Freelancing

Finding Financial Services to Fit a Freelance Lifestyle

FinancesLifestyle

Just as you think, dress and speak differently from previous generations, chances are you also earn your living differently. More and more people are bringing home the bacon by working freelance jobs in addition to their primary occupation to help make ends meet or to build up savings. Whether you’re a freelancer, an Uber driver, a dog walker or all of the above, if your income is coming from multiple sources, managing those streams can quickly become a complicated mess. Thankfully, there are many tools out there now to help you navigate your finances with ease so that your budgeting stays on track. What’s left up to you is figuring out which option fits you and your lifestyle best!

Web Management

Accounting websites such as Bill.com are fantastic tools for those with multiple income streams. They allow you to receive all your money in one place, organized according to who paid you and when. This is especially helpful when tax season rolls around so that you don’t have to go back through a year’s worth of bank statements to figure out how much you received and where it came from! The money goes straight into your PayPal account, it’s all itemized for you, and you can even write electronic invoices to send to customers. Easy, right? The great part is that Bill.com offers these services for free; you pay a monthly fee only to upgrade to an account that allows you to receive credit card payments or to have payments go directly to your bank account.

Take Advantage of Free Checking

Does your bank offer free checking accounts? Take advantage of it! Sometimes adding a second checking account can make navigating your finances that much easier. Have all of your income deposited into your primary account and pay your monthly bills out of it, then transfer money to a secondary account for your weekly expenses (gas, food, spending, etc.). Not only does this help you budget better, but it also brings a good degree of order to your accounts. This will make it easy to see all your revenue streams when you look at your bank statement, as your weekly debits won’t be cluttering up your main account ledger. If your bank doesn’t offer free checking, you may want to think about shopping around for a new bank. There are plenty of banks out there that offer free checking, and there’s no reason to pay for something when you don’t have to.

There’s an App for That

It’s true that there’s an app for everything nowadays, and money management is no exception! Many of these apps are free or inexpensive, but they’re invaluable when it comes to getting control of your finances. BillGuard is a great free app that allows you to link your bank accounts directly so that your transactions are automatically imported into the app, then sorted for you. This saves you the hassle of having to input information every time you swipe your debit card. It also shows all your deposits, so you can itemize your income sources easily. Getting your hands on an app that syncs up all your financial info, sorts it for you, and even helps you create a budget is one of the best moves you can make as a freelancer. You’re essentially pooling all your revenue streams into one app, where you can see everything at a glance and make changes as you need.

Whether you’re just getting started with managing multiple income streams or simply trying to find a better way of handling your complex finances, try one of these methods to help you gain control of your money. You may love one method or you can create your own combination; budgeting is all about finding what works for you and sticking with it!

 


 

Want to hear more? Tune in to our livestream with the Freelancers Union and General Assembly today (Wed, March 30th) at 2:00pm EST!

Living big on a budget

Living the 1% life on a 99% budget

LifestyleSpending

With New Advances in Technology, Luxury Services are Just a Click Away

We live in an incredible time where luxury goods and services once reserved for the elite are available at the push of a button. Apps like Uber, BlueApron, and AirBnB offer anyone with a smartphone and a little extra cash the chance feel like a VIP on a budget. With sleek design, reasonable prices, and great service, these apps particularly appeal to millennials still making their way through entry-level jobs.

The avalanche of on-demand apps hitting the market every week have ultimately simplified how we go about our days. It’s much easier to press a button and request an Uber than it is to wait for the subway after a night out. And who hasn’t thought about calling for an on-demand massage through apps like Zeel after a long day at work? If you’re willing to pay a small premium, these services will allow you to live the 1% life on a 99% budget. Here are a few things to consider before Uber-fying your life.
Saving Time

A lot of the value in these on-demand services lies in their ability to save users time. You can outsource your household chores through apps like Washio and TaskRabbit, leaving you free to get some extra work done or spend time with friends. Meal delivery apps like Seamless and Postmates save you the hassle of picking up a meal at your favorite take-out spot or (the horror!) using your own kitchen. Ultimately, your time is worth a lot, and by paying for these services, you’re buying yourself a few more minutes in your day. What you choose to do with that time is totally up to you.

Helping in the Long Run

Much of the appeal of many of these new apps lies in instant gratification. Why walk or take public transportation when you can have your own black car drive you around town for a nominal fee? Why cook when you can order gourmet food straight to your door? Some services may save you time and money in the long run, by helping you learn a new skill or travel on a budget. BlueApron, for example, gives new chefs the tools they need to start cooking healthy meals. Ideally, after some time using this service, you’ll have the confidence and skills to shop and cook on your own.

Unlocking New Experiences

One of the best things about these services is that they offer users access to new experiences. Advances in technology combined with the millennial generation’s embrace of the share economy has made services like vacation rentals and personal styling more accessible to all. AirBnB, for example, makes it easy for users to rent a luxury home for a few nights, often for less than a night at a standard hotel. The site often lists unique accommodations, as well – users can treat themselves to a weekend getaway in a decked-out tree house or a retro airstream trailer. These new low-cost housing options have made travel more affordable (and memorable) for all.
With new apps and services launching every day, anyone can feel like a rock star on an entry-level budget. On-demand services can save you time and money while giving you access to unique experiences once reserved for a select few. Who says private cars and luxury accommodations are just for the elite? With these new services, almost anyone can hack their way into a luxury lifestyle.

Taxes

1099 Chaos: Tips to Reduce the Burden at Tax Time

Finances

It’s been said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. It may be necessary to add a third: procrastination. According to the Internal Revenue Service, roughly 25 percent of American taxpayers wait until the last two weeks of taxpaying season to prepare their returns.

But why? You don’t want to be bogged down with boring forms when you’re trying to make money and build your business. You also don’t want to find out you owe Uncle Sam more than you thought — and not be ready to make that payment.

Take a look at these tips on how to ease the burden at tax time and manage your finances better. You owe it to yourself.

Take Advantage of Common Deductions

One perk of being a freelancer, contractor or other self-employed worker is that there are many deductions — even ones you may not have considered — that can reduce the burden at tax time. Remember to keep all your records, set up a business bank account and to not go overboard with deductions (be honest with the government here!).

The most common deductions that will immediately benefit you include your home office, health insurance costs, contract labor expenses, and retirement fund savings (like a contribution to a traditional 401k). Other deductions that can help include:

  • Advertising expenses
  • Business travel costs
  • Office supplies and rent
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Legal and professional services

Think of any expenses that you had to make for your business. Many of these can be deducted from your income, and thus reduce how much you must pay in taxes.

Should You Pay Taxes Quarterly Or Annually?

The simple answer is both. If you carry on a profession or business as an independent contractor or sole proprietor, belong to a partnership or union that carries on a trade or business, or are working for yourself in some way, you are considered self-employed. That means you have to pay your taxes as stipulated by the IRS.

Hence, you must not only file an annual return, you must also pay estimated tax quarterly. Note that taxes include an income tax as well as a self-employment tax, which goes toward Social Security and Medicare.
If you paid less than $1000 in taxes last year, then you can still pay annually (quarterly payments aren’t required). However, if your self-employment income is going to rise significantly, it’s best to pay quarterly so that you’re not stuck with a hefty payment at the end of tax season.
So how do you make sure you’re making accurate payments each quarter? You can base a lot of what you pay this year off what you paid in taxes last year. If you paid a total of $3,600 in taxes last year and expect a similar income this year, it’s advised to pay $900 quarterly. Use Form 1040-ES to figure out a good estimate of how much you’ll owe at the end of each quarter and for the total year.

Software to Help You Stay on Track

When you’re running a business, keeping track of finances and taxes can be time-consuming. And if you want to hire someone, it can be unnecessarily costly. Lucky for you, mobile apps can make the process seamless — and save you money.
For instance, apps can help you track, understand and manage your business expenses throughout the year. There is also tax software available specifically for self-employed individuals that can help you maximize tax savings each quarter.
In the end, reducing the burden at tax time is a matter of you consistently managing your income and business expenses, and also making every effort to prepare yourself for payments. Understanding self-employment taxes and using advanced software certainly reduces the amount of time and stress involved. But the key is to stick to a plan. And don’t procrastinate.


Banks aren’t meeting your freelance needs? Sign up for a better banking experience here.

Paperwork

4 Tips for Freelancers to Avoid Tax Day Surprises

Finances

The first April 15 in any freelancer’s career can seem like setting a money management execution date. But even if you’re a newbie to the gigging game, in most cases handling your taxes as a freelancer is only slightly more complicated than handling your personal finances. As long as you mind these key areas, you’ll avoid the most common self-employed tax mistakes.

Keep Deductions On-Point

The key difference between filing taxes as an employee and filing as a self-employed freelancer is that your income isn’t subject to employer withholding, which would normally be automatically deducted from your paychecks to cover social security and Medicare taxes. Instead, what would have been your employment-related taxes are rolled together into a separate “self-employment tax.” The self-employment tax covers your social security and Medicaid taxes, and is assessed in addition to the regular income tax rate.

Most importantly, the self-employment tax applies to your net income after business expenses are deducted. That makes expense deductions the strongest tool for minimizing your tax obligations. Just the same, the IRS has a finely tuned radar when it comes to deduction hijinks from the self-employed, so make sure you’re following the IRS guidelines to the letter.

Documentation Is King

Every single cent you’ve earned and spent throughout the year should be accounted for, with clear documentation to support your case. While this is most important for your deductions, there’s no telling what aspects of your financial landscape might be explored during an audit, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to get a receipt for anything and everything under the sun, and when that isn’t possible, keep your own detailed records in a spreadsheet or budgeting program.

Avoid the Home Office Audit

Claiming expenses for a home office is a red flag for IRS auditors, so only do it when you’re sure you can support the claim. To qualify for deductions, a home office needs to be its own separate space (almost always its own room, or an external structure) that’s used exclusively for business. That means if you work on your laptop in the living room, you’re out of luck. Consult the IRS’ home office guidelines to be sure your setup qualifies.

1099s Don’t Issue Themselves

If you’ve ever held a regular job as an employee, get ready to feel nostalgic for the days when a W-2 magically appeared in your mailbox. Now that you’re self-employed, you need to be issued a 1099 form documenting your income from any client who paid you $600 or more that year. Businesses are required to issue 1099s to freelancers, so if you’re still missing the paperwork from a client come the New Year, don’t be afraid to remind them of their obligations.

Once you’ve carefully reviewed your deductions and organized all the necessary documentation, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the most common freelancer tax mistakes, and can reap the benefits of your good tax habits in years to come.


Banks aren’t meeting your freelance needs? Sign up for a better banking experience here.

Sources:

https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2015/01/26/7-tax-tips-first-time-freelancers/

https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2014/03/11/quarterly-tax-guide-freelancers-and-self-employed/

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/11/11/4-tax-tips-for-freelancers-dog-sitters-and-airbnb-hosts

http://www.creativebloq.com/business/tax-tips-freelancers-31514571

http://money.cnn.com/gallery/pf/taxes/2014/03/14/tax-audit/2.html

https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Home-Office-Deduction

https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Deducting-Business-Expenses

Tax

1099s and Freelancers: Tips to Keep You Stress-Free at Tax Time

Finances

Tax season can be overwhelming for first-time freelancers filing self-employed taxes. By focusing your efforts on good financial habits to keep all year, and learning which deductions you may be eligible to receive, you’ll save yourself time, money and countless headaches.

Deductions to Consider

Deductions are your best friend. No matter what type of freelancer you are, almost everything you do for work can be deducted if your situation fits. Here is a short list of deductions a freelancer may be able to claim.

Office Space

This is the main deduction for most freelancers, especially those who work from home. This deduction allows you to claim a portion of your utilities, rent or mortgage, and homeowner’s insurance as part of your business, as long as your office space is used solely for that purpose.

For decades, this deduction was hard to claim. In 2013, the IRS made getting the home office deduction easier. With the “simplified method,” as described by Fast Company and The Freelancer’s Union, you can calculate your home office’s space by square foot to claim a deduction — $5 per square foot, up to $1,500 or 300 feet.

Business Travel Expenses

If you are a freelancer who travels for work or to meet with clients, you are eligible for travel deductions; this includes everything travel-related for your business — from airfare and hotel stays to car trips to meet with potential clients.

Keep in mind that special rules do apply for certain aspects, such as food and entertainment. The Money Crashers website reports that only 50 percent of expenses can be deducted.

Research Materials

Few freelancers realize that research materials needed to complete a project can be deducted. Wise Bread has created a long list of eligible materials, and the rule of thumb is that if you use a reference material, such as a book, a magazine or information culled from a conference or cultural event, you can deduct that cost from your overall expenses. This deduction is critical for freelance writers and artists, who frequently purchase expensive reference materials for their libraries.

Educational Expenses

With the advent of online learning, freelancers are heading to online classes and master workshops in droves to improve their skill set in their chosen field. Any class that helps improve your business counts as a deduction, as does a workshop or an educational conference. Books and materials you need for those classes can count, too, as long as you finish the course and receive a certificate of completion.

Financial Habits to Keep All Year

To be ready for tax time, you must be diligent about keeping good financial habits throughout the year.

Keep every receipt from every purchase, and scan it into a record-keeping software to track your expenses and help you discern what is a business expense and what is personal. It will also simplify totaling up your deductions at the end of the year.

Another tip is to figure out how much you will have to pay in taxes based on what you make a year. Since your income may change from month to month, calculate income tax and any other taxes you may have to pay ahead of time, and set that money aside.

Being a freelancer is a rewarding experience, but it comes with responsibility as well, especially during tax time. Take the time to prepare all year, and it will be a simple task when it’s time to file.


 

Banks aren’t meeting your freelance needs? Sign up for a better banking experience here.

Freelancers

5 Unusual Ways to Slash a 1099 Freelancer’s Tax Bill

Finances

If you’re a freelancer regularly scrambling for a new gig, you may consider taxes just one more hassle you have to wrestle. The good news? Uncle Sam understands that independent contractors and moderate-income workers have a distinct set of challenges from full-time employees, and wrote sections of the tax code to help lighten your financial burden. However, if you don’t know about these legitimate ways to cut your tax bill, you may wind up overpaying. Each American, on average, sends the government $400 too much in tax money. That’s nearly a billion dollars in total. As a freelancer who receives 1099s, learn how to reduce the amount you owe the government with these tax breaks.

1. Saver’s Credit

Depositing money into a Roth IRA is a great tax deduction. (If you don’t have an IRA, you should seriously consider opening one.) In addition to an IRA deduction, there’s a lesser-known credit that’s only used by 12 percent of eligible taxpayers: the saver’s credit. Created by the IRS to encourage low- and moderate-income workers to save for retirement, the credit can be taken for any contribution made to an IRA, 401K, 403B, 457B or other government-recognized retirement account. The saver’s credit is offered in addition to the deduction a taxpayer receives from an IRA credit, and can increase your refund or reduce the tax owed.

2. Health Savings Account

Used to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses, a Health Savings Account (HSA) can be tax-deductible or made with pre-tax dollars. In order to qualify for this tax break, you need to have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Typically, these plans won’t pay many benefits until the deductible amount has been covered. For 2015, the minimum deductibles needed to qualify as an HDHP were $1,300 for an individual and $2,600 for family coverage. These HSA funds can be used to pay for doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital visits and even over-the-counter medicine prescribed by a physician.

3. Simplified Employee Pension

It’s possible for a self-employed worker to get many of the same pension benefits as an employee of a large organization. Establishing a simplified employee pension (SEP) with the IRS can be as easy as filling out a form and utilizing a government-approved plan. A SEP allows the worker to contribute as much as 25 percent of net earnings from self-employment, up to $53,000 (in the years 2015 and 2016). These pensions have also been known as Keogh plans, although that term isn’t used as often these days.

4. Job-Hunting Expenses

Did hunting for a new job require you to pay for networking events, travel to an interview or business cards? These expenses can be itemized and deducted from your taxes. For freelancers, though, the expenses need to have exceeded 2 percent of your adjusted gross income in order to be deductible. Be sure to research what’s allowable before filing your taxes.

5. Education Credits

Still paying off student loans? Interest from those loans can be deducted, up to $2,500. A nice part about this credit is that it isn’t necessary to itemize in order to take it. The Lifetime Learning Credit makes it possible to deduct any classes taken for academic credit or professional development, up to $2,000. Did you need to take a class to learn how use software for your job? That can be tax-deductible.

Since every paycheck counts for a 1099 freelancer, you don’t want to wind up with a huge tax bill after a year of hard work. You can reduce your financial burden with breaks and credits already on the books. With the right adjustments, you may wind up being one of the 80 percent of taxpayers who receive a refund.

Banks aren’t meeting your freelance needs? Sign up for a better banking experience here.

Freelancers Union and Moven

Three things banks need to learn about Freelancers

Lifestyle

There are over 53 million people in the US working as Freelancers in some way, shape, or form. That’s more than one third of the US population! What does this tell me about how changing jobs and careers will subsequently alter the way we manage our money and finances?

1.       The old rules and assumptions of “moving up in life” by seeking employment through a single job that ideally transforms into a long term career may no longer apply. More than ever, we are empowered and rewarded if we view “careers” as a series of great projects and entrepreneurial activities. Not only has this become a great way to gain an income, but the real benefits have become flexibility, accelerated learning, and the ability to quickly grow a network of diverse business colleagues that would have taken decades to create in the past. And as large corporations push for more remote work locations and telecommuting, the concept of a traditional 9-5 job will quickly become a thing of the past. 

2.       The tools to conduct business and earn secondary streams of income are only growing, making living “a freelance lifestyle” an easier and potentially preferred path for many. Programs and apps like Gmail and Squarespace allow you to have an online presence that is both affordable and highly effective for marketing. If you want to start your own business and need funding, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have reinvented going to market, making the process seamless and simple. On top of that, you can earn income “on the side” while you pursue your projects and passions in any number of ways. Even the “traditional” benefits, which one would normally rely on, have been made available to us by other means  (Healthcare through Freelancers Union, for example). 

3.       What was once considered a population of moonlighters, or free-birds in search of a career path, is now a legitimate movement. As freelancers, you’ve already figured this out and everyone else is trying to catch up to meet your needs.  

 

And how is the financial services industry reacting to the above? Simple. Most are doing absolutely nothing and, as a result, banking SUCKS for freelancers.

This is why I am excited for the Moven and Freelancers Union partnership. We want to meet your financial needs, where big banks have failed. I encourage you to check us out. Use Moven as the convenient way to get paid quickly or as a way to bank without the constraints of tellers and branch hours to meet the needs of your lifestyle. This is what we envisioned when we started Moven: our product was built for you. You don’t rest, so we don’t rest (we’re digital, open 24/7). We have no overdraft fees, monthly fees, usage fees, or minimum monthly balances because you earn your money, and we think you should keep as much of it as possible. We have an industry leading app that intelligently helps you make smart spending and savings decisions every day, without needing to fuss with maintaining a budget that you don’t have the time or energy for.

 

This is just the beginning. Moven wants to join you, and create the future together. #getmoven

Check it out here.

— Alex Sion

How the Sharing Economy Is Changing Personal Finance

FinancesSpending

Disruption is such a cliche these days, especially when discussing the explosive nature of Silicon Valley. That ubiquity largely comes from companies that inhabit the sharing economy. The sharing economy runs on the philosophy of, “Why pay through the nose when you can rent it more cheaply from a stranger online?” This concept is a truly disruptive idea that has only come about in the past few years.

AirBnB, a marketplace platform that allows homeowners and renters to offer their living space as a hotel alternative, and Uber, a ride-sharing mobile app, are kings of the sharing economy while also being two of the most controversial companies around, due to their status as cheaper and more accessible alternatives to hotels and taxi cabs.

Users are flocking to these services because of these benefits. According to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 86 percent of adults agree that the sharing economy, in general, makes life more affordable, while 81 percent agree it is cheaper to share goods than to own them. By spending a portion of the cost to rent instead of paying the full price to own, consumers are able to save their money, which means they have more funds to spend elsewhere or to keep as savings for future use.

Katherine Krug was able to ditch her car, which she needed to commute to work, and utilize Uber and Lyft, one of Uber’s biggest competitors, which saved her thousands a year. Her total monthly car related expenses were $1,518, which included lease payments, repairs, parking and gas, among others. By getting rid of her car and subsequently using only Uber, Lyft and GetAround, Katherine cut her monthly spending to $572, which amounted to $11,352 in yearly savings. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about finding rare parking space in San Francisco and puts her savings towards traveling the world.

The sharing economy also lets people find an extra source of income to help pay their bills and even get through retirement. Frederic Larson, a 63 year old laid off photographer turned college lecturer, was able to supplement his smaller salary by putting his home up on AirBnB for others to stay in for $100 a night. Larson was able to pocket an extra $3,000 per month via AirBnB, which he lets him help pay for his San Francisco rent and his two kids’ college tuition.

Ultimately, both consumers looking to save and folks in need of extra income now have a vast, flexible number of options available to them due to the driving forces of the sharing economy.

6 Simple Ways to Lower Your Credit Card Debt

FinancesSavingSpending

6 Simple Ways to Lower Your Credit Card Debts

Jay Gies writes about managing money, budgeting, and finding ways to cut down expenses and credit card debt. Benjamin Franklin was famous for a great many things. One of the less frequently remembered is his fierce opposition to personal debt, which he believed represented a form of bondage. Today, the average American household just may understand his feelings. It’s far too easy to fall into credit card debt, and a lot harder to climb out of it – but, by no means is it impossible. Take up Mr. Franklin’s cause, and resolve to fight for your own independence today – from credit card debt.

1. Slash Personal Expenses Use convenience stores for gasoline only, and forget about newspapers, lottery tickets, snacks, and other impulse purchases. Commit to staying with your current e-reader, mobile device, laptop computer, and flat-screen TV until you’re completely debt free. Cross off clothing stores from the list, and cut your trips to restaurants in half, at the very least.

2. Cut Grocery Bills Get multiple copies of the Sunday paper and start clipping coupons. Then, put your smartphone to work and download apps like Yowza and Grocery IQ. However, don’t necessarily use every coupon you find – limit them to foods your household regularly consumes. Create a shopping list before you leave the house and stick to it. Stock up on your favorite foods when they’re on sale and take advantage of your grocer’s loyalty program if one is available.

3. Cut the Cable Cord Think you can’t get by without cable TV? Think again. Netflix and Hulu Plus offer tons of movies and TV shows at a significant discount to traditional cable and satellite packages – each costs $8 per month. Also, consider replacing your TV time with other activities, such as reading books or exercising. The potential savings is tremendous.

4. Drop Home Telephone Service Still have a home telephone? If you need a backup to your smartphone, consider MagicJack Plus instead. It’s a device you can buy for around $50 that plugs into your computer and acts as a landline telephone. The first six months of service are free; after that it’s only $29.95 per year. Match that up against your current landline and the savings are more than apparent.

5. Get An In-Home Energy Audit I got an email a while back from my provider offering an in-home energy audit. I didn’t really know what it was, but I decided to take the bait. A rep came to my home, free of charge, inspected it inside and out, and provided me with a written report of all the ways I could save on energy. I put many of the tips in place without spending a ton of cash, and my bills instantly went down by roughly 30%. Check to see if your company offers these audits, and get one on the books immediately.

6. Brown-Bag It to Work Eating lunch at restaurants on your work break adds up in a hurry. Even if you only spend $8 per meal, that’s roughly $200 each year. Wrap up last night’s leftovers in a flour tortilla, throw together some lunch meat sandwiches, or assemble a chef’s salad with some healthy dressing. You can save a ton of money with brown bag lunch ideas, all of which can be devoted to your credit card debts.

 

Once all of these tactics are in place, get yourself on a personal budget. Use Microsoft Excel, or a good old pen and paper to list out your expenses and income. Keep making cuts until you have a monthly surplus, and then send that amount in to your creditors. Watch your balances dry up, and celebrate when you’re debt-free. Achieving that independence is a major milestone – make sure you remember the struggles you faced getting there, so you don’t repeat the mistakes that landed you in debt in the first place.

 

What other ways do you know of to lower credit card debt?

How Much to Spend

1 in 4 Millennials Are Looking for Financial Advice on Google

FinancesLifestylePersonalitySpendingUncategorizedWellness

Moven Research Reveals the Frustration Behind Americans’ Money Woes

It’s no secret Americans today are facing a challenging financial landscape and paying close attention to their finances is a priority moving into 2015, but money anxiety and limited resources have them looking for help in all the wrong places. New research from Moven, the first spending app and debit card that provides real-time behavioral feedback and instant receipts to help customers spend smarter, shows that 1 in 6 (17%) Americans are actually turning to the Internet or Google for financial advice. That number is even higher among millennials (ages 18-34), with 1 in 4 (24%) reporting they would seek out advice via Google or the Internet.

Moven commissioned accredited research firm YouGov to study the financial behavior of a representative sample of 1,178 American adults. The findings indicate that money anxiety is causing Americans to actively seek out financial information, but they lack the tools and resources needed to truly be successful. Given the upcoming holiday shopping season its likely many Americans will overspend in the coming months and Moven’s research suggests most will be unprepared for the inevitable shock once it’s time to pay the bills.

“For most people, sticking to a budget is nearly impossible because monthly expenses never stay the same and unexpected expenses can easily throw consumers off track,” said Alex Sion, President of Moven. “In reality, budgets are an outdated way of managing expenses and consumers would be better served finding resources that help them understand how fast they spend and where they are spending. With real-time feedback they can focus more on changing their behavior instead of tediously updating a budget,” he added.

Additional key findings from the research include:

Financial Wellness a Concern, But Tools are Sorely Lacking

  • Financial wellness is a major concern moving into 2015: Half (50%) of Americans are planning to discuss financial wellness with their families in the next 12 months. This is significantly more than plan to discuss their physical health (46%), career/ the job market (34%), education (26%), or mental health (19%).
  • Americans don’t think they have what they need to be financially successful in 2015: 1 in 5 (19%) Americans think they would keep a financial resolution in 2015 if they had better resources to do it. 1 in 6 (18%) think that if they had real-time feedback on their spending habits it would help them keep a financial New Year’s resolution.

 Money Matters When It Comes to Love

  • Talking financial wellness could save a romantic relationship: 1 in 4 (26%) of Americans said financial wellness caused the most stress in their relationships. In fact, it was listed as the number one stressor in romantic relationships across all age groups.This was at least doublethe amount of Americans that listed physical health (12%), their career (11%), mental health (10%) and their geographical location (8%) as number one.

 Keeping Track is Too Much Work, Especially For Millennials

  • Americans don’t take budgets seriously: A third of Americans (33%) that keep a budget found it frustrating just because they couldn’t stick to it. More than a quarter (26%) were frustrated because it was too stressful or overwhelming. And, in today’s digital age, a surprising 1 in 3 (36%) Americans are keeping track of their monthly expenses on a piece of paper.
  • Americans would rather someone else do their work: Consumers know they can’t keep a budget on their own and are turning to other people or services to track their monthly expenses. Technology is becoming increasingly important in this regard, as almost a quarter of Americans (24%) are relying on services from their bank and 1 in 10 (10%) are relying on a personal finance app.
  • Men are lazier than women at keeping budgets: Men and women are both equally terrible budgeters, 23 percent don’t keep a budget at all. Men that do keep a budget are more likely to be frustrated with it because they are lazier (22%) than women (19%). Men (11%) that keep budgets are much more likely to keep track of their expenses with a personal finance app than women (8%). More than 1 in 3 women (42%) that keep budgets are actually doing so on a piece of paper, compared to just 31 percent of men.
  • Americans are obsessed with checking their bank accounts: Despite the fact they can’t stick to their budgets, Americans are trying to monitor their spending. Nearly a quarter (23%) of Americans check their spending accounts once a day or more. 1 in 4 women (24%) check their spending accounts once a day or more, compared to 1 in 5 (21%) of men.
  • There’s no cure for millennials’ financial anxiety: 1 in 11 (19%) millennials check their spending accounts multiple times a day, more than any other age group, but a third of millennials (31%) don’t even keep a budget at all. They are most likely to benefit as technology evolves and provides resources beyond just budgeting services for money conscious consumers, yet just 1 in 6 (18%) has turned to a personal finance app to track their monthly expenses.

“Financial health, like physical health, is about understanding your current situation, behaviors and trajectory so that you can make changes to improve your ability to live your life and survive unexpected shocks,” said Sion. “The upcoming holiday season is a great time to step back and take stock of your finances and reflect on whether your daily habits and behaviors are empowering or endangering your long term money goals which is much more effective than trying to stick to a budget that’s destined to fail,” he added

To sign up, visit Moven at www.moven.com or download the Moven app on Itunes or Google Play.

Connect with us on Twitter @getMoven.

Research Methodology
Moven commissioned accredited research agency YouGov Plc to poll the views of a representative sample of 1,178 U.S. adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between October 24-27, 2014. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+). The research was carried out online.

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