Category Archives: Money

Handling Your Money Effectively

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There is inflation every year. You cannot stop an increasing in living expenses as prices of consumer goods increasing all the time. Saving money becomes an extremely difficult task to do. Here are some solutions for saving a little so that you can still meet your needs and still find ways to trim off a little for the future.

1. Budget -- Get one and stick with it! And set aside at least a small portion for savings while you're at it; savings for your future, your retirement, your education, your vacation, whatever. Head to your local office supply store for planning workbooks or budget sheets to use. Or head to your favorite search engine and type in, "budget planning" for hundreds of sites with articles, free downloads, tips, ebooks and other resources to help with your budget setup and follow up.

2. Plan Ahead -- Make sure to plan for emergencies and the unexpected, like an appliance break down or garage door malfunction. Even if you can only set aside $50 or so each monthly, place it in an account and earmark it for this "Miscellaneous" fund. Then when things go wrong, and they will -- nothing's perfect -- you'll be better prepared.

3. Non Monthly Items - Work out a monthly payment for items that you don't pay monthly and set this up in your regular monthly budget. For example, for items like annual home owner or renter insurance, quarterly water bills and automobile insurance payments and annual trash bills, take the amounts and determine what they would be monthly. Then list the items on your budget log and pull these amounts aside, saving them in your account for those purposes. This way, when the bills hit, you won't be caught off guard and have to scrounge for the payments.

What works well, instead of handling multiple savings accounts for each company owed, is to use index cards and one savings account. Create one index card for each bill. Then simply log the amount you're setting aside on the card and deposit it into your savings account. Keep the index cards with your savings passbook to remind you what the balance covers. The total of all your index cards should equal the balance in your savings account. (Make sure to create an index card for your regular funds that you are saving each month in step one above and a card for your Miscellaneous fund in step two above).

So next time you get paid, take three giant steps forward. Grab your index cards, follow your budget and invest in yourself and your future. Get a grip on your money handling.

Budgeting: The Critical Flaw That Causes Most Budgets to Fail

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Budgeting. It's a word we're all familiar with. Everyone knows what a budget is, right? Yet how many of us actually make and stick to a solid monthly budget? The truth is that most of us start out with the best of intentions, but an unexpected expense comes up and busts our budget. Then we give up and go back to juggling our finances and worrying about having too much month left at the end of the money. However, if you are striving to create a budget for the purpose of systematically paying off your debts or to start a savings and investment program, then it's critical to develop a workable and realistic budget.

So what's the problem? Why do most of us fail at the simple task of creating a budget so we can live within our means? The simple truth is that most budgets don't work because they fail to account for irregular or variable expenses. Everyone knows how much their rent or mortgage payment is. It's the same amount month after month. If your rent is $1,000 per month, that's a no-brainer. The same is true of many other fixed expenses, such as auto loan payments, cable TV subscriptions, insurance premiums, and so on. It's easy to budget for these expenses because the amounts don't change from one month to the next.

Besides expenses that are the exact same figure each month, there are numerous types of expenses that vary a little from one month to the next, yet we still have a pretty good idea what we spend each month. A good example is our grocery bill. Most of us have a fairly clear picture of how much we spend each week at the supermarket. So, we can insert a realistic figure into our budget-in-progress and not be too far off the mark. The amounts may go up or down slightly each month, but we usually know the range we're dealing with. Other examples of this category include telephone bills, utility bills and gasoline (when prices are stable, that is).

The real culprit in busted budgets is the variable or irregular expense. How much will you spend on car repairs over the next 12 months? What about medical bills? Home maintenance costs? It seems that bills for these types of expenses hit us out of left field, and there goes our budget. Before long, we're using food money to cover a new set of tires for our car and the whole budget comes crashing down.

So what's the solution? There is no perfect answer to this problem. But we can come to a close approximation by using the simple technique of monthly averaging. Start by gathering 12 months' worth of checkbook registers, bank statements, and credit card statements. Write down (or enter into a spreadsheet) how much you spent each and every time your money went toward something that was not a fixed expense. Group these expenditures into categories, such as auto, home maintenance, clothes, etc. Don't try to break it down too far. What you want is a handful of useful categories. Then keep listing each of these expenses under their relevant categories for the full 12-month period.

When you are done with this exercise, you should have an excellent idea of your total annual expenditure for these variable expenses. For example, if you add up all the automobile repair or maintenance expenses for the year, and the figure comes to $1,200, then divide by 12 to get the result of $100 per month average. That's how much you need to allow in your monthly budget in order to build up enough reserves to handle an auto repair when it comes up. Again, this method isn't perfect, because an expense may come up that exceeds your estimated outlay, but at least it takes into account a closer approximation to reality than simply guessing, or worse, ignoring auto maintenance in your budgeting.

The trick here is to set up a separate savings account in which to set aside these "extra" funds. Let's say the "extra" $100 goes into the savings account for six months, and then you get hit with an auto repair for $400. You pull the money from your $600 savings that was purposely built up for this type of expense. This way, you're automatically setting aside amounts intended to cover each type of irregular expense that you encountered over the previous year.

Most people are shocked when they perform this 12-month analysis of irregular expenses, and it immediately becomes clear why their budget is always breaking down. This technique leads to the discipline necessary to recognize that "extra" money is seldom really extra. If we think we have our bills covered, and there is some cash burning a hole in our pocket, our tendency is to spend it on something fun. But if we know that there really is no cash left over, because we haven't yet set aside the extra $100 needed to keep our car on the road, then we'll be less inclined to spend it on pizza, beer, and movies.

Budgeting can be successfully accomplished by this technique of monthly averaging, especially if we consistently apply it year after year. As we move forward, our understanding of our true expenses becomes clearer and clearer, and we are no longer surprised by the occasional unexpected expense.

The best way to implement this approach is to set up a regular savings program, where the amount you're setting aside to cover irregular expenses gets automatically deducted from your paycheck and forwarded to your savings account. If the money is deducted from your paycheck before you even see it, then you will be less tempted to skip this critical part of the budgeting process, and you will greatly increase the chances of making a budget work over the long term.

Changing You Spending Habits

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It is every one dream being a millionaire and retiring with a healthy bank account, but how many people can actually achieve it? So few. This is largely due to lack of discipline in building up their retirement fund and poor spending habits. While building a retirement fund requires time, you can accelerate the process by making incremental but positive changes in your spending habits. Here are seven ways that you can change your daily lifestyle for more positive results in your spending habits:

1. Have you ever noticed how much time you spend sitting in front of the television? The longer you sit, the worse it is for your blood circulation. Besides, the time you free up can be used for more useful tasks such as teaching your kids or learning a new skill.

2. If you are an avid reader, use the public library whenever possible. There is no need to buy the latest books from bookstores like Borders unless it is in a category that does not fit into a public library. The public library will usually acquire popular titles after some times. Learn to be patient.

3. If you are a smoker, start reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Over time, you may be able to quit smoking completely. Besides saving money by not buying any more cigarettes, your health will also improve and this means a huge saving in your medical bills.

4. Use a bicycle if the destination is within 30 minutes by car. This helps promote blood circulation in your body and also reduces environmental pollution. You can also save on gasoline and parking fees.

5. Dine at home more frequently. You can experiment with different recipes and save some money at the same time. In addition, you are honing your cooking skills and this could be very useful for the home dining experience.

6. Bring your own coffee to office. Many people like to drop by a Starbucks or similar coffee outlet and end up spending a few dollars or more on a cup of coffee. You can potentially save many dollars each week just by making your own coffee at home and bringing it to your work place in a Thermos. Besides, who knows, it may taste better than the coffee from Starbucks! If you really cannot live without Starbucks coffee, consider getting a Starbucks rebate card. You can use the rebates to redeem free Starbucks coffee after you have accumulated enough points.

7. Do more walking than driving. If you can reach your destination within ten minutes by car, consider leaving the car behind and walk instead. You will save money on gasoline and parking fees. This can easily add up to a few thousand dollars a year.

These seven ways are a good start for changing unhealthy spending habits. However, you should continue to research and incorporate more healthy habits that contribute to the building of your retirement fund. By re-investing the money saved from using these tips, you will be many steps ahead of your peers and closer to your retirement goals.

 

Cash Is King

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If you understand and follow the basic principle of "Cash is King" you can change your life forever. Your life will be less stressful financially and you will be taking your first major step toward "financial peace of mind".

"Cash is King" is an easy principle to understand; however it may be difficult to follow. This principle is the key to less stress within your financial life. Many things tell us how to manage our finances and it seems that none of them address the "root cause" of our financial problems.

The biggest problem is that we live in a world of plastic and for all practical purposes we do not respect or understand the value of cash.

If you follow this simple but different principle of "Cash is King" you will start on the road to "financial peace of mind". Here are two basic suggestions on how to follow the principle of "Cash is King":

When you are paid make sure you allocate enough money to pay your rent/mortgage, utilities and any other fixed expenses you may have. Any amount of cash that is left should be withdrawn from your checking account to be used for food, clothing, gifts, entertainment, gas, etc. The best way for you to control this cash would be for you to divide and allocate certain amounts of cash for each variable expense and store this cash in labeled envelopes, like the envelopes found in the BUDGETkeeper SYSTEM.
Now remember that this cash is the only way you can spend. Once you have used all your cash there will be no spending until your next paycheck. This is tough! No credit/debit cards? You must be kidding! How will I ever get through to my next payday without using my credit/debit cards? They say smoking is hard to give up, I think sticking to the principle of "Cash is King" may even be harder!

Stick with "Cash is King" and manage your money. You will start by finding the cheapest places to buy gas, run your errands more logically and take your morning coffee from home instead of buying that latte every day. You will have to find many new ways to manage your cash and the first few weeks will be the toughest. You may even run out of cash before your next payday, however, you will stick to the principle "Cash is King" and eventually find "financial peace of mind".

After several weeks it will get easier to manage your cash and you will be surprised to find extra cash available before your next paycheck. What will you do with that extra cash? Many say put the extra cash into a savings account or pay a little extra towards one of your debts. I say put it in a coffee can and let it accumulate then take yourself out and have one great party!

If you can follow this principle, you will be on your way to establishing a personal/family budget. Let the BUDGETkeeper SYSTEM show you the way to "financial peace of mind".

 

Balancing A Budget And Saving Money

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Your finances are your business. But unfortunately it seems like you need an accountant to help you understand and decode the mysteries of balancing a budget or saving money. At some point you might need to get a loan. When that day comes, this article can help you understand which is the right one to get.

An unsecured loan is simply a loan you get based on your good name and your credit rating. Often the interest rates are higher on an unsecured loan than on a secured loan because the risk is higher to the lending institution. If, for some reason, you are unable to pay back the loan and the lending institution does not get any money back. However, your good name and your credit rating are potentially ruined.

On the other hand, a secured load is a low you get when you put up some assets. The advantage of a secured loan is that you often get more money at a lower interest rate for longer repayment period that you would with an unsecured loan. This is because you have some assets to backup your loan. The lending institution prefers this kind of loan because if you find yourself unable to make payments, they can see your assets as an alternative form of payment. Because the risk to them is diminished they are able to provide you with more attractive loans at a better rate.

You might think of a mortgage as a secured loan. The bank lends you money to buy a home and they use the home as a way to back up the loan. If you do not make your mortgage payments, the bank can seize your house.

Or you can think of a secured loan as a pawn shop that lends you the money you want but lets you still use the goods you pawned!

So which one is the right one for you? It's a tough decision to make. In most cases, a secured loan will get you a better rate, so you just might prefer that.

However, perhaps you don't have any assets available, or you don't want to risk the seizure of certain assets if you are unable to make payments. In this case, you just might not mind paying a little more for the benefit of having an unsecured loan.

Both unsecured and secured loans are good options to have when you are doing your financial planning. You can use them to consolidate your outstanding bills, leverage your home investments, or get the things you need and want. And, with the choices between unsecured and secured loans, you have the benefit of being in total control of your financial destiny!

Five Steps to a Comfy Retirement

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You've probably heard about the Nebraska meatpackers who won the largest lottery jackpot in the United States last week. One winner replied "I've been retired for about four days now" when asked what he would do with his winnings. His response did not surprise me; I'm sure my reaction would be similar!

What does surprise me is that many Americans believe that they cannot retire comfortably unless they win the lottery. A survey by the Consumer Federation of America shows that 27% of Americans believe that their best chance to gain $500,000 in their lifetime is to win a sweepstakes or lottery.

Fortunately, building a comfortable retirement nest egg is easier than you think. Here are five steps to help you build a comfortable retirement:

1. Start early! If you started saving $100 a month beginning at age 18, you would have over $500,000 by age 65. The power of compounding is great, and the earlier you start saving, the greater the benefit.

2. Have a plan. The best way to ensure that you will have a comfortable retirement is to plan how much you will need to retire. You can't reach your destination if you don't know where you're going.

3. Participate in company sponsored retirement plans. Many companies offer matching contributions to your 401K or other retirement plan contributions. This is free money -- take it!

4. Invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, that fits your goals and risk tolerance. Studies show that your investment return is determined primarily by the allocation of your assets, not the individual investment selections you make.

5. Keep your costs down. Invest in no-load, low cost mutual funds (or other investments). Lowering the expenses in your portfolio by just 1% can equate to 20% more money in your portfolio after 20 years.

Although winning a large lottery certainly can't hurt, following the steps above should send you well on your way to a comfortable retirement.

Budgeting For Emergency Funds?

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Emergency funds are considered to be a necessity as far as financial security is concerned, since it can provide one with financial resources that one can resort to and depend on when an emergency arises such that when one is sick and have the burden of paying huge medical bills, or unexpected home or major car repair.

When one has no emergency fund, one can be obliged to acquire debt on your credit card that might take several years to repay with interest that would later cost so much more.

However by putting an extra thirty to fifty dollars every month in an individual "emergency savings account" one can be secured with what emergency the future may bring. In doing this, it is recommended that one regards the emergency fund as an additional bill, to be punctually paid each month.

Yes, one can and should budget and allocate the extra money for emergency fund, as this is very significant when one refers to his "financial future". Here, the goal is to create savings from budgeting your income; the emergency savings should ideally be equal to at least three months your living expenditures.

What's important is that you should steadily put a certain amount of money aside, and only use it for real emergencies.

Not like an investment, the success of one's long-term savings funds does not really count on the amount of return or interests but on placing a fixed amount of money away constantly and steadily so to have immediate access to it at all times.

In spite of one's financial status, the initial step in the process of constructing an emergency fund is by knowing where your money is presently being consumed or spent.

When one recognizes and determines where one's earnings are spent, then it will be easy for one to choose and make a decision where to trim down expenses. In other words, budget.

Budgeting is putting or setting aside money for anticipated and unanticipated future use. It is here that one sets up a goal so as to save. So set an emergency fund as your goal.

Checking, savings, money market accounts and "certificates of deposits", are great places to keep one's cash that might be needed on quick notice.

The amount saved from budgeting can either go to your savings goal, emergency fund or both. One could utilize the money saved from budgeting financial expenses by saving half of it to your savings account and half of it for emergencies. This way, you achieve your goals in savings and at the same time put in funds for emergency use. It's your choice.

Do You Have A Plan For Sticking To Your Budget?

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So you've made your budget and it looks good on paper. Great! Now it is time to implement it. But are you ready to follow the budget you've developed? Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track with your budget.

1. Determine why you made a budget. There is a reason you have put time into developing your budget, now you need to put into writing what your goals are. Do you want to be debt free, live on one income, or save for retirement? Make this into your personal or family financial mission statement. Write it down or type it up nicely and then have it laminated and display it in a prominent place where you can see it often. Many times we just need a reminder to ourselves for why we are doing a particular thing, and that can be just enough incentive when things get tough.

2. Set small range goals so you can see progress. It can be very difficult to keep up the discipline necessary to stay on budget if you can't see any measurable progress. Develop some short term goals that you can celebrate meeting. If your goal has been to reduce your grocery spending by $100 per month, then your weekly goal would be to cut grocery costs by $25. Likewise, if your goal is to pay off debt, make a chart to show how much you've paid off. Reward charts just aren't for children! Use a type of chart where you can color in a bar to show your progress, and then color it in every time you make a payment so you can see the progress you are making. Put it up on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror as a reminder that your hard work is paying off!

3. Identify your weak spots and develop a plan to battle them. In sticking to your budget, you need a clear idea of where you may be tempted to break the budget. If you are prone to impulse spending, then you must remove that temptation from yourself. If you go window shopping, leave your credit cards and check book at home! Especially in the early days of sticking to your budget, it is important to re-train yourself to curb spending.

Making a budget is really the easy part in financial management. It is sticking to the budget and making your spending match your plan that is the difficult process. By disciplining yourself and retraining your spending habits, you can achieve your budget goals.

Are You Faced With Out-Of-Control Expenses

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Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: The moment you thought you were back in the financial game of life, something else came along that smacked you back down into the land of money woes again. Was that an accurate scenario? For many people it is. Perhaps a tragic emergency or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came by and you had to pay more money than you expected to pay.

Whatever the situation, you were just clawing your way back to having control of your expenses when you pushed back down. Of course, the end result is debt!

How do you deal with that mounting debt? What can you do to solve it? There are many solutions and one of them is loans. We are going to show you the different kind of loan options you have to help you make the decision wisely.

A Secured UK secured loan is one option that many people just might want to choose because it gives them a variety of potential loan amounts and interest rates. If that's you, the choice is yours! You can choose the loan amount that is right for your situation. And, the rate of interest on the principle is usually determined by several things. For example, the prevailing interest rates, the risk the lender faces from the recipient, the amount of money you want to borrow, and the repayment period. Also, a Secured UK secured loan comes with several flexible repayment terms, including the repayment frequency and the loan period (which is the amount of time you expect to pay the loan back). That way, you can manage the loan over a period of time and suit it to your income.

Be sure to shop around. If you look around at the many options available, you'll probably find a Secured UK secured loan that provides you with a good amount to borrow, competitive rates, an attractive repayment period, and a repayment frequency that meets your needs. Consider this example:

If you have a large amount of utility bill outstanding debts (such as credit cards, loans, or bills owing), a Secured UK secured loan might be a good option in order to help you consolidate those utility bills into one manageable payment. That way, you can keep the lights on and the water running! Get a loan for a little more than your current accumulated bill so that you can put a small credit on each outstanding amount. That way, you'll gain back your good name from the utility companies, and you'll have a month or two of reprieve before you have to start paying back both the loan and the new utility bills you incur. It just might be a period of time where you tighten your belt, but it will allow you to live comfortably.

A Secured UK secured loan has many options. One of those is to consolidate your utility bills and let you begin the fight to win back your good name while keeping the lights on in your house. Many people are choosing to add a secured loan to their financial management plan. Is it the right thing for your out-of-control utility bills?

Budget your way to success

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Budgeting sounds like a boring strategy used by our parents. For a long time, budgeting was considered the way to manage money because it helped people keep track of where their finances were going. But lots of people are choosing not to budget because it seems so needlessly complicated with little or not benefit. But there is a benefit to budgeting; the real trick is finding a budgeting method that works for you. Here is an excellent strategy to help you manage the money in your personal portfolio.

The first thing you need to do is create a budget. Creating a budget does not have to be restrictive, but it should be a guideline to help you manage your income and your expenses each month. The first thing you want to do is list all your expenses on a month-to-month basis. The next thing you want to do it list all of your income on a month-to-month basis. Then compare. Many people who have trouble saving find that their expenses are very close to their income. So what can you do?

One option you have is to reduce your expenses. This might mean going out with friends a little less or giving up on some luxury that you typically enjoy. Another option you have is to increase your income. Unfortunately, for many people, this is easier said than done.

One way that you can reduce your expenses and increase your income is by using a debt consolidation loan. By consolidating many outstanding debts that are due throughout the month into a single loan with a single monthly payment you will be accomplishing several things.

First, you will be reducing your monthly payment because you will be securing a larger loan and is spread out over a longer period of time. Second, you'll be reducing the amount of interest you pay because you will be consolidating your many debts into one debt from one provider. Reducing your interest not only helps to reduce your expenses but also increases your income!

And if you are able to find some assets that can help you get a secured loan, you'll be able to spread out your payment over a longer period of time and you will likely qualify for a lower interest rate because you have some security to offer the lending institution to back up the loan.

Now that you are actively pursuing a budget, you will need to find a way to continue to reduce your expenses over time. A secured loan will help you do that. But don't forget that there are many ways you can also increase your income.

Congratulations! You are assembling a budget and getting control of your finances and at the same time you are reducing your expenses and increasing your income.