas stations and service providers have raised prices over the past two years, seeking to make up for shortfalls in labor, hiccups in their supply chains, and increases in fuel prices as well as to grow their profit margins. Meanwhile, spending on personal and household goods and services jumped an average of 12.7% across 50 states and Washington, D.C., in 2021—a strong consumer rebound after a drop of 1.9% in 2020.

In July, consumer spending dropped by 0.2%, signaling that the U.S. economy could be slowing as consumers were pulling back and rethinking their budgets amid elevated prices. But spending habits picked up again in the fall, rising 0.8% in October, suggesting that shoppers may still be willing to spend heading into the holiday shopping season.A map showing credit card utilization change in every state.


States with the highest credit card usage growth

The beginning of 2020 saw the onset of COVID-19 and the halt of social events, in-person dining and shopping, and other activities. Americans were paying down more of their credit card debt—and more made payments on time, according to Federal Reserve data. 

At the end of June 2022, credit card usage was up more than 7% compared with the same period one year prior in nearly all states. Alaska, South Dakota, and Wyoming were the only states where usage grew at a rate below 7%.

consumer using a credit card watching cellphone

Credit card use in the Northeast

Credit card usage growth, Q2 2021 to Q2 2022: +9.92%
– CPI growth from June 2021 to June 2022: +7.63%

Northeastern states saw the lowest growth in consumer prices relative to other regions of the U.S. from June 2021 to June 2022. Consumer prices in these states were already above average for the U.S. going into the pandemic, and were the second-highest regionally in June 2022, according to BLS data.

Higher gas prices, which inflation and global crises have contributed to, can be particularly difficult for Northeastern consumers, who tend to pay more due to their distance from oil-producing states. Massachusetts led both the region and the nation with the highest personal consumption expenditure in 2021 at $58,532 per capita, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Credit card use in the Midwest

– Credit card usage growth, Q2 2021 to Q2 2022: +9.87%
– CPI growth from June 2021 to June 2022: +9.50%

In Midwestern states, consumers’ credit card usage grew the second-fastest in the nation, behind only the Northeasterners. Michigan saw the region’s highest growth in credit card usage from June 2021 to June 2022, at 10.94%. Residents of states bordering the Great Lakes are also known to pay more than the average U.S. consumer for gasoline.

When it comes to personal spending, Midwesterners’ spending ranged between $49,558 per capita in Illinois to $41,758 per capita in Iowa. South Dakotans increased their spending the most compared with their neighboring states, with a 14.1% percent increase in consumption from 2020 to 2021.

Women using credit card for spending

Credit card use in the West

– Credit card usage growth, Q2 2021 to Q2 2022: +9.81%
– CPI growth from June 2021 to June 2022: +8.75%

Western residents faced consumer price increases that were the second-highest in the nation from June 2021 to June 2022. But they were behind two other regions for growth in credit card use.

Californians—who used their credit cards 11% more over the past year, the country’s highest increase—also pay some of the highest gas prices in the nation. Prices at the pump are driven partly by markups based on the state’s distance from the oil-producing Gulf Coast, as well as higher state taxes on gas at the pump.

Utah and Idaho led the nation for the largest growth in personal consumption expenditures. In 2021, Utah and Idaho consumer spending grew by 16.3% and 16%, respectively, with recreational vehicles and goods contributing the most to Utah’s growth since 2020.

Credit card use in the South

– Credit card usage growth, Q2 2021 to Q2 2022: +8.96%
– CPI growth from June 2021 to June 2022: +9.84%

Growth in credit card usage was lowest in southern states, including South Carolina and Florida. Prices in these states went up more than in other regions from June 2021 to June 2022.

In 2021, Florida was the third-highest state for increased personal consumer spending, at 15.6% growth since the previous year. Floridians paid for more food services and accommodations, which were the categories that most boosted the state’s spending growth. Overall personal spending in the South ranged between $50,689 per capita in Florida to $36,445 in Mississippi, where residents spent the lowest per capita in the country.

This story originally appeared on Experian and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

20 Alternatives to College for Teens to Consider

Colleges focus on academics and test scores. However, there is a vast world and opportunities for young people to explore outside of a traditional college degree.

Even with financial aid, traditional colleges and universities can be out of reach for many. For some, it is within reach, but post-secondary education and the accompanying student loans may feel like it could be better.

Many people choose to pursue alternatives to college to get their careers started. Before you enroll in higher education, consider these options.

1. Find a Mentor

Sometimes the best way to get into an industry is to find a mentor. Mentors are people that have been in the career field for a while and have plenty to learn from. They can assist you in helping you learn the ropes and also can make connections and introductions for you.

Finding the right mentor can be a challenge but it is a great alternative to college. If they are an industry veteran, what value are you bringing to the table for them to spend their limited time helping someone get started? Unless they are already a family friend, there is likely little incentive for them to help you along. You can level this out by seeing if there is something they are struggling with that you could spend some time working on for them.

2. Embrace Alternative Education

College is one of many ways to learn a subject. You could, of course, choose a self-study route. You can become quite proficient by reading books and learning online about a subject.

You can also learn about a subject with the “University of Youtube.” Every subject matter has experts showing you step-by-step how to do a task on youtube. It is incredible the breadth of knowledge you can watch.

Online courses also can teach you what you need to know about a specific subject. These courses are usually straight to the point and show you what you need to know about a topic. These are typically light on theory and heavy on practicality.

If you are a lifelong learner, nontraditional education could be an excellent option for you. Professions where a bachelor’s degree is not highly stressed or are required credentials for a job, can lend themselves as alternatives to college.

3. Study Abroad

There are many study-abroad opportunities. In some instances, tuition is free and paid for by the respective governments. While technically, this one is going to college, it is not necessarily pursuing a degree. The life experience and time spent abroad may help you decide what study area is for you.

4. Travel

While not a direct career path, spending some time traveling after high school can help expand your worldview and help you focus on what direction you want to take. You are taking time through life to slow down and enjoy the scenery. While travel is not free, there are ways to travel on a budget.

5. Start a Business

You could go straight into business. When you think of starting a business, your mind might think about tech companies with ideas that will disrupt an industry or change the way we approach life altogether. These are only some of the businesses that exist; hundreds of practical service-based companies exist for every world-changing startup.

6. Start a YouTube Channel

Youtube is the second largest search engine on the internet. It is a vast platform with people searching for information on various topics. You can start a youtube channel to monetize this search for information.

Youtubers can make money from views of their videos, getting paid directly by Youtube and through sponsorships, where the Youtuber inserts ads and sponsored blurbs in the videos themselves. Once you create a Youtube channel, the primary objective is to grow your channel’s views.

7. Teach

While most teaching positions require a degree, there are opportunities to teach without a degree. One of these opportunities is teaching English to non-native speakers. A cool thing about this job is that it can be done in person or online, and there is a market for English teachers in just about every country outside the United States.

The cool thing about teaching English to non-native speakers is that you are not necessarily teaching the basics and rules of grammar. Usually, these courses are aimed at the students learning to talk with a more natural tone.

8. Become a Digital Nomad

Digital nomads work online and travel the world as they do it. If you can find a work-from-home position, start a business, or work freelance remotely, then being a digital nomad is an option.

Many digital nomads focus on traveling in lower-cost-of-living areas to save more money as they work.

9. Get an Internship

Internships are a great way to get some experience in the industry. You may have only some of the qualifications required to land a full-time position at a company, but they may take you on as an intern. After a few months, perhaps you have gained their trust and the experience necessary to get a position there.

10. Join the Military

The military career path can be completely separate from a college education. However, there are also paths in the military that focus on paying for a college education for you.

The military has plenty of different branches, jobs, and training options to find something that fits your needs.

11. Join an Accelerator

An accelerator is an organization that specializes in building businesses. Usually, accelerator programs offer a small amount of startup capital, mentorship, classes on getting your business off the ground, and valuable connections.

Most business accelerators are joined by invite after you apply. They are typically looking for certain aspects. For instance, an accelerator might focus on tech startups or founders that meet specific criteria.

12. Become a Realtor

Being a real estate agent is a career path that does not require a degree. However, most states have an education requirement for taking a course and passing a test. Most states also allow you to take the course online.

Realtors make a commission on the houses they sell or by representing a buyer through the sale of a property. It is a very performance-driven industry, and most real estate agents in any given market make small commissions. Usually, the top earners in a market make a lot of money, while the average experience is much different.

This is not to discourage you from becoming a real estate agent, but if you choose that path, take ownership of your success and work on becoming a top earner in your market.

13. Build a Digital Footprint – And an Audience

Becoming an influencer and getting paid by brands for sponsorship opportunities may sound out of reach. But, it is more attainable than you may think. The key is to hone in on a niche and build a following.

One key to building an online audience is publishing content consistently. Many platforms reward consistent publication, especially when this content is engaging and on brand.

14. Monetize Your Hobby

Gary Vaynerchuck, the author of Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, is a huge proponent of finding what you love and monetizing it. Because of the scale of the internet, there are ways to monetize niche hobbies.

One nontraditional way to monetize your hobby is to build a product that will assist in the industry of your hobby. For example, I have a friend that created a tool to help writers capitalize the title of their headlines.

Sometimes being in the hobby allows you to be further ahead of the trend than some companies manufacturing products. You could use a contract manufacturing company to produce your solution.

15. Write a Book

Becoming an author and self-publishing a book can create some passive income. There are some side benefits to publishing a book. For one, you establish more credibility in your field by being an author in the space.

The easiest way to self-publish a book is through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon. Essentially, you write your book, upload it and attach a description on KDP, and you are ready to publish.

16. Earn Money Playing Video Games With Esports

Making money playing video games sounds like a dream to many people. While this world is highly competitive, there are options to win tournaments, build a Twitch following, and make money through sponsorships.

Of course, you either need top-tier skills or a winning personality that people enjoy following along. Possibly, both.

17. Do an Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is an option to learn while earning money. For instance, an electrician’s apprentice typically spends most of their day pulling wire. You can also pick up on the more advanced concepts while apprenticing. Eventually, you become experienced enough to become a master electrician.

Finding an apprenticeship program is a great way to gain real-life work experience while getting an income. In addition, apprentices learn the technical skills required for their chosen career path.

18. Vocational Training

Rather than going to college, you could go to a vocational school. Trades such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrician are in high demand. Culinary arts is a popular vocational training program. Some people opt to go to a vocational high school to give them a head start on this process.

While these trades may take a while to learn, many trade schools offer dramatically shorter and more affordable programs than a four-year degree from a traditional university. This is because technical schools focus more on the vocation and how to get the tasks done than they worry about the theory.

19. Get a Job

It may be too obvious, given that in the game of Life, your options at the beginning are college or getting a job. Getting a job after high school is an option. Many jobs do not require college degrees and still have plenty of room for advancement and growing your career. Finding a job as a teen can be a bit tricky, but with the right steps can be achieved.

20. Become a Photographer

Photography is a business that can be started with limited startup costs and no degree requirement. There are several niches: weddings, family, high school graduation, and sports. Focus on a niche will help differentiate you from other photographers.

Building up the skills required to be a professional photographer takes time. One way to accelerate your learning is to become a backup photographer or photographer’s assistant.

How To Choose Your Alternatives to College

Just because going to college is typically construed as the best option after high school does not mean it is for everyone. Your after-graduation goals may be different than other people’s. You may prefer one of these alternatives to college instead. Ultimately, the decision you choose going forward will be yours to make. However, you should get the advice of a trusted adult with life experience to help guide your decision-making process. This post originally appeared on Savoteur.

11 Top Gas Apps To Save Money

With gas prices hitting record levels this year, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking for ways to cut costs. That’s where gas apps come in. These apps help you find the cheapest gas and offer rewards too. 

You can either install a gas app on your smartphone or use the web browser version if you prefer. Some companies offer free versions depending on the app, while others require a monthly fee.

Saving money, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, is essential – and every penny counts. Especially if you’re trying to pay off a loan or get out of crippling debt, saving money at the pump can help you reach your financial goals. Here are the top gas savings apps to try.

Gas Apps To Save Money

1. Gasbuddy

GasBuddy is a popular smartphone app that allows users to compare gas prices across multiple locations. The app collects data from its users to provide real-time information about local gas stations, including price comparisons and location maps. People have downloaded GasBuddy over 40 million times since it launched in 2012.

2. Gas Guru

Gas Guru is a free app that displays gas prices in your local area. Gas Guru uses OPIS (Open Petroleum Information System), making it more reliable than similar apps.

3. AAA Triptik Travel Planner

The AAA TripTik Travel Planner is a travel guide app designed specifically for Android smartphones. With it, you can plan trips anywhere in the world, including popular destinations like Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, California, and many others. You can even use it to find places to eat, shop, explore, and relax while traveling.

You can read reviews about restaurants, hotels, attractions, shops, and more. And you can save those locations into your favorites list, so you remember where you want to go next time you plan a trip.

Features include:

  • Find places to eat, shop & relax around the globe
  • Read reviews about local businesses
  • Save favorite places to revisit later
  • See nearby points of interest based on your current location

4. Mapquest

MapQuest is an online mapping service. Founded in 1996, it allows you to calculate gas miles while traveling.

The site offers free maps, driving directions, and detailed maps. So whether you’re looking for the nearest cheap restaurant or going to your kid’s soccer game across town, MapQuest can help you get there cost-efficiently. If you own a small business, MapQuest has subscription plans ranging from $0 per month to $799 per month to help drive people to your business.

5. Upside

Upside allows users to earn money back on purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, and other local businesses. Users can redeem rewards via Paypal, bank transfer, gift card, or eGift. This app is available in English only.

6. BPme Rewards

Get $5 off fuel purchases at participating BP locations nationwide

Save money while fueling up at participating BP gas stations. Get discounts on other products in select retail locations. And enjoy exclusive offers and rewards through BPme Rewards.

Visit to find out how you can save money and earn points.

7. Shell Fuel Rewards

This app gets you discounts at gasoline stations. With Shell Fuel Rewards, users earn points based on the amount of money spent fueling up. They can redeem those points for cash back or store credit.

The app is free to download and use. There are no ads or in-app purchases.

9. Speedy Rewards

Speedway offers rewards cards for everything from groceries to travel. But there are some things they won’t give you cash back for — like gas.

The credit card company says it’s because those purchases aren’t “necessarily related” to what you’re buying with the card.

10. Google Maps

Gas stations are now listed directly in Google Maps, meaning you no longer have to search for them online. You can type in your destination and find out where to go. If you want to know the type of fuel sold there, you’ll still have to look up the location. You can use the same feature to check prices too.

The feature seems to be rolling out slowly, though, so some people are reporting seeing it already. We don’t know why Google chose to add this functionality. However, it’s been around since 2017, so it may have been added in response to competitors like Apple Maps.

11. Checkout 51

The Checkout 51 app is free to download but requires a $20 minimum reward to cash out. Once you’ve reached the $20 minimum, you’ll receive offers based on how much cash you left over. If you’re willing to delay your rewards, you can buy gift cards with your leftover funds. Gift card values range from $5 to $500.

12. FuelGenie App

FuelGenie is one of the fastest-growing apps in the US today. They are proud to offer the most accurate real-time price data and want to reward their loyal customers with discounts on fuel purchases.

They have been working hard to make sure their customers enjoy the best experience possible, including making it easy to earn rewards and redeeming those points for discounts on fuel purchases. Their goal is simple – provide the best value for money on gasoline anywhere in the country.

The FuelGenie app allows you to locate the lowest prices on gas across all 50 states. You’ll only pay what’s advertised online. With over 300,000 registered users, FuelGenie is already helping millions of people save hundreds of dollars each month on fuel costs.

Pros And Cons Of Using Gas Apps

There are pros and cons to using gas apps. Some are free, while others cost $5-$10 per month. The most important consideration when deciding whether to use a gas app is how well it works for you. Here are some things to consider:

1. Accuracy

How accurate is the information in the app? Is it updated frequently enough? How often does it show inaccurate prices? Are they always showing the correct price or only sometimes?

2. Reliability

Is the app reliable? Does it work as expected? For example, do you get an error message if the app cannot connect to the internet?

3. Security

Are your details safe? What security measures do they take to protect against hackers?

4. Privacy Policy

What privacy policies exist? Will they share your personal information with third parties?

5. Features

Do you need additional features such as loyalty programs, coupons, and rewards?

6. Support

Do they answer their support requests within 24 hours? Can you contact them via phone, email, or live chat?

7. Pricing

Will you be charged monthly or annually? How long will you be charged before canceling?


In conclusion, gas apps are a great way to save money without sacrificing convenience. They allow you to track your mileage, set alerts for when you’re approaching certain miles per gallon thresholds, and even help you plan trips based on your current fuel costs.

The best part is that most of these apps are free! So download one today and start saving money right away!

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

How To Save Money in College – Here Are 33 of The Best Ways

How To Save Money in College
How To Save Money in College

It’s no secret that college can be expensive. Books, tuition, room, and board all add up quickly. However, there are ways to save money while you’re in school. With some planning and thinking outside the box, you can save more money than you think.

So whether you’re a freshman just starting college or a senior about to graduate, read on for some helpful tips.

How To Save Money in College

#1. Start a Budget

A budget is crucial for the school year. Track how much you make, spend, and plan, so you only spend what you have. 

Setting up a budget and following it offers three significant benefits. First, you will recognize where you tend to overspend, which can help you self-assess ways to save money.

Second, it allows you to plan your spending. If you want something but need more money to pay for it, you can plan and cut some spending or find ways to bring in extra income.

Finally, learning to budget now will give you a head start after graduation. When you finally have a steady paycheck, you won’t be as tempted to spend it all because you have the budgeting skills and knowledge that help you to spend wisely and save for the future.

#2. Get a Free Checking Account

Many banks have student accounts that minimize or even waive all fees. If your bank is charging you a monthly account fee or other fees, find a new bank.

While it might not feel like paying $5 a month in fees is a lot, it’s a complete waste if you can bank and not have to pay the fee.

#3. Don’t Overdraft Your Account

Do not overdraft on your bank account, in other words, do not spend more money than your checking account. With overdraft protection, the bank will still allow you to use your debit card or write checks, even if you don’t have enough cash to cover it.

The catch is you get charged a fee for this privilege. The average overdraft fee is $33, which means if you overdraft your account five times a year, you are paying $165 in fees. Set up a budget and know how much you have in your checking account to reduce the risk of this unwanted fee.

#4. Look for Student Discounts

Being a student has its perks. Nearby businesses might offer student discounts. Restaurants, movie theaters, and other establishments might give you a deal if you show them your valid student ID card.

Make sure you always have your student ID card in your wallet just in case you find yourself somewhere you can save money.

#5. Seek Out Education Discounts

Many services also offer discounts. Amazon Prime has a special student price. You can even get a discount on a Spotify Premium bundle that includes Hulu and Showtime as a student.

Restaurants like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s offer discounts, as do a handful of clothing retailers and insurance companies. If you are a student, you should ask if you can get a student discount before signing up for or paying anything. This tip alone can save you thousands of dollars a year.

#6. Use The Library

The library is an excellent resource you can use to cut down on expenses and meet a college student’s budget. Many college campuses have libraries with on-campus managers that can help you with assignments, recommend books for your leisure time, and offers resources and activities to help you excel.

#7. Renting or Buying Used Textbooks

There’s rarely a good reason to buy brand-new textbooks. They are notoriously pricey, so if you can buy used textbooks rather than new ones, go for it!

If the course isn’t part of your major but is still required, you might rent used textbooks, which can save you even more.

Once your class is over, you can sell your used books to get back money from your purchase and use that cash to cover the cost of the following semester’s books.

When using this tip, avoid the campus bookstore as much as possible. You can get better deals by both buying and selling books online.

#8. Take Advantage of Your College

You should get a lot of free things that you otherwise would have to pay for simply by being a student. For example, if you have to mail a letter but don’t have an envelope, go into one of the administration offices and ask for an envelope.

Feel free to take this idea to the edge of what you deem ethical. If you need printer paper, take some from a copier in the library.

#9. Use Career Services

This option is helpful to you as a junior or senior, though any student and even alums can participate. All colleges have a career services office to help you write your resume. There is no cost to you, so you should take advantage of it. It will save you the money of paying for someone to craft or edit your resume instead.

#10. Learn About University Services

As a college student, many universities offer a wide range of services as they know that college students struggle with money. That might be free mental health services or reduced health insurance. Every college offers different services, so be sure to see what low-cost or free university services your college provides so that you can save more money for things you might need.

#11. Buy Used

Used textbooks only scratch the surface when it comes to lowering your expenses. There are plenty of secondhand items that you can purchase to cut down on spending. Your university might offer discounts on used laptops as an example.

If you live off campus or in an apartment on campus, you can find used furniture and houseware items on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Yard sales are also a great place to find quality items for cheap.

Be sure to check out platforms like Freecycle, where people offer free items instead of throwing them out. You should check out the dumpsters on campus at the end of the year. Many students will toss perfectly good furniture and other household items, so they can skip taking them back home.

Buying new items is optional, and used items work just as well. If you adopt this minimalist lifestyle now, it will serve you well for the rest of your life.

#12. Take Advantage of Your Meal Plan

Once you’ve made a budget, food is one of your most significant expenses. If you’re committed to saving money, you should look into your college’s dining hall meal plans.

Most colleges offer plans at various price points. For example, the most expensive plan would be three meals a day, seven days a week. But other options could include two meals a day for only five days.

I opted for one meal a day, five days a week. I ate lunch on campus during the week and then at my apartment on the weekends. If you do the math, you can make out ahead financially. That is especially true since you can go up for seconds.

Sometimes, I would even get seconds or thirds and pack the food in my bag to eat later.

#13. Cook Often

Limit your food budget by cooking at home. Food costs may be rising, but you can navigate this by looking for sales, joining local rewards programs to take advantage of discounts or get free items, and buying bulk to spend less on meals.

You can also save money by sticking with the staples. You can buy a lot of pasta for very little money, as well as canned vegetables. The more creative you can get with shopping, the more money you save.

#14. Be Smart When Dining Out

When you do go out to eat, be smart about it. Look for specials or only go during happy hour when you can get food at a discount. You might even consider splitting plates with others.

If you are trying to save, you can take leftovers others have left on the table if the server still needs to clear the table.

Buffets are another great idea since you can eat a lot of food for a set price. I usually went to lunch and ate one large meal, so I wasn’t hungry for dinner. I also snuck some food out occasionally as well. There are many ways to get free food when you need more money.

#15. Avoid Expensive Drinks

College students spend way too much on coffee and alcohol. Rather than spending $7 on specialty drinks, invest in a good coffee maker and brew your own. Similarly, if you’ve got roommates who are avid coffee drinkers, then you can split the cost of your coffee machine and recurring drink-related expenses with other students.

When it comes to alcohol, buy the cheapest available. It not only lowers your costs, but when you look back years later, you will have great stories admitting that you enjoyed drinking a particularly low-end brand.

#16. Use Public Transportation

Having your car, while convenient, is another significant expense. There are maintenance costs, gas, and insurance to consider for something you’re probably not using much now. Most college students don’t need a car.

Public transportation is your friend in college and a great way to save money in college. Taking the bus to and from places is much more cost-effective than having your car.

There’s also the option to get a student pass. Many colleges partner with local transit authorities so that you can get a discount on the bus, subway, or trolley anytime you need to get somewhere, and it’s certainly less expensive than owning a car.

Finally, you can barter with someone that does have a car. If you need a ride, offer to clean their dishes or help them with a class they are struggling with in exchange.

#17. Walk or Bike

The best option to get around is to walk or bike. Not only is it 100% free, but it also improves your health. If your campus is within walking or biking distance from grocery stores, cafes, or other places you frequent, consider making the trip on foot or by bike.

#18. Use The Campus Gym

A gym membership can cost you a lot each month, and at most colleges, you can go to the school gym for free and have complete freedom to attend whenever you please.

You might also have access to amenities like the basketball court, swimming pool, and more that most gyms don’t have or charge extra for you. Your college might even offer free fitness classes too.

#19. Attend Free Events

On or off campus, there are always great places to attend events or participate in free activities to keep you from getting bored and save money.

Most colleges schedule events all the time for their students. Just visit your college website’s student life section to get a list of events happening around campus.

Additionally, most towns offer free events too. Whether it is a street fair or community day, there usually is something to do that doesn’t cost any money. You should check neighboring towns, too, as they will have events for you to enjoy.

#20. Save on Video Games

A video game can cost $60 or more, which is more than any college student should spend. To get around this, see if other students have the game and ask if you can borrow it.

Buying a used video game is another excellent way to save money. You can often find them at garage sales, thrift stores, or online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Just be sure to check that the game is compatible with your gaming system before you buy.

Finally, check out the local library, not your campus library. They might carry video games for you to rent. Chances are they won’t have the newest releases, but you never know.

#21. Keep Track of Your Borrowing

Taking on debt is inevitable when you enter college, but one major step you can take to help you manage your college money is to track how much you have borrowed.

Generally, you only want to borrow what you can earn in your first year after graduating.

Recognizing and cutting back on your borrowing wherever possible will save you a massive looming debt when you graduate and let you progress with your career and life goals more easily.

You will be amazed at how well seeing a running total of your student debt affects your future choices. It may even inspire you to find ways to take on less debt for your remaining time in college.

#22. Don’t Miss Payments

Another critical way to avoid wasted spending is not missing payments on your credit card or tuition. When you miss a payment, you pay additional fees and sometimes a higher interest rate.

Do whatever you need to track when bills are due to ensure that you make payments on time.

This tip also extends to your post-college years when you start paying back your student loan debt. If you pay on time, they will not harm your credit score.

#23. Work in College

How does working in college save you money? There are a few ways. First, it can help you to pay for tuition, so you have to take out fewer student loans. Next, if you are spending your free time working, you have as much time to spend money.

Lastly, you can put money into a savings or investment account that will grow into more significant amounts thanks to compound interest.

Of course, you need to make sure your classes come first, so make sure you find a job that has flexible hours so you can still get your studying done. These are under-the-table jobs that allow you to work nights and weekends.

If you can, try to structure your class schedule that frees up the most time possible to work. For example, if you can schedule your classes early in the morning, you’ll have the afternoon to study and work nights and weekends.

Finally, be sure to take advantage of school breaks around the holidays. If you stay near campus or head home over break, chances are you can find temporary work to earn some extra cash.

#24. Complete The FAFSA Each Year

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you must fill out to get financial aid for college. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, you must fill this out yearly.

Most people think you fill out this form to qualify for student loans. While this does help with that, it also allows you to be eligible for Federal grants, which you don’t have to pay back.

Another benefit is work-study, which is an on-campus job that helps you with having some spending money.

#25. Apply for Scholarships

Apply for scholarships and look for available grants that you can use to cover tuition, housing, and school supplies. While grants can be somewhat limited, there are often plenty of scholarship opportunities to apply for before the next school year rolls around.

You might be surprised at how many places offer scholarships, many of which are not dependent on having high grades. For example, you can get a scholarship if you are left-handed or even if you read specific personal finance blogs.

Spend a weekend searching online, and you should be able to find and apply for many scholarships.

#26. Establish Your Career Goals

One of the biggest mistakes people make in college is simply taking courses that have no impact on their future or are a requirement for graduation. The sooner you know what you want to do after college, the sooner you can focus on taking the classes you need to graduate.

If you don’t know what career you want to pursue, the best college money-saving tip you can get is to go once you’re ready or attend a community college, which is always significantly less expensive.

That will help you to figure out what you want to do so that when you go to college, you can keep expenses to a minimum.

#27. Work With Your Advisor To Streamline Your Education

Those who took Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school may have credits that they can apply to their college degree to spend less time and less money in college. However, if you didn’t take AP classes, you can still accomplish the same thing.

Visit your student advisor to see how you can complete all your needed classes and graduate early. Even if you can graduate one semester early, this will save you thousands of dollars. If you can land a job right away, this will put you that much further ahead financially.

#28. Make Friends You Can Be Roommates With

Socialization is essential in college. It’s not only because it’s good for your mental health or crucial to networking but because you can find potential roommates. The more people can pitch in on an apartment, the easier it will be for you to afford rent and split most living expenses.

It’s also essential to make sure you’re making friends with reliable people who will be good roommates instead of potentially leaving you in a precarious situation later on. The last thing you want to do is have a roommate who always parties.

I made this mistake my sophomore year. I roomed with the guys I partied with on the weekends. When we lived together, it turned out we partied almost every night. Our grades suffered, and a few of my friends dropped out. The following year, I roomed with my other friend, who what a great student. While we also had a lot of fun, my grades were the best when I lived with him because he showed me how to structure my time better.

#29. Focus On Accumulating More Permanent Items

Fast fashion and other cheap items seem like they save you money upfront. They do, but you’ll notice that you often go through these items faster than you should.

For example, if you buy a $20 pair of running shoes, you might only get a few months of use out of them. You’ll then need to purchase these shoes several times throughout the year, costing you a lot of money.

On the other hand, you could invest in a good pair of shoes that will last several years and save you more money over the long term.

While it sounds good to buy the cheapest item, make sure you also think long-term, as this is where the actual savings are. Of course, you should always choose the most affordable item for one-time-use items.

#30. Use Cash Back, Rewards, Coupons, and Discounts

Saving money is relatively easy in the digital age. There is no shortage of websites and apps that will help you cut down on spending for some of the essentials you need.

Are you going to the grocery store? Look for in-store coupons or join their rewards program. They pay attention to the sales fliers, so you know when an item on sale is selling at the lowest price.

Are you shopping for electronics online? Look around for discount codes to apply to get money off your purchase. If you can wait until next year’s model comes out, take advantage of the lower price on the old version. You can also find a store selling an open-box version to save.

Do you need to make a purchase you might not be able to get a discount on? See if any financial apps offer a cash-back promotion for that purchase. At the very least, ask the cashier if there are any discounts. You might be surprised they have a coupon or can offer you 5% off just because you asked.

#31. Earn Free Gift Cards

Another option to help offset the cost of things is to earn gift cards. Many sites, including Swagbucks and MyPoints, allow you to play games, answer surveys, watch videos, and more.

You can redeem your points for cash or gift cards to your favorite retailer.

Then you use the gift cards to pay for the things you buy, saving you money. As a bonus, these sites often run sales, so you can get a gift card for fewer points than usual, helping you get more gift cards.

#32. Benefit From Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards are where consumer debt usually starts. But if you are careful with your spending, credit cards are a great way to save money.

First, you can use a card that offers cash back or points every time you purchase. You can redeem these points for cash, a statement credit, or discounted travel.

Another way credit cards help you to save is by getting the lowest price. Some credit cards will monitor your purchases, and if the cost of the item drops after you buy, they will give you the lower price. Usually, there is a time limit of 30 or 60 days, but it saves you time from monitoring prices.

Finally, many offer great signup bonuses, allowing you to earn hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash back or points when you hit a specific spending limit.

If you decide to go this route, make sure you only charge what you can afford to pay back each month, as the interest you pay on any credit card debt far outweighs any benefit you get.

#33. Sell Items You No Longer Need To Recoup Costs

Do you have things lying around you no longer use? If so, you can sell them and earn a few dollars. Just take a few pictures and list the item for sale on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

While you won’t pay for college with this tip, you can earn enough money to get some free pizza once in a while.

If you do this and find it enjoyable, here is a way to earn extra money. Go to yard sales, buy items, and flip them for a profit.

I did this in college and made decent money. I only bought things I knew, like video games, that I could resell for a higher price. But you can resell anything if you find a great deal.

Once I bought a bike for $5. It was in excellent condition, just dirty. I cleaned it up and sold it for $40.

Finally, at the end of the year, check out the dumpsters around campus, as many students toss perfectly good items. You can sell these things and make money.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to save money in college, and saving money today is easier than ever. Money skills if learnt during childhood help kids make better financial decisions as they grow older.

But because it is so easy, it can feel overwhelming to some people. Take some time to figure out what options listed here interest you the most, and make it a point to use them to help you lower your costs.

Then you can add more tricks as you go. Not only does saving money help you now, but it will also help you in the future. The more you know how to save, the further ahead financially you can be for the rest of your life.This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

How To Save Money Fast – 26 Easy Tips

We all know it’s important to save money. But how do you do that when inflation is up, mortgage rates have increased, and rents are rising? Oh, and don’t forget – extra spending is coming with the holidays around the corner. Yet even in tough times, there are strategies to help build savings fast.

How To Save Money Fast

Stop Paying for Convenience

Necessity can be an excellent way to reduce time and money. Increase your cash flow if you take a few extra hours to make coffee. Do your own laundry. Mow your own lawn. You do not need to keep paying people to do easy things you can do.

Learn How to Budget and Understand Your Finances

You must be aware of your cash inflow and outflow before you start saving. That means identifying and understanding all revenue sources. It also means understanding your expenses, such as debt repayments, monthly bill payments, and savings.

There are many budgeting methods. Regardless of which one generates more hype, they all work. The trick is to find the budgeting style that works for you.

Create a Designated Savings Account

To save money quickly, you need to avoid spending your money. Create separate bank accounts. Have one for your monthly spending and another solely for savings. Refrain from withdrawing from your savings.

Use an Envelope Budgeting System

A good life hack that helps save time is using Dave Ramsey’s envelope budget system. To do this, divide your monthly income into seperate envelopes for fixed expenses, like rent, and then envelopes for variable costs, like food.

This method forces you to use a budget, and you physically see where the money comes and goes. To save money fast, have one of the envelopes be a savings account, and do not take anything out of it.

Designate a No Spend Day

Pick one day a month to spend nothing. Once you get the habit, increase it from three days per week to three days if you want more savings. When you do this strategy, avoid binge-spending the day before and after your no spend day. Otherwise, you are defeating the purpose.

Save Money When Eating

Save Money When Dining Out

It’s ok to dine out occasionally, just don’t forget the menu item does not reflect the full price. You also have to add gratuity and taxes. That’s another 20-30% on top of what it says on the menu.

When eating out, cut back on the add-ons. Is that bacon on your cheeseburger making you $4 happier? (It’s even more than that when you factor in tax and tip on those two slices of bacon.)

Many restaurants have opportunities to save if you know where to look. Some also have coupons, deals, and discounts. For example, grab some Chuck E Cheese coupons before taking your kids to get pizza.

Cook Your Own Meals

Food is often an essential part of your budget. Get ready to prepare a quick meal. Make a list of all the items you want to buy. Even when you don’t use supermarket coupons, cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out at a restaurant.

Reduce Your Grocery Spending

Try to plan your meals. Then you can determine what you are going to buy when you go shopping. The savings will surprise you if you cut down your weekly grocery spending.

Eat less meat and dairy, which might cost more. Check out items on our lower shelves.

Save Money While Shopping

Look for Coupons and Sales

Planning with coupons and looking into deals can make a significant difference. For online stores, use browser plugins like Paypal Honey Browser, which automatically searches for coupons to cut your final cost at the checkout.

Save Money Shopping on Amazon

So many of us shop on Amazon. Did you know there are ways to save when buying from the retail giant? The trick is to know where to find an Amazon Promo Code.

Make a List

Fight instant gratification. Get in the habit of making a list before you go to the store and stick to it. It will curb your compulsive spending.

Sign Up for Rewards and Loyalty Programs

Sign up for programs so you can get discount coupons for supermarkets and drugstore stores. Use them regularly when shopping for products and earn rewards on your next purchase.

Earn Cash Back on Purchases

Many apps and chrome extensions can help you earn cash back on things you buy. You can also find credit cards that pay cashback on your spending.

Save Money on Housing Costs

It’s expensive to keep a roof over your head. Here are some ways to trim expenses so you can save quickly.

Make Your Own Household Products

Did you know you can make your own household products and cleaning supplies? Many cleaners are harmful and expensive. But you can make household cleaning products easily.

Take Care of Your Appliances

Repairing kitchen appliances is expensive. Most repair technicians charge $50-150 an hour, plus a service charge of $50-100 just to show up. Add in spare parts and emergency fees, and the bill becomes larger. HomeAdvisor found that, on average, it costs $174 to improve kitchen appliances.

The good news is that you can easily extend your kitchen appliances’ life.

The trick to avoiding costly repairs and replacements is to know when to clean your kitchen appliance.

Find a Roommate

If you currently live alone, you can find a roommate. This will help you split the rent, the bills and perhaps share other costs of living. 

Negotiate With Your Landlord

Having been a landlord for over two decades, I can let you in on our little secret – most of us just want stability. Landlords certainly want to know they’re going to get the rent they are owed. They also want the confidence that tenants maintain the house properly. Landlords are willing to negotiate rent if you give them a reason to.

Refinance Your Mortgage

It’s tough to refinance your mortgage right now with rates rising. But refinancing a mortgage can save you money quickly if you consolidate debt into your mortgage. Another strategy is to extend the life of your mortgage.

For example, if you have 18 years left, you could refinance to another 30-year term. Be careful with the strategy, though, because you may end up spending much more over the life of the mortgage.

Try To Fix Things Yourself

You can save some money by fixing the stuff that breaks. You can fix almost anything online thanks to YouTube and sites like HomeTalk.

Appeal Property Tax

Did you know you can appeal your property tax? There are law firms that will do the appeal for you. Often if they win, they get paid half of the savings. If they lose, then you pay them nothing. You can also represent yourself.

Save Money on Banking and Insurance Policies

Set up Automatic Deposits

One of the easiest ways to save money quickly is to set up direct deposits. Doing direct depositing of funds helps shift the mentality that savings and spending are two different needs.

Shop Around for Insurance

Shopping around for insurance is an easy way to cut expenses. Sometimes you can find more savings as a customer. Bundling different insurance plans can save you even more. Insurance companies generally rotate which ones have the lowest premiums depending on where they are in their loss cycles. So shop around.

Get Out of Debt

Stop wasting money on interest and fees. Pay off your debts.

Put a Spending Limit on Your Card

Set personal limits on your credit card balance. It will prevent overspending and encourages the person to reevaluate their daily expenditure at the earliest opportunity. Most banks provide such services.

Save On Recurring Expenses

Cancel Unnecessary Subscription Services and Memberships

Look at all of your subscriptions and memberships. Cancel some. You can set up a credit card account for recurring expenses. That helps you track and easily see opportunities to trim back.

Cut Back on Your Utility Bills

Another excellent tip for saving fast is to use less water and electricity.

Buy Cloth Diapers

Disposable diapers cost four to five times more than cloth diapers for one child. The expense is even more dramatic if you have more than one child. If you have little kids, save money on diapers by buying cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.

Save Money Fast

There are many ways to save money quickly. The general theme with the tips listed here is to slow down. Focus on buying what you need, find coupons, and be conscious about spending less.This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

7 Easy Ways To Reduce Fuel Prices

How To Save Money on Gas

That familiar feeling of dread you get when pulling up to the gas pump may not fade anytime soon as the national average gas price remains at an all-time high. The good news is that figuring out how to save money on gas doesn’t have to be complicated.

How To Save Money on Gas – 7 Simple Tips

Watching the price of gas continuously climb can be a source of financial stress, especially if you have a long commute.

While your wallet has likely been feeling the pinch, your hands aren’t tied. Here are a few easy ways to save money on gas.

1. Compare Fuel Prices

Many people frequent the same gas stations out of loyalty or convenience, but one of the easiest ways to save money on gas is to seek out the lowest gas prices.

Apps can help you locate the cheapest gas prices in your area. For example, Gas Guru will tell you how much a gallon of gas costs at U.S. gas stations for regular gas and even allows you to view pricing for premium gas. The app also color codes the results to identify the best deal quickly.

Another option to score cheaper gas is to ditch the convenience store and swing by the pumps at a warehouse club. You’ll often find the best prices at stores like Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco.

2. Use Gift Cards for Gas Purchases

Upside is a free app for Android and iOS devices that rewards you with free gift cards (or PayPal cash) when you spend at gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants.

Download the app, tap the gas pump, and the Upside app will show you all the locations near you that offer cashback per gallon. Using Upside can significantly reduce the cost of gas and decrease your monthly gas bill. There are many other apps that give cash rewards and free gift cards. Some of the most popular options are:

Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is an app that rewards you for every purchase. Sign up for a free account, install the app on your phone, and scan your receipt.

Earn a minimum of 25 points for any receipt you scan, and get rewarded with bonus points when you purchase an item that qualifies for a special offer. Connect your email to Fetch Rewards and avoid missing out on points for online purchases. Cash out your rewards for free gift cards.


Get rewarded for online activities such as playing games, surveys, and watching videos. Redeem points for cash or prepaid Visa cards. Plus, get a $5 welcome bonus upon signing up.


Rakuten rewards you for shopping online. Get $10 when you sign up for Rakuten and earn cashback rewards from thousands of online retailers.

Before heading to your favorite website, first head to Search for the retailer you want to shop at, click on it, and Rakuten will take you directly to the retailer’s website.

Make your purchase as usual, and Rakuten will credit your account with cashback. Rakuten will pay you via PayPal or a paper check at the end of each quarter.


Get paid to search the web, watch videos, and take surveys when you use Swagbucks. Download the app to earn on the go when standing in line or on your lunch break. Exchange your points for cash or gift cards. Plus, get a $5 sign-up bonus.

3. Earn Rewards

Earning rewards is one of the best ways to offset the high prices of gas. There are several ways to earn rewards, and while not all of them will directly get you a lower price at the pump, they can help you put some extra money in your pocket.

Gas Rewards

Most grocery stores now offer customers a loyalty program to help them save money on groceries and incentivize them to shop. Grocery chains that also sell gas often have a gas rewards program, which allows customers to earn rewards based on the amount of money they spend in the store.

When a customer fills up their tank at the grocery store, they can apply the gas rewards they’ve earned to reduce the cost of their gas purchase.

Taking advantage of these programs can considerably impact the average gas price you end up paying over time.

However, most gas reward programs restrict the timeframe to redeem your rewards and the number of gallons of gas you can purchase at the discounted price. Therefore, it’s a good idea to understand the program’s limitations to avoid missing out on cheap gas.

In addition to grocery stores, most gas stations also offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn rewards and discounts on fuel purchases.

Credit Card Rewards

Another option is to use a rewards credit card to earn cashback rewards on your spending. Some banks, such as American Express, allow you to earn rewards on your bank account when you make purchases using your debit card.

Most credit cards allow you to use your credit card points in various ways. Some common redemption methods include gift cards to purchase gas, trading them in for a statement credit, or even transferring the monetary equivalent to your bank account.

Next time you’re at the pump, pay with your rewards credit or debit card to earn additional points on your gas purchase.

4. Improve Your Fuel Efficiency

The term “fuel economy” is often confused with “fuel efficiency.” Fuel economy refers to how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. That is the number you see on the window sticker at the car dealership.

Fuel efficiency describes how your vehicle utilizes fuel. Essentially, when your vehicle uses fuel more efficiently, it improves your gas mileage, equating to fewer trips to the pump.

Many factors contribute to fuel efficiency. A good portion of an engine’s fuel efficiency depends on the engineering of the engine itself. Still, there are many ways to improve fuel efficiency.

  1. Maintain recommended pressure in tires: Proper tire pressure leads to less fuel consumption.
  2. Find your sweet spot: Driving too fast or too slow can use more fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests sticking to the speed limit as gas mileage quickly decreases beyond 50mph.
  3. Lose some weight: No, not you, your car! The lighter your vehicle and its load, the less fuel it consumes. Do not use your vehicle as a storage shed; ditch the bike and roof rack when possible.
  4. Take care of your vehicle: Keeping up with oil and air filter changes, rotating your tires, and attending to other regular maintenance will help your vehicle perform its best.
  5. Reduce Your Fuel Consumption

Less driving will result in decreased gas costs. Here are a few alternatives to getting behind the wheel are:

  • Taking public transportation
  • Carpool with friends or co-workers
  • Walk, run, bike, skate, or skip
  • Adjust your schedule to work from home when possible
  • Relocate (admittedly a slightly extreme option, but worth a mention)

5. Modify Your Driving Habits

Changing the way you drive can be difficult, as is changing any habit. Still, modifying some of your driving habits can reduce fuel costs over time.

Combine Errands

Most of us run our errands on the fly or whenever it’s convenient, but combining your errands and appointments can help you save money on gas by reducing the number of trips you are making.

Choose one day each week to be “errand day.” Then, take a few minutes each weekend to plan your errands. Set aside enough time to accomplish everything you need in that one day – in one trip.

Schedule your appointments on that same day, whenever possible, and tackle your errands around your appointments. Although, of course, this option may not work for many people, modify it as needed to fit your particular schedule. Not only will you save money on gas, but you’ll also save time.

Know When To Use Air Conditioning

Generally speaking, air conditioner use does save gas when driving at higher speeds. But when driving at slower speeds, open windows are the best way to cool your car.

Change Your Schedule

Your schedule isn’t necessarily a “driving habit.” However, it greatly impacts when you drive (which can affect your driving habits.)

For instance, when driving during rush hour, you may be more prone to aggressive driving as you deal with congested roadways and traffic jams.

Changing the time you must arrive at the office or when you leave the office can help you avoid traffic and reduce travel time.

Change Your Route

If your daily drive home consists of city driving, you’ll save gas if you take an alternative route of driving on the highway. Maintaining consistent highway speeds is more efficient and avoids rapid acceleration, which requires more fuel.

When a highway route is not an option, you’ll conserve fuel by avoiding driving aggressively, slamming on your breaks at a red light, and allowing your vehicle to idle for extended periods.

6. Switch to an Electric Vehicle

Most people are not in the position to run out and buy a new car – especially a pricey electric model amidst a time of high inflation. However, if you are currently car shopping, it’s a great time to have a look at electric cars.

Unfortunately, the prices are usually higher than their gas-guzzling counterparts; however, you’ll be rid of that pesky gas bill.

If you’re not ready to make the leap or can’t afford to, consider splitting the difference with a plug-in hybrid. Unlike a fully electric vehicle, a hybrid vehicle still uses fuel. However, it doesn’t use as much fuel as a traditional gas-powered vehicle.

According to Consumer Reports, a hybrid saves around 2.38 gallons of gas over a gas-only sedan during a 500-mile road trip.

Take Action

Finding ways to lower gas costs or get free gas is possible with some effort. So take action and put one – or many – of these tips into practice to keep more money in your pocket and reduce stressful trips to the pump.This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Cheap Home Decor: Where to Find It on a Budget

Enjoy on-trend home decor without breaking the bank by learning where to find the best deals.

Home decorating on a budget means shopping in stores with low prices and beautiful home decorative items. Add an occasional DIY, and you can decorate your home on a dime while loving the look.

Knowing where to shop while staying within a budget is one of the biggest challenges for many shoppers that are not interior designers.

Affordable DIY Home Decor 

Updating items in your home is often overlooked when searching for room decorating ideas.

DIY home décor is an economical and creative way to spruce up the look of your home. Nearly anyone can create beautiful pieces for their home with just a few basic supplies and tools.

Whether you’re looking to modernize outdated furniture with all in one paint, or turn old picture frames into wall art, do-it-yourself projects are an excellent option for bringing personalized style into your living space while saving money.

The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to handmade home decor.

With time and effort, even novice craftspeople can develop the skills necessary to make impressive pieces for their homes that look like they came from a professional designer.

Painting the walls can be one of the simplest and most economical ways to update the look of any room in your house.

Discount Shopping

Cheap home décor stores are the perfect place to find affordable and stylish items for your home.

Various products make it easy to create an inviting space without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind statement pieces or everyday staples, there are plenty of options for those on a budget.

Many discount stores have impressive selections of furniture and accessories. They also often offer in store pickup to allow you to do the shopping online.

From chic throw pillows and colorful rugs to sleek brushed nickel fixtures, shoppers can acquire unique items and uncommon goods at prices that fit their budgets.

Whether you are shopping for inexpensive home accessories, furniture, or wall decor, knowing which cheap home decor stores to visit is often the most significant battle.


Walmart has a wide selection of baskets, throw blankets, linens, and home accents, all at reasonable prices.

Plus, their selection includes items from familiar brands like Better Homes & Gardens, Mainstays, and Room Essentials – so you know you’re getting quality products at an affordable price.

With their wide range of styles and some of the lowest prices, it’s easy to select items that fit any budget or style preference. 

World Market

Adding a unique, international flair to any room is easy to do with World Market home decor.

From intricately detailed furniture to hand-painted Mexican tiles, World Market offers an immense selection of exclusive furnishings that will add character to any space.

Diverse product lines include items from all over the globe, so shoppers are sure to discover something that speaks to them.

The store offers everything from area rugs made from seagrass to colorful ceramics to mid-century modern living room furniture.

Whether it’s a bold statement piece or subtle accents that complete the look of a room, World Market has the perfect items for creating an inspired atmosphere at home.


Michaels offers good deals on custom framing, Christmas tree accessories, candles, and more.

Apart from their impressive collection, they also provide free delivery services on orders over $49. They offer discounts and coupon codes throughout the year, so customers can save even more when shopping with them.


Wayfair offers a fantastic selection of home furnishings to help turn any house into a dream home. 

At Wayfair, shoppers can discover furniture and accessories such as area rugs, curtains, wall hangings, wallpaper, and lighting that will complete any room’s look. 

TJ Maxx

If you are willing to do a bit of looking, TJ Maxx has affordable kitchen accessories, mugs, and wall art.

The store carries classic and contemporary designs, so whatever your style may be, there will surely be something that speaks to you. Shopping there can make redecorating your space fun and exciting!

Home Goods

Home Goods home decor is a great way to bring beauty, style, and comfort into your living space. 

From furniture and artwork to appliances, rugs, curtains, and tableware – home goods home decor can help you create the perfect atmosphere in any room. 

There are plenty of affordable ways to spruce up your space with new furniture pieces and accent items. 

Start by taking inventory of what you already have in your space, then set a budget that works for you. Once you know what kind of look you are going for, browse online stores or visit local retailers for ideas on bringing it together without overspending.

H&M Home

H&M isn’t just for clothing.

You will notice everything from handpicked textiles and accessories to furniture that will bring a unique touch of style into any room. 

No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll unearth something special in the H&M Home Decor collection. All the items come at an affordable price point, ensuring everyone can get their hands on these high-quality products.


Whether you’re searching for a statement piece or little knick-knacks to brighten up your living room, Marshalls has it all at unbeatable prices every day. You can find everything from wall art to pillows and vases that will add color and style to any room in your home.

The retailer carries a selection of modern, traditional, rustic, and industrial decorative choices that are sure to fit any aesthetic. 

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby is the go-to destination for crafting, art supplies, and home décor. 

The popular store offers customers a variety of options to spruce up their homes with unique decor accents. 

From furniture to wall hangings, Hobby Lobby has something for everyone’s style and budget.

In addition to furniture, shoppers can also locate rugs, curtains, mirrors, wall decor, lanterns, candle holders, pillows, and throws that are perfect for any room. 

An array of lighting fixtures, from lamps to chandeliers, will add elegance. 

No matter what look you’re going for—contemporary chic, rustic, country decor or farmhouse—Hobby Lobby has something that will fit your design needs.

At Home

At Home has a large selection of budget-conscious Christmas home accents during the holiday season. 

Their outdoor selection of home furnishings, including patio and furniture sets, planters, replacement cushions, and outdoor candles, is perfect for those shopping on a budget.

Curbside pickup at the store is available on most items at no additional cost.


Target is one of the leading home decor retailers and has something for everyone. Their decorative accessories make it easy to create a unique look that reflects your style.

Whether looking for an affordable way to freshen up a space or searching for the perfect statement piece, Target’s home decor collection has what you need. 

With trusted brands like Hearth and Hand Magnolia, and Project 62, you can be sure you’ll find quality items at budget-friendly prices. 


IKEA is a Swedish-founded furniture and home decor company that has been around since the 1940s. 

IKEA specializes in modern, Scandinavian-style furniture and accessories that are known for affordability – you can find something for every budget here! 

At IKEA, you will find lots of furniture pieces to fit into your dream space – whether it be a sofa or an entire bedroom set. 

Additionally, they have plenty of smaller items such as rugs, window treatments, storage organization, throw pillow covers, lamps, and wall art that can quickly fill a room.


Kirkland’s has a variety of affordable and high-quality wall art and seasonal decor.

From gorgeous kitchenware to luxurious furniture collections, Kirkland’s offers an array of options to help turn any space into a beautiful sanctuary.

Bed Bath and Beyond

With a vast selection of products, you can find something that suits your style and budget at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

The store also offers exclusive collections from well-known brands like Jonathan Adler and Martha Stewart Living that help make decorating easier. 

These collections range from comforter sets to kitchenware and bring sophistication into any room. 

Thrift Stores

Shopping at Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity can be a gold mine for those hoping to save money on home decorating. 

Habitat for Humanity Restore is a non-profit organization that resells new and gently used goods such as furniture, appliances, and other items to complete your interior design project at discounted prices. 

All proceeds from these sales go directly toward Habitat for Humanity’s projects around the world. 

Garage & Estate Sales

Garage sales offer home decor items that add character and charm to any living room, home office, or bedroom. 

Visiting your local garage sales can be an enjoyable experience and allow you to purchase unique pieces at a fraction of their retail cost. 

Look out for vintage furniture with interesting lines when shopping at garage sales. 

Among the treasures found at a garage sale, it is possible to find brand-name furnishings from well-known stores like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel.

If you don’t mind a little sweat equity, you could turn trash into treasure and create your own painted dining table before and after project to give your dining room an inexpensive update.

Online Shopping

For those who prefer online shopping, many retailers offer discounts and free shipping when purchasing amounts or over certain price thresholds.

Stores often provide exclusive coupons and other perks if you sign up to receive their newsletter. Insider perks can be a great way to get quality merchandise without spending full price. 

Many retailers also have rewards programs for further discounts for decor online.

Popular online shopping sites include:

  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Zara Home
  • Overstock
  • eBay

Final Thoughts

Cheap home decor doesn’t have to be tacky or low quality. It can help you spruce up your living area while saving money. Whether you are looking for a quick refresh or an entirely new look, there are plenty of affordable options.

Think about what areas of your home you would like to upgrade and focus on finding inexpensive pieces that fit in with the overall style of your space. 

You can find great deals at thrift stores, garage sales, and even online retailers specializing in budget-friendly home items. 

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

8 of the Cheapest Airlines to Fly

The cost of air travel has skyrocketed in recent years. Many travelers feel they have to choose between spending a fortune and staying at home. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can save on air travel by flying with cheap airlines or getting low-priced tickets.

With soaring inflation, airline ticket prices have jumped 25%. Most people think the popular and more expensive airlines are the safest and most reliable, but not everyone can afford that luxury.

Each airline has its own rules and regulation. If you’re a budget-savvy traveler, you know every dollar counts. Very few people enjoy splurging on flights. Most prefer to pay more for food, hotels, and experience.

Ready to get on a plane with your bucket list and go on an adventure? Below are the cheapest airlines for your next trip!

The Cheapest Airlines to Fly

1. Southwest

Southwest is one of the most popular low-cost carriers in the United States. The airline offers flights to different parts of the country and beyond the shores of America. Nearly half of Americans (49%) have an enjoyable experience with Southwest, making it the most popular airline brand.

What makes Southwest Airlines stand out is its customer service. Their employees are known for being friendly and helpful, which makes flying with them a pleasant experience. You will also enjoy free inflight entertainment and appetizers.

What people love about Southwest Airlines is that they don’t charge extra fees for things like baggage or seat selection. Everyone loves to save money, especially when traveling with a family or group. There’s also a low-fare calendar on the airline’s website, so you can easily find the cheapest flights.

Finally, the Southwest Rapid Rewards program rewards points for every dollar you spend. You can redeem these points for free flights, hotel stays, and more.

2. Spirit

Spirit Airlines is a go-to carrier for anyone who wants to travel on a budget. The airline offers flights to over 50 destinations in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. As the seventh largest airline in America, you can trust that you’re in good hands when flying with Spirit.

As a low-cost carrier, you can travel with Spirit for a reasonable price, just don’t expect luxury service. You might also encounter some minor problems like uncomfortable seats. If you want extra perks, you may have to pay extra for them: food, carry-on luggage, and seat selection.

But, the overall costs are still lower than what you would pay at other airlines. And you don’t have to pay for the extras if you’re only interested in getting from Point A to Point B. You can also join the Spirit Saver$ Club, which gives you access to their lowest fares, saving you $160 per year on average.

This Club membership gives you and eight guests low flight prices, discounts on luggage, shortcut security, shortcut boarding, and seats. You also enjoy benefits with Spirit’s partners for $69.95 annually.

3. Jetblue

JetBlue is an airline based in New York City that flies to over 100 destinations across the United States, South America, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean. The airline has a reputation for its comfortable seats, friendly crew, and inflight entertainment options.

You can confidently choose JetBlue Airways if you want a comfortable flight with complimentary snacks and drinks and top-notch customer service. And all of this comes at a relatively low price. To get the lowest prices, you must opt for their Blue or Blue Basic programs featuring low-priced tickets, free WiFi, and seat-back entertainment.

While the Blue Basic program seems great, it doesn’t offer many amenities and extras. Be prepared to pay fees for additional carry-on luggage and bag checks starting at $35. You also won’t have access to advance seat selection. But this could be the cheapest option if you’re traveling light or couldn’t care less about seat selection.

4. Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air (formerly Westjet Express) is a low-cost airline that offers flights to popular vacation destinations. The airline is known for its ultra-low fares, which can save you a lot of money if you’re willing to forego some of the standard amenities that come with flying.

The Nevada-based airline currently flies to over 140 destinations across the United States. Some of its operating bases include:

Grand Rapids, MI (GRR)

Nashville, TN (BNA)

Bellingham, WA (BLI)

Des Moines, IA (DSM)

Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS)

Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)

Like some airlines on this list, Allegiant Air boasts incredibly low-priced tickets, but that doesn’t include all of the extras. You have to pay to choose a seat, carry-on luggage, checked bags, and in-flight entertainment.

The overall cost of your flight will be cheaper than most other airlines, even with these extra costs. But if you want to score cheaper airfares, participate in Allegiant Air’s frequent flyer program – Allways Rewards.

It is free to join the Allways Rewards program, and you can start earning points towards free Allegiant travel as soon as you sign up.

5. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is a major American airline based in Seattle, Washington. They fly to over 100 destinations across the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico. With an award collection for top-quality service, you can be sure to enjoy your flight on Alaska Airlines.

Although Alaska Airlines is one of the cheapest airlines, you can get lower prices with their loyalty program, Mileage Plan. With this plan, you can earn and redeem miles on flights with Alaska Airlines and their partners, which include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Fiji Airways, and more.

You don’t need to be a frequent flyer to join the Mileage Plan program; it is free to sign up. Start earning rewards immediately from their award-winning loyalty program (Nerdwallet Best-of Awards 2021).

If you want a constant flow of information about their lowest fares, consider signing up for Alaska Airlines’ email list to get updates on their cheapest flights.

6. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is the largest airline in Hawaii, and it flies to over 28 destinations across the Pacific Ocean, North America, and Asia. The airline is revered for its expansive network, award-winning service, and on-time arrivals.

Prices for flights on Hawaiian Airlines are generally lower than other airlines flying to similar destinations. And you can get better flight fares through the HawaiianMiles program, which is not based on how much you spend but on how much you fly. You can redeem your HawaiinMiles anytime because they never expire, and you can choose any seat in the main cabin.

Wait, there’s more! The Hawaiian Airlines Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard gives you 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days. Here’s the best part – you pay a $0 fee for the first year – and $99 for the following year.

Asides from Hawaii Airlines’ cheap fares, you will have peace of mind flying with them as they’ve never had an accident since they first took to the skies back in 1929.

7. United Airlines

United Airlines is one of the biggest carriers in the world, with a vast network of flights to hundreds of destinations across the globe. It is headquartered in Chicago and has a good reputation for its inflight services.

This airline offers low-cost flights, and you can get cheaper tickets when you book your flight early. United releases their cheapest seats about 11 months before the departure date, and the prices gradually increase as the date gets closer.

United Airlines’ loyalty program is United MileagePlus. If you’re a United MileagePlus loyalty program member, you enjoy perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and more. You can redeem your miles for flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and experiences. The best part is that the United MileagePlus program has no annual fee.

Asides from that, you will get lower prices on United Airlines when you purchase their cheapest fare option – Basic Economy. That is their lowest-priced airfare, but it comes with some restrictions, such as being unable to choose a seat or bring a carry-on bag (depending on your destination).

8. American Airlines

American Airlines is another large airline in the United States with a vast domestic and international flight network. The airline’s headquarters are in Fort Worth, Texas.

American Airlines offers low fares for domestic and international flights. You can get cheaper tickets when you book your flight early. If you want to save even more money on American Airlines, become a member of their loyalty program, AAdvantage.

As a member, you can earn and redeem miles on flights with American Airlines and its partners. You can also transfer your miles to your friends and family.

American Airlines allows you to use your miles for:

  • Upgrades
  • Car rentals, hotels, and vacations
  • Flights to over 1000 destinations worldwide
  • Other retail products

The AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard also gives you access to more bonus offers, so feel free to get that too. It’s free for the first year.

Ready to Fly

So there you have it! Those are the cheapest airlines to fly to your destination. If you plan a future trip, always check for early-bird specials, flight deals, and travel deals when booking your flight, and you can take advantage of loyalty programs to get the best deal. And don’t forget to compare airfares before you book! By doing so, you can save more money in the long run.

Happy travels!

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.