Whether you’re cozying up on the couch together with a bottle of wine or headed out to the trendy restaurant everyone’s talking about, date night is an essential part of most relationships.
“Date nights are important because they give new couples a chance to get to know each other and established couples a chance to have fun or blow off some steam after a rough week,” says Holly Shaftel, a relationship expert and certified dating coach. “Penciling in a regular date can ensure that you make time for each other when your jobs and other aspects of your life might keep you busy.”
There’s just one small snag. Or, maybe it’s a big one. Date nights can get expensive. According to financial news website 24/7 Wall St., the cost of an average date consisting of two dinners, a bottle of wine and two movie tickets is about $102.
When you’re focused on improving your finances as a couple, finding ways to spend less on date night is a no-brainer. But you may be wondering: How can we save money on date night and still get that much-needed break from the daily grind?
There are plenty of ways to save money on date night by bringing just a little creativity into the mix. Here are eight suggestions to try:
1. Share common interests on the cheap
When Shaftel and her boyfriend were in the early stages of their relationship, they learned they were both active in sports. They were able to plan their date nights around low-cost (and sometimes free) sports activities, like hitting the driving range or playing tennis at their local park.
If you’re trying to find ways to spend less on date night, you can plan your own free or low-cost date nights around your and your partner’s shared interests. If you’re both avid readers, for example, even a simple afternoon browsing your local library’s shelves or a cool independent bookstore can make for a memorable time. If you’re both adventurous, check into your local sporting goods stores for organized hikes, stargazing outings or mountaineering workshops. They often post a schedule of events that are free, low-cost or discounted for members.
2. Create a low-budget date night bucket list
Dustyn Ferguson, a personal finance blogger at Dime Will Tell, suggests using the “bucket list” approach to find the best ways to save money on date night. To gather ideas, make it a game. At your next group gathering, ask guests to write down a fun, low-budget date night idea. The host then gets to read and keep all of the suggestions. When Ferguson and his girlfriend did this at a friend’s party, they submitted camping on the beach, which didn’t cost a dime.
The cost of an average date consisting of two dinners, a bottle of wine and two movie tickets is about $102.
To make your own date night bucket list with the best ways to save money on date night, sit down with your partner and come up with free or cheap activities that you normally wouldn’t think to do. Spur ideas by making it a challengeâfor instance, who can come up with the most ideas of dates you can do from the couch? According to the blog Marriage Laboratory, these “couch dates” are no-cost, low-energy things you can do together after a busy week (besides watching TV). A few good ones to get your list started: utilize fun apps (apps for lip sync battles are a real thing), grab a pencil or watercolors for an artistic endeavor or work on a puzzle. If you’re looking for even more ways to spend less on date night, take the question to social media and see what turns up.
3. Alternate paid date nights with free ones
If you’re looking for ways to spend less on date night, don’t focus on cutting costs on every single date. Instead, make half of your dates spending-free. “Go out for a nice dinner one week, and the next, go for a drive and bring a picnic,” says Bethany Palmer, a financial advisor who authors the finance blog The Money Couple, along with her husband Scott.
Getting stuff done around the house or yard may not sound all that romantic, but it can be one of the best ways to save money on date night when you’re trying to be budget-conscious. And, tackling your to-do listâlike cleaning out the garage or raking leavesâcan be much more enjoyable when you and your partner take it on together.
5. Search for off-the-wall spots
If dinner and a movie is your status quo, mix it up with some new ideas for low-cost ways to save money on date night. That might include fun things to do without spending money, like heading to your local farmer’s market, checking out free festivals or concerts in your area, geocachingâoutdoor treasure huntingâaround your hometown, heading to a free wine tasting or taking a free DIY class at your neighborhood arts and crafts store.
“Staying creative allows you to remain flexible and not bound to simply doing the same thing over and over,” Ferguson says.
6. Leverage coupons and deals
When researching the best ways to save money on date night, don’t overlook coupon and discount sites, where you can get deals on everything from food, retail and travel. These can be a great resource for finding deep discounts on activities you may not try otherwise. That’s how Palmer and her husband ended up on a date night where they played a game that combined lacrosse and bumper cars.
There are also a ton of apps on the market that can help you find ways to save money on date night. For instance, you can find apps that offer discounts at restaurants, apps that let you purchase movie theater gift cards at a reduced price and apps that help you earn cash rewards when shopping for wine or groceries if you’re planning a date night at home.
7. Join restaurant loyalty programs
If you’re a frugal foodie and have a favorite bar or restaurant where you like to spend date nights, sign up for its rewards program and newsletter as a way to spend less on date night. You could earn points toward free drinks and food through the rewards program and get access to coupons or other discounts through your inbox. Have new restaurants on your bucket list? Sign up for their rewards programs and newsletters, too. If you’re able to score a deal, it might be time to move that date up. Pronto.
8. Make a date night out of budgeting for date night
When the well runs dry, one of the best ways to save money on date night may not be the most excitingâbut it is the easiest: Devote one of your dates to a budgeting session and brainstorm ideas. Make sure to set an overall budget for what you want to spend on your dates, either weekly or monthly. Having a number and concrete plan will help you stick to your date night budget.
“Staying creative allows you to remain flexible and not bound to simply doing the same thing over and over.”
Ferguson says he and his girlfriend use two different numbers to create their date night budget: how much disposable income they have left after paying their monthly expenses and the number of date nights they want to have each month.
“You can decide how much money you can spend per date by dividing the total amount you can allocate to dates by the amount of dates you plan to go on,” Ferguson says. You may also decide you want to allot more to special occasions and less to regular get-togethers.
Put your date night savings toward shared goals
Once you’ve put these creative ways to save money on date night into practice, think about what you want to do with the cash you’re saving. Consider putting the money in a special savings account for a joint purpose you both agree on, such as planning a dream vacation, paying down debt or buying a home. Working as a team toward a common objective can get you excited about the future and make these budget-friendly date nights feel even more rewarding.
The post 8 Ways to Save Money on Date Night appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
The best money market mutual funds are a good place to keep your cash while earning interest.Â Bank checking and savings accounts and money market accounts are good alternatives for your cash.
But money market funds offer a higher rate of return than these other short-term investments.
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One of the best money market mutual funds is the Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund. This fund has a current yield of 1.69%. That is way more than any checking and savings account are offering.
Money market funds are considered very safe. However, they are not FDIC insured. If the lack of FDIC insurance concerns you, you may wish to invest in online savings accounts, money market accounts, or certificate of deposits (CDs).
In this article, we will define what a money market fund is. We will list the cons and pros of those funds. We will address the main situations you will need these type of funds. Finally, we will list the best money market mutual funds to choose from.
What are money market funds?
Money market funds are a type of mutual funds. They were launched in 1975 as a way to provide investors quick liquidity to their cash, provide current income and protect the investors’ principal.
Since then, they have become extremely popular. Unlike other mutual funds which focus on other securities such as stocks and bonds, they invest in “money market” securities.
Large companies and corporations, financial institutions and the U.S. government borrow money by issuing “money market” securities as promises to repay the debts.
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For instance, the U.S. government borrows money by selling bonds or Treasury bills or notes. Banks borrow money by selling certificate of deposit (CDs).
Big companies borrow money by issuing IOUs called commercial paper. These money market securities make up the money market fund.
Mutual fund and investment companies such as Vanguard and Fidelity offer these investments. They are low risk and they provide high yield.
Some funds are intended for retail investors. Retail investors are natural investors like you and me.
On the other hand, there are funds that are intended for institutional investors. Those funds usually require high minimum investments.
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Money Market funds vs. Money Market Accounts
The names may sound the same. But, they are two different types of investments.
To recap, a money market fund is a type of mutual fund. A mutual fund company such as Vanguard or Fidelity offers this type of investment. These funds invest in short-term debt. They offer higher returns than money market accounts.
On the other hand, a money market account is a type of savings account. Banks offer them.
But the rates of return are typically higher than that of a typical savings account. Unlike money market funds, they are insured by the FDIC.
Money market fund advantages:
Money market funds are one of the best and safest places to invest your hard-earned money. You will earn more interest than in a regular savings or checking account. Here are some of the advantages of these funds.
They are very safe. Money market funds are not FDIC insured, like savings accounts and CDs are. But, they are very safe.
Since they were launched, only 2 out of hundreds have run into trouble. If you concerned about the lack of insurance, you may wish to consider an online savings account or a money market account.
They are liquid and easily accessible. Another advantage of money market funds is that you have immediate access to your money.
You may withdraw your money anytime you wish without incurring penalty. Also, you can cash in your shares by phone, online, by mail or through your broker with relative ease.
You may write checks. Another positive aspect of a money market fund is that you can tap your money by writing checks against your account with no charge.
And some funds allow you to write checks for any amount for free.
They provide higher yields. They pay higher yields than a traditional savings account.
The reason is because the borrowers, i.e., the US government and big corporations are solid institutions and they agree to repay the debts at high interest rates.
Tax advantages. Some funds invest in securities where the interests are exempt from federal taxes, and in some cases state income taxes.
All of these factors make money market funds popular with people who want to invest for their short term goals.
While there several pros to investing in money market funds, there are some cons as well.
Lower return. Because access to your money are relatively easy in a money market fund, they have lower returns than other investments such as stocks, bonds and index fund.
They are not FDIC insured. As mentioned earlier, the federal government does not insure these funds .
Other investments such as online savings accounts, money market accounts, certificate of deposits are. But again they are very safe.
However, if the lack of FDIC insurance bothers you, stick with bigger mutual fund companies.
Situations when investing in money market funds makes sense?
You have a short-term investment goal. You may want to invest in these funds for short-term goals.
If you’re planning on buying a house in the next year or so and looking for safe place to save for the down payment, then they’re a good place for your cash.
You’re saving for a rainy day. If you’re saving for an emergency fund, a money market fund is also a good place to park your cash.
You certainly don’t want to invest in the stock market, because you can lose money within a relatively short period of time due to market volatility.
You want to diversify your portfolio. Money market funds are not aggressive investments such as stocks or bonds.
That’s why these funds are safer and very conservative. When the stock market plunges, these funds can balance your portfolio out.
So, you can use this type of investment as a complement to your other and riskier investments.
The best Vanguard money market mutual funds:
Vanguard Prime Money Market
Vanguard Treasury Money Market
Vanguard Federal Money Market
Vanguard Municipal Money Market
List of best money market funds
1. The Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund (VMMXX).
This Fund is perhaps one of the best out there.
However, this fund requires a minimum deposit of $3,000 just to open an account. This can be steep for a beginner investor with little money. The expense ratio is 0.16%.
There is no purchase or redemption fees. The fund has a total asset of $127.5 billion as of January 2020.
The Vanguard Prime Money Market primarily invests in foreign bonds, U.S. treasury bills, and U.S Government obligations.
2. The Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund (VUSXX).
As the name suggests, this Vanguard money fund only invests in U.S. Treasury bills. However, the fund has a minimum initial investment of $50,000.
It may be out reach for beginner investors with little money. But the expense ratio is 0.09%.
The current yield is 1.58% while the 10 year yield is 0.55%. If you are a wealthy investor, you should consider this fund.
3. The Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX).
This Vanguard money fund is perhaps the safest and most conservative of all funds, simply because they invest in U.S. government securities.
U.S. guaranteed securities are considered risk-free investments. It intends to provide current income while maintaining liquidity.
This Vanguard fund requires a $3,000 initial minimum investments. It has a 0.11% expense ratio.
The current yield is 1.58% and a 10 year yield of 0.55%.
So, if you have a short term goal and are interested in a Vanguard fund that invests in U.S government securities, you may wish to consider this fund.
4. Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund.
This Vanguard fund invests in short-term, high quality municipal securities.
What makes this fund a great one is that it provides income that is exempt from federal personal income taxes.
If you are in a higher tax bracket and are looking for a competitive tax-free yield, you should consider this fund.
Similar to other funds, the initial minimum investment is $3,000 with a 0.15%. This fund has a current yield of 1.20% and a 10 year yield of 0.44%.
Overall, you should consider investing in these best money market funds, because they generally pay you better than bank savings accounts and money market accounts.
But the FDIC does not insure you. However, they are very safe. If the lack of FDIC insurance does not bother you, you should try them.
Decide whether investing in money market is best for you
While a money market fund may sound great, it’s not for everyone. It won’t help those with a long term investment strategy, such as retirement.
For those with a long term focus, investing in individual stocks, real estate, or index funds may be an option instead.
Moreover, younger and aggressive investors should keep less money in money market funds than older investors who are approaching retirement.
However, if you’re looking to make a purchase soon (in the next year or so), such as buying a home, these funds make sense.
In addition, investors who want to diversify their portfolio may find that money market funds are great investments as they are very safe when compared to risky alternatives such as stocks and bonds.
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If you have questions beyond the best money market mutual funds, you can talk to a financial advisorÂ who can review your finances and help you reach your goals. Find one who meets your needs withÂ SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals,Â get started now.
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The post The Best Money Market Mutual Funds To Consider appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
Purchasing a home is both exciting and a major milestone in your life, so you’ll want to be prepared for what to expect to avoid a stressful process. Having an in-depth look at the buyer’s journey can help you make informed and confident decisions.
From finding a real estate agent, negotiating offers to getting your keys on closing day, we’ve outlined all the steps of a home buyer’s journey in our free Buyer’s Guide, which you can download here.
The Buyer’s Guide will cover the buyer’s timeline from meeting an agent to preparing for closing day. We’ve outlined the 8 steps in a home buyer’s journey below.
1. Working With An Agent
Every city is filled with thousands of agents, but not all are equal. We believe it is important to choose an agent that you feel confident with. Before you commit to working with an agent, make sure you have a good understanding of the knowledge and experience they offer. It’s important that you ask your questions before making the decision to work with them.
2. Financing Your Purchase
Before you set a budget and start looking for a home, you’ll have to understand what costs to expect when purchasing a home. Here are some of the major costs involved:
You’ll also want to calculate a rough estimate of the down payment that you will be expected to pay. Depending on the price of your home, your minimum down payment can range from 5% to 20%. If you’re interested in learning more about how to finance your home, you can get our free Financing Your Purchase guide here.
3. Searching For A Home
An important part of searching for a home is understanding how the home will fit with your needs and your lifestyle. You’ll want to consider home ownership as well as different types of properties and features.
Types of Home Ownership
You purchase the home and directly own the lot of land it sits on
For condos, you own specific parts of one building: titled ownership of your unit, along with shared ownership in the condo corporation that owns the common spaces and amenities
You own an exact portion of the building as a whole and also have exclusive use of your unit
Types of Properties
Condos and apartments
Tip: Depending on your budget and desired location, you may need to be flexible to find a home that meets your needs. By being willing to trade some features for others, you’ll have more options to choose from.
4. Negotiating An Offer
When you are making an offer to purchase a home, the purchase agreement should include the essential components listed below. Your agent can help put together an offer that is compelling, while safeguarding your interests and puts you in a competitive position to secure your new home.
You’ll also have the opportunity to choose the conditions that you’ll want in your offer. Some of these may include a home inspection or a status certificate review.
5. Financial Due Diligence
Whenever you make an offer on a house, you need to provide a deposit to secure the offer. The deposit is in the form of a certified cheque, bank draft, or wire transfer; it’s held in trust by the selling brokerage and is applied towards your down payment if your offer is successful.
There are two types of deposits:
The deposit is provided within 24 hours of the seller choosing your offer
The deposit is provided when the offer is made
6. Property Due Diligence
To firm up a deal or educate yourself more on the state of the property, you’ll likely want to have a home inspection if you’re purchasing a house. If you’re purchasing a condo, then your lawyer will review the building’s status certificate.
A home inspector will assess elements of the home such as the walls, windows, plumbing, heating and roof to judge the condition of the home. This process is non-invasive and is essential to help provide buyers with a good idea of the home’s current condition and the confidence of putting in an offer.
Tip: The home inspector will provide a summary of suggested work along with a minimum budget estimate for the repairs needed.
If you’re purchasing a condominium, you’ll need to obtain a status certificate from the condo board or management for your lawyer’s review. This document will include valuable information about the condo’s budget, legal issues, reserve fund, maintenance fees and future fees increases – and the lawyer can help identify potential red flags
7. Preparing For Closing
Before the big day, you’ll want to keep a checklist of what to do ahead of time. Some of these include:
Review your contract
Complete a final walkthrough of the home
Purchase home insurance
Meet with your lawyer
Know how much cash you’ll need
Secure cash required for closing
8. Closing Day
Closing Day is when you’ll finally get the keys to your new home! In addition to bringing the cash required for closing, you’ll have to sign a few more documents which will include:
Statement of adjustments
For the full details on the home buyer’s journey including examples, advice, pictures and sample calculations, download a copy of our free Buyer’s Guide here.
The post Home Buyer’s Guide: How to Purchase a Property, From Start to Finish [Free Download] appeared first on Zoocasa Blog.