Tag: Budgeting (page 2 of 2)

Common Financial Mistakes Many People Make

Common Financial Mistakes Many People Make

Rarely, does someone have a perfect financial history.  Mistakes in finance are common and it’s likely that most people have experienced them at one point or another.  The important thing is to figure out how to correct them, as they can tend to pile up and create somewhat of financial hardship.  However, don’t panic; with the right tools, you can easily change your financial habits. The following tips are a great guide and provide insight into the many financial mistakes people tend to make.

Too Many Monthly Payments

You may not realize it, but your monthly payments tend to add up, quickly.  Many people are seeking the “better” things in life, so they’re willing to tack on monthly finance payments to acquire the things they desire.  And while the monthly payments may not seem like a big hit at the time, the more you have, the more they tend to add up. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for people to have monthly payments that are more on the unnecessary side.  Consider the gym, for example. While for some, a gym membership is a great investment, for others, it may just be a monthly bill that isn’t regularly utilized.  Consider where your bills each month are going, and see which ones are actually necessary.

High Credit Balances

While credit cards may seem like a great way to get what you need, without having to see your bank account take an immediate hit, they can do more harm than good if they aren’t used properly.  Think of a credit card as borrowed money; money that needs to be paid back, and should be paid back in full to avoid any further charges like interest and late fees. The days of cash only are gone for many people, as credit cards are a regular part of today’s society.  Utilize your credit cards to purchases that you know you’ll be able to pay in full and avoid using them for everyday purchases that will increase your balance quickly.

Failing to Set a Monthly Budget

Budgeting your expenses on a monthly basis is a great financial habit to have; however, many people neglect to do this.  Without a budget, you’re freely spending your money without keeping track of where it’s going. By the end of the month, you’re left wondering where your paychecks have gone and why you aren’t able to contribute anything to your savings account.  

Falling Behind on Bills and Payments

Making late payments is an unfortunate, but common habit for many individuals.  Late payments can hurt your financial health in that you will likely get hit with late charges and increased interest payments.  Additionally, late payments can affect your overall credit score and lower it by a few points. Once this cycle starts, it can be hard to correct and break.  

3 New Year’s Resolution Ideas to Save You Money

Maybe 2017 was not the best year for you financially. Luckily, you can stop looking at the past and look towards a better financial future in 2018. With the new year brings new goals, and you can make one of those goals focusing on your personal finance or money management.

Invest

A wise way to handle your money would be to invest. As you may have seen recently, Bitcoin has seen a huge rise in their stocks. Although it can be risky, sometimes the investment is worth it in the long run.

Create and Stick to a Budget

Another tip that can really help you with money management is saving your money by formulating a budget. Proper money management is an extremely important finance characteristic to have. Not only is it good to know how to save money for obvious reasons, but it can also be a saving grace for you in case of an emergency.

Impulse buying can be very dangerous. It can lead to you being in insurmountable debt and regretting days if not hours later. Preparing a budget can assist you with saving a great deal of extra cash while steadily maturing in your spending habits.

Save Money By Breaking Bad Habits

A great way to kill two birds with one stone is to save money by breaking bad habits. Create a jar that you will have to place money in each time you perform an action you are trying to quit. Anytime you have an urge to swear, break your diet, or have an urge to smoke a cigarette, put a certain amount of money into your jar. This will help you break free of your bad habits while simultaneously improving your financial situation.

Personal money management and financial woes are something everyone wishes they could live life without, but everybody at one point or another has to conquer. Make sure 2018 is a financially freeing year by trying these New Year’s resolution ideas and see which one works best for you!

3 Ways to Rid Yourself of Student Loan Debt in 2018

Student loan debt affects a huge part of the population. In fact, the overall student loan total in America skyrocketed to over $1.3 trillion in 2017. Fortunately, 2018 yields some promising tools and processes that can help citizens rid themselves of it. Here are three personal finance tips for getting rid of student loan debt:

Choose the Right Occupation

One way to get student loan debt forgiveness is to work for a government entity or a nonprofit organization. Doing so will allow you to become eligible for a forgiveness program after 5-10 years as an employee. Public school teachers who work in low-income neighborhoods are eligible for student loan forgiveness, as well. Therefore, you may want to consider putting in an application in those fields.

Choose a Repayment Plan The Works for You

Another personal finance tip for you is to sign up for a reasonable repayment plan. If you have low income or limited income, you can sign up for for a plan that’s income based or income contingent. Doing so will ease the burden for you as you pay down the debt. Eventually, you’ll make it to financial freedom.

To sign up for the special repayment plans, you just have to visit the website and complete an application. You may have to mail or upload some information so that the debtor can assess your income situation. Once they do that, they will let you know if you qualify for a specialized repayment plan.

Pick up a Second Job

Finally, you could always pick up a second job to pay down your student loans. Many retail stores hire at an accelerated pace during the holiday season. If you have some time to spare, you can put in a few hours every day and use everything that you earn toward those loans.

You deserve to have financial freedom, and you can get it if you handle your loans intelligently. Try these methods and watch your student loans decline in the blink of an eye.

Top Couponing Tips to Help Save Money

When it comes to saving budgeting and personal finance, one of the first things people think of is groceries. If you’re in a household with a spouse and kids, a monthly grocery bill can be quite expensive. On top of other bills that need to be paid, you want to find ways where you can cut back on certain things. Couponing is a great way to help you make ends meet. Here are some tips to help you in your couponing efforts.

Look for specific coupons from your local store. You can get on a subscriber list and they and post weekly deals. This is a good way to get updates and even download online coupons for the register to scan during your checkout. See if you can get a loyalty card to save even more money. This will really help with the budgeting process.

Make sure that you check the mail for deals. Some stores still do things the old school way and give you printouts of sale items. Carry this with you so you can scan the barcode and get good discounts off select items. Check any newspapers or coupon books during the week to take advantage of any deals.

Always keep in mind that coupons have an expiration date. Certain discounts may only apply for a week. Other discounts last a year. It’s important that you mark these dates down so that you don’t end up losing on a good discount that helps you with your personal finance.

These are a few tips to make couponing more successful. This helps you save more and spend less to increase your quality of life.

Halloween Shopping on a Budget

For families who look at their personal finance situation before budgeting for special occasions, there are great reasons to celebrate Halloweens fun festivities. While many kid friendly holidays and events can be rather expensive, this is one of the holidays that is easier on the family budget. While there is no shortage of expensive Halloween costumes out there, there are also some rather inexpensive alternatives for families on a tight budget to still ensure everyone has a great time.

Finding Inexpensive Costumes

The biggest expense for Halloween are the costumes. But the good news is inexpensive costumes can be put together quite easily with a little imagination and preparation with these few tips:

One of the best resources for inexpensive costumes are thrift stores. While they often sell traditional costumes, they also sell many clothing items such as gowns, black dresses, capes, sports clothing, winter snow clothing, hats, children’s costume toy accessories, rhinestone shirts, tiaras, costume jewelry and more. These clothing items are perfect for creating a whole series of different costumes at a fairly inexpensive price which ensures parents will have little drain on their personal finance situation.

Another great resource are dollar stores and discount stores as they can provide a great place for costumes and accessories. In fact, many store retail chains like Dollar Tree and Dollar General carry dress up costumes or accessories year-round for princesses, fairies, angels, cowboys, ninja warriors and more.

Inexpensive Treats and Candy

At this time of year, there are many coupons available for candy. This is because chocolate and candy manufacturers gear up for one of their busiest times of year from Halloween to Valentine’s Day. Coupons and sales flyers are abundant and can usually show what stores are having the best sales. Grocery stores and pharmacies often have the best deals and if added with coupons they can make the stocking of treats quite inexpensive. For people who love to give chocolate bars, and may sneak one or two for themselves, dollar stores also often sell 8-10 candy bar packets for $1.00 year-round. If you take time to shop around there is no shortage of sweet treats to be found at a great price.

3 Ways You Can Save Money This Summer

During the summer there are many ways that you can overspend. When the weather is warm and inviting it’s difficult to stay inside. Plus, there’s a good chance that you want to purchase new clothes for the vacation that you planned. If you live in an area where it gets hot, then you likely spend a lot of money on your electric bill each month. However, it’s possible to save money and enjoy the summer months at the same time. Below are some of the simplest ways that you can save money during the hot summer months.

Staycation

Every family knows how expensive vacations can be. If you really want to save money, think about some of the ways that you can have an enjoyable staycation. Do you know anybody with a pool membership? Maybe they will let you and the family tag along for a day. Other ideas include the movies, miniature golf, or even a local amusement park if you want to go on rides. Eating out while on vacation is one of the most expensive aspects of the trip. You’ll save a lot of money just by cooking at home or packing your lunch if you visit an amusement park.

Turn Off the Air Conditioner

It might sound crazy, but turning off the air conditioner is one of the easiest ways to save money over the summer. Instead of blasting the AC every day think about using a ceiling fan instead and open up the windows. Obviously, in some situations (like during a heatwave) you should absolutely keep the AC running. However, on days when it’s not too hot or humid, don’t be afraid to turn off the AC, get a drink of something cool, and dress lightly. Then you’ll save money and stay cool at the same time.

Don’t Waste Water

If you want to save money over the summer, then be careful not to use too much water. One of the biggest wastes of water is lawn sprinklers. The possibility of drought is a real concern for many areas of the United States. Even if you don’t live in a part of the country that has experienced a drought, it’s still a good idea to put the sprinkler away. In most cases, it’s better to let Mother Nature take care of your lawn for the most part. If you must water your lawn, just make sure you’re not overdoing it.

6 Tips for Saving Money

When it comes to saving money, Americans are notoriously bad. Last month CNN reported that “nearly six in 10 Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 or $1,000 unplanned expense” (Vasel). If you are one of the six Americans that CNN is referring to, then you’ll find the below tips useful.

Track the Money You Spend

You can’t save money if you’re not sure how much you spend each month. Every time you buy something make sure you get a receipt. Then at the end of the month tally up all of your expenses. If you’re comfortable with online tools, Mint is one of the easiest ways to track everything in one location. Tracking your expenses will show you where you spend the most money. If you find that you spend too much money on entertainment each month, then you might need to rethink your spending habits.

Plan a Budget

After tracking your expenses for a couple of months, you can create a monthly budget. This budget will help prevent you from overspending. Once you have a budget you’ll be better able to make spending decisions each month.

Start Saving

You should include a savings category as part of your budget. Saving 10-15% of your income each month is a good starting point. If you find that percentage to be too high, you might need to take a second look at your expenses. Think about cutting back on non-essential expenses like buying coffee each day or dining out each week.

Create a Savings Goal

It’s easier to save money when you have a goal you’re saving for. It’s easier to give up your daily latte when you’re saving for a vacation or a house. An emergency fund is another good savings goal. The above CNN article mentioned how unplanned expenses can catch a lot of people off guard. An emergency fund will help you avoid this unpleasant situation.

Pick Your Priorities

Saving money is easier when you prioritize what you’re saving for. For example, if you are saving for a new car you shouldn’t neglect your retirement savings in the process. Once you prioritize your goals you’ll find it easier to start saving money.

Decide How to Save

When most people think about saving money they think about savings accounts. While savings accounts are a great way to save your money, they aren’t the only way to do so. Take a look at this article to learn about the different ways you can save money.

5 Best Apps for Budgeting

Have you been thinking about trying out a new budget? There’s an app for that. The list below highlights some of the best money management apps on the market. What are you waiting for? Get downloading!

Mint.com

Mint.com is a great free app to track a multitude of financial area. You can track earnings, savings, spending, budgeting, and even retirement accounts. There is a bit of initial set up because you need to sync all your accounts to the app, but after that it’s smooth sailing. Mint.com is great in the regard that it supplies you with a financial overview, but also tracks cash flow in real time. You can see your money coming and going so you can adjust accordingly.

GoodBudget

Goodbudget is another excellent free app that want to budget based on cash caps. You can separate spending into “envelops” and track how much you’ve spent against what you previously allocated for yourself. GoodBudget even takes into account those people who receive an irregular source of income. Freelancer and service industry folks – rejoice!

PocketGuard

PocketGuard is a free app that is available on both iPhone and Android markets. There is even an Apple Watch component available! PocketGuard is a simple app that connects to your bank accounts so you have access to your current transactions. The app lets you know how much money you have in your “pocket” now, what your cash flow looks like, and even analyzes spending so you know what to plan for.

HomeBudget

HomeBudget is a paid app that allows you to sync a budget up between devices. Each device needs to purchase the app, but it allows a hands on approach across multiple devices. The comprehensive platform give multiple people access to the family or home budget so you can all be on the same page. Pretty nifty, huh?

Wally

Wally’s a free app that at it’s core is an expense tracker. It allows you to manually enter expenses or take a picture of your receipt. The app will adapt to your spending habits and goals to help you achieve whatever you set out. If you want to pay down debt or save more money, Wally has your back.

Living Well Below Your Means

Most adults aspire to not live paycheck to paycheck, maintain the ability to save, and be comfortable enough to cover unexpected expenses. Unfortunately, there are many people who are not able to do so – or at least they think that’s the case. You can achieve all of these things by partaking in a simple exercise and sticking to it. I’m talking about budgeting, money management, a game plan, or a spending plan – whatever you want to call it you need to have something in place to get spending under control and to increase your saving. This blog highlights a few systems for keeping track of your expenses so you can confidently take control of your finances.

50/30/20 Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is probably the simplest budget out there, but it’s a good way to see how your spending stacks up. If you are under spending in the living or personal categories, you’re in good shape! If you find your spending is creeping out of the guidelines of this budget, it may be time to reevaluate how you spend.

Living Expenses

Living expenses are the 50% in the 50/30/20 budget. These expenses take up the biggest slice of the pie – for good reason. The things that fall into this category are the expenses you can not live without. They are housing, utilities, food, and transportation. By carving out half your monthly income for living expenses, you maintain flexibility, but put a cap on how much you should spend. If your housing has a high rent cost, you more likely live in a city and could walk to work. Thus, your transportation costs would be low. Similarly, you can keep your utility costs down by being conscious of energy use and installing fixtures that conserve water and electricity.

Personal Expenses

Personal expenses make up 30% of your monthly income. Personal expenses cover all unnecessary spending or bills that you have control over. For instance, if you are looking to cut down in this area, you can change cell phone plans, reduce cable costs, and eat at home more. This category has the most flexibility because it all comes down to your lifestyle and spending habits. Putting a 30% cap on your personal spending will give you a hard number to stay under. Just a heads up, when you begin to employ the 50/30/20 budget you very well receive a rude wake up call. Most people grossly overspend in this category. Don’t panic! Now that you are aware, you can make necessary changes.

Savings

Your saving should cover the final 20% of your income per month. Saving can also translate to “getting ahead.” You can use this money to either stow away or pay off additional debt. Either way, this money should be used to improve your financial footing. This number is also the most flexible. If you end up spending less in one or both of the categories above, then you should add the extra cash into this category. There’s nothing wrong with saving more than you’ve allotted. It may even come in handy a month you go over in another area.

Spending Plan

If a budget like the 50/30/20 plan doesn’t suit you, a spending plan can give you enough freedom to make decisions on a monthly basis. A spending plan is an alternative to the traditional budget. Budgets tend to employ a one size fits all mentality. Every month is devoted to the same budget. That method does not work for everyone.

Disclaimer: a spending plan requires a bit more work and tenacity. You need to monitor your spending closer than you would in a cap expense budget like the 50/30/20 system.

To get started, you’ll need to determine your monthly take home pay. This is what you have to work with every month, so it’s a good place to start.

Next, move on to the meat of your spending. These are your fixed monthly costs. You know, the bills you have to pay every month in order to live in your house and have everything you need. Some of these expenses will be the same month over month, but others can fluctuate. No matter what, you are going to shell out something for these items every month. Some examples of fixed monthly costs are:

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Insurance (health & auto)
  • Internet
  • Cell phone
  • Utilities
  • Savings/Retirement

Now that you have your fixed costs for the month, subtract that from your take-home pay. The money left over is what you can spend the rest of the month. This should go without saying, but you don’t have to spend it all! If you want to save for a larger purchase, increase your emergency fund, or put money aside for a vacation, then go ahead!

The beauty of a spending plan is the simple fact that you now have juxtaposed what you need to spend with what you want to spend. You make come to some realizations because of this. You may notice that you have very little left over after the fixed costs come out. This can signal a few things for readjustment:

  1. Your fixed costs may need a little tweaking. Do you want to have more spending money? Then you may need to get rid of cable or lower your package. Maybe you don’t need as much data on your cell phone plan. Whatever the case may be, you have identified the issue and can make changes accordingly.
  2. The reason you can’t seem to get ahead with credit card bills or can’t save as much as you like is simply because you were spending more than what you should be. This can be a rude wake up call for some people, but with some work you’ll get where you want.

No matter what plan of action you adopt, set realistic expectations and be honest with yourself. Your financial goals will be the motivator between how much you spend and how much you get to bank away at the end of the month. With careful planning, a closer look, and financial adjustments, you will find yourself on better financial ground in no time.