7 Hacks to Save Money on Fall Travel

September is here, and although I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, fall is one of my favorite times of year. As temperatures drop and kids head back to school, it’s a great time to avoid the crowds and find this year’s best travel deals. Here are a few timely tips for fulfilling your fall wanderlust on a budget.

  1. Score cheap flights - By mid-September, airfare deals start popping up for just about any destination. Sign up on sites like Skyscanner or Airfarewatchdog or download Hopper to get alerted when prices drop. You can also subscribe to airline emails to find out about their travel deals directly from the source.

  2. Board a boat - Fall is a great time to book a cruise. Ships are not as full, and most cruises-goers tend to be just adults rather than families with kids. If you’re willing to risk it in hurricane season, sailing to the Caribbean can save you some cash. Just be sure to get travel insurance in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. For serious savings, book between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  3. Escape to the mountains - Ski resorts tend to clear out in the fall, just in time for perfect weather and foliage-covered mountains. Enjoy an autumn wonderland at altitude without paying peak prices. You can save big until the first snowfall when the ski lifts open.

  4. Hit the beach - Once the kiddos head back to school, prices can drop by more than 50% for mid-week stays at popular beach destinations from Myrtle Beach to Miami. Even Hawaii can be affordable with flight and hotel deals from September through Christmas.

  5. Visit a national park - This year, we’re celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the National Parks Service. Take advantage of fee-free days on September 24 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11 (Veterans Day) at one of the 400+ national parks across the country. With affordable lodging and camping available at most park locations, this fall is the perfect time to get out and find your park.

  6. Find peak foliage - Autumn is famous for its fiery red and golden yellow treelines across the country. Finding peak foliage is all about timing and location. Plan a road trip using the Weather Channels foliage mapper and search Airbnb to find cheap and charming accommodations along your scenic drive.

Avoid big cities - One big exception to the fall shoulder-season savings? For major cities, autumn is typically convention season which means rack-rate rooms and sold-out hotels. If you need to travel to major metros like New York, D.C., Chicago or San Francisco, aim to visit on the weekend to avoid peak pricing and those lanyard-wearing crowds.

Shane Steele
VP Marketing

Why We're Giving Employees the Day Off to Vote

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Millennials have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation, and they’re about to enter their prime spending years. They’re dominating the workforce, forcing companies to evolve how they do business, and reshaping the economy.

Their generation has also been labeled with some not so flattering stereotypes. Ever since Time’s 2013 cover story on the ‘Me-Me-Me Generation’, the media has piled on with stories describing Gen Y as lazy, entitled, narcissistic, job-hopping, unreliable, and social media obsessed. A quick Google search today shows these labels have stuck.

But generalizations about Millennials have also been refuted, and research indicates they also deserve to be called the “giving generation.” A 2014 Millennial Impact Report showed that 87 percent gave to nonprofits in the prior year. When it comes to volunteering, another study indicated Millennials contribute their time and skills more than previous generations. In business, they prioritize purpose over profits, and they’re more likely than previous generations to say it matters that companies give back to society.

When it comes to civic engagement, millennials are mixed. Seven out of 10 millennials identify as social activists, but only 50 percent voted in the 2012 presidential election. As election 2016 approaches, the number of Millennials eligible to vote (69.2 million) now matches that of the Baby Boomers (69.7 million). As a group, Millennials have the potential to be a deciding force in the election, though U.S. census data shows they are the least likely to vote.

Overall voter participation in the past few elections has been declining dramatically. In the 2012 election, 57.5% of eligible voters in America turned out to vote, dipping down from 62.3% in 2008 and 60.4% in 2004.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

That’s why we launched #ChimeIn for Election 2016 — to encourage our employees and members of all ages to embrace their political power. This includes registering to vote, getting informed, and a number of other waysto get involved. As part of this initiative, Chime has also pledged to join the #TakeOffElectionDay campaign, which means we’re giving our employees the day off to vote on November 8.

Support for #TakeOffElectionDay is growing, particularly among tech startup companies thanks in large part to Chime investor Hunter Walk of venture capital firm Homebrew. It’s a great way to get company owners involved in fostering civic participation especially given some states have no legal requirement for employers to allow time for voting.

“Let’s flip the script and have the CEOs inform their teams of their right to go vote — and encourage participation. That’s what we’re looking to do with this effort. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a swing state or not. Register and vote in 2016. Your voice matters.” — Hunter Walk, Homebrew

Over 200 companies from New York to San Francisco have already joined in the pledge to give employees the day off on November 8. You can check out the full list of participating companies on the TakeOffElectionDay website. If you’re a CEO, I encourage you to join the list. If you’re an employee interested in getting your company involved, share this post with your boss and colleagues, or send an anonymous email from the site.

This year’s election is arguably one of the most pivotal in our recent history. Regardless of your political views, let’s do our part to make sure all voters have a chance to #ChimeIn on this important election.

Chris Britt, Chime Co-Founder & CEO

4 Reasons You’ll Feel More Zen with the New Chime App

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, we’ve updated our app so you don’t have to labor so hard over your finances. Here are some of the changes that we hope will help you feel zen and find inner peace on your journey to better financial health.

Understand the past (with new transaction details)
Ever scratch your head when reviewing all that spending you did over the weekend and have trouble recognizing a transaction? Now when you open the Chime app, the Spending Account home screen gives you more info about each purchase in your transaction history including monthly spending trends, as well as the merchant’s address and website for major retailers and restaurants.

Stay balanced (with enhanced transaction alerts)
Transaction alerts now display your current Spending Account balance in addition to the transaction info. Think of how much energy you’ll save opening the app to view your balance that you can channel into opening your chakras instead.

Create flow (with in-app bank linking)
Need to transfer funds from another bank account? Now you can link a bank account in the app. Go to Transfers under Move MoneySettings, tap “Link a Bank Account”, choose from one of the 14 major banks listed and enter your other bank’s login credentials. You can then initiate a transfer between your Chime Spending Account and the linked bank account. It’s a super easy way to transfer funds from your existing bank account to Chime for free, and you can do it from your yoga mat.

Find answers (in our new Help Center)
We’ve also spruced up the Chime Help Center to make it easy to find answers to frequently asked questions faster than you can say oooooommmmmm. You’ll find a link to the Help Center under Settings > Support.

We look forward to hearing what you think of these changes. Namaste.

 

How to Mind Your Money Manners on Group Vacations

Money Manners is a blog series that explores awkward money encounters and how to handle them. From first dates to work outings to group vacations, we’ll cover every situation and ways to improve your own #MoneyManners without sacrificing your financial goals. Have a money manners story you want to share with us or need some advice? Email us at stories@chimecard.com.

As I wrote in my last Money Manners post, things can sometimes get awkward when it comes to splitting the bill, whether it’s a first date or an unexpected expense you have to share with your roommates. This is especially true when those involved have different spending habits or financial means. In this post, I’ll dive into some tips for navigating these waters on a group getaway.

Minding your money manners when traveling with others is essential to making your vacation relaxing and fun, which is the whole point of a vacation, right? Unfortunately I’ve learned this the hard way. I love to travel with friends. My mantra is the more the merrier. But even with my besties it’s not always easy managing our various personalities and budgets on the road. As much as we like spending time together, we don’t always agree on how we want to spend our time and money. Sometimes it comes down to seemingly trivial things, like do we take public transit versus an Uber when it’s surging 3x.

The reality is, we’re all going to have different priorities from time to time when we travel together. And that’s okay as long as you have a game plan going in. Follow these tips to make sure your next group trip is more fun than friction.

1. Set clear expectations.
The best way to avoid any conflicts or confusion later is to set clear expectations up front about how you want to spend your time and money on the trip. Decide on a budget range everyone is comfortable with and use it to set parameters for shared expenses. If you define the budget up front, it’ll also make it easier when searching for and deciding on accommodations, restaurants, and activities.

The more planning you do ahead of time, the fewer decisions you’ll have to make in real-time. Although that doesn’t mean you have to hard code your trip — leave yourself open to spontaneous adventures knowing that you’re all on the same page about your budget.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Colombia with a group of friends and we were pretty clear about costs up front. My boyfriend and I hosted a planning get together where we did research and shared ideas on how to spend the week. This face-to-face time was a fun way to get excited about our trip together while making sure we all felt comfortable about planning an adventure within our means.

2. Create a group expense fund.
Who wants the job of being the accountant while you’re on vacation? Unless you’re one of those people who actually enjoys using excel, one way to avoid the headache is to create a group fund for any expense that will be split evenly such as taxi rides or food. For this, you’ll still need one person to manage the stash. Have them collect the same amount from everyone and put it in a single “fund”. This can be in their own bank account, a cash collection, or whatever works depending on your trip. At the start, have everyone contribute the same amount. If someone is in charge of shared meals, he or she can easily charge one card to make transactions smoother. When the fund is empty, everyone refills it evenly. Repeat this until the trip is over, and anything left over can be equally distributed.

3. Create a shared system.
I’ve often found that the person who takes the role of keeping track of every expense, every bill, every agenda item is likely the one who needs a vacation the most. Give that person a break. (And if this is you, delegate!) Create a shared system where everyone inputs what they’ve purchased and how much people owe them. When someone on your trip covers a group expense, be sure they add it to the tracking system right away. It’s easy to forget that tip your friend paid in cash by the time the trip is over. In some cases the group might consider squaring up right away to make the final accounting a little less painful or lopsided. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s clear you’re all held accountable.

4. Use apps to manage expenses.
The simplest way to track expenses is with a basic spreadsheet. My friends and I have used Google docs to keep a list of expenses with just a few key pieces of info for each item — date, description, amount, who paid, and who owes (i.e. who should it be split with). Recently I’ve been loving the app Splitwise. Get everyone on the trip to download the app and entering expenses is easy to do on the go in real time. I also use apps like Venmo or Square Cash for paying people back once we settle the tab. Sharing expenses is even more convenient when you and your friends bank with Chime because you can send each other money instantly with Pay Friends using the Chime app. It’s a great way to settle up without having to wait a couple of days for the money to clear like you do with Venmo.

5. Don’t pinch pennies.
When you travel as a group, a big part of what you’re paying for is the experience of being together, not just the list of items on each individual bill. If you’re silently accounting for every dollar spent by each person on the trip, you’ll soon realize that your vacation is no vacation at all. Plan ahead for what you’re okay spending, give yourself some cushion so you aren’t stressing about every meal or bar tab, and be open about what you can afford. After all, these are your friends and they don’t want to strain your finances any more than you do!

Tip 1: Have a group vacation coming up? Use Chime’s automated savings feature to save up for the big trip!

Tip 2: Planning a group trip to a National Park? Use your Chime Visa Debit card to purchase an National Parks Annual Pass and you’ll save $10 when you purchase the $80 pass by 8/31. Learn more about our #ChimeIn for the National Park Service campaign and how you can save here.

Breena Fain
Marketing

Learn more about Chime at chimebank.com

What To Do When Your Partner Sucks At Money

Money Manners is a blog series that explores awkward money encounters and how to handle them. From first dates to work outings to group vacations, we’ll cover every situation and ways to improve your own #MoneyManners without sacrificing your financial goals. Have a money manners story you want to share with us or need advice? Email us at stories@chimecard.com.

Until a few years ago, I sucked at my finances. I had zero savings, a bad case of retail therapy, and a haunting credit card balance. I was buried under student loans, and my debt became all-consuming. It destroyed my confidence, my opportunities and my ability to see past the next paycheck. It even affected my relationships.

It’s no secret that money is the leading cause of stress in a relationship. Even when both partners are good at managing money, there is still anxiety around joint finances. Who makes more money? Who spends more? How do you each contribute to shared expenses? The mental accounting can be overwhelming, especially if you’re in a relationship with someone who utterly sucks at managing his or her money.

Fortunately, I had a turnaround. While my finances were nearing rock bottom, my career was taking off. It motivated me to finally climb out of the dark spending hole I had dug and I learned how to live below my means. I couldn’t have done it alone though. Fortunately, I’m now in a relationship with someone who inspires me to be better with my money every day. He’s a saver who makes frugal purchase decisions, doesn’t let emotions impact his financial choices, and supports me as a true partner in achieving my financial goals.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who sucks at money, there’s hope. Here’s what I learned along the way about the best approach to helping your partner get better at money.

1. Reaffirm your partnership.
According to a study conducted by CreditCards.com, 20% of spouses have hidden more than $500 in spending from their significant other. If your partner is hiding money out of embarrassment or shame for their poor money choices, the first step is to let them know you’re on the same team. Show them you’re there to help in a way that’s supportive, not judgmental. After all, you’re partners, right? By establishing that you share the same goals, you can help one another stay accountable to achieving them by working together on areas that need improvement.

2. Get to know their money challenges.
What is the root cause of your partner’s money problems? Does she have student loan debt racked up or unpaid bills? Is he guilty of emotional spending? Take time to uncover your partner’s financial history, patterns, and challenges. From my own personal experience, money issues are rarely superficial. They’re often tied to deeper emotional issues.The discovery process will take time. It will not happen over one conversation at dinner. You’ll need to consistently communicate your support and commitment to helping them uncover and tackle their money challenges together.

3. Create a shared budget.
Once you’ve clearly established you’re in this together, next make sure you have clarity about your shared goals and a budget for how to get there. Take the time to walk your partner through your money management process and tools. Give them plenty of opportunity to ask questions so that they are comfortable with the process, and work together to create a budget that reflects your combined income, spending, and saving. Keep in mind that exposing all of the details of their financial life could be a very vulnerable experience for your partner. Be supportive and help your partner stay focused on the end goal of what you want to achieve together.

4. Use expert resources.
Taking the lead role in your joint finances can put a lopsided strain on your relationship. If you want to avoid being the money coach, there are plenty of resources to help your partner develop their personal finance acumen. You can subscribe to podcasts or read books that are both informative and engaging. Make it a joint effort and keep it budget-friendly by visiting your local library to check out some financial books you can read together. By participating with your partner you’ll show him or her that this is a shared journey and an opportunity for you both to learn.

5. Schedule regular check-ins.
Money management takes time, and spenders typically go through waves. It’s important that you schedule a regular check-in to see how things are going. Let your partner set the schedule and give them as much control as possible. Make it a judgment-free zone. Be supportive and use positive reinforcement. Stay focused on goals and exploring solutions together. Remember your partner is an adult--if you want this to work, they need feel ownership of your shared goals and the plan to get there.

Have other tips on how you and your partner achieved financial success together? I’d love to hear your tips! Share them in the comments below or reach out on Twitter.  

Breena Fain
Marketing

Learn more about Chime at chimebank.com.

5 Things Every First Time Home Buyer Must Know

In the transition to adulthood, there may be no bigger milestone than the day you sign on the dotted line to purchase your first home. For many it’s a rite of passage and a proud accomplishment to literally hold the keys to the American Dream. But before you cruise the open houses and begin your hunt, make sure you’re up for the task of buying and committing to home sweet home, both financially and emotionally.  To help assess your readiness for homeownership, consider these tips gathered from some of the top real estate and financial experts:

1. Reality check the cost of home ownership.
Go in with eyes wide open by having a complete picture of the costs associated with buying and owning a home. This includes everything from inspections to closing costs, realtor commissions to renovations and, not to mention your ongoing mortgage, taxes, and maintenance costs. Be sure to budget for all of these expenses before you start looking so you have a clear picture of what you can afford before you fall in love with your dream home.

“You will need to have a decent amount of money that you need to use during the process and for closing costs...you will need to hire an attorney, a home inspector, and mortgage lender.” - Cornelius Camp

2. Determine what you can really afford.
Next make sure you’re financially ready to take on all of the costs of home ownership. This means getting a detailed picture of your financial situation including assets, income, expenses, cash flow, debt. You’ll also need to know your credit score because it will factor into what kind of loan and interest rate you can get.

Qualify yourself. By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly. - Shevna Steiner, BankRate

3. Get to know your mortgage lenders.
Shopping around last minute for a mortgage can put you in a defensive position. Take the initiative to start building relationships with lenders early, so you have time to do your homework and get pre-approved before you start house hunting. When comparing options, be sure you understand all of the fees involved with each lender.

“Because lenders are eager for your business, some will even offer a cash incentive for going with them, such as $1,500 back to you at closing. In fact, if one lender is offering cash back, but another one isn’t, ask the lender who’s holding out—he may change his tune if it means earning your business”. - Kate Ashford, LearnVest

4. Make sure the timing is right.
It’s difficult to time the housing market, or the stock market for that matter. Instead, think seriously about how long you plan to stay in your home. Home ownership can have a number of financial advantages over renting but only if you plan to stay in your home for a number of years. Otherwise you’ll likely take a hit from closing costs and potentially a market adjustment that doesn’t work in your favor.

“Make sure you’re ready to buy, both emotionally and financially. If you expect to relocate in a few years, this may not be the right time for you to buy”. - Teresa Mears, USNews

5. Be ready to negotiate.
Come prepared for the negotiating process with your real estate agent by doing your research and knowing your priorities and limits. When you find a home you want, use tools like Redfin, Trulia and public records to understand the neighborhood, history of the home and the seller. Be ready to move quickly, but also be prepared to walk away. If you’re buying in a home where transactions are known to move swiftly, it may feel like you’re not in control. So get ready to buckle down and stay focused on what’s most important to you. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.

“Paying the asking price doesn’t mean you’re overpaying. A smart seller needs professional advice when listing their home. That’s why you should focus less on getting a “deal” and more on getting a grip on what you feel is fair market value. If the asking price is on par with what you expected, it’s A-OK to offer that. - PureWow

Do you have go-to resources that have helped you prepare for homeownership? Share them with us in the comments below or connect with us on Twitter

Learn more about Chime at chimebank.com.

The materials in this article are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice.

 

Student Loan Debt Relief Hacks

We are in the midst of a student loan debt crisis. College costs are increasing alongside a $1.3 billion in collective student loan debt. In early 2016, our Money Mindset of U.S. College Grads: 2016 Report found 73% of college seniors and juniors said they would be graduating with an average of $32,000 in student loan debt. It’s no wonder college education and student loan debt relief are one of the most important issues in the 2016 election.

We heard it throughout Bernie Sanders’ campaign, with promises of free student tuition for all. And we’re continuing to hear the push for student loan debt support by Hillary Clinton, who recently released a student loan forgiveness plan and Donald Trump has spoken out on student loans, but hasn’t released a detailed policy outline.

Needless to say, the 43 million borrowers across the country are perking up to hear how each candidate plans to make a dent in the student debt crisis.

With the overwhelming amount of debt graduates are shouldering on average, it can seem nearly impossible to keep up with payments. In 2014, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel conducted a study that showed nearly 20% of student loans were delinquent or defaulted (nine months past due). The study also showed that the number of borrowers who default each year increased from about 500,000 in 2002 to 1.2 million annually in 2011 and 2012. Although the number of borrowers who default each year peaked in 2012, there’s no arguing — this is still a major problem for several Americans.

Although we can’t fix the problem right away, there are things you can do today to climb out of student loan debt. Here are eight hacks to student loan debt relief:

1. Setup automatic payments.
This one is a no brainer. Most student loan agencies offer online services that make it easy to set up automatic payments. Your student loans are likely your biggest chunk of debt, so you want to be diligent about paying them down each month. Missing payments or paying late can hurt your credit and ruin your chances of any Federal program that offers loan forgiveness. Setting up automatic payments allows you to continue to make your payments regularly without having to worry about missing one or being late.

2. Take advantage of prepayments.
All student loans are prepayment penalty free. This means you can start paying them down right away and you won’t be charged for any additional amount. Most graduates may not even realize that interest is front-loaded and starts accruing immediately (yes, even while you’re in school). They often don’t realize it until they graduate and see the loan amount is much higher than they remember. So do what you can to pay off loans as soon as you’re able. A little extra contribution beyond the minimum monthly payment goes a long way.

You can use Chime’s automated savings tool to use some of your weekly savings to pay down your student loans each week.

3. Consolidate and refinance your loans.
If you have older loans with variable interest rates, refinancing could be a good way of lessening your overall interest rate. Student loan refinancing has become more accessible to borrowers thanks to increased competition from private lenders such as SoFi and Earnest.

Private lenders may be able to save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loans, especially if you have good credit and income. According to data from Credible, an online marketplace for student loan refinancing, the average borrower can save almost $14,000 when they refinance. Keep in mind however that when you refinance through a private lenders, you won’t be eligible for some benefits provided by federal loans such as income-based repayment plans or public service loan forgiveness.

Even if you aren’t able to lower the interest rate, consolidating your loans so that you can make one payment as opposed to several a month can lessen your mental burden and help you stay on track.

4. Use your tax return to pay off a bigger chunk of debt.
The interest you pay on student loans is tax deductible. This means that when you file your taxes, you will likely get money back based on how much interest you paid in the previous year. It may be tempting to think of that as extra cash for spending. But using any tax refund toward your loan in the immediate term can have a bigger benefit to you in the long run. Don’t calculate it as a bonus or income. Just send it straight to your loan provider and pretend you never had it in your spendy little hands.

5. Negotiate loan payments in your compensation package.
Whether you’re applying for a new job or coming up on an annual review, consider asking your employer to include a lump sum payment or making monthly payments for student loan debt relief. This is becoming more popular with recent legislation, but for today, you may need to negotiate in lieu of additional salary or benefits.

6. Get a side gig to lessen debt faster.
Picking up a side job is more accessible than ever. Apps like Rover, TaskRabbit, Lyft and several others make it easy to pocket a little extra cash. The benefit of these jobs is that you can control the amount of time you want to dedicate each month, and it’s fairly easy work that can help you pay down student debt faster.

7. Pay while you’re in school.
If you’re still in school, there’s no time like the present to start paying off your student loans. Take on a part time job and dedicate your income to paying off your student loans ahead of schedule. Although it may be tempting to spend your income on beer and last minute game tickets, dedicate at least a portion of your income to getting a head start on your loan payments.

8. Work in public service? Your loans may be forgiven.
For those dedicated to a career in public service or non-profit work, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. To qualify, you’ll have to work at least 30 hours a week within a government organization (at any level) or for a not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) for and make monthly qualifying payments for 10 years. After those 120 qualifying monthly payments,, your remaining federal student loan balance will be forgiven.

Bonus: If you have Perkins loans while working in public service, you may also benefit from the Federal Perkins Loan Forgiveness program.

Double Bonus: Plan on teaching for more than 15 years? You’re in luck. You may qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program in addition to teacher-specific forgiveness options. You can learn more about the program on the Federal Student Aid’s website.

Have you thought of clever hacks to pay down your student loan debt? Let’s hear them! Comment below or reach out to us on Twitter.

Kyle Daley
Marketing Manager

Sign up or learn more about Chime at chimebank.com

5 Ways You Can Start Rocking The Vote

Ah, America. The good old red, white, and blue. Last month, we celebrated our Independence Day with friends and family. We barbecued, watched fireworks, and reflected on the ideals that our Founding Fathers established.

Some constitutional rights many of us exercise everyday, mainly freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Yet, one of our most important rights—the right to vote—we only get a chance to exercise once every few years. Voting gives us all a chance to not only determine who will represent us on a local, state, and national level, but also an opportunity to address the social and civic issues we’re most passionate about. This is particularly important because different generations naturally have different concerns and priorities when it comes to our public officials and government policies.

In past elections, the Baby Boomer generation has represented the largest group of voters. This election is the first time Millennials’ voting power matches that of Baby Boomers. It’s our turn to tune in and turn out for the issues we care most about: job creation, healthcare, equal rights, college affordability, and the environment.

Here are 5 easy ways to help make sure yours and other Millennials’ voices are heard this election:

1. Get Informed.
Knowledge is power, so educate yourself on the candidates and the issues. Watch the news, read up on the facts, research the nominees, and learn what propositions are on your state’s ballot this November. Do all these and you’ll be more informed than if you just took that BuzzFeed Quiz telling you which 2016 presidential candidate you are. (Ok, maybe still take it. Who can resist a good BuzzFeed Quiz?)

2. Spread the Word.
We’re the generation that made things “go viral”, so surely we can get the word out for the issues we’re most passionate about. Take a break from catching Pokémon to tweet support for your favorite candidate or share voter registration info with your friends on Facebook. Get your friends involved by hosting debate watch parties. Want to get more creative with it? Make a Snap story about why you’re voting, or maybe a YouTube video. Even your favorite celebrities rock the vote and #TURNOUTFORWHAT they care about, from education and immigration to student debt and climate change.

3. Volunteer.
Since time is our most precious resource, what better way to demonstrate your passion than by volunteering your time to the candidate or issue you support? A quick Google search can point you in the direction of your favorite candidate’s regional office. Working directly with the campaign will help you gain greater command of issues and afford you the opportunity to inspire and mobilize local people and new voters.

4. Donate.
Too busy to volunteer your time? Volunteer your money. A few dollars can go a long way, especially when donated to smaller, grassroots efforts. But maybe you want your money to have a larger impact beyond your particular candidate or cause of choice. Organizations like Rock the Vote have a greater mission, focusing on getting Millennials across the country registered to vote and involved in the political process. When you make a donation of $25 or more to Rock the Vote with your Chime card, we’ll give you $5.00 back!

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5. VOTE.
As cliche as it sounds, every vote really does count. Voter registration deadlines vary by state, so make sure you’re registered before your state’s cutoff date. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard and make an impact on the government that influences our everyday lives. Remember, you’re not just voting for a candidate, you’re voting for the future. So get informed and make good choices :)

Kyle Daley
Marketing Manager

Sign up or learn more about Chime at chimebank.com

Can Digital Technology Save America’s National Parks?

I fell in love with California at the age of 11 during our family trip to visit the National Parks out west. Growing up in rural towns in New England, I already had an appreciation for nature. But the epic imagery of California — the redwoods and palm trees, Yellowstone’s El Capitan and the Golden Gate’s Marin Headlands — left an indelible mark on my imagination. It took me another two decades, but I finally made the move to the Golden State where I always felt I belonged.

At age 11 with my brother at Yosemite National Park.

Exploring the National Parks looks a lot different today than it did on that road trip years ago. We use technology to map trails, hunt Pokémon, and generally stay connected so we can share our epic adventures and the breathtaking beauty of the parks with our friends on social media.

Our obsession with digital technology even in the great outdoors may make some nature enthusiasts (and my parents) cringe. After all, science has proven what we already know intuitively: that disconnecting in nature is good for the human brain. It gives us a break from the mental fatigue of our busy, connected lives and in turn it can boost our mood, relieve stress, make us healthier, and even smarter.

Canyonlands National Park, May 2015

Canyonlands National Park, May 2015

But embracing this evolution of technology in the outdoors to cater to younger Millennial visitors may be our only hope for preserving the National Parks. In spite of the fact that the parks drew a record 305 million visits in 2015, attendance skews heavily older and white. Low attendance from young diverse Americans has the National Park Service downright scared of what could become of these natural venues. With an $11.9 billion backlog of necessary maintenance costs, it’s no wonder. The parks could be in trouble if they don’t expand their appeal as our population ages and becomes more diverse.

So what do we do? How do we encourage our communities to care about the parks? With this year’s 100th anniversary celebration, there are a number of ways you can #ChimeIn for the National Park Service:

1. Find your park and go.
Did you know The Statue of Liberty, the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, and the San Antonio Missions are all National Parks? As part of their centennial celebration, the NPS is working to create more awareness across age groups and ethnicities about the diversity of park experiences through a new campaign called Find Your Park. You might be surprised which parks are right around the corner. If you’re feeling indecisive, take the Park Quiz to find the best one suited for you; if you’re feeling ambitious, this handy map shows how you can visit nearly every National Park in one epic road trip.

2. Share your National Park moments.
Reserve a yurt in the Smoky Mountains. Plan a white water rafting trip inGlacier Park. Or even organize a Pokemon hunt in Yosemite. Whatever adventure suits you, be a social advocate through sharing your National Park moments. Mention the NPS on Twitter (@NatlParkService) and Instagram (@NationalParkService), along with popular hashtags like #FindYourPark and #GetOutdoors. You can even submit stories and posts online as part of the Centennial Project contest.

3. Get your company involved.
David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, conducted a study which showed people performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days of wilderness backpacking. Talk about productivity! If there’s a park near you, use it as a team building location. Getting your company involved will not only prove beneficial for your teams, but it can also multiply your support for the parks.

4. Make a donation.
The very first national parks were established thanks to the vision and effort of private citizens who were passionate about protecting America’s natural beauty for future generations. Today, your tax dollars and donations are what sustain the parks. Learn how you can donate here.

5. Buy a National Park Annual Pass for a friend.
If you want to maximize your happiness, spend your money on experiences, not things. That’s the finding from research conducted by psychology professor Dr. Tom Gilovich at Cornell University. When you purchase a National Parks Annual Pass for a friend, you’ll be giving the gift of an experience you can share, since one pass is good for two people. As science shows, you’ll also be giving the gift of lower stress and other health and mental benefits when you help your friends get back to nature.

The $80 annual pass covers entrance fees to all of the nation’s national parks for one year. The price tag may sound steep, but if you plan to visit more than one park in a year it can save you some dough.

If you’re a Chime member, there’s no better time to buy your pass. Our company wants to #ChimeIn for the National Parks by helping our members save on a National Parks Annual Pass. Buy your pass by August 31st, 2016 with your Chime Visa® Debit Card, and Chime will give you $10.00 cash back to your Spending Account when you spend $80.00 or more. You can purchase one here (or here).

Shane Steele
VP Marketing

Sign up or learn more about Chime at chimebanking.com

How to Mind Your Money Manners When Splitting the Bill

Money Manners is a blog series that explores awkward money encounters and how to handle them. From first dates to work outings to group vacations, we’ll cover every situation and ways to improve your own #MoneyManners without sacrificing your financial goals. Have a money manners story you want to share with us or need some advice? Email us at stories@chimecard.com.

Dealing with money can be awkward regardless of how much you have, especially when it comes to splitting the bill. Whether it’s asking a roommate to pitch in for toilet paper or deciding who pays on a first date, navigating money manners for shared expenses can be tricky. Here are some common scenarios you may encounter with our tips for gracefully and economically splitting the bill.

The dinner with friends.
We’ve all been there — the group dinner with friends of varying tastes, and bank accounts. You’re on a budget so you order an appetizer and a beer, while your friend orders the prime rib and a bottle of Bordeaux. The bigger the group, the harder it is to make sure everyone pays their fair share of the check without pulling out a calculator.

If you want to avoid bankrolling your friend’s expensive taste in food while still maintaining your manners, offer to be the accountant. Instead of splitting hairs (and cents), my friends and I divide portions by $5 increments. This allows for a more equitable division of cost while still making it easy to manage. Most times, your friends will just be grateful that you’re handling the math on their behalf.

The group getaway.
If you are looped into an event or a trip that you can’t miss, offer to plan it so you can help find ways to keep it affordable and help manage how expenses get divvied up. If you can find quality options at a good price, you’ll also get bonus points for putting in the work.

First, create a list of costs that will need to be divided, such as groceries, activities, rental deposits and fees. If one person is shopping, set a budget and create a grocery list so there are no complaints about unnecessary expenses. Set clear expectations upfront with the group about what is shared and what is on the individual. If someone wants special items, they can pick it up separately.

To make it even easier, you can estimate the shared costs and have people send you ahead of time for shared items like food and accommodations. Use apps like Splitwise and Divvy which make dividing up expenses easier when there are lots of expenses to manage.

The shared monthly rent and bills.
Roommate situations can be tough. You live with these people after all, so money matters need to be handled with care. When a roommate is failing to pay his or her part of the household expenses, it’s more difficult to confront when there’s no formal expense tracking. The best way to fine tune your money manners with roommates is to have good documentation, and thankfully technology can help with that.

Before you sign the lease or a new roommate moves in, agree to some rules about how expenses will be shared and the process for collecting everyone’s fair share. Again this is where apps like Splitwise and Divvy can streamline monthly bills and save you an awkward conversation.

The first date.
Who pays on the first date has become a tricky question when it comes to money manners. Dating culture evolving so quickly in the era of Instagram, Snapchat and Tinder, you might expect that traditional etiquette has become irrelevant. But surveys have found that even today, most heterosexual couples still aren’t going dutch on the first date. Yup, in most cases, the guy is still picking up the tab.

According to research conducted at California State University, about 10% of heterosexual daters expect the man to pay for everything, 10% expect to go 50/50, and the rest are somewhere in between. In other words, there’s no clear money manner on the first date.

This is why I like to stick to the simple rule of—if you ask someone out on a date, you should also offer to pick up the bill. If they insist on splitting it, great. But beware of the fake wallet reaches. About half of women reported they get upset if they end up having to pay, even if they offered. I suppose that’s on them, but just be aware.

The most important manner to keep in mind is this—don’t assume the other person has the same spending habits as you do. I personally think splitting the bill is a good move on a first date, but I wouldn’t be okay if I was forced to fork out $100 unexpectedly.

The alternative.
Social norms will tell us that talking about money is taboo. It’s uncomfortable. It makes us vulnerable. It can expose us. But when it impacts your ability to be financially stable, it’s important to communicate when you can’t afford something. Or at the very least, learn how to politely say “no”.

Next time you get an invitation to a dinner date, a weekend escape, or the trip of a lifetime, considering how it will impact your goals. Does it align with your priorities, or are you simply matching what others are forking out for the sake of appearances? While it’s tempting to live in the moment, and dreadful to experience FOMO, remember your budget is there so you won’t feel like you’re missing out down the road.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of awkward money situations and how to handle them, so feel free to share your stories with us! You can comment below or or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MoneyManners.

Breena Fain
Marketing

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