Guide to Taking a Weekly Spending Sabbath

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The Sabbath is a weekly day of rest practiced in Judaism as well as in several other religions. However, you don’t have to be religious to benefit from taking a Sabbath day each week. There are many different ways that you can adapt this practice to fit your own life. One option is to set aside one day per week as a spending Sabbath, also known as a no-spend day.

What is Sabbath?

Sabbath is a day of the week that people adhere to specific rules. In Judaism, the Sabbath runs from Friday night to Saturday night. Christian religions that celebrate Sabbath often do so on Sundays. The specifics vary between religions. The general idea, however, is to take a break from the usual way of life in order to focus on things of religious value. For example, people who observe the Sabbath may choose not to work, cook, or use electronics. If you are religious, you may use this day to honor God. If you aren’t religious, you may use the Sabbath to connect with self, family, and community.

Spending Money and the Sabbath

Jewish people who observe the Sabbath generally follow rules about money. They do not do work to earn money. Moreover, they do not engage in commerce. In other words, strictly following this religious Sabbath means that you don’t make or spend money on this day of the week. Traditionally, they may not even handle money at all. Of course, people participate in their religious practices to varying degree of strictness. Nevertheless, this tradition is a good reminder that money matters can take us away from loftier pursuits.

What is a Spending Sabbath?

Whether or not you participate in a religious Sabbath, there are many good reasons to consider implementing your own spending Sabbath. A spending Sabbath is simply a 24-hour period each week during which you don’t spend any money. If you are really strict about it, you might even set your automatic bill pay services to avoid paying out on that day of the week. However, it’s more about consciously opting to replace spending money with actions that align with your core values.

For example, on your spending Sabbath Day, you might have the urge to go out to eat with your family. However, since you’ve decided not to spend money, you have to find an alternative. Maybe everyone can figure out one thing to cook using the ingredients that you already have at home. This might meet your core values of spending time with family, avoiding food waste, and living frugally.

How to Start a Spending Sabbath

If you’re ready to give this weekly no-spend day a try, then you should start with some brainstorming. First, figure out which day of the week is likely to be most successful as your spending Sabbath day. If you know that your family is always out and about on Saturdays, shopping and whatnot, then that might not be the best day of the week to pick. On the other hand, if you find it hard not to buy things on your lunch break from work then perhaps a weekend Sabbath day is best.

Next, track your spending over several weeks. Pay attention to the types of things that you tend to buy on impulse. You will need to learn to avoid the temptation to buy those on your spending Sabbath day. Furthermore, pay attention to things that you spend money on every single day. These are the things that you might have to plan ahead for so you don’t buy them during your weekly spending Sabbath.

Next, make a list of ideas for how to spend your Sabbath. Get in touch with your core values. Align your plans and activities with those values. If you typically spend money to achieve your goals, figure out free alternatives. The more well-armed you are with ideas before you begin, the more successful your Sabbath will be.

Finally, put it all into action. Stick to it. If you spend during your Sabbath, don’t use it as an excuse to quit. Think about what caused you to spend. Re-assess, re-adjust, and recommit next week.

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Should You Pay Taxes with a Credit Card?

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You can pay your taxes with a credit card. Should you?

Every single year when I do my income taxes, I think about the things that I should do differently. For one thing, I always buy tax software. However, I could use the IRS eFile tool for free. I’m a creature of habit and making the switch challenges me. Nevertheless, it would be a financially smart thing to do.

I also typically pay taxes with a credit card. I’m aware that it’s doesn’t make the most financial sense. I do it anyway. That’s something I really need to look at it if I truly want to stick to my frugal living goals.

It’s Convenient to Pay Taxes with a Credit Card

Sometimes I pay a little bit more for convenience. That’s part of frugal living. I’m not trying to get the cheapest thing all of the time. I’m just trying to “trim the fat” to make sure that where I spend money is where it makes sense to do so. Sometimes convenience makes sense.

It’s definitely convenient to pay taxes with a credit card. I see what I owe. I enter the credit card information. It’s all done. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I have enough money in the bank to cover it. If I don’t, then I’ll move money around later to pay that card off. You can’t do that if you pay with a check; you have to have the money right then and there.

I Like My Credit Card Rewards

I have a good cash back credit card. My rewards accrue all throughout the year. I don’t touch them. Then, come December, I have a nice chunk of cash back money that I can use. December is a tough month financially for almost everyone. I also have several big annual bills that come due around then. Plus, as a freelancer, it’s almost always my slowest income month. Therefore, I love using those rewards.

When I pay taxes on a credit card, I get a nice bit of cash back. I don’t need it in the spring, but I’m really happy that it’s there come December. Therefore, I do like that aspect of paying taxes with a credit card.

The Rewards Don’t Outweigh the Fees

Here’s the thing, though. If you pay taxes with a credit card, then you’re charged a fee. You can’t pay the IRS directly with a credit card, so you have to use a processing service. The fee varies depending on the service you use. According to the IRS, the fee is sometimes deductible. However, that’s not always the case.

In my experience, the fee almost always costs more than the rewards I get back on my credit card. If you have an excellent cash back card then you might still get a little extra money. At the very least, it might even out. However, if you’re trying to pay with a credit card just to get cash back, then you should be aware that you probably aren’t doing yourself any financial benefit.

If you’re using a cash back rewards card, try to use one that’s got at least 3% cash back. Moreover, check with the processing service to see if the fees differ depending on the card that you use. For example, the fee is sometimes higher for American Express, so you might want to pay with a different card to keep costs down.

If You Don’t Pay the Credit Card Immediately, Then You Really Pay

It isn’t cheap to use your credit card. I usually pay my balance in full each month. Therefore, I don’t pay a lot of money in interest. However, if something goes awry, those interest charges can add up fast. If you do pay your taxes with a credit card, make sure that you don’t rack up a bunch of interest fees by failing to pay that card balance off quickly.

You can set up a payment plan with the IRS. Therefore, if you don’t have the money to pay your taxes right now, then you shouldn’t go straight to a credit card. Save money by working directly with the IRS instead, where the fees will be considerably lower.

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Money Tips for Millennials

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Millennials and Money

Millennials follow a different path than generations before them, in more ways than one. This group is reaching milestones later in life, such as getting married and starting families, and focusing on life experiences more. We’ve been given all the job advice in the world growing up; the thought that all you need to do is work hard to make it big. However, someone along the way forgot to give more tips on money, especially given the difficulty of finding a job, especially in their field of study, for many millennials.

Although unemployment rates have been decreasing in recent years, millennials still make up roughly 40% of the unemployed in the United States, according to this Newsweek article. This fact can make it difficult for this generation to get ahead, but the good news is there are ways to leverage your finances even if you feel you are working a dead-end job.

Here are four money tips for millennials that I’ve used to help my own finances:

Make saving a social thing. 

I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five friends off the top of my head who have yet to get that raise at work. While we all love hanging out together, sometimes that involves extra spending that we really should not be doing. But, a way to spend just as much time together without emptying your bank account is to take turns hosting a girls’ night in. Buying some cheap wine and snacks accompanied by some movies and laughter is a great alternative for a night on the town, which can be $81 per night on average.

Also, the crew can ban together to do money-free weekends together. Even if you are not physically hanging out, you can still help to keep one another accountable. Plus, it’s great to have an excuse to bond with friends, especially over common goals.

Create other streams of income. 

If you recognize that you are in a dead-end job, hopefully you are taking steps to get out in order to improve your financial situation. If you are having a difficult time finding a new job (another post for another day), another option would be to create some other sources of revenue as you continue the search.

Seasonal jobs are a great option for millennials as they are often a bit more flexible, but you can also offer to use some skills or talents you currently have to gain some extra income. House cleaning, babysitting and the like are all great ways to make cash fast, but you can also consider freelancing, especially if you want to land that dream job.

Get techy with it. 

Investing seems so unattainable and intimidating before you actually start doing it, not to mention it can also be risky. But, it is a great way to grow your wealth. There are so many online tools you can use now to improve your financial portfolio without the intimidation. These resources cost very little to get started and are great for millennials. The best part is many of them allow you to create your own minimum investment amount, giving you more control over than ever.

Be smart with your options. 

In desperate times, you may be tempted to apply for a payday loan or sign up for another credit card to pay off other expenses; however, by doing so, you are only creating more debt for yourself. These quick options may be easy to get, but they dig your hold even deeper. Don’t get caught up in these fast solutions to solve all your problems; instead develop a strategic and specific plan that will get you out of debt and get you ahead. This plan may include automating a monthly savings amount, consolidating current debt, starting a retirement fund, and cutting back on leisurely spending.

This is another reason why having an emergency savings fund is so important; it will keep you away from wanting to (or needing to) resort to these choices. Avoid accumulating credit card debt and instead work on building your assets and net worth.


 

Millennials definitely have had to face many challenges economically that may not have been expected or predicted by previous generations. By spending some time being careful about your finances, though, you can slowly but surely build a reliable and steady financial future for yourself.

These are just a few ways I’ve focused on improving my finances. What have you done that works for you?