Defining “Fi-lexible” with Diania of EconoMe

Are You Fi-lexible?

This is a guest post from Republic Wireless member and founder of EconoMe LLC, Diania. 

The path to financial independence, similar to the stock market or life in general, can be a long journey of highs and lows.  

I’ve certainly enjoyed the highs: getting out of $30k of debt in 11 months, receiving raises and promotions at work, buying a house, and walking 500 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago all became possible by prioritizing my financial health.  There have been lows as well: a salary reduction due to COVID, my property tax bill tripling over the last year, an unexpected battle with depression, and my passion project, The EconoMe Conference, resulted in a $40k loss in its first year (don’t worry, I have a plan to make it up in the coming years)! 

The safety net we build for ourselves by keeping our expenses low and living below our means helps us navigate what life throws at us.  It also puts us in the position to seize opportunities that present themselves, ones we couldn’t imagine when we’re developing our financial goals.  

While it’s important to have goals … it’s also important to be able to adjust when the unexpected (positive or negative) inevitably happens.  One of my big goals is to reach financial independence by the time I’m 40, but for a number of reasons, I’m being “fi-lexible” about this time frame.  

What is “Fi-lexibility”?

The Merriam Webster* dictionary defines it as: 

  1. A mindset of adaptation amid the obstacles and opportunities that present themselves on the path to financial independence
  2. A concept I made up to make myself feel better about not being financially independent
    *this isn’t true but I’ve taken liberties since my last name is Merriam


Why be Fi-lexible? 

This mindset allows you to prioritize the journey over the destination.  I’m not sure that becoming financially independent is even the best part of the pursuit.  I’m finding that the journey itself offers many gifts along the way and the opportunity to learn about myself.  

Financial independence opens up the option for early retirement or just more freedom to pursue the things we want in life.  Here’s the thing… what if we don’t know what we want? Many people pursue FI with a very clear understanding of what they want: to start a business, travel the world, stay home with their kids, or move out to a homestead, etc.  I find myself envious of these people because over the years, I’ve discovered that perhaps I’m wrong about what I think I want.  My path to FI is not just about saving and investing my money, it’s also about testing my assumptions about what I think I want to do with my time. 

Here are some things I used to think I wanted (spoiler alert: I was wrong)

  • Be the highest paid female CEO : this one is embarrassing to admit, but it captures my young naive ideas about success.  It didn’t matter the work I was doing, or the contribution I was making, I just cared about prestige, status, and a high income.  After glimpsing what is at the top of the corporate ladder, it’s safe to say this isn’t for me.  
  • Pursue a career in stand up comedy : I absolutely love to make people laugh, so the idea of doing that as a job was thrilling to me.  After 2 years of refining my material at countless open mics in New York City and Cincinnati, I ultimately decided to hang up the mic.  Creative expression is vital for me, but when it starts to feel like work, the pressure thwarts my creativity.  
  • Play in a brass band : Music was a big part of my daily life growing up.  I played baritone horn in a school concert and jazz band for many years.  I missed it and so found an alumni drum and bugle corps that I played with from 2014-2016.  It was a group of grumpy retired old men between 60-80 years old and I absolutely loved them.  Ultimately, I found the time commitment to be a bit too much so ended up leaving the group, but I’m so much better for the experience and learned a lot from those grandpas.   
  • Sing in a band : While walking the Camino for 38 days, I found myself singing a lot to pass the time on the trail.  Singing might be a strong word, it was more like wailing but it was very cathartic.  When a School of Rock opened near my house it felt like a sign.  I joined the adult program and trained for 4 months, every day, to ultimately sing about 7 songs in front of a 100 people.  I’m so proud of myself for trying, but when the show was over I felt more relieved than excited to do it again.  
  • Become a digital nomad :  Travel seems so glamorous and I’ve certainly done my fair share of it.  However, after sleeping in a different bed every night while walking across Spain, I realized how much I enjoy having a home base.  I bought my house when I got back from that trip! 

My current experiment with what I think I want is to be an entrepreneur.  I spent 20 months building The EconoMe Conference and it’s the hardest and most gratifying work I’ve ever done.  It originated as something I would want to do with my time if I didn’t need to work for money.  But I’m hella glad I didn’t wait to reach FI to try this.  Having an income while working on this passion project allowed me to take more risks and created a cushion for all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  

Maybe I don’t really know what I want… but I’m in a great financial position to experiment with what I think I want on my path to FI.  

How to be Fi-lexible

Try stuff, experiment, don’t wait until FI to figure out what you want.  Perhaps like me, you’re wrong about what you think you want.  Better to figure that out while you still have an income, rather than retire early to something that isn’t as enjoyable as you thought it would be.  

Consider mini retirements/sabbaticals.  Before you fully pull the plug on your career, giving yourself a few months to a year to take a break from work and knock something off your bucket list can be really eye opening.  You will gain some clarity that will serve you well in the long run and avoid burnout during your working years.   

Continuously innovate for self discovery, and test your assumptions.  Want to walk the Appalachian trail in retirement?  Perhaps try a shorter day or week long hike and see what you learn from the experience.  Want to go back to school and earn another degree?  Maybe first find some free courses online to make sure the subject matter can hold your interest over time.  

Write down your goals/bucket list.  I find that everything has a season, even ideas for your bucket list.  By writing down your dreams and goals in the moment that you’re most excited about them, you harness their power even if you can’t take action on them right away.  It can be incredibly fun to look back on the things you thought you wanted with the satisfaction of having experienced them, the clarity of knowing they aren’t for you, or the excitement of figuring out how to tackle them next.    

And finally, give yourself the fi-lexibilty to change your mind!

Did you know that Republic Wireless offers you fi-lexibilty in your phone plan? There are great options to change your plan as your plans change! Long gone are the days of being locked down to the same plan for long periods of time, or paying more than you need to. With Republic Wireless, you have the freedom to pay for what you need, and not a penny more. 

Learn more about Republic Wireless and how their service can be part of setting you up for financial success and freedom. Your phone plan can play a larger role in reaching financial independence than you think.

For more information about The EconoMe Conference, access to the 2020 speaker videos and to be entered into a monthly drawing for a free t-shirt, sign up for EconoMe’s mailing list here.

4 Unexpected Ways To Save On Your Expenses Each Month

Let’s face it – everyone would be perfectly fine with shaving a few pennies here and there from their monthly expenses. From grocery bills to your utilities, there’s plenty of opportunities for you to save – you just have to find them. If you’re looking to save some money on your monthly expenses each month, try some of these tips to keep your spending on track and your bank account in the green.

Go Grocery Shopping

Did you know that the average person spends more than five times more per month when they order out instead of doing their own grocery shopping? Eating at home is an effective and fairly easy approach to shaving your expenses. There are even some helpful tips to approach grocery shopping where you can save even more.

Using manufacturer’s coupons in weekly advertisements is a great way to curb costs when hitting the checkout line. Or, try ordering online using curbside pickup rather than wandering the store and potentially buying things you don’t actually need.

Buying in bulk is another great way to free up your discretionary spending a bit. You’ll save on the price per unit and benefit from fewer trips to the store. Then, simply freeze the leftovers to use at any given time for quick and easy access as opposed to hitting up your go-to food delivery restaurant when hunger strikes.

Take A Closer Look At Your Subscriptions

How many times have you glanced at your bank statement only to notice you were charged for a service you barely use? If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a closer look at your subscriptions.

Subscription-style billing is meant to fly under the radar so you keep paying each month without having to take an action. Luckily, many budgeting apps will notify you when you’re charged for subscriptions, allowing you to reconsider whether or not you still find that service useful. On top of that, staying organized and keeping track of what you sign up for will help you avoid unnecessary spending in the long run. Make sure to keep an eye out for the chance to bundle. Many companies have begun partnering to increase exposure so you can reap the benefits of a lower rate.

Buy A Home

This may sound like a big expense at first, but paying rent each month can actually be a huge money sucker compared to owning your own home. This is especially true when mortgage rates are low. Sure, you might pay more upfront in the short term, but if you’ve got enough stockpiled for a down payment and closing costs, buying a home may be the way to go.

A good way to estimate your monthly cost is to do a home search in your local area. Many real estate listing sites give you ample information on things like price per square foot, approximate mortgage payment, property taxes and home insurance costs. You can actually save up to $200 on your monthly living expenses by owning a home versus renting. Instead of throwing cash at something you’ll see no financial return on, you can start building equity you can cash in on at a later date.

Furthermore, you can cut back on your monthly utilities by installing energy-saving appliances throughout your residence once you’ve purchased your home. From ovens and stoves to lightbulbs and windows, the possibilities to be more economical at home are endless.

Get An Affordable Phone Plan

Of course, we had to throw this one in here! While having a cell phone is considered a luxury for many, we believe staying connected to others is a necessity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a reliable, affordable phone plan. By avoiding hidden fees and overcomplicated contracts, your savings can really add up depending on your specific cellular needs without compromising on service.

Some other tips for reducing your phone bill include connecting to WiFi frequently, and limiting your background data use whenever you can. Here at Republic Wireless, we’ll never charge you overage fees for data usage. We give you the freedom to add one time data whenever it’s needed, therefore keeping costs where it’s best for your expenses. 

Remember, your spending will fluctuate month to month, so there will be times when you should be more restrictive with your spending habits and others when you’re able to indulge a bit more. Fortunately, incorporating these easy tips into your budgeting plan is sure to provide some relief during difficult months and will pad your bank account during economic success.

Budgeting Q&A with Republic Member & Blogger – The Teacher’s Wife

Say hello to Republic Wireless member and Blogger, Sarah! Sarah’s blog, The Teacher’s Wife, focuses on all things related to sticking to a family oriented budget. From tips on financial planning and organization, to more personal notes, Sarah offers a variety of relatable and inspiring content.

We recently sat down with Sarah to catch up on her budgeting styles. Specifically how that plays out with her family and everyday household expenses. She shared the best budgeting advice she has received. We learned how that’s carried into her and her Husband’s monthly and daily financial decisions. Take a look at the great budgeting tips and tricks she shared!

What are you doing to stabilize things in your family budget during this time of uncertainty?

Our budgeting process hasn’t changed a whole lot during this time of uncertainty. After a lot of effort over the years, we are in a good rhythm when it comes to creating and tracking our family budget.

However, we have been even more intentional with our spending.  We are more committed than ever to sticking to our budget in these times of uncertainty.  We already keep our expenses as low as possible (we don’t have cable and we are Republic Wireless customers), but we have made some slight adjustments such as pausing our gym membership.

Thankfully, we have 6 months of expenses saved in a money market account for emergencies and we do not have debt other than our home.  This brings us a lot of peace in the uncertainty.

What is your process for monthly budgeting?

Within our household, I’m the “budget nerd.”  I like to crunch the numbers and create a plan, so I’ve always been very interested in budgeting.  I used to do this on an old Excel spreadsheet, but this became frustrating to my husband over the years.  He never had real-time access to the spreadsheet, so we weren’t on the same page as the month would unfold.

About a year ago, we started using the EveryDollar app and it has transformed the way we communicate about our budget.  I still crunch the numbers and create a preliminary budget based on the monthly income and bills.  Then, my husband and I sit down together to review, adjust, and agree to the final numbers before any bills are paid.

As the month unfolds, we each enter transactions into the app so we know at all times where we stand.  Each week, we sit down together for a few minutes to see where we are, so that we stay on track and make any needed course corrections.

What are some small everyday changes that someone can start making to ease into their budgeting goals?

If you are new to budgeting, be patient with yourself as you learn.  It can take a good 3 months before you feel more confident in your ability to budget.  You will make mistakes as you learn, but don’t give up!

As you begin, start slowly.  Pick one specific category where you will focus your efforts.  This could be anything – but I recommend your grocery or restaurant budget.  Either way, pick 1 category and focus on it for 30 days.  Set a reasonable budget for the category and STICK TO IT.  Once the money you’ve allocated has been spent, then STOP SPENDING.  If you habitually struggle with overspending, you might consider using cash only (yes, dollar bills!) for that category.

How often do you find yourself needing to revisit or shift around your budget, and for what reasons? 

We do our best to create a reasonable budget at the beginning of the month, but things come up that we didn’t foresee.  My husband and I touch base once a week for a “budget meeting” so that we can see how things are going and make any tweaks.  One category that we recently started was a miscellaneous budget.  This category helps for those random expenses that you can’t always predict – things like yearbooks, field trips, etc.

We also have separate savings account (that we call sinking funds) for things like home repairs, car repairs, and medical expenses.  Often things like a plumbing leak that needs to be repaired will come out of this account if we don’t have the wiggle room or ability to adjust in our monthly budget to cover the expense.

What is some of the best financial advice you’ve received that has always stuck with you?

The best financial advice I’ve ever received is very, very basic – if you can’t pay cash for it, then you can’t afford it.  In a world that operates on credit, this concept is archaic, but it’s so true.  If we don’t have the money to pay for something in cash (or from our checking account), then we don’t buy it.

This advice, and our commitment to avoid debt, has helped us to keep our spending in check.  This allows us to give to others, save for the future and also enjoy some of our money – stress free.

Have you found success in teaching the art of budgeting to your kids? If so, what tools have you used for teaching simple budgeting skills and ideas to different ages?

Most of our discussions about budgeting have been on the fly as we go about our day-to-day life.  The kids observe us talking about and handling money, so they sometimes ask questions about it.  They’ve also seen us give them a budget for things like birthday gifts for their friends.  Up until this point, most of what they’ve learned has been through normal, everyday life situations.

We have just begun to be more intentional with teaching our kids about budgeting, so we are very new to it.  We recently purchased a teaching tool that we’ve been using a little bit.  We’ve begun to work through the material and the kids love earning a little bit of commission if they do their extra weekly chores.  This has been very helpful in teaching them financial responsibility.  They are learning how to give, save, and spend their own money, even if it’s only a couple of dollars per week.



Sarah is one of many Republic Wireless members who have gone on their own personal journey to financial wellness. We’re encouraged and taking our own notes after our conversation together! Make sure to hop on over to
The Teacher’s Wife for a variety of topics on household budgeting and organization.

Do you have some budgeting insights of your own to share alongside Sarah? Perhaps there is something you do similarly in your own personal budget. We’d love to hear about it. Reply below in our Member Community and share any financial knowledge you find beneficial!

Here’s How Multi-Factor Authentication Will Save Your Skin

Keeping track of multiple, strong passwords can be a real chore – especially if you have several emails, bank accounts, and other services to access on a daily basis. It’s not surprising that adding two-factor (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) can feel like an extra annoyance, regardless of whether you’re protecting sensitive files.

But you know what’s worse than a nuisance that lasts a few seconds? Well, we’ve actually rounded up several of them. First off, let’s look at the sheer number of ways hackers can steal your password(s).

Password Theft Is Evolving

Sure, 80% of passwords are still terrible according to a Verizon data breach report. The fact that people use weak passwords or re-use the same one across multiple accounts certainly helps make the job easier for hackers.

But besides that, computing power has also accelerated exponentially, making brute force attacks much stronger than even a few years ago. And when service providers have brute force protections in place, there’s always the following:

  • Keylogging – the victim’s device is usually compromised by malware that logs and sends keystrokes back to the cyber criminals, who inevitably find password and login information among the data they collect. Hardware keyloggers are also available; usually fitted to public computers, waiting for someone to log in real quick
  • Phishing – hackers create pages that mimic legitimate services (banks, PayPal, etc.), then use email and other means to convince users that they need to “log in to update some information,” or similar trickery. Unwary victims end up handing over their account data on a silver platter 
  • Pharming – phishing on a wider scale, and without requiring a lure in the form of an email, SMS, and so on. Involves the use of malware to send victims to those fake websites instead

Data Breaches Happen More Often

It seems like you can’t wake up these days without hearing about some data breach affecting a major company – or an entire government. It’s estimated that over 4 billion records were exposed in the first half of 2019 alone.

The fact of the matter is that more companies and institutions than ever work with your personal data. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” yours gets out there as well. And unlike the methods described in the previous section, you don’t have much control over data breaches.

So now that you’ve seen just a few ways hackers can gain access to your accounts – what headaches can MFA help you avoid?

Rush to Reset

Let’s be honest here. Having to reset ALL your passwords because your email’s been compromised is probably the worst way you could spend your day. Even when the exposed account is something inessential (like this MyFitnessPal case) – if you happen to re-use passwords, hackers will use that to their advantage.

Of course, sitting around for hours, resetting passwords across services is actually a best case scenario. If you don’t manage to react in time, you end up in the following cases.

Waiting on Banks and Credit Companies

Have you ever had to deal with bank or credit card company paperwork? Employees passing you on to someone else, being put on hold multiple times – to many of you, this bureaucratic inefficiency will sound familiar.

Now, imagine you’re racing against the clock. A hacker managed to get a hold of your home banking info and your money’s all gone. You call your bank to report this activity, but you’re just met with a robotic voice telling you to wait, “someone will be with you shortly.”

Unfortunately, this happens more often than you’d think. In the UK, for example, seven out of the top 12 online banking services don’t even offer 2FA to their users – leaving them stuck in situations such as the one above.

Avoid Identity Theft

What’s worse than having all your money stolen? Cybercriminals using your personal information to commit fraud – tax, medical insurance, you name it. Not only can they leave you penniless, but also deal great damage to your credit scores and record in general.

That and getting the authorities involved (if recovery is still possible at that point) will leave you wasting time, money, and brain cells on something easily avoidable.

What You Can Do

We mentioned in the beginning that maintaining so many passwords for daily use can be a nightmare. According to a report, the average business employee has to keep track of a whopping 191 passwords. Any one of those can be the weakest link to find out the rest of them.

Fortunately, that process doesn’t need to be a pain. You can create and store strong, randomized passwords offline using KeePass – the gold standard for password managers.

The software is free and open-source (FOSS), meaning anybody online can take a peek at the code and see if it delivers on its promises of security. Tech experts can also provide feedback to patch up any vulnerability as soon as possible. Passwords are stored on your device in an encrypted form and kept away from online cloud storage as this would create another data breach point.

Is SMS 2FA Enough?

Now, the other thing you can do (if it wasn’t obvious already) is to enable text-based authentication on your main accounts, at the very least. The thing is, SMS 2FA is also vulnerable to certain attacks. For example, phone porting – criminals impersonating you and switching your phone number to another carrier. Any authentication tokens you’d get are instead received by the criminal’s phone.

Still, it’s much better than no 2FA at all. A stronger method would be to use an authenticator app (such as Google Authenticator, Authy, etc.) that generates authentication codes on your phone instead of relying on texts.

If you want to go even further, there are hardware tokens that you can insert in your USB port (or tap it against your phone) as a literal “authentication key.” A great way to secure your data and feel like James Bond doing it.

We hope you find this information helpful, and have started your plan for protecting your information. We recommend setting aside time to strategically organize your passwords and authentication methods – no need to frantically try to address all of this information, or you may miss something important. Take your time doing so, and you will be set up for success. For more in depth information, and the best reads out there about reviews, tips and suggestions on online security feel free to visit ProPrivacy.

Accessibility for All: Tips & Tricks for a Better Cell Phone Experience

While specifics may differ by cell phone, accessibility settings can help you create a better cell phone experience. Simple things – like increasing your font size, softening your backlight, or tweaking your screen’s touch sensitivity – will customize your phone and help resolve small frustrations. Everyone has different needs. Here are a few of our favorite tricks!

Increase Your Font 

Small fonts can be challenging. Instead of straining to read the fine print, try changing your phone’s default font to a larger size. Increasing font size leads to less eye strain and a better overall reading experience. Plus, changing your default setting ensures you don’t need to fiddle with your phone every time a new article pops up. Another quick tip? Snap a photo of a hard to read document and use your phone as a magnifying glass!

Tweak Your Screen Sensitivity

Whether you’ve had your screen replaced, you need an adjustment to accommodate touch, or your phone is just not as responsive as it used to be, increasing your screen’s sensitivity is an easy first step. Test different sensitivity levels to find which setting you prefer for increased responsiveness. For Samsung users, the “Universal Switch” allows you to control your phone with custom switches and the “Assistant” menu allows you to utilize functions for assisted dexterity. For Motorola users – read more about how to change the Touch Delay feature.

Change Your Display 

While increasing your font size makes your text documents larger, increasing your display size makes everything larger. Display settings change the overall scale of your phone. Similar to adjusting the resolution on your computer screen, altering this accessibility setting will magnify the size of what you see on your screen. 

Protect Your Eyes

Frequent phone use and screen time can cause eye strain, and can even impact the quality of your sleep. Changing your phone’s backlight settings softens the day-to-day impact on your eyes and reduces eye fatigue. Additional steps can be found in your accessibility settings for Dark Mode. Dark Mode inverts the colors of your screen, changing the background from white to black. This color shift makes certain texts easier to read in brighter lights. For Android users, simply select the “Invert Colors” in your phone’s display settings. For Samsung users, this setting is labeled “Negative Colors.” Motorola user? Deselect “Automatic Brightness” to set a new screen level. 

Customize Your Captions

Apps are another way to contribute to your phone’s accessibility functions. Google’s Live Transcribe captions conversations in live time. Whether you’re having a chat in a room with lots of ambient noise, or listening to a presentation you can’t quite hear, apps like these provide helpful closed captioning in noisy environments. 

Additional questions on accessibility features and How To’s? Check out our help list here!

4 Common Mobile Phone Scams & How to Avoid Them

Phone scams can be a bit unnerving to think about. When it comes to keeping your personal information protected and avoiding those scammers we all know are out there. Being mindful of these common mobile phone scams can be easier than you think. We’ve compiled a list of phone scams to be aware of, and how to avoid them.

Common Mobile Phone Scams:

 1. Stolen Phone

Of course, you cannot control if your phone gets stolen, but it’s wise to be prepared if the situation were to ever arise. Often times we keep more personal information on our phones than we realize. Because of this, scammers could have quick access to a lot of the things you want to keep protected. To avoid this, consider taking a few of these proactive steps:

  • Use a unique passcode on your phone.
  • Know what type of “Find My Phone” feature your phone has & how to use it.
    Find out more information on how to utilize this feature on your Android phone here.
  • Do a rundown of any sensitive information you may have on your phone. Consider removing vital information or utilizing apps that can keep it secure.

2. Text Scams

Ever gotten that random text you just weren’t sure about? Better to leave it alone and delete it if it seems fishy in any way. A common text scam can be someone posing as your bank, and notifying you that fraudulent activity may have occurred on your account.

They want to get your attention quickly so you act fast. We advise you pull back the reins to assess the situation before making any moves.

 

These scammers and others like them may give you a link to click or some phrase to text back with. Do not follow these instructions and contact your bank directly to confirm the legitimacy of this communication.

3. One Ring Scam

Sometimes you’ll get that suspicious phone call that only rings once. The strange call was likely intentional to get your attention and make you curious to call that number back. This number may proceed to leave you a voicemail prompting you to call them back.

Best next step? You guessed it! Don’t call them back. Better to make this judgment call and protect your information.

Phones CTA - Native

4. Unfamiliar Callers

This may be one of the most common phone scams everyone experiences. In this age of spam calls, it’s best to be more cautious than not when that mysterious number pops up on your phone. If you do happen to answer one of these unfamiliar calls be aware of what the caller is asking you.

Do not give out personal information over the phone if you are not confident about who you are speaking with.

 

Scammers now have the ability to mimic your area code and the first 3 digits of your phone number, making answering that call all the more enticing. Resist the urge to do so!

If you feel more comfortable with answering those random phones calls just in case it may be someone you know, that’s totally fine. Perhaps you’re waiting for a call from your doctor’s office, or from the mechanic.

Here at Republic we’ve been building and testing solutions for unwanted calls.  With more unwanted phone calls coming in by the day we’ve built a spam blocking feature you can manage right from your device. To learn how you can better utilize this feature on your Republic Wireless phone visit our forums.

Have you run into any phone scams? If so how did you handle it?

To find the latest Android phones with top security features like fingerprint sensors to lock your device click the button below.

Shop phones

Long-Term Savings: Planning for Retirement

When should you start saving for retirement and other long-term financial goals? How should you do it? There are so many day-to-day expenses and concerns that it can sometimes be easy to let long-term plans fall by the wayside. The great news is that technology and access allow everyone ample opportunity to start saving as soon as they are ready and in easy ways to make sure that plans are in place for later in life!

When to save for retirement?

We all would love to save as much as possible as early as possible, but there are a number of things to make sure you take care of first:

  1. Do you have an Emergency Fund?
  2. Have you eliminated Credit Card and Personal Student Loans debt?
  3. If you have kids, are you saving appropriately for future school plans? See our post on Saving for College and 529 Plans

The general rule of thumb is to start saving as early as you can. The reality is that’s not achievable for everyone- but it’s not too late! Regardless of when you plan on retiring (for most people, it’s around age 65-70), every month and year investing your money is better than not, assuming your situation allows for it. Most checking and savings accounts at your bank offer very little interest (under 1% per year) and don’t bode well for growing your money over a long period of time, so finding a way to save something on a consistent basis that earns a little more has a lot of potential.

Many people live by the rule of thumb that you should be saving 10% of your pre-tax income for your own retirement. If you were to earn an average of 3% per year (a modest return, given Bonds have had an annual return of 4.62% over the last 10 years) from your investments and invest $1,000 per month, here’s what that potential could look like ( http://www.helpfulcalculators.com/compound-interest-calculator):

Over 10 years, with your $120,000 of automatic deposits, you will have earned over $19,500. Over 30 years, you will have earned over $220,000 with your consistent monthly deposit!

How to save for retirement?

Our friends over at LendEdu recommend that you pay down your student loan debt as quickly as possible, so that you can then divert those funds into your retirement savings. A couple great tips include:

  • Pay more than the monthly minimum, as frequently as you can
  • Send any windfalls (e.g., bonuses, tax return) straight to your student loan debt
  • Consider refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate

I was extremely fortunate to come out of college and be able to save within the first few years. My plan is to retire around the typical age, so I could have over 40 years of investments! What I love is how everything has an auto-withdrawal directly from my paycheck, so I never see the money and it goes directly into an account to start saving. I have lived by the general rule of thumb, so 10% of my pre-tax paycheck per month goes into retirement savings. Here are some of my favorite ways to save and invest for retirement:

401(k)

One of the simplest and most appealing options is a 401(k) plan. This is typically offered by your employer and many will match a percentage of your contributions as a way to incent you to save- that’s free money!

Usually, they will say, “We’ll match up to 4% for your contribution.” For example, if you make $75,000 per year, and you save 10% every month toward 401(k), then your employer could match the first 4% of that, so that’s $3,000 every year of additional money they are giving you to invest! 401(k) investments go in pre-tax, and most are done automatically via payroll each month.

Once you sign up and start saving (the limit is $18,500 per year; $24,500 for those age 50 and above), you then get the option to select a Mutual Fund full of stocks and/or bonds which offer annual returns typically between 7%-8%. Once you turn 59 ½, you can then start withdrawing, paying taxes at that time.

And don’t worry, if you leave your current job, it’s easy and free to rollover your 401(k) into a standard IRA so that it keeps earning annual returns.

IRA and Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

If your employer doesn’t match 401(k) contributions or you’re interested in saving more, IRA and Roth IRAs are great ways to invest for retirement and take advantage of some really neat tax laws, while also leaving you some room for other options.

For a Traditional IRA, you invest money now, pay no taxes at the time of contribution, and only pay taxes when you withdraw after you turn 59 ½. A Roth IRA is the same concept except you pay taxes now and no taxes when you withdraw after turning 59 ½. So why would you do one vs the other? The answer is your current situation and your plan for when you’re older:

Do you think you are making more money now than you will when you start making withdrawals? Then a Traditional IRA is likely the best option for you. You are assuming that you are paying more in taxes now than you will when you’re older.

On the other side, if you believe you’re making less money now than you will when you start making withdrawals, then a Roth IRA is probably the best option. Many younger professionals just starting in their career take this path, capitalizing on their lower income now, paying taxes right now and letting that money grow tax-free over 30 or so years.

As with the 401(k), once you sign up and start investing (the limit is $5,500 per year; $6,500 for those age 50 and above), you then get the option to select a Mutual Fund to start earning annual returns.

Both of these have a very cool feature- if you’ve had the account for over 5 years but are younger than 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free for the purchase, repair, or remodel of a first home. So, while you’re saving for retirement, you’re also leaving yourself options on buying your first home!

Stocks and Bonds

Finally, if you want to save more and get a little more control over your retirement, investing directly in Stocks and/or Bonds can be a great way to do that. If you are knowledgeable about the Stock Market, Robinhood offers free trading, while if you don’t know the first thing (or just like having an expert do it), Betterment is another great option that will invest for you for a very small fee. You just select the level of risk you are comfortable with and they will do the rest.

The Stock Market is a risky place, no doubt, but even with the occasional downturn (see 2008 Financial Crisis), the returns tend to average out over the long-term to around 7-8% annually. The generational words of wisdom say you should temper your enthusiasm during the good times, be optimistic when things look bad, and try to buy and hold for as long as possible to get that average return.

There is a lot to consider when saving for retirement. Your personal situation will dictate most of what you’re able to do, but there’s a reason why these various avenues exist for retirement options: it’s so you’re able to customize to your situation and still think about your long-term financial future. Again, it’s not too late to start saving now! If you’re feeling like you could use some help, financial advisors exist all across the world for very reasonable fees to help out.

As always, feel free to leave comments as well as your own learnings and insights into the world of saving for retirement!

10 Ways to Avoid a Broken Phone

I have been a member of the Republic Wireless Support team for four years. Over these years at Republic, thanks to my endless dinner time product promotion, I have successfully converted my family and friends to use Republic Wireless devices.

The problem with having friends and family as customers is that when they break their phones, they expect me to magically have replacements sitting on my desk. But I believe in the old saying “ teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” So I’ve outlined the tips I shared with my family for all of you.


Let’s start out with the top 3 ways people break their phones:
1. Dropping it on a hard surface
2. Getting it wet
3. Sitting on it

Looking over that list, we’ll start out with tips on how to protect the outside of your device.

1. Keep it clean

You bought a case. Great, you’re on the right track. Now you need to be aware of the dirt, dust, and moisture that can get trapped in your case. From time to time, you will need to remove your case and clean both your case and your phone. A good time to do this would be after a trip to the beach or pool, an awesome camping adventure, or a sweaty run. You can clean your phone and case by simply wiping and drying it (air drying works best). You can also use a toothbrush (clean) to gently clear debris from any port.

2. Carry it safely

Tight jeans with small pockets seem like a secure place to put your phone. Just remember, the pressure on your phone from those tight pockets intensifies when you move which can, and will, cause the screen to break. Also, forgetting to remove your phone from your back pocket before you sit down could result in a broken device. I would suggest putting your phone, all by its lonesome, in a dedicated front pocket. Keeping your phone and keys in opposite pockets will prevent unwanted scratches and cracks. Ladies, instead of just putting your phone in the main “anything goes here area” of your purse try putting your phone in a side pocket.

3. Buy a case

Seems simple, but a case and screen protector are the cornerstones to ensuring a long life for your device. A good case will protect your device from normal drops, scratches, spills, and maybe even zombie hordes.

4. Avoid extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures can send your device to the recycling bin quickly with Screen issues, Internal component failure, and even Battery death. For this reason, try not to expose your device to temperatures less than freezing or above 95°F.  Something as simple as leaving your phone on the seat of your car on a hot day could expose your phone to temperatures upward to 200°F – causing all kinds of damage.  If you have to take your phone to the beach or pool remember to keep it in the shade, preferably in a cool spot with air flow.

5. Protect the inside

Let me be forward, using your device in the bathroom is just asking for a water-soaked device, and I’m not just talking about phones dropped in water aka the sink, bathtub, or toilet. Steam is a smartphone killer. The hot water you use every day in the bathroom produces steam. Steam seeps into the device allowing moisture into the heart of your phone. Over time this moisture could short-circuit the hardware inside your phone.

Protecting your device doesn’t just mean maintaining its outward appearance. Even if your phone is in perfect physical condition, it could be rendered unusable if the Android OS (Operating System) isn’t also protected from damage. Over time, Android users find that their phones tend to be less zippy than they used to be, apps don’t open as quickly, screens scroll in slow motion, and even web pages take longer to load. If you ignore these signs, eventually your device will slow down to a snail’s pace, becoming unusable. No worries, by following a few simple tips you can ensure that your device runs faster and smoother for longer.

6. Update apps

Make sure to regularly update your apps from the Google Play Store. These updates contain new features and bug fixes for any identified issues. Apply the updates regularly and your phone will perform optimally.

7. Free up space

Pay attention to your available internal storage.  Your device requires some of its internal storage to operate, so filling it up will cause your device to run slowly or even fail to function.  A good rule is to never use more than 90% of your device’s total internal storage. Also, once your device gets really low on internal storage it will stop syncing emails and app updates via the PlayStore. Below are some tips that should help prevent this issue from becoming an issue.

  • Move photos, music, and video files to either an external memory card (if your device has a memory card slot) or save them in the cloud using services such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Remove unused apps for additional storage.
  • Clearing the Cache. This will remove temporary files from your phone but will not delete your files or setting.

8. Reboot weekly

As much as we rely on our smartphones for almost everything these days, keeping your phone ON all the time is a bad thing. Constantly having your phone powered on overexerts its resources and could result in your phone becoming sluggish. To prevent this from happening, make sure to reboot your device at least once a week.  This will ensure your caches are cleared and apps restarted properly. To simplify it, you know that feeling you get after a good night’s sleep?  Your phone feels the same way after a reboot. Shutting down the device on a regular basis will also help extend the life of your device.

9. Keep the phone out of harm’s way

Another way to improve the life of your device is to keep your phone out of the way of life’s crazy mishaps. You can do this by using more Bluetooth. Using Bluetooth allows you to use the awesome features of your device without having it in potentially dangerous situations.

Using Bluetooth headphones while working out allows you to access music and take calls without the chance of dropping and breaking your device and without continued exposure to sweat and moisture.

10. Use companion devices

While at the beach or pool try bringing along a Bluetooth speaker. This will allow you to stream your music without putting your phone in danger. Remember to keep your device out of direct sunlight and away from water.

The more you handle your device the greater the chance you mishandle it by maybe dropping it or putting it in situations that are less than ideal. A smartwatch allows you to put your phone in a safe location such a gym bag, purse, or even just docked on your desk while still allowing you to stay connected.

A smartwatch notifies you of incoming calls, texts, emails and all of your super important social media notifications from apps like facebook, twitter, and Instagram just to name a few. In addition, smartwatches will send you calendar reminders, events, and alarms just like your phone would. You can even access your phone like a remote enabling you to access and play music, use google search, and much much more. I recommend the Moto 360 but there are tons of options and flavors out there for everyone.

I hope that you have found our tips and tricks for getting the longest life out of your device useful. Before I go I would like to leave you with a few bonus tips.


Bonus Tips:

  • If your smartphone happens to be exposed to the elements such as sunlight and overheating, water or freezing temperatures, the best thing to do is turn the device off for an extended amount of time (Normally 24 hours) and allow it to cool down, warm up or dry off. This will help prevent additional damage to your device that might occur during your next boot up.
  • Keep your phone out of the bathroom. If you need music while getting ready, look into Bluetooth speakers designed for bathroom use.  And ahem, let’s bring magazines back for bathroom reading.
  • Bring a plastic sandwich bag with you. That way you can put your device in the sandwich bag (half closed to allow some airflow) while you’re out having fun adding extra protection from random splashes.

What do you do to keep your smartphone protected and speedy?
Let us know in the comments below.

 

The Best Smartphones for Senior Citizens

 

Switching from a flip phone to a Smartphone can be scary for anyone, but especially for those who don’t consider themselves “tech-savvy”. In this high-tech world, there is a pressure to keep up with this fast-paced even when you don’t feel ready. If you’re a person who grew up when rotary phones were in most households, you might feel especially overwhelmed at the prospect of picking out a smartphone and having to learn how to use it.

I recently purchased a new Android smartphone and I was surprised at how much more difficult the choice was than I expected! Even as a millennial who, by stereotype, should be pretty smart when it comes to technology, I didn’t even know where to begin.

So many manufacturers, sizes, specs… it was overwhelming! I’m not an overly tech-savvy person and looking up the specifications of a phone online didn’t really tell me which would be the best fit for me. With the help of the RW team, I was able to choose the phone that best fit my needs. Through my search to find the right smartphone for me I learned a lot about the smartphones we carry in the process.

As a Senior Citizen, possibly new to the world of smartphones, you might have certain needs that have prevented you from making the switch.

  • Maybe you have trouble reading the tiny text on these small phones
  • Perhaps you need a battery that will last so you don’t have to fumble with the charger every day.
  • Maybe you need a phone with a loud and clear speaker.
  • Or maybe you just want a smartphone that is simple to use without all the extras.

These Republic Wireless phones might have just what you’re looking for! Hopefully, this breakdown will help you find the right smartphone for your needs.

___________________________________________________________________________

If you’re someone who wants a fully-functional smartphone for a fraction of the price, the Alcatel A30 might be for you.

Alcatel A30 
$99*

At a retail value of $99 you simply can’t beat the price. You might be thinking, “You get what you pay for,” and, in some ways, you’re right. The Alcatel A30 won’t have as high a quality camera as a device like the Samsung S7 Edge ($599), longest lasting battery, or lightning speed processor BUT it makes calls, sends texts, and allows for use of apps – pretty much everything you’d need if you were a light to mid smartphone user.

The Alcatel A30  allows you to do everything you need to with a smartphone and at such a low price. It also has nice features such as its 5MP auto-focus camera, 2 MP front camera,  and 5.0” HD display. With a fairly large screen, touch ability becomes easier and reading text becomes less of a challenge as well. One downfall is that it is not water-repellant. I would recommend purchasing a case with this phone to help protect against drops and spills.

“Provided that you put yourself in the mindset of what capabilities should be standard on a super budget device, this phone performs admirably for basic communication functionalities and even single-threaded applications.” – Nov. 15, Republic Wireless Team Member

___________________________________________________________________________

If you’re someone who wants a quality phone that can do all of the video streaming and image-capturing for a reasonable price, these phones could be for you.

One thing I love about Motorola phones is that they allow you to have a more “pure” Android experience. What this means is that they do very little to modify the operating system. With fewer modifications, the faster the phone typically runs. It is also argued that phones providing this more “pure” experience are often simpler to learn and use than one with many alterations.

All of the Motorola phones I describe below allow the user to have this “pure” experience – something many Android users say is one of the top things they look for when choosing a phone.

Moto G4
$179*

The Moto G4 gives you a great bang for your buck. You get a lot of awesome features with this phone for what many smartphone users consider a rock-bottom price. Like most Moto phones, the G4 has a large, day-long lasting battery. You get a 13MP camera, 5.5” HD display, and front-ported, loud-speaker for easy listening.

One really great feature of this phone is its water-repelling abilities. Although it isn’t “waterproof”, this phone will survive getting caught in the rain, or being lightly spilled on – and if you’re clumsy like me, this can be a lifesaver! The G4 is also easy to grip due to the rounded edges of the phone, making it slightly less likely to be dropped. Of course, I always still recommend a case to protect your smartphone.

“My first smart phone! I am 68 years old and was a little worried I might have trouble figuring it out. I would say I’m even enjoying it and have found it easy to navigate. I like the size. Old dogs can learn new tricks.” – Jan. 27, G4 owner

 

Moto E4 Plus
$199*

The affordable Moto E4+ is perfect for basic tasks like web-browsing, watching Netflix, texting, making calls, and catching up with Facebook friends. This budget smartphone is best known for its long battery life – lasting 2 days or more with light use! Other notable features include the fingerprint reader and its ergonomic design, so it fits comfortably in your hands. It comes with a front-ported loud-speaker for clear, high-quality audio. The Moto G4, it has a 13MP camera and 5.5” HD screen.

“I like the size – it is just big enough for me to be able to read things on the phone with ease, but not too big not to be able to handle it easily.” – Oct. 24, E4 plus user

 

Moto G5 Plus
$229*
Save $30 offer ends 11/30

The Moto G5 Plus is actually the phone I am using right now. For less than $200 this smartphone provides so many awesome features for just a sliver of the price of other smartphone brands.

Although there are many things I love about this phone, my favorites include the large, bright screen and long-lasting battery. I would consider myself a mid-high range smartphone user. I stream video, play games, and browse the internet and with doing all this my phone battery usually lasts at least a day and a half! While watching videos I love the large, 5.2” HD screen. I went from a 4” display to 5.2” display and also found it much easier to read texts and web pages compared with my old phone.

Other awesome features of this phone include 12MP auto-focus camera, water-repellent nano-coating, and a front-ported loud-speaker. After having this phone for a couple months, the only problem I notice is that sometimes it is hard to hear other people on the phone. However, if I turn it on speaker phone, it is clear and I have no trouble hearing the person on the other end of the line.

“I was using a “not so smart” phone that didn’t have good reception. I wanted one with an excellent camera and something that wouldn’t break the piggy bank. This phone fit my needs and I have really enjoyed using it. The screen is a great size for reading, the apps work well without any slowing.” – Sept. 18, G5 plus owner

___________________________________________________________________________

If you’re someone who is extremely tech-savvy, enjoys streaming video and taking super-sharp, clear images, and are willing to pay more for the perks, this may be the best option for you:

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
$599*

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is certainly one of the more high-end, top-tier smartphones you can purchase. Its premium features are reflected in the price. At $599, this phone can be a little on the expensive side if you are a not a heavy user and/or don’t need the fancy features a top-tier smartphone provides. These top-of-the-line features include a fingerprint sensor, 5.5” HD Display, water-resistant technology, and a 12 MP auto-focus camera.

Though I have not used this phone for a long period of time myself, I have seen many mixed reviews about it being difficult to text with the curved screen. People say it is sometimes a challenge to press the buttons you want and that it is easy to accidentally tap something you didn’t intend.

If you are someone new to smartphones, I might recommend something a bit more user-friendly for your first time(like a Motorola). If you are someone who is on their smartphone a lot (streaming video, taking pictures, recording video, using apps), and are familiar with smartphone navigation, this phone might be perfect for you due to its exceptional camera, speed, and display.

Another thing to be aware of is the all-glass screen. This can be problematic if you are someone who tends to drop their phone often. Although I always recommend having a case for your phone, I especially recommend it with this more expensive phone option.

“This is a great phone for those of us with hearing that isn’t as good as it used to be. The camera has a ton of features for those that want more control. Pro setting gives aperture and shutter controls…among others, useful for those low light photos. Phones comes with security features, like fingerprint reader and encryption” – Mar. 28, S7 Edge user

___________________________________________________________________________

Even with the many smartphone options out there, it’s possible that none meet all of your needs. That’s where the real beauty of an Android comes in – its customizability. If you need a bigger font, more easily accessible emergency buttons, or a way to simplify your home screen, you can get it!

If you haven’t heard of launchers or aren’t too familiar with what they do, they are apps that make changes to your phone so that it will look and do exactly what you want it to. There are many launchers that can give you just the help you’re looking for!

 

Download now

 

Wiser Launcher gives you the ability to:

-Easily find the essentials (calling, messaging, pictures, emergency buttons, etc.) with an easy-to-use interface
-Quickly access favorite contacts and most used apps
-Easily add and find contacts
-Clearly see all notifications and updates

 

 

Download now

 

Phonotto Launcher gives you the ability to:

-Avoid all the “bells and whistles” of the typical smartphone while still giving you easy access to making/receiving calls, SMS, managing contacts, take photo and video, and use your daily apps.
-Has a simple design with large buttons that make it easy for making phone calls and texting.
-Optimized for people with poor eyesight
-Intuitive to keep use simple

 

 

Download now

 

Necta Launcher:

-Has helped over 400,000 senior people and vision loss people use Android phone
-Uses very large buttons for easy visibility and touch
-Has an easy-to-use camera that reacts to touch anywhere on the screen
-Provides a weather forecast, alarm, local newspaper (with larger text size), flashlight, and more!
-Will get you home so you never get lost.

 

 

Download now

 

Big Launcher provides:

-A home screen designed in consideration with senior citizens and the visually impaired to provide maximum readability and easy use.
-Enlarged icons
-Big font SMS editor
-Large battery indicator and direct dialing button

 

 

Download now

 

Koala Phone Launcher:

-Is focused on easy calling and messaging
-Allows you to see big photos of favorite contacts and provides a large dialer
-Contains touch-optimized apps like the camera, photo gallery, alarm, and flashlight
-Gives the ability to increase text size for more comfortable use without glasses
-Reads texts aloud when pressed on for a couple seconds

These launchers can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. All you have to do is tap the Google Play Store app, type the launcher’s name into the search bar, and tap download. VOILA! You will have a new launcher on your phone.

___________________________________________________________________________

While launchers are amazing, they still may not meet all of your needs if you have an especially difficult time seeing or hearing.

  • Device’s hearing aid compatibility – For those with hearing aids, it is important to make sure that the smartphone you choose is compatible. All smartphones suggested above have hearing aid compatibility rating M4/T3.
  • Stylus (for increased dexterity) – A stylus is a pen that does not use ink, but rather uses pressure from your touch to select items on a screen.
  • Phone locator – Phone locators are extremely useful for anyone, but can be especially useful for those suffering from memory loss or forgetfulness. Some great phone locators include: Find My Device, Family Locator – GPS Tracker, and Where’s My Droid.

__________________________________________________________________________

*Phone prices subject to vary, check our website for current prices and availibility. Prices last updated 1/11/18.

The 5 Best Apps to Help Organize Your Phone

 

One thing that I never take time to do is sort through my apps. I have the general categories my phone gave me to start (utilities, photos, etc.) but once I download a new app I never put it in the right category. Pages and pages of apps later, it’s time for a solution. If your phone looks like mine did, check out these awesome app-organizing apps.

___________________________________________________________________________

JINA: App Drawer, Sidebar & Folder Organizer

• Automatic app organizer
• 
Organizes apps by usage frequency, size, name, etc.
• 
Sidebar for easy multitasking
• 
Easily share apps
• 
Searches for apps quickly
• 
Customizable app drawer replacement

Download now

 

The best part of this app is the ability it gives you for customization. JINA makes adding folders and customizing them so easy. By being able to change the colors and icons of the folders enhances my ability to find what I need without having to spend much time searching.

 

App Drawer by Radsoft

• A simple, easy-to-use alternative to your phone’s default app drawer
• 
Offers a light and dark theme
• 
Automatically begins in search mode
• 
Ability to change search filter behavior
• 
Ability to save frequently-used search terms

Download now

 

Quick Drawer by Softonic

• Gives you the ability to find the apps you need fast
• 
Contains three smart layouts including last used apps, frequently used apps, and apps by alphabetical order.
• 
Does not modify or alter any part of your Android phone

Download now

 

The previous two apps are both intended to keep things simple. Both look a bit different, but their abilities are nearly the same and they both accomplish the same goal: to be an app drawer. The only real difference I can tell is the ability to change the theme and use a search bar in the App Drawer where it seems you cannot in Quick Drawer. These two apps are great if you are someone who isn’t looking for a whole lot of customization but wants a simple, easy to use app drawer.

 

Categories – App Organizer

• Easily navigate through categories
• 
Automatically organizes your launchable apps into categories
• 
Ability to personalize structure by creating or modifying existing categories
• 
Sorts by recently used, most used, recently installed, or last updated

Download now

 

My personal favorite way to organize my apps is by most used. I tend to use the same apps multiple times a day, day after day. Having them at my fingertips immediately makes it so much more convenient to find the apps I need.

 

EverythingMe Launcher

• Automatically organizes apps into folders you choose
• 
Tracks top contacts for easy messaging/calling
• 
Prediction bar to give you the app you need when you need it
• 
Search bar to easily find any app
• 
Ability to customize
• 
App discovery tool finds new apps you’ll love

Download now

 

What’s really cool about the EverythingMe Launcher is not only its ability to categorize your apps for you, but it also predicts what app you will need, sometimes even before you need it!

Keep in mind, though, that it is a launcher and therefore has permissions to change your phone. This particular launcher is one very popular one along with the Go Launcher, Nova Launcher, Smart Launcher and many others! All launchers are created to help you customize your Android phone exactly how you want it.

All launchers come with some form of app drawer or another and each with their own specialized capabilities. When looking into keyboards, take a close look at what else the launcher has to offer before hitting download. Though easily deletable, no one wants to go through the hassle. Check out this article by Android Central on the best launchers.

__________________________________________________________________________

Six aspects of your life should now be improved by these top organizing apps for Android:

  1. You should find staying on top of your schedule and keep your day-to-day commitments organized

2. You should find that the management and budgeting of your expenses has become a whole lot simpler

3. You should be able to shop with ease while saving money by easily finding e-coupons and comparing store prices

4. You should find making dinner a whole lot easier with fast, simple, and healthy recipes always at your fingertips

5. You should notice that keeping track of your workouts and staying motivated to continue living a healthy lifestyle has become less of a chore and more of a pleasure (well, at least something you don’t have to dread?!)

6. You should find that by organizing your apps, you can find what you’re looking for much more quickly… and hopefully freeing up some space on your phone by eliminating those unused apps!

Thanks for sticking around for all six blogs! I hope you will use some of these blogs to help organize and simplify your daily life. These apps sure did help me, and I hope they do the same for you.

If you’ve tried any of these apps in the past, comment below about your experience! Do you know of any other great app-organizing apps? Post it here for others. Have another category of apps you want to see in the future? Leave those in the comments as well and another blog post will be on its way!

9 Best Budgeting and Financial Planning Apps

In essence, these 9 apps are built to do very similar things: help you budget your money, make paying bills more convenient, and remind you what needs to be paid when.

1 Mint

  • Money manager and financial tracker from the makers of TurboTax®
  • Bring together your bank account, credit cards, bills, and investments, net worth, free credit score, and more!
  • Save time and money by keeping track of your finances in one place
  • Bill pay reminders so you don’t have to worry about late fees again!
  • Get your credit score for free along with tips on how to raise it

Download now

2 Mobills: Budget Planner

  • Create customized monthly budgets that work for you
  • Track spending and be reminded of it
  • Adjust budget when necessary
  • Add expenses, income, and make transfers on the go
  • Credit card management

Download now

3 Monefy – Money Manager

  • See spending distribution in an easy-to-read chart
  • Get detailed spending info from the records list
  • Manage categories
  • Synchronize using your Dropbox account
  • Simply insert expense amount… no other data necessary

Download now

 

4 AndroMoney (Expense Track)

  • Easy-to-use personal finance tool
  • Multiple accounts and support account balances and account transfer
  • Sync with other devices
  • Simple, custom budgets
  • Trend, pie, and bar charts for expense and cash flow

Download now

 

5 Home Budget Manager Lite

  • Track expenses, incomes, and bills
  • Unlimited accounts
  • Bills Reminder
  • Set budgets for categories
  • Statistics graph to see where your money has gone categorized by incomes, expenses, budget vs. expense, etc.

Download now

 

6 Money Manager Expense and Budget

  • Financial planner, expense tracker, and personal asset manager
  • Record personal and business transactions, generate spending reports, review daily, weekly, and monthly financial data, and manage your assets
  • Credit/Debit Card management
  • Instant statistics
  • Budget and expense management

Download now

 

7 Money Tracker

  • Advanced personal finance manager
  • Flexible reports with drill-down capabilities
  • Ability to schedule, enter, analyze, and project your expenses months and even years ahead
  • 8 powerful fully customizable reports with tables and charts
  • Photo attachments
  • Data synchronization between 2+ devices

Download now

 

8 Expense IQ Money Manager

  • Serves as an expense tracker, budget planner, checkbook register, integrated bills reminder, and more!
  • Track your daily expenses quickly and easily
  • Detailed and interactive reports
  • 12+ reports and charts to analyze spending patterns
  • Set monthly budgets to accounts categories and check their health bars
  • Get warnings if you exceed your budget

Download now

 

9 My Finances

  • Will help you manage and control your home budget and expenses
  • Ability to create color-coded categories and subcategories to make the data clear
  • Ability to manage multiple accounts
  • Pay recurring flat-rate bills with ease by setting repeated operations and frequency
  • Predicts your total income and expenses based on your planned operations
  • Tracks your history and follows your earnings and payments
  • Tells you which category(ies) you spend the most in to help you better prepare and save.

Download now

___________________________________________________________________________

I hope that these budgeting apps will help make your life a little more organized (hopefully get rid of some of the awful paper clutter). Bills are just another one of those things to keep up with. Let an app do it for you so you can spend less time worrying about when your bills are due, and more time doing what you love (in my case shopping… which is why I need a budgeting app).

If you’ve tried any of these apps in the past, comment below about your experience! Do you use a life-saving financial app that I didn’t mention? Post it here for others. The best part about apps is how easy they are to use and share.

To start saving money on your cell phone bill make the switch to Republic Wireless risk-free. Click the button below to learn more.

See plans

Staying Safe with WiFi Security

Your security is important! We’ve wrangled these helpful tips for ensuring you stay connected better and stay safe while you’re doing it! Check ’em out!

As a WiFi calling first company, we get asked this question a lot – “Is my phone secure on public WiFi?” It’s a complex question – one we are continuously monitoring as security technology rapidly evolves. The bottom line is all WiFi works on unlicensed radio spectrum, so whether you are using your phone, a computer, a tablet, or console, taking some simple precautions when connecting through a public WiFi network can help keep your information safe!

1. Keep your browser and Internet-connected devices up to date with the latest versions, but make sure to do this on a trusted home, work, or business network.

2. Be aware of rogue hot spots – you’ll know ’em when you see ’em. They sometimes appear as long, random number or letter strings. Verify the name of the network with staff or on signage before connecting when you’re out and about. Public hot spots at places like Starbucks usually require that you agree to terms or login through a browser page first. Luckily, with Republic phones, when you login once, your phone can remember your actions so you never have to do it again!

3. Be careful what sorts of websites you access on public networks. If a website connection is secured, its address will begin with https:// instead of just http://, and you should see a padlock or other indicator showing SSL encryption is in use somewhere on the browser screen (usually in the lower right hand corner). This is especially important if you’re making a purchase on an online store or doing and online banking (more on that in number 5!).

4. If you’re on a mobile device, don’t assume that your apps are automatically secure or using HTTPS. Unless outlined by the app developer, it’s safest to presume that the app is not conducting a secure transaction. In this case, you should use your browser to log on to the service, and check for a HTTPS connection in the status bar.

5. Only do online banking and shopping using secure network – ideally your password protected home network, which is likely utilizing WEP, WPA, or WPA2 security. If you are out in public and must access sensitive info, we suggest turning your WiFi off temporarily and using the cellular network. Though it’s slower, most cell service providers encrypt the traffic between cell towers and your device.

6. Avoid using communication apps, such as for free phone calls and instant messaging, unless you know the network you’re using is secure.

7. Once you are all done with your Internet browsing, make sure to log off any services you were signed into.

8. It’s good practice to enable two-factor authentication on services that support it, such as Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook. This way, in the off chance someone does manage to sniff out your password when on public WiFi, you have an added layer of protection.

9. Use strong passwords for all your online accounts and change them often. There are many good password protection programs – more here.

10. If you’re really concerned about your mobile Internet security, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) on both your WiFi and cell data connections. When connected to a VPN, all your Internet traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel, guarding it from local eavesdroppers. One we like is the free super-easy VPN provided by Tunnel Bear. Launch the app and look in the notification bar for a small key and that means you are on a secure connection.

A few simple steps are the keys to a smarter smartphone and playing it safe. What tips do you have for WiFi security? Share them with us in the comments!