What Does Comprehensive Auto Insurance Cover?

Nearly all states require car owners to carry auto insurance. Where auto insurance is mandatory, drivers must carry liability policies that compensate victims harmed by their actions behind the wheel for medical expenses and property damage.

Some states require additional coverages, such as personal injury protection — another layer of medical coverage for the insured party and passengers in their vehicle — and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which compensates the policyholder for expenses that would normally be covered by another motorist’s nonexistent or inadequate auto insurance policy.

No states require two other common types of auto insurance coverage: collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. But that doesn’t mean these coverages lack value. Both can reduce the net cost of major repairs to newer, relatively valuable vehicles.

Of course, both forms of protection come with a tangible cost: higher auto insurance premiums. That raises the stakes for drivers uncertain about whether optional car insurance coverage is right for them.

This cost-benefit analysis is particularly uncertain for those considering adding comprehensive coverage, which isn’t as widely understood as collision coverage. The first step to determining whether comprehensive coverage makes sense for you, then, is to understand what it is, what it does and does not cover, and how much it could add to your total auto insurance costs.

Comprehensive Coverage: What It Is and What It Covers

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage pays for repair and replacement costs associated with vehicle damage not caused by rollovers or collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects. Incidents that may result in damage covered by a comprehensive policy include but aren’t limited to:

  • Wildlife Collisions. Collision coverage doesn’t extend to collisions with nonhuman animals. Given the amount of carnage deer and other large animals cause on America’s roadways, that’s a notable oversight. Comprehensive coverage includes such damage to your vehicle.
  • Other Animal-Related Damage. Stationary vehicles are vulnerable to damage by animals as well. I personally learned this the hard way after discovering that a mouse or squirrel had chewed through my seldom-used vehicle’s plant-based engine harness, causing more than $2,000 in entirely preventable damage. Raccoons, bears, and other large pests have been known to ransack unsecured vehicles, too.
  • Noncollision Damage Caused by Objects. This is a broad and fairly ill-defined damage category that can include windshield, paint, and body damage caused by rocks, asphalt chunks, branches, and other nonliving objects. Such damage can occur while the vehicle is in motion — say, a truck kicks up a rock on the highway — or stationary, as in if a dead branch falls on the parked car’s roof.
  • Weather-Related Damage. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage associated with a wide range of weather-related perils, including straight-line wind, tornado, hail, and standing water — although not all comprehensive policies cover weather-related water damage. Comprehensive policies may cover tangentially weather-related damage as well, such as a municipal snowplow strafing a parked car with sharp, high-velocity debris.
  • Damage Caused by Fire or Explosion (With Possible Exceptions). If a fire spreads to your vehicle or the vehicle is damaged in an explosion, your comprehensive policy is likely to cover the cost of repairing or replacing it. This includes fire or explosion damage that occurs in the course of civil unrest or terrorist attacks. However, such damage that occurs in more extreme — and less likely — scenarios, such as a nuclear attack or conventional airstrike, may not be covered.
  • Theft of the Vehicle. Comprehensive coverage typically compensates owners for costs related to the theft of their vehicle.
  • Vandalism. Comprehensive coverage also kicks in for human-caused vehicle damage (vandalism), such as scratched paint, dents, slashed tires, broken glass, and the like. This coverage remains valid during periods of civil unrest.

What Comprehensive Coverage Doesn’t Cover

Comprehensive car insurance is not comprehensive in the traditional sense of the term. It doesn’t protect drivers against liability for injury or property damage to others, nor for collision-related injury to their own bodies or vehicles.

More specifically, policyholders should not expect comprehensive coverage to kick in for damage, injury, or liability resulting from:

  • Collision With Another Vehicle. Damage resulting from a vehicle-on-vehicle collision is the province of collision coverage, not comprehensive. Medical and liability expenses arising out of vehicle-on-vehicle collisions are covered by liability, bodily injury, personal injury protection, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, depending on the nature of the collision and the other individuals involved.
  • Single-Car Crash or Rollover. Damage caused by a single-vehicle crash or rollover is also the province of collision coverage. Common scenarios not covered by comprehensive coverage include running into a ditch, striking a tree or boulder, or hitting a lamppost.
  • Certain Types of Noncollision Damage Caused by Negligence or Poor Maintenance. Negligence or inattentiveness may absolve your insurer from its responsibility to compensate you for damage that would normally be recompensed by a comprehensive policy. For example, leaving your car window wide open during a hurricane or your passenger door ajar at a campsite with an open bag of snacks on the seat will probably leave you on the hook for the inevitable damages.
  • General Wear and Tear. The concept of “wear and tear” is open to interpretation, but the general rule is that repair work or part replacements that become necessary due to vehicle age and use are not covered by comprehensive insurance. You shouldn’t expect your insurer to cover the cost of replacing the brake pads on a 10-year-old car with 100,000 miles on the odometer, even if you wait until after a heavy thunderstorm to get the work done.
  • Damage Due to Your Participation in Criminal Activity. Don’t expect your insurer to cover damage sustained while fleeing police, for example.
  • Certain Custom or Aftermarket Equipment. Not all comprehensive policies cover custom or aftermarket car parts, such as spoilers or speakers installed after purchase. Some policies cap coverage on damage to such parts, even if they’re much more valuable than the cap.

To reiterate, comprehensive coverage doesn’t extend to medical or liability expenses incurred as a result of incidents where the comprehensive policy does cover vehicle damage. For example, your comprehensive policy won’t pay for a passenger’s medical bills after a car-on-deer collision, nor the civil damages you might have to pay if they successfully sue you.

Comprehensive Coverage Costs: Factors Affecting Comprehensive Premiums

How much should you expect to pay for comprehensive auto insurance coverage? That depends on the value of the covered vehicle, your comprehensive policy’s deductible, and other important factors.

  • Vehicle Value. The greater a vehicle’s value, the more damage it can sustain (in dollar terms) before being considered a total loss. It therefore costs more to add comprehensive coverage to a high-value vehicle’s insurance policy, all else being equal. Collision coverage also costs more on high-value vehicles.
  • Vehicle Make and Model. Vehicle make and model — especially the former — bear directly on repair costs. Generally, premium vehicles of all types and mid- to high-end foreign makes cost more to repair than domestic and economy cars — that is, comprehensive coverage on your BMW will probably cost you more than an otherwise identical policy on your neighbor’s Ford, even if the cars are worth about the same.
  • Prevalence of Potential Hazards in Your Home ZIP Code. Your home ZIP code’s relative risk is a significant factor in how much you pay for car insurance in general and comprehensive coverage in particular. Areas with frequent damaging weather events and high rates of property crime are more expensive than tranquil, low-crime places.
  • Vulnerability to Potential Hazards. Even if you live in a high-risk area, you have some control over your car’s vulnerability to hazards that might trigger comprehensive claims. For example, you can lower your premiums by garaging your car overnight rather than parking it on the street, and by using an anti-theft device.
  • Comprehensive Policy Deductible. Raising your policy’s deductible is probably the easiest way to quickly reduce your comprehensive premiums without changing vehicles or purchasing an anti-theft device. Of course, a higher deductible means higher out-of-pocket costs should you need to file a claim.
  • Claim History. Unfairly or not, insurers prefer policyholders who don’t file claims. Many give policyholders a mulligan — that is, they don’t raise rates after the first claim in a rolling period, typically five years. But if you’ve filed multiple claims in the recent past, you can bet that you’ll pay more for your coverage.

When It Makes Sense to Add Comprehensive Coverage

So, should you add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy? Is ensuring that you’re not paying out of pocket for major repairs not covered by other car insurance coverages worth the added premium expense? In these common scenarios, the answer may be yes.

  • Your Auto Lender or Lessor Requires It. Auto lenders and lessors generally require customers to carry comprehensive coverage as a condition of financing until the loan or lease term ends. Often, this required coverage includes a relatively low maximum deductible — $500 is common. This is a significant added cost of buying or leasing new cars instead of used. And, notably, it’s the only situation in which comprehensive coverage is not optional.
  • The Vehicle Is Relatively Valuable. The more valuable your vehicle is, the more sensible it is in purely financial terms to add comprehensive coverage. You wouldn’t want a single telephone pole or tree to crush — literally — a substantial fraction of your total net worth, would you?
  • The Vehicle Is High-Risk. By the same token, the utility of comprehensive coverage increases with relative risk. If you overnight-park your late-model car on the street in a high-crime, disaster-prone area, your chances of eventually incurring vehicle damage covered by comprehensive insurance are relatively high.
  • You’d Rather Pay Higher Monthly or Annual Premiums Than Face a Major Out-of-Pocket Expense. Ultimately, your cash flow might have the last word here. If you’d rather pay higher monthly or annual premiums to avoid even the possibility of incurring a hefty, surprise out-of-pocket expense, comprehensive coverage makes some sense. Of course, you can also forgo comprehensive coverage and divert the premium difference into your emergency fund, which exists in part to cover such unexpected expenses. But you might not trust yourself to keep your emergency fund topped up, in which case you’re right back to wishing you had comprehensive coverage.

Final Word

If one of your priorities as a responsible driver is to save as much money as possible on car insurance, adding comprehensive coverage might not seem like a great idea. All else being equal, a policy that includes comprehensive coverage is more expensive than one that doesn’t.

But your auto insurance premium is just one among several recurring costs of car ownership. There’s also fuel, parking, registration taxes and fees, scheduled and routine maintenance, and repairs. As your car ages, this last category is likely to assume an ever-greater share of the pie, and you could come to appreciate the money-saving potential of comprehensive coverage. Your decision to spring for this particular type of optional insurance could prove fortuitous — eventually.

Source: moneycrashers.com

6 Benefits & Reasons to Volunteer Your Time or Work for Free

Not all volunteering activities are voluntary. Court-mandated community service, often in lieu of financial penalties, is a common component of criminal and civil judgments in many jurisdictions.

If you’ve been ordered by a judge to donate so many hours of your time, try to embrace the silver lining: It’s an opportunity to reap the benefits of giving back and develop a lasting love of volunteering in the process.

If no one’s forcing you to volunteer, you can still take advantage of its myriad upsides. Many volunteers give back not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because the activity is so beneficial for their physical and mental health, careers, and even finances. Seeing these benefits laid out in one place might be all you need to fully commit to volunteering on a regular basis.

Why Give Back? Potential Benefits of Volunteering Your Time

There are many upsides to volunteering, including potential career-boosting benefits you may not have considered. No matter where, for whom, or how much you volunteer, your work could have real, lasting benefits for your personal life and economic outlook. These are among the strongest arguments for volunteering when you can.

1. Favorable Tax Treatment for Qualified Expenses

Prospective volunteers are invariably disappointed to learn that volunteer time is not tax-deductible for single and joint filers who itemize their deductions. Nonprofit Quarterly offers a detailed explanation of the IRS’s reasoning.

On the bright side, most other volunteering-related expenses are tax-deductible when incurred in service to a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, or small-business owner who already deducts business expenses from your gross income, you may already be familiar with these common volunteer-related deductions:

  • Reasonable travel expenses, such as driving to and from the volunteer site (deductible at $0.14 per mile as of the 2019 tax year) and airfare and lodging costs incurred during travel to disaster zones
  • Telecommunications expenses
  • Office supplies
  • Special clothing or uniforms
  • Goods or supplies not provided by the organization
  • Meals not provided by the organization (deductible at 50% of the total cost)

2. Making New Friends & Social Connections

When you volunteer as part of a larger group, you forge new social connections, and perhaps long-lasting friendships too. It may also create a virtuous cycle in which friends you made through volunteering introduce you to like-minded people and turn you on to new opportunities to give back.

I’ve experienced the connective power of volunteering firsthand. My wife and I joined our neighborhood association’s board soon after moving to a new part of town and quickly made friends with a couple of fellow board members of similar age. We probably wouldn’t have met them had we kept to ourselves. Now, we say hi whenever we run into each other on the street and occasionally hang out at block parties and other events.

3. Acquiring or Refining Professional Experience & Skills

The right volunteering gig could polish your resume at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent continuing education course or certificate program. It could also keep your skills fresh through periods of unemployment and show prospective employers you’re keeping busy.

I don’t see my occasional work writing research summaries for a nonprofit refugee rights organization as a resume-builder, but the experience would certainly come in handy if I ever chose to apply for similar jobs in the nonprofit world. I’ve never been paid for comparable work, and it’s far from certain I’d be able to convince someone to hire me for it without prior experience.

4. Forging New Professional Connections

The connections you make through volunteer engagements aren’t only social. Volunteering is a great way to meet people who can advance your career without the effort and forced awkwardness of professional networking. I know two people who’ve parlayed part-time volunteering engagements into full-time work with the same nonprofit organization, and at least one person who met a future boss while volunteering with an unrelated nonprofit.

Even professional connections that don’t lead directly to full-time employment may be worth the effort to pursue. When neighborhood association boards in my hometown need to call in consultants for help with long-range planning, accounting, or legal services, they often call on folks with whom board members have good working relationships. As long as any given consultant is the best person for the job at hand and isn’t hampered by ethical conflicts, there’s nothing untoward about the practice – and it’s clearly beneficial for well-connected consultants.

5. Achieving Physical & Mental Health Benefits

Peer-reviewed science backs it up: The regular activity, exercise, and increased social connections of volunteering are good for your health. One major European study found that participants who volunteered often were less likely to show signs of depression than participants who volunteered infrequently.

A Carnegie Mellon study of older adults found a correlation between volunteer activity and hypertension, or high blood pressure. Prolific volunteers, defined as those who gave at least 200 hours within the past 12 months, were less likely to develop hypertension than infrequent volunteers and non-volunteers.

Volunteer opportunities that promote social connection – say, chairing a parent group at your kid’s school or working on a Habitat for Humanity home build – are more likely to improve mental health than solitary opportunities, such as my research summaries. Those that require sustained physical activity – such as the Habitat for Humanity home build – are more likely to improve physical health than sedentary engagements.

Be warned, though: A 2012 study using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey found that altruism predicted mortality risk among volunteers. Those who volunteered out of the goodness of their hearts were less likely to die during the four-year study window than those whose motives weren’t as pure. While it’s not clear precisely why this is the case, it’s worth noting. If you expect volunteering to improve your health outcomes, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

6. Gaining Personal Fulfillment

Everyone has a different definition of “personal fulfillment.” Some volunteers prize the social aspect, regardless of the quantifiable health benefits of increased social connectivity. Others take comfort in working to improve the lives of the less fortunate or contributing something tangible to their communities.

Still others seek and find purpose in volunteering. That’s especially true for older, semi- or fully retired volunteers and those enduring temporary periods of unemployment. Purpose-driven volunteers may discover latent skills or personality attributes that come in handy in other areas of their lives, boosting their self-confidence and perhaps opening new avenues for personal or professional development.

Final Word

By any reasonable standard, I don’t volunteer much of my time. At the absolute peak of my volunteering activities, I donated a few hours, at most, each week. Since becoming a parent, I simply haven’t had the time to give back in any concerted way. I’m far more likely these days to donate small amounts of money to causes I care about, rather than suit up and head out into the field on their behalf.

And yet, as I look back at my volunteerism over the years, I do feel as if I’ve made a difference in my community. I’ve taught English to recently resettled refugees, cleared and cleaned up nature trails, and sat on the board of a neighborhood association devoted to making life a little easier for the least fortunate among us. Thinking back on these efforts gives me joy.

Giving back doesn’t require inordinate commitments of time or talent. You can do what you can, when you can, and still reap the rewards of volunteering.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What Is APR? Annual Percentage Rate Explained

You’ve probably seen the term APR when financing a purchase. Whether it’s a significant item such as mortgage or auto loan or something small like groceries or clothing. It’s also a very important term when comparing credit cards.

calculating apr

Many people think the APR means the same thing as the interest rate. While this is one component of the APR, other factors go into determining what it is as well. It’s critical to understand the full meaning of APR before you commit to a credit card or loan, otherwise, you could end up paying more than you initially planned.

Even if you get a card with a 0% introductory rate and your goal is to pay the balance in full before interest is charged, you need to know how much interest and other fees you’ll have to pay just in case.

As it’s too easy to learn, finances don’t always go as planned. So prepare yourself to make fully informed decisions by being able to compare the APRs of multiple credit offers.

Annual percentage rate (APR): A Basic Definition

Annual percentage rate (APR) is charged to a customer for any amount not paid before interest is accrued. It includes the actual interest rate as well as any fees that are charged for the purchase.

In essence, the annual percentage rate is the total cost of borrowing whatever you are buying expressed as a percentage. The APR will be higher than the advertised interest rate if there are other charges, and it must be included in any disclosures regarding financing.

Because each creditor has their own rate structure, penalties, and transaction fees, it can get confusing to understand exactly how much you are paying for an item. The APR is a simple way to provide a base number for comparison.

How much a person pays in interest and fees determines the total cost of the purchase. You may compare APRs from different products to decide which one is a better deal. Before deciding on a product, it’s important to understand what an APR includes, how it works and how it impacts your finances.

The Difference Between APR and Other Numbers

The APR is only one number you will see on transactions. All of these terms can get confusing if you don’t know what they mean and understand the differences.

Another term you’ll see the daily periodic rate, which is used to calculate interest rates. It refers to the interest that is charged on a daily basis on your purchase or loan. Basically, it is the APR divided by the number of days in one year — 65. The monthly periodic rate is similar, except the APR is divided by 12.

How does APR work on credit cards?

Here is an example in practical terms.

A credit card (or loan) has an APR of 15%. The daily periodic interest rate would be 0.041% while the monthly periodic interest rate would be 1.25%. Creditors need to know these numbers because they add interest to your balance on either a daily or monthly basis rather than annually.

Another term is the annual percentage yield or APY. It takes into account the interest that is compounded each month, while the APR does not. Say you borrowed $1,000 with an APR of 12%. The monthly periodic rate is 1%, which makes the interest for that period $10.

Now, if nothing is paid on the principal, then the balance goes up to $1,010. The next month, the interest charged will be slightly higher because it is compounded on the $1,010 rather than the original $1,000.

How is APR calculated?

The APR depends on two factors. First, the U.S. prime rate is the base at which all other interest rates start. This is the interest rate you hear financial experts talk about when trying to determine if the base rate will go up or down.

It impacts all other interest rates. Second, the creditor or financial institution adds a margin rate, which is the amount above the base rate.

This rate may stay the same regardless of what happens with the base rate. For instance, the base interest rate may be 4.9% and the creditor charges a 10% margin for all financing. The interest rate for the customer would be 14.9%.

Floating or Fixed APRs

Many loans use a fixed APR, which means your interest doesn’t change throughout the life of the loan. You will most often see this in a fixed rate home loan, car loans, or personal loans. With some home loans, you may have an adjustable rate, which means it changes once and then sets at a fixed rate for the duration.

Credit cards often use a floating APR, which is set for a specific period of time. It changes as the U.S. prime rate changes, meaning you may pay a different interest rate from when you first signed up for the credit card.

You may also discover that a creditor provides different APRs for various charges. This is most often seen in credit cards. You pay one APR when you use the card for purchases and another one (usually higher) if you take out a cash advance.

What Determines Your APR

Several factors determine your APR, which is the reason it is such a complicated concept. First, the U.S. prime rate has a direct impact on the APR you’re being charged, as does the creditor’s margin rate. On top of those set influences, other variables affect the specific APR you’re offered for your credit card or loan.

Most importantly, your credit score impacts whether you have a low or high APR. Someone with a lower credit score pays a higher APR than someone with excellent credit.

To make this fair, creditors must follow specific rules they set in place for all customers. While they can charge customers different interest rates, it must be within the company’s guidelines.

For example, a credit card issuer may charge a 10% APR for customers with a credit score over 700 and a 15% APR for customers with a score below 700. Under this set of rules, they could not charge a 10% APR for one customer with a 705 score and 15% APR for a second customer with a score of 703.

Special APRs

Creditors can also charge special APRs for certain situations. You’ll often see this in practice when credit cards offer a 0% APR for the first 90 days for new customers. The introductory APR is in effect only for a limited time and it may come with restrictions, such as not being available for balance transfers.

Penalty APRs are in place for people who make late payments or violate their agreement in some way. This APR goes into effect for all future purchases, but it may be lowered if a customer proves to be responsible with the rest of their monthly payments.

Some credit cards have a special APR for balance transfers. You may see ads promoting a zero percent balance transfer rate. This is typically in effect only for amounts transferred from another credit card and doesn’t include new purchases or cash advances.

It is usually only in place for a limited time before a higher APR goes into effect. Pay attention to these details, otherwise, you could end up paying more for your balance transfers or new purchases.

How to Compare APRs

To know the full cost of a product that you’re financing or credit, you must compare the APR with the competition. Just remember that the APR includes special charges such as annual fees, but it won’t include late payments or other special fees that can’t be calculated ahead of time.

Sometimes you can negotiate a lower APR. For instance, if you have been a loyal customer who has paid on time, you can request a review of your account to see if you qualify for a better APR.

Changing an APR is at the discretion of the bank, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get it. However, it can be an option for valued customers, especially if you have a similar offer from another credit card company.

Negotiating a Lower APR

In some cases, you may also be able to negotiate a lower APR if you are struggling to make your monthly payments. In this situation, however, the creditor may close out your account because they don’t want you to run up your balance again.

When considering an APR in a home mortgage, you can pay points to lower your interest rate. Points equal a certain sum of money due at closing to reduce your interest rate. Because home loans are set up for 15 or 30 years, paying points for a lower interest rate could save you a lot of money over time.

APRs may seem like a complicated component of financing a purchase, but they’re really a helpful educational tool to help you compare credit offers.

APRs have a major influence on how much you’ll pay for anything you choose to finance so it’s important to understand exactly how they work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read the fine print about your APR to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Source: crediful.com

16 Best To-Do List Apps & Task Management Software to Stay Productive

In her book “168 Hours,” author Laura Vanderkam suggests our frenzied lives are less the result of lack of time and instead the result of terrible time management — and lack of awareness.

Through her research, Vanderkam found that people who say they work more than 50 hours per week tend to overreport their work hours significantly. When forced to track their time — write down exactly what they do each hour of each day — they discover dozens of hours each week that are unaccounted for.

That’s free time.

A simple task-management app can help you focus on what you have to get done at work and at home. Prioritizing and scheduling these obligations can make you aware of what’s causing you to feel busier and less productive than you need to.

With better awareness and organization, you can get more done and find more enjoyment in work and life. In either area, increased productivity saves you a ton of time — which, as the saying goes, is money.

Use task-management apps based on your needs or those of your family or team. When possible, choose those that specialize in solving your particular organizational problems. For example, if your family needs support around meal planning and grocery shopping, choose a grocery list app for that purpose. Find a more robust project-management app to communicate with your team for work projects.

These task-management apps can help you take your life back wherever you feel like it’s frenzied.

Task-Management Apps to Save You Time & Money

Whether you need to get your grocery list in order at home or coordinate a year-long project launch in your company, there’s a task-management app for that. Mix and match these apps to get your to-dos and schedule under control no matter where you are.

1. Trello

  • Pros: Basic features are free and intuitive; Power-Ups make the app customizable, so it can grow with you
  • Cons: The out-of-the-box version of the app isn’t robust enough for large teams or complex project management; building what you need through Power-Ups may be more expensive or complicated than using a product built for enterprise
  • Integrations: Connect with dozens of third-party apps, including the G Suite, Slack, GitHub, Dropbox, social media, and other task-management apps
  • Platforms: Web, iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows
  • Perfect for: Individuals with professional or creative projects and small teams executing design, marketing, or editorial projects
  • Cost: Sign up for free with unlimited users, cards, lists, 10 boards, and one Power-Up; Business Class, for $9.99 per month per user, gives you unlimited boards and Power-Ups, more customization, and admin controls; Enterprise pricing is available at up to $17.40 per month per user

Trello is one of the most versatile project-management platforms for individuals with creative projects or teams of any size. The platform is intuitive and customizable to fit your needs, so it can be as simple or complex as your project requires.

The platform centers on a kanban board, with columns that can represent anything you want — categories, status, or projects, for example. Most teams use these in the traditional kanban fashion to represent a task’s status.

Cards represent individual tasks. You can assign them to team members, add a due date and tags, create checklists of assignable subtasks, communicate with team members through comments, and add attachments like documents and images.

Power-Ups let you supercharge Trello’s features with integrations and premium features, so you can use the tool with any project-management style and on virtually any kind of project you encounter.

2. Asana

  • Pros: The platform is robust enough to handle complex projects and large teams, and project templates streamline setup
  • Cons: There’s a learning curve getting comfortable in the app because you can manage any single task in multiple ways, and every team uses the platform differently; it’s not intuitive, so teams should set up templates and create clear guidelines to onboard new members smoothly
  • Integrations: Connect to dozens of apps you already use, including Slack, Microsoft Teams, G Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Salesforce, Tableau, and Zapier
  • Platforms: Web, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for: Small and large teams in IT, design, product management, editorial, marketing, and customer experience
  • Cost: The basic plan is free for teams up to 15 people and gives you unlimited tasks and projects; premium ($10.99) and business ($24.99) plans give you access to pro features like milestones, dashboards, and forms; enterprise accounts are available

Built for agile project management, Asana helps teams organize tasks using preset or custom project templates. View tasks as lists, in a calendar, as a Gantt chart, or in kanban view to track timelines, workloads, and progress.

Team members, customers, or clients can submit forms to create requests within projects, fitting for customer service or IT management. Set milestones to create checkpoints in projects and avoid rescheduling errors.

Field names within tasks are customizable, so you can track any information you need to see in addition to assignees, due dates, descriptions, and comments. Team members can view tasks in multiple ways to best manage work for them — including task lists, timelines, an inbox, goals, a calendar, and dashboards.

3. AnyList

  • Pros: The app makes grocery shopping and meal planning simple, with recipes, a master list of frequently purchased products, synced lists, and a meal-planning calendar
  • Cons: AnyList lets you create lists for anything, but its best features are geared toward meal planning and groceries; planning other complex projects in the app can be awkward and requires you to create your own categories; for more complex task management outside meal planning, you may need to work in additional apps
  • Integrations: None
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, and the Web
  • Perfect for: Individuals, couples, and families who need to manage grocery lists and meal plans in addition to other activities
  • Cost: Lists and personal recipes are free; upgrade to AnyList Complete for $9.99 per year for an individual or $14.99 per year for a family to unlock meal planning, save recipes from the Web, and use grocery budget features

AnyList is a simple smartphone app with one primary purpose: create and share shopping lists. It also lets you create and organize other types of personal lists thanks to custom categories. But its heavy focus on groceries and meal planning can make using it for other purposes more cumbersome.

Create as many lists as you want. You can organize planned purchases by store or for particular events. The app automatically categorizes products you enter into groups like dairy, meat, and produce so you can move smoothly through the store. You can even customize category names and rearrange groups in the list to match the aisles in your supermarket.

Share and sync lists with family or friends, and opt into notifications to see when someone adds or crosses off list items.

You can also save and organize your personal recipes and, with a premium version, save recipes from the Web or emails. Add recipe ingredients to your shopping list with a tap. A calendar view lets you plan meals for the week or month by adding recipes or notes to the calendar.

4. Toodledo

  • Pros: The app is better than some competitors at keeping your personal and work tasks organized in one place and includes goals and habit tracking
  • Cons: The user experience (UX) is crude, and users complain updates and fixes don’t come as often as they should; pricing is hard to find without signing up, so you may not know what you’re signing up for
  • Integrations: Dozens of apps and bookmarklets enhance Toodledo features, including other task managers and notes apps; there are no integrations with common workplace apps, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Slack
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, and the Web
  • Perfect for: Individuals or micro-businesses; best for PC and Android users
  • Cost: The basic version for personal task management is free, with limits on some features; the standard ($36 per year) and plus ($60 per year) paid plans give access to more features and one or five collaborators, respectively; custom business plans are available for larger teams

Toodledo is a calendar, to-do list, time-management, and project-management tool in one. It helps you track your own progress and habits and collaborate with family, friends, or teams.

Use the mobile and desktop app to organize your life with shared lists, notes, and goals in a system compatible with the GTD (getting things done) method. You can create workspaces, projects, and tasks to collaborate with a work team in the same app.

Goals, statistics, and time tracking in the app help you notice inefficiencies and make the most of your personal and professional time. The unique Scheduler feature lets you tell Toodledo when you have free time so it can suggest tasks for you to complete in the time frame.

5. Remember the Milk

  • Pros: Integrations let you use the app’s features in your chosen context — add tasks by email, Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, and Twitter; get reminders via email, text, instant message, and Twitter
  • Cons: The app design is best for personal task management; even with the paid upgrade to a pro account, complex team project management wouldn’t be possible
  • Integrations: Connect with hundreds of apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, IFTTT (If This, Then That), Skype, Twitter, Zapier, and Microsoft Outlook
  • Platforms: The Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire
  • Perfect for: Individuals, busy families, and friends organizing a project or event
  • Cost: Get basic lists and sharing for free; upgrade for $39.99 per year to access more features, such as subtasks, unlimited sharing, reminders, themes, and unlimited storage

In Remember the Milk, you can set and share reminders and to-dos on your tablet, smartphone, or desktop. You can create lists of personal tasks and work tasks, and you can share lists to assign tasks to other people at home or work.

With a premium upgrade, tags and subtasks let you organize your to-dos in a way that makes sense to you, share with unlimited people, and add more app integrations for enhanced capabilities.

6. TickTick

  • Pros: The app’s UX is clean and straightforward, letting you focus on just getting things done; the bulk of features are available for free
  • Cons: Although task sharing and assigning is available, the app is best for personal task management; complex team project management would be challenging
  • Integrations: Connect to Zapier, IFTTT, Gmail, Spark, Alexa, Google Assistant, iOS Shortcuts, Outlook, and Slack
  • Platforms: The Web, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS; there are also Firefox and Chrome extensions
  • Perfect for: Individuals, busy families, and friends organizing a project or event
  • Cost: Individuals can access the bulk of features for up to nine lists for free; upgrade for $27.99 per year to unlock third-party calendar integrations and custom smart lists and share lists with up to 29 people

TickTick helps you manage your schedule, to-dos, and reminders, plus manage your time and stay on top of deadlines with stats and achievements.

Add tasks and set reminders to alert you at the time of the task, in advance, or when you’re in a specified location. View your tasks as a list or in a calendar to keep track of your days. Simple sharing and assigning is available, so you can collaborate with a small team, family, or friends.

The app helps you stay focused with the Pomodoro Technique, using a built-in Pomo Timer and white noise to help you work.

7. Todoist

  • Pros: The app is a versatile and affordable competitor to both personal and team task-management apps; use it as a simple to-do list, or flip on the board view and integrations to facilitate team collaboration
  • Cons: Some key organizational features, like labels and comments, aren’t available on the free plan; even though that plan allows up to five collaborators, it’s probably better as a personal to-do list
  • Integrations: Connect with dozens of products, including G Suite, Microsoft Teams, Alexa, IFTTT, Zapier, Slack, and several email clients and productivity apps
  • Platforms: Mac, Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. There are browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox
  • Perfect for: Individuals with professional or creative projects and small teams executing design, marketing, or editorial projects
  • Cost: Use the app for free with up to 80 projects and five people per project and get access to integrations; premium plans cost $36 per year and give you up to 300 projects with 25 people per project, plus access to more organization and collaboration features; business plans are $60 per year per user with up to 500 projects per user and 50 people per project and add admin capabilities and priority customer support

One of the earliest personal task-management apps to hit the market, Todoist helps you organize and schedule personal and team tasks on your smartphone.

Originally a simple to-do list, the app now includes features to organize and collaborate on projects — including sections, subtasks, and labels — and share and assign tasks with collaborators.

Todoist boards let you view tasks as cards in a kanban board, and you can drag and drop to move tasks among categories or steps in a process.

8. Any.do

  • Pros: The app is versatile and can be useful as a personal task manager and list app for individuals and families or as a project-management tool for large teams
  • Cons: The UX isn’t as smooth as Todoist, and the benefits of the mid-level premium account are minimal for individuals; the app is best in its free form for personal task management or with a Teams account for business use
  • Integrations: Connect with Gmail, Google Assistant, Zapier, WhatsApp, Alexa, Siri, and Chrome
  • Platforms: The Web, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Apple Watch, and Android Wear
  • Perfect for: Individuals with professional projects and small teams executing design, marketing, or IT projects
  • Cost: Access most task-management and grocery list features with a free account; an individual premium account for $72 per year gives you access to organizational features including colored tags and custom themes, and businesses can add unlimited premium users with a Teams account

Any.do offers tasks, lists, reminders, a daily planner, and a calendar to help you organize your personal life and to-dos.

Categorize and label lists to keep your work tasks, personal to-dos, and special projects organized, and share and assign tasks and lists.

Any.do’s grocery list feature lets you create multiple lists for your favorite stores. It automatically categorizes products into groups like dairy, produce, and toiletries as you enter them to make your trip through the store simpler. Share and sync lists with family or friends to stay on top of everyone’s needs.

Through Any.do Teams, you can give anyone in your company access to premium features for project management and collaboration — including unlimited collaborators and attachments — and views organized by projects, kanban, calendar, tasks, and agenda.

9. OmniFocus

  • Pros: This is one of the most robust apps for personal task management, including complex task organization and productivity tracking with weekly reviews and forecasts
  • Cons: OmniFocus doesn’t include the option to collaborate with a team; for that purpose, you can use the company’s other product, OmniPlan, but the two don’t integrate to allow for personal productivity tracking alongside team project planning; there’s no free version of the app
  • Integrations: Connect with dozens of common productivity apps, including Zapier, Airmail, Evernote, and IFTTT
  • Platforms: Mac, iOS, and the Web
  • Perfect for: Busy professionals within companies that don’t use project-management tools to collaborate
  • Cost: The best value is to purchase a subscription, which gives you access to all platforms with pro features for $99.99 per year; or you can buy one-time app downloads (you must pay for updates to use the latest version of the apps): Mac only is $49.99 for standard and $99.99 for pro; iOS only is $49.99 for standard and $74.99 for pro; Access to the Web app is $49.99 per year

Part of a family of organizational apps, OmniFocus is a powerful individual task-management app for complex professional projects.

You can organize and prioritize work using projects, tagging, and due dates to view just what you need to get done right now. A forecast feature shows you what’s coming up, so you can plan for the week or month ahead.

Customizable smart lists called Perspectives let you group tasks across criteria like tags, projects, and due dates so you can see work exactly when you need to — for example, “at the office.”

10. Things

  • Pros: Though the design is simple and clean, this app packs a punch in UX; you only see what you need to on the screen, but a quick tap or swipe gives you access to robust capabilities, even on mobile
  • Cons: No PC or Android apps; no collaboration features, though you can share a Things Cloud account with a partner or family member to share the entire account
  • Integrations: Look for integrations through your third-party apps, including Zapier, Google Calendar, Outlook, Alexa, and Siri
  • Platforms: Mac and iOS
  • Perfect for: Busy individuals or couples
  • Cost: You must purchase apps for Mac ($49.99), iPhone ($9.99), and iPad ($19.99) separately, though you can install the app on multiple devices of the same kind with just one purchase; the Mac app includes a 14-day free trial

Categorize personal tasks, lists, and schedules in Things for iOS and Mac.

Organize lists into projects or occasions, and expand your to-dos with notes, checklists, tags, due dates, and reminders.

Integrate your calendar with the app to see events and to-dos in one place. The daily view shows you your schedule, to-do list, and a section for evening to-dos, which lets you designate tasks you plan to get to later in the day, such as after work. There’s also a view that lets you see your agenda for the days ahead.

Further divide to-do lists with headings, categories that let you group tasks in any way that’s useful to you.

Things is only available for Mac and iOS. That’s a drawback for PC and Android users, but it comes with the benefit of a design that gives the app a native feel for Apple users and features like Handoff, split view, home screen quick actions, a daily widget, and haptic feedback.

11. WorkFlowy

  • Pros: The app’s power is in its simplicity; use it to dump your thoughts and to-dos as simply as you would in a notebook, then organize with a few taps
  • Cons: Though the app includes collaboration features, you can’t assign tasks to particular users or set deadlines; the app is best for organizing information rather than planning or scheduling your day
  • Integrations: Look for integrations through a few third-party apps, including Zendesk and IFTTT
  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for: Individuals with personal and professional projects
  • Cost: Free

Create tagged notes, lists, and outlines in this simple and free personal task manager for desktop and mobile.

WorkFlowy is a stripped-down app for list-building and note-taking that feels like a notepad. Create nested outlines and to-do lists with tags and filters, and expand list items to include notes and checklists. Nesting is infinite, so you can organize complex to-dos, ideas, and projects with a straightforward, intuitive system.

You can collaborate with others by sharing lists, though the app doesn’t accommodate complicated team-based project management.

12. Apple Reminders

  • Pros: The app is free and native to Mac and iOS devices, so no need to download or pay; integration with Siri and location-based reminders incorporates the app seamlessly into your life
  • Cons: Not available for Windows or Android users; while sharing is available, Reminders doesn’t facilitate complex team project planning
  • Integrations: Enhance Reminders with IFTTT
  • Platforms: Native app for Mac and iOS
  • Perfect for: Individuals and families who use Apple devices
  • Cost: Free

Create categorized to-do lists with notifications from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch with the built-in Reminders app.

Reminders’ core feature is to notify you on your Apple Watch, Mac, or iOS devices of your to-dos. Create reminders to inform you at a set time or location. You can also add list items without notifications to create a simple to-do list.

Create as many lists as you want to organize your to-dos — for example, daily reminders, special occasions or projects, or grocery lists. You can also nest a checklist within a list item for further organization. Collaborate with other Apple users by sharing lists and assigning tasks.

Integration with Siri makes it easy to create reminders from your iPhone or Apple Watch by speaking. It recognizes natural language to create reminders. For example, if you say, “Remind me to call Grandma tomorrow,” it adds the reminder to your app and sends you a push notification to call your grandmother the next day.

13. Microsoft To Do

  • Pros: Integrations with Microsoft 365 and Outlook let Microsoft users compile to-dos from across Microsoft 365 products
  • Cons: No ability to assign tasks to collaborators; To Do doesn’t facilitate complex team project planning
  • Integrations: Connect with Microsoft 365 and Outlook
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for: Individuals and families who use Windows and Android devices
  • Cost: Free

Microsoft’s To Do app is an intelligent task manager that lets you create categorized tasks, reminders, and checklists on Windows, Android, and Apple devices. The app feeds into your tasks in Outlook.

Plan your day in the app with smart suggestions about prioritizing based on your past activity and upcoming tasks. You can share individual lists to collaborate with friends, family members, or colleagues.

The team behind Wunderlist created the app, so previous Wunderlist users can import data into To Do to make the switch.

You can organize your projects, event planning, and work tasks by creating dedicated lists, adding tasks, and creating checklists within tasks. Set reminders and due dates for tasks to stay on top of your to-dos.

14. Google Tasks

  • Pros: Tasks is included with any free G Suite or Google for Business account, so you don’t have to create a new account; integration with G Suite makes it easy to create tasks as you work throughout the day and see your tasks and events at a glance in Google Calendar
  • Cons: No sharing or collaboration features; the bare-bones app doesn’t facilitate teamwork or complex project planning
  • Integrations: G Suite
  • Platforms: The Web, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for: Individuals with personal and professional projects
  • Cost: Free

Create a task list in the Tasks mobile app or within Google Calendar to get notifications and see your to-dos integrated with your daily schedule.

This basic task-management app is available with any G Suite account and within Google Calendar. You can access Tasks on your sidebar from within the Gmail Web app or in a file within Drive, such as a Google Doc, so you can quickly create a task as you work. In Google Calendar, place tasks on your agenda to plan your day or week.

Organize tasks with lists, subtasks, notes, due dates, and notifications. You can’t share your Task account or individual lists with others, even those who have access to your calendar.

15. Google Keep

  • Pros: Keep is included with any free G Suite or Google for Business account, so you don’t have to create a new account; integration with G Suite makes it easy to create notes as you work in other Google products
  • Cons: No features to facilitate complex project planning; though you can set reminders on notes, you can’t view notes within your schedule in your Google Calendar
  • Integrations: G Suite
  • Platforms: The Web, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for:  Individuals and couples with personal projects or grocery lists
  • Cost: Free

Together, Google Keep and Tasks provide the functionality of many stand-alone productivity apps. Keep is Google’s note-taking app, which also facilitates simple checklists and includes the ability to share notes and lists with collaborators.

Integration with G Suite means you can create notes from your sidebar while using Google products like Gmail and Google Docs. You can also copy any note to Google Docs to take your ideas to the next level.

As in Tasks, you can set reminders on notes to receive notifications. But you can share Keep notes with collaborators, so you can use the app for task management or list sharing with friends, family, or co-workers.

16. Flow

  • Pros: The app is robust enough to facilitate complex project management among and across teams within small or large companies; it’s less complicated than many project-management apps, so onboarding is easy
  • Cons: Flow doesn’t include a way to submit requests, as many project-management tools do, so it may not provide the capabilities your team needs for IT or customer service management
  • Integrations: Connect with more than 1,000 apps through Zapier, and integrate directly with Slack, Harvest, and cloud drive apps
  • Platforms: The Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android
  • Perfect for: Small and large teams in design, product management, and marketing
  • Cost: Use Flow free for 30 days; you can access the bulk of its features with the basic plan for $72 per year per user with up to 25 users; upgrade for more robust project planning and unlimited users; the plus plan costs $96 per year per user, and the pro plan costs $120 per year per user and includes enhanced security a nd priority customer support

Flow is a project-management app for teams that lets you create projects and tasks and keep track of progress through a kanban, list, or calendar view.

The app lets individual team members keep track of their tasks through personal list views, and managers keep track of progress and workloads through project-level list, kanban, timeline, and calendar views.

Tasks can include due dates, notes, tags, attachments, and assignees as well as subtasks with individual due dates and assignees.

You can add your teammates or direct reports to your sidebar in the app to quickly see what they’re working on too. Flow also lets you create workgroups so you can quickly filter tasks by team or department and tag everyone in a workgroup with one @-mention in a comment.

Final Word

Our complicated and busy lives require more than a paper to-do list. From a dynamic family grocery list to task lists organized across devices to complex team-wide management, project-management apps have you covered.

Some apps try to cover all your personal, professional, and team organizational needs in one. But you’ll likely stay more organized if you divide your to-dos across apps. Different areas of your life require different types of task management, so you’ll get the most benefit from an app designed for a specific need than one that tries to do it all.

Source: moneycrashers.com

12 Ideas to Save on Super Bowl Party Food, Recipes & Supplies

After New Year’s Day, the first big event of the year is the Super Bowl. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2020, Americans spent over $17 billion on parties and events surrounding the game. More than 90% of all American adults watched it, about 27% attended a Super Bowl party, and about 19% hosted one.

Throwing these football parties can be costly. A 2018 LendEdu survey found the average Super Bowl party host spent $207 on the event. That included about $72 for party food and nonalcoholic drinks, $58 for alcohol, and $48 for decorations and fan gear.

Of course, these numbers are likely to look somewhat different in 2021. With the COVID-19 pandemic at its peak, large indoor parties are officially off-limits in many parts of the United States, and they’re risky pretty much everywhere. But the game is still going on, and for many Americans, it’s a great reason to spend time with their household members and pandemic pods.

If you’re looking forward to this all-American occasion as a welcome break from the gloom of the past year, you don’t need a couple hundred dollars to celebrate it. In fact, hosting a Super Bowl bash is one of the easiest ways to throw a party on a budget because the entertainment for the event is already covered.

All you have to provide are a suitable space, food, and drinks — and there are plenty of tricks for saving money on all three.

Getting the House Ready

Beer On Snack Table Football Theme Decoration

The centerpiece of any Super Bowl party is the football game, so your primary job as a host is to give your guests a comfortable place to watch it. Fortunately, that doesn’t cost much. It’s merely a matter of cleaning, arranging the space, and possibly putting up some decorations. The last step is the only one that costs any money, and it’s not even required.

1. Clean Up

Imagine going to a party and being greeted by a pile of unwashed laundry or empty beer cans. Chances are you wouldn’t feel very welcome. So if you want your guests to enjoy your Super Bowl party, your first job is to get your place cleaned up. Fortunately, it costs almost nothing, especially if you use homemade cleaning products.

The room your guests will spend the most time in is the one where you keep the TV, so start your cleaning efforts there. Clear away all clutter, vacuum or sweep the floors, and run a rag over all the surfaces to remove stray dirt.

Do the same in any other rooms your guests will need to use, such as the kitchen and bathroom. If there are any other spaces you don’t expect your guests to wander into, such as your bedroom, you can skip them as long as you keep their doors securely closed.

If you live in an area where the weather can get nasty in the winter, spend some time tidying up the outside of your home too. Clear away all snow and ice from the sidewalks, driveway, and paths so your guests don’t slip. And make sure to clear a space indoors near the entrance for guests to stow their outdoor gear, such as coats and boots.

2. Set Up

Once you have the room clean, you can arrange it for the main event: watching the game. It’s a crucial step in making your party a success, and it costs nothing except a little muscle power.

Most of the time, you probably have your furniture set up for various social activities, such as conversation or board games. However, you need an arrangement that gives everyone a satisfactory view of the TV for this event. Shift the furniture around as necessary so every seat in the house is a good seat.

If you don’t have enough seating for all your guests, bring in some chairs from other rooms or ask some of your guests to bring folding chairs for the event.

If you’re planning to invite people to your party who aren’t in your pandemic pod, take some extra precautions to provide seating for everyone while maintaining social distance. Get the tape measure and space out rows or blocks of seats at least 6 feet apart. That way, members of the same family can sit together while staying at a safe distance from other guests.

If you live in an area with mild weather, you can even use an extension cord to move the TV outdoors. Outdoor gatherings are safer during the pandemic because they allow germs to dissipate. If you have to hold your party indoors, open windows and doors — weather permitting — to improve ventilation in the room.

The other primary activity at a Super Bowl party is eating, so set up tables to give all your guests easy access to the food. This year, it’s vital you arrange tables so people don’t have to crowd together as they fill their plates.

Rather than placing a single buffet table in the back of the TV room, set up several small tables with different snacks and drinks. That allows your guests to walk around at a safe distance as they help themselves to one refreshment at a time.

For example, you can set up one small table near the eating area with all the dishes and silverware your guests will need. Then you can have a series of small tables with various party treats, such as nachos, hot dogs, and cupcakes, and a cooler filled with ice and drinks. Don’t forget to provide a trash can nearby for waste.

3. Decorate on the Cheap

Technically, there’s no need to buy any decorations for your party. Of course, party retailers and Amazon vendors would like you to think otherwise. As the big game draws near, they all start prominently displaying Super-Bowl-themed decorations with the appropriate team colors and logos. From tableware to banners to football-shaped balloons, you can easily outfit your entire party with these goodies.

Unfortunately, you only get to use them once since anything with the current Super Bowl number is useless for any other event. Even if you choose team-themed decorations, it could be years before you get to use them again.

However, if you really want to decorate, there’s a cheaper way to do it. Just head to your local dollar store and pick up supplies in the appropriate team colors. Paper tablecloths, napkins, cups, balloons, and streamers are all available in various colors and only cost a few bucks.

Plates and utensils are also available from the dollar store, though not necessarily in team colors. In a normal year, you could avoid spending money on these disposable goods entirely by just using whatever dishes and silverware you already have at home. And if you’re sticking to your household members or pandemic pod, that’s still prudent advice.

However, during the pandemic, disposable plates and utensils are a safer way to go. It’s much easier to take out one bag of trash after your party than to worry about scrubbing your hands each time you handle your guests’ used dishes.

Feeding the Crowd

Homemade Nachos Cheddar Cheese Jalapenos Mexican

From the kickoff to the final celebration, a typical Super Bowl broadcast lasts close to four hours. You can get pretty hungry in that time, even if you’re just watching TV. So any good Super Bowl party needs food — and plenty of it.

Since the game typically starts at 6:30pm, your guests probably won’t have time for dinner before the party begins. Most guests expect to eat their meal with you, plus snacks and drinks throughout the evening.

That’s a lot of food, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. A little planning is all it takes to keep the costs reasonable. If you’re having a smaller gathering or want to make things easy, consider ordering pizza or a spread of appetizers through DoorDash.

4. Limit the Guest List

The more people you have at your party, the more food you must provide. Thus, the easiest way to keep your food cost down is to limit the number of guests you invite.

Don’t worry that a small party will be a dull party. Filling your home with all the people it can hold might sound like a recipe for fun, but it can actually be just the opposite. Too much crowding makes it harder for everyone to see the TV, and too much noise makes it harder to hear it.

And clustering people together is also a recipe for spreading germs — always a problem in the winter, and an even bigger one in the middle of a pandemic.

You can enjoy the game more with just a few carefully chosen friends who all get along well or even just your pandemic pod or immediate household. You’ll all have plenty of room to spread out without making anyone uncomfortable. Plus, you’ll have a lot less to clean up afterward.

Don’t be afraid of hurting your friends’ feelings by leaving them off the guest list, either. The Super Bowl isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding. It happens every year, so you can always invite a different group of friends for next year’s game.

5. Cook It Yourself

Ordering takeout or delivery from DoorDash is the easiest way to feed all your Super Bowl guests. You can order a stack of pizzas or a tray of deli sandwiches, and your local supermarket can supply fruit and vegetable trays with dip.

But these ready-made finger foods don’t come cheap. You can save a lot of money by preparing your game day food at home. And cooking for a crowd doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Many suitable Super Bowl foods are easy to make yourself, including:

  • Fruit or Vegetable Trays. Why shell out money for a tray of veggies from the store when it’s easy to make one from scratch? Just cut up some celery sticks and broccoli florets, add a bag of baby carrots and some cherry tomatoes to the plate, and serve it with a bowl of store-bought or homemade dressing on the side. Similarly, it’s easy to arrange cut-up melon, berries, and grapes on a platter instead of paying the store to do it for you.
  • Nacho Dip. For a hot appetizer option, try homemade nacho dip. Simply combine equal amounts of softened cream cheese and salsa, heat the mixture in the microwave, top it with shredded cheese, and serve it with tortilla chips. It tastes great and couldn’t be easier. Or make the ultimate cream cheese nacho dip using Mexican blend and pepper jack and spiking it with smoky spices, tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions, black olives, and cilantro. If you’re not a fan of cream cheese, go with a simple five-minute nacho dip that uses a roux to maintain the cheesy consistency.
  • Hot Wings. It’s easier than you think to cook up spicy chicken wings at home. Just toss the wings in vegetable oil, coat them in a spice rub, and bake them at high heat until they’re crispy and golden brown. Traditional hot sauce-based Buffalo wings and lemon pepper wings are two popular choices.
  • Slow Cooker Meals. If you have a slow cooker, you have an easy way to prepare a main dish for a crowd. Simple and inexpensive options include beef stew, homemade chili, and pulled pork. You can set any of these dishes up early in the day, so there’s no extra work to do in the kitchen after your guests arrive.

To keep your DIY food pandemic-safe, wash your hands well both before preparing it and before serving it. When you arrange food on trays, spread them far enough apart that your guests can easily pick up one carrot or cluster of grapes without touching the others. Include a bottle of hand sanitizer on each of the food tables for people to use before handling any shared utensils.

Pro tip: Before you head to the grocery store, download the Fetch Rewards and Ibotta app. You might be able to save money on some of the ingredients you need to cook your Super Bowl snacks.

6. Use Frozen Foods

Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Many kinds of party fare, including pizzas, meatballs, potato skins, and mini-quiches, are available in the supermarket’s frozen food aisle. Heating up and serving a frozen pizza is much cheaper than having one delivered and much easier than making your own.

You can often find good deals on frozen foods at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. However, buying in bulk is only a good deal if you’re hosting enough people to use up one of those jumbo-size packages.

If you’re not or if you don’t have a warehouse club membership, try Trader Joe’s for your party snacks. In a 2017 HuffPost roundup of the best Super Bowl appetizers, eight of the 26 picks are from Trader Joe’s. So were three of the top 11 choices in a 2019 test by Consumer Reports.

Alternatively, buy online and elevate your game. Beef jerky flower bouquets from the Manly Man Company are sure to get your guests buzzing (and snacking).

7. Choose Store Brands

When it comes to snacks like cookies, chips, and pretzels, store brands are often just as good as big-name brands.

For instance, in a blind taste test by Consumer Reports, testers liked the store-brand cheese crackers from Dollar General just as much as Cheez-It. Similarly, testers at Serious Eats found Walmart’s sandwich cookies nearly indistinguishable from real Oreos. And in a taste test at Epicurious, potato chips from Trader Joe’s beat out 11 name brands.

Of course, not all store brands are equally good. If you’ve never tried a generic snack before, it’s worth doing your own quick taste test at home before feeding it to your guests. But if it’s good enough to satisfy your taste buds, you can be pretty confident your guests won’t complain about it. After all, people are there to watch the game and the halftime festivities, not read the label on a bag of chips.

8. Go Potluck

If you don’t have the time or money to prepare all the food yourself, make your party a potluck dinner. As the old saying goes, many hands make work light, and that’s especially true when it comes to cooking. If each guest brings one dish, no one has to do that much work and everyone gets plenty to eat.

Alternatively, you can provide the main course, such as chili or stew, and ask your guests to supply appetizers and desserts. Having only one dish to prepare cuts down on both shopping and cooking time as well as cost. It also ensures all your guests can have whatever they like to eat.

One problem with a potluck-style party is the risk everyone decides to bring the same thing — and you end up with five bowls of guacamole or five trays of brownies. With a small group, you can eliminate this risk through an email or text thread in which all guests share what they intend to cook. For a bigger group, try using a Google Doc to coordinate the food offerings.

Don’t feel awkward about asking your guests to help with the food. In most cases, people are happy to contribute. Indeed, a 2018 Vox article says this type of entertaining is already the standard for many millennials, so your younger guests probably won’t even bat an eyelash.

Serving Up Drinks

Superbowl Party Football Beer Chips

Along with food, you must provide your guests with something to drink while they watch the game. And if they’re like many football fans, they’d like that something to be beer or another adult beverage. That’s bad news for you since booze costs a lot more than soft drinks. The good news is there are several different strategies to keep the cost under control.

9. Make It a BYOB

Like food, drinks cost much less if everyone chips in. Asking your guests to bring the beverage of their choice not only spreads out the cost, but it also ensures everyone gets what they like. If you’ve got one friend who only drinks Budweiser, another who only likes trendy microbrews, and a third who prefers a good bottle of wine, this is by far the easiest way to keep them all happy.

However, asking guests to BYOB (bring your own bottle) can be a bit awkward if they’re also contributing food for a potluck. If that makes you uncomfortable, make it an either-or proposition and ask guests to bring either a snack or a drink for the party. Chances are some will choose to bring both anyway, and you’ll have plenty of everything to go around.

10. Get a Keg

If you’re serving beer to a large group, getting a keg is often a cheaper option than buying individual bottles or cans. According to BuyKegBeer, the average price of a half-barrel keg ranges from about $70 to $200, depending on the brand. You must also put down a keg and tap rental deposit, but it’s refundable.

A half-barrel keg holds the same volume as 165 standard 12-ounce beers, so it’s like getting the beer for $0.42 to $1.21 per bottle. That’s probably cheaper than cans or bottles, but not necessarily. If you can find a good sale on beer by the case, it might cost less to buy it that way. Check prices for both types of beer in your area before you spring for a keg.

11. Make a Punch

Another way to stretch your alcohol budget is to stretch the alcohol itself. An alcoholic punch, which combines one bottle of liquor with mixers like fruit juice or soda, can serve a large crowd on a relatively small budget.

An alcoholic punch doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply buy a bottled fruit punch and spike it with vodka, rum, bourbon, or fruit schnapps. Sangria — red wine mixed with fruit juice and soda water — is also a simple and inexpensive option.

You can find more delicious punch recipes on sites like AllRecipes and Taste of Home. For an extra-festive touch, you can mix up two batches of punch, one in the appropriate color for each of the two opposing teams.

12. Go Alcohol-Free

The most radical approach to saving on alcohol at your Super Bowl party is also the simplest: Don’t serve it. Your guests don’t need alcohol to have a good time. You can fulfill all your duties as a host by serving soft drinks, which are quite inexpensive in 2-liter bottles, or even tap water, which is practically free.

An alcohol-free party has other benefits too. People who have quit drinking or who never started because of religious or moral objections are likely to feel more comfortable in a setting without alcohol. Kids attending the party don’t feel like they’re being left out of the fun. And you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your guests’ consumption to make sure they can drive home safely.

And this year, it may mean increased pandemic safety, according to the World Health Organization. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making you more likely to take risks like removing your mask or invading other people’s social distance sphere.

Final Word

There’s one final part of the Super Bowl experience that can get expensive if you’re not careful: betting on the game. In your eagerness to support your team, it’s easy to get carried away and hazard more than you can afford to lose. If you want to place a friendly wager, bet some token instead of money. For instance, you could agree that the loser has to cook dinner for the winner — while wearing the winning team’s jersey.

Once the game is over, there’s still one more thing you can do to save money. As you clean up, sort out all the leftover food and make a plan to use it up. If your guests brought any food you know you won’t eat, ask them to take the leftovers home so they won’t go to waste. Then store the rest to serve as dinners and lunches during the following week.

Source: moneycrashers.com