How You Can Save Money by Summer

Although it seemed like this time would never come after a long winter, it finally seems like the nice weather is here to stay!  That means you can open up the windows to get some fresh air in, not to mention if your house a long overdue spring cleaning.  The warm weather means that summer is around the corner, and while your weekends will likely start to fill up fast, you can start to reduce expenses now so that you can have extra play money during the summer.

Avoid Going Out to Eat

Sure, this one may be tough, especially if cooking is not your passion, but by going to the grocery store and stocking up with ingredients to prep meals for breakfast, packing your lunch for work, and dinner at home, not to mention even snacks and coffee, you can save a considerable amount staying at home.  After all, the yardwork is probably getting done now, so why not take advantage and BBQ, eat, and entertain on your newly stained deck and patio furniture that was just put out.  After all, cooking outside will help save on utilities instead of heating up the house with the oven or stove.

Help Out Your Air Conditioner

Speaking of utilities, in addition to cooking outside, to really help out your air conditioner is to not run it as much, but without risk of overheating, be reducing the air loss by sealing up gaps around doors and windows with a fresh line of caulk could really save on your electric bill.  Not only will it help now, but it will help in the winter as well as less cold air will enter the house.  When it comes to setting the temperature, using the programmable thermostat will really maximize keeping the house cool when you’re sleeping and not wasting the air when you’re not at home.

Save on Water with a Rain Barrel

One of the best parts of spring is planting your flowers and garden and once summer and fall comes, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, but instead of building up the water bill with the extra time using the hose to water, you can put a rain barrel near, or in, your garden so you can collect all of the rain water to use to fill up the watering can.  Although there is a little investment with buying the barrel, think of all the water you can use that would otherwise go into the ground and sewer.

Ditch the Gym Membership

With all of the extra time you’re spending outside and getting a little more active, you can cancel the gym membership.  After all, since you probably joined around new year’s, how many times have you actually gone in the last few months, so chances are you were just paying for it anyways.  To move around a little more, while enjoying the warm weather, take the dog for a walk every day, and then you will both be happy during the summer months.

How to Avoid Potential Money Wastes

While sure, it’s important to know the sep ira rules when it comes to setting yourself up for financial success but if you aren’t maxing out your retirement account, then there is plenty of room for improvement with the rest of your finances.  By avoiding some of the biggest money wastes, you can free up extra money in order to build an emergency fund, pay off debt, and fund your retirement account.  The earlier you start, the more it will pay off in the end when you really need it.

Not Tracking Spending

You may know how much are in your paychecks every other week or so, but do you know how much is going out each month?  If you take a look at last month’s debit or credit card statement you can go line by line for every purchase in order to track what was necessary, and what probably could have been avoided.  If you just pay the bill every month without looking at the charges, not only could you be setting yourself for potential fraudulent charges, but you just continue to swipe your card without trying to curb spending.

Avoiding a Budget

For those that have built up a nest egg, it is not always easy, but with patience and discipline, not to mention tweaking along the way, setting a budget up is a good way to allocate funds on what you should be spending each month instead of what you are currently spending.  When it comes to funds for entertainment, setting a limit, especially in cash, is a great way to allow yourself a certain amount and when it runs out, that’s it until next paycheck.  At least physically seeing the money leave your hands and go into the cash register could at least give second thought to impulse purchases.

Going out to Eat

Of course, it’s nice to have someone else cook for you, especially if you don’t enjoy cooking yourself, or are missing that skillset, going out to eat, along with being served, makes going out to eat pretty appealing, although the prices can add up pretty quickly.  Whether it’s grabbing coffee every morning, going to the cafeteria at work, or picking up carryout for dinner on the way home, could add up to hundreds of dollars a month extra when if you would go grocery shopping and prepare meals at home, your food bill could be considerably less.

Leaving Free Money on the Table

Plenty of money leaves your bank account every month so why not try and capture any free money that you can.  By using the right credit card that offer rewards on purchases, you can earn points or cashback that otherwise would be missing out on if you used your debit card or another credit card.  On a much higher scale, check at work to see if there are any company-matching retirement fund contributions that you could be missing out on, that could add up to tens of thousands you’re losing out on in the decades to come that could have been growing in your account.

How to Improve Your Personal Finance Starting Now

Sure you can pay attention on penny stocks to watch when it comes to investing, but before you go down that road, it’s a good idea to take a look at your overall personal finance to ensure you’re on the right track.  Although it may be decades before you retire, it’s never too early to start preparing, so the better money moves you can make now, will set you up for success in the present and future, the more you can free up extra money.

Check Your Credit Report

With the amount of fraud there is these days you never know who has your info, whether it was stolen at the gas pump, or while you left it out paying a bar tab, even stores and credit bureaus are having information compromised, so it’s a good idea to check to ensure all accounts are up to date and accurate.  The major credit bureaus offer a free copy of your credit report, although you will have to see your credit score on your monthly credit card statements to ensure you continue to trend in the right direction.

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

There are so many credit cards out there these days that you probably get hounded with offers every day.  Instead of putting them directly in the trash or recycle bin, check out the rewards.  By selecting a card with cashback rewards in the form of points or dollars just by making the purchases you would be making anyways, so ignoring this benefit would be leaving free money on the table.  APR is important, but you should avoid carrying over a balance each month as that just leads to debt problems down the road, sometimes making it hard to get out, so it’s best not to even start now.

Reduce Unnecessary Expenses

To really free up extra money you need to reduce your hard-earned dollars that are going out, so that may involve making sacrifices.  A good place to start is avoiding going out to eat and opting for going grocery shopping instead, as preparing meals at home instead of going out or grabbing carrying will have instant savings.  Beyond that, if you are looking to save a hundred or two, you can get rid of cable, that you probably don’t watch many of the channels anyways to necessitate paying every month, where you can go for a streaming service instead, of which you’re probably paying for one now anyways.

Build Yourself a Cushion

You never know what life will throw at you so it’s best to be as prepared as you can be.  If you can put a few months’ worth of expenses in an account to have in case unexpected charges do come up such as car repair, vet bill, or even a job loss, you can avoid putting on a credit card and save yourself from probably going into debt for a while if you’re not able to cover now, and paying back monthly will interest will throw your budget off for sure.

5 Ways to Enjoy Your Spring Break

Spring Break is just around the corner, and for some restless college students, it can’t come fast enough.  Having lived through tough exams, late night cramming sessions and last-minute revisions on papers and thesis, students are eager for a break from studying and from the cold of winter.  For many, heading to the tropical climes or straight to the closest beach is all they can think about.  And while they may have fantasies about fruity cocktails with little umbrellas, string bikinis and partying into the wee hours, the reality is that you have to pay to play.   For too many students, this means using their student loans to fund their trips.  As eager as they may be to frolic on the beach, the sobering fact of more student debt should give them pause.  With a little planning, Spring Break can be a time to refresh your mind and relax your body, catch up with friends and visit family.  Here are five ways to make your Spring Break a social and financial success.

  1. Make your travel plans early – You can save a lot of money and headache when you confirm your hotel reservations weeks before leaving. The earlier you book your rooms, the greater your discount is likely to be.

 

  1. Pool your resources -If you know you’re going to travel with friends, don’t forget to allow for extra luggage, sleeping accommodations and the like. Pool your resources and buy bulk shampoo, and other toiletry items you can divvy up among yourselves.

 

  1. Use a Groupon coupon – Rent a car and drive to your destination.  Driving will cost less than flying, and you can share the expenses with friends.  Not only will you have more control over your experiences along the way, but you can often find places where parking is free.  With a dollar car rental coupon you can save as much as $40 off a weekly rental, and even more when you apply a money saving Groupon to your rental fees.

 

  1. Set a spending limit and don’t exceed it. – Spring Break is a time to get away – but not go crazy.  Remember, what goes up must come down.  When you’re talking about your credit card balance, it can take a long time to pay off a few days’ worth of frivolous spending.

 

  1. Bring your student ID – Not only will you need it to verify your identity, you can get local discounts at many places along the way.

Ways to Save Money Starting Now

Before you go getting into a cpxx, it might be time to take a look at your whole financial picture in order to look at every dollar coming in and out, and then finding ways you can cut expenses in order to put your hard-earned dollars to good use, from building an emergency fund, increasing retirement contributions, and even saving for a much needed vacation.  There are plenty of ways you can save money, but some might take some sacrifices, but will be well worth it in the long run.

Get Rid of the Gym Membership

When the end of the year comes it’s typically a time when you reflect on the previous year and start to think about what you can do to improve yourself in the next year.  That’s probably why you see the gyms packed starting in January, where it’s hard to even get on a machine, but by the time April goes the crowds start to thin out.  The visits become less-frequent and pretty soon you are paying every month but not going to the gym.  Save yourself the trouble and just cancel the gym membership now.  It’s finally starting to warm up, take the dog for a walk every day, and get some exercise outside, for free.

Cut the Cable Cord

The popular trend you hear about now is cutting the cable cord, and that may come as a shock, but think about how many of the available channels that you actually watch, let alone live TV and not your DVR.  If you can actually get rid of cable, get an HD antenna for around $20 to still get the local channels, pay $10 a month for a streaming service, you can probably still save a hundred dollars a month by getting rid of cable.  It may be easier than you think.

Use a Rewards Credit Card

While I understand it may be tough for some to stay within a spending budget, I mean after all, you can charge up what you want and don’t have to pay back until the next month.  Credit cards may scare some, but it actually can make good financial sense others, especially when it comes to the credit card rewards.  By making the purchases you were going to make anyways, you can earn points or cashback dollars that you wouldn’t otherwise see by using your debit card, leaving free money on the table essentially.

Avoid Going Out to Eat

In order to free up extra money sometimes you have to make the tough choices, and while it’s great to order what you want, be served, not to mention cleaned up afterwards while you get to go home, it comes at a premium price.  If you can skip going out to eat and go for grocery shopping instead and actually prepare your meals at home, you can watch the savings happen virtually right away, probably saving hundreds of dollars a month, which may make a little easier to cook a little more instead of taking the easy route and going out.

Money Mistakes You Could be Making

While sure, insurance can help you, but it doesn’t help any potential money mistakes that you could be making.  There may not be a cut and dry answer to what is right and wrong, as everyone makes different amounts of money and have different financial goals, but across the board, if you can build up an emergency fund of a few months’ worth of expenses to give yourself a cushion, getting out of debt, while saving for the future you have a good start, but look to avoid a few behaviors that could set you back.

Trying to Keep Up

Sure, we have all heard the old saying about jumping off a bridge would you do it too, but I guess sort of the same thing goes when it comes to finances.  You don’t know everyone’s finances behind closed doors, from what the salary is, to what expenses are, not to mention how much debt they’re in, so just because your friends or family are throwing around money, doesn’t mean that you have to as well.  Keep in line with your budget and make sure your own finances are on track.

Paying Credit Card Interest

Credit cards are great in the fact that you can charge up and not pay until next month, but if you’re not careful that balance can get out of control and you could have trouble paying by the due date.  If that’s the case and your carryover a balance, you will begin to pay interest, which depending on the card could be as much as 16% APR, and depending on how high the balance is, could start to add a significant monthly payment until the balance is gone, provided you pay more than the minimum to get rid of it more quickly.

Missing Out on Company-Matching 401k

Retirement may be decades away but that doesn’t mean you should avoid thinking about it until later on.  The earlier you start to save, the more it has to grow over time and the more you are left with to continue to enjoy life when you finally do walk away from work.  While you should increase contributions every year to maximize savings, don’t miss out on taking advantage of any company-matching contributions that would be leaving free money on the table if you otherwise didn’t use it.  That could be tens to hundreds of thousands of decades from now!

Not Taking Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

I understand the resistance to use credit cards for some that may have a spending problem and don’t want to risk going into debt, but if you can keep spending within your budget, using a credit card for all purchases can actually make sense when it comes to rewards, points or dollars that you can earn just by making the purchases you were going to make anyways.  Not taking advantage of that would be leaving free money on the table, adding up to hundreds to thousands a year depending on how much you spend and the significance of the rewards card.

A Few Ways to Save Money on Purchases

While sure, you can start doing an opinion outpost or few to start making some extra money, but a good place to start is reducing the expenses that you already have.  From getting rid of your cable bill, to avoiding going out to eat, to even just cutting out impulse purchases that you don’t need, you can free up extra money that you can put towards better use, such as paying down debt, building up an emergency fund, or better yet, saving for retirement.  I understand there are certain purchases that we do need to make, and that’s where we can apply the best practices to save as much money as we can.

Keep a List

Sure, it can be helpful even for online shopping to avoid filling the cart with items you don’t need, but before you go out shopping, especially when it comes to going grocery shopping, taking stock of everything you need before you leave the house can be important so that by the time you do get to the store you don’t forget what you went in there for, not to mention coming out with plenty of things you didn’t need in the first place.  A list can help you stay organized to maneuver through the aisles getting exactly what you need.

Find the Best Deal

In order to compare prices, we would have to drive all over town, going from store to store to try and save money, and by the time it was all said and done, between dealing with traffic, wasting gas, to maybe save a few bucks, it makes you wonder if your time isn’t more valuable.  These days you have the luxury of being in your own home, able to flip to virtually endless amounts of websites in a matter of seconds each, trying to find the best price.  Best of all, you don’t have to fight the crowds.

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards used to get a bad rap, but if used correctly, they can actually make good financial sense.  Take rewards for instance, by making the purchases that you would be making anyways, you can earn points of which you can redeem for gift cards, hotel, or airline miles, or even a cashback check.  It can be argued that you could actually use a credit card for all purchases, but for some, seeing the rewards add up could mean more purchases, and if you are unable to pay off the full statement balance by the due date, the amount you pay in interest could outweigh the rewards.

Or Try Using Only Cash

Credit cards are not for all, and I understand that, so if you are at risk of going into a spending frenzy then perhaps using cash in credit is the way to go.  This way you can allow yourself a certain amount to spend, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.  This could be a nice way to budget all expenses and the little spending money that you have left over.

3 Tips To Improve Your Money Management Skills

If you’re not adequately handling your finances, you may be stressed out and struggling to keep up with your bills. Although your problem may be due to the fact that you’re not earning as much as you need, some of it may be due to poor personal money management skills.

There are some basic personal finance management techniques that you can quickly learn to begin to feel confident about your ability to manage your finances. Let’s take a look at how to get money for a financial emergency, how to create a budget, and how to build awareness around money.

1. How to get out of a financial emergency.

There’s nothing more distressing than doing your best to make your salary last through the month only to be blindsided by an unexpected high expense.

If, for instance, you notice one morning before you get into your car on your way to work that all four tires of your car need to be changed, then, on average, it could cost you as much as $600 because the cost of tires ranges from $500 to $700. While you might be able to postpone this for a few weeks, the longer you wait, the more you risk having a blowout on the freeway. Since you may only be earning about $300 to $500 a week, with that money going to pay your regular bills, you may be wondering how you’re going to be able to afford to buy new tires.

Fortunately, there are lending companies that will give quick cash loans you can pay back in installments. The approval process is fairly easy and you will receive your money fast. You just need to be employed, have a valid Social Security number, and have an active checking account.

  1. How to create a budget.

In order to create a budget, you need to take the following 7 steps:

  • First, find a system that works well for you. You may want to get a software program that makes it easy to set up your budget. Alternatively, you may prefer complete autonomy in how you organize the budget. In this case, use a spreadsheet. After you’ve opened up a spreadsheet program, put in column headings and then create cells for recording income and expenses and cells for calculating totals.
  • Second, establish what your net income is after taxes. You need to know exactly how much money is coming in every month from all your income sources.
  • Third, make a list of all the ways you spend your money each month.
  • Fourth, create a financial goal to spend less than you earn.
  • Fifth, make a plan to help you reach this goal.
  • Sixth, take a month to track your cash flow.  This first month should be focused on researching your budget numbers.
  • Seventh, keep on improving your budget. Every month, you will get a more realistic idea about your spending habits, and you will get numerous insights on how to manage your money better.
  1. How to raise your money awareness.

In order to improve your habits around money, you need to increase your awareness around money. Specifically, you need to become aware of where your money is going. In order to develop self-awareness, you need to keep track of  the following four things:

  1. How often you sabotage your money plan.
  2. When you confuse your needs with your wants.
  3. The times you succumb to peer pressure, spending money on things that you don’t really want but buy anyway because you are trying to fit in.
  4.  When you abuse your credit card, creating a debt that you won’t be able to pay off during the next billing cycle.

The best way to develop money awareness is to carry a small notebook with you. Simply writing each money mistake you make will build your awareness; and, over time, you will stop making mistakes.

In closing, if you find yourself struggling with money, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with money management because they were taught how to manage their money despite years of formal education. Fortunately, learning these three basic money management techniques just requires time and patience to master.

Use a Credit Card the Right Way and Avoid Making Mistakes

Believe it or not there actually are right ways to use a credit card that can actually be financially smart but it’s the mistakes that will get you in trouble.  With the amount of fraud these days, it’s risky to even use a debit card, with your bank account potentially being wiped out if anyone was able to grab your information, until you sort everything out.  Making credit card mistakes are common, so try and avoid these so you can continue down the right financial path.

Not Taking Advantage of Rewards

By making the purchases that you would be making anyways you can earn rewards in the form of miles, points you can redeem for gift cards, or even a cashback check, depending on the card.  Not taking advantage of a credit card without rewards is essentially leaving free money on the table otherwise, which depending how much your expenses in a year are that you could use on your credit card, could be worth up to a thousand dollars in rewards, again, just by making the purchases you would be making anyways, like lowes build and grow.  Seeing the rewards add up and make more purchases than you can afford is where you would get in trouble when the interest you pay far exceeds the rewards earned.

Not Using Store Card

If you shop at a certain store, whether it’s for clothes, or electronics, or both, it may actually be worth it to get a store credit card to use for those purchases.  By signing up for the card in the first place you can save off the bill as a promo percent off, but also you can receive coupons in your email for future sales, not to mention by continuing to use your card you can continue to save money off each purchase, so if you can keep spending under control, could be worth getting to save the most on what you purchase the most outside of necessary expenses.

Carrying Over a Balance

Probably the worst thing you can do as a customer, but what the credit card companies thrive on, is carrying over a balance so that you can be stuck with the APR, which on some cards, could be upwards of 16%, adding a huge portion of the payment depending on the balance that you are carrying on the card.  If you can pay off the full statement balance by the due date, then using a credit card is actually financially smart.

Not Using a Balance Transfer

If you are stuck paying a high interest rate on your outstanding balance then perhaps it’s time to do a balance transfer where you can catch one for 0% and really have your monthly payments go towards chipping away at the balance.  Keep in mind there will be a transfer fee, which could 3-5% of the transferred balance, which depending on the balance, could be a few hundred dollars, but would still be worth it if you figure how much you are saving on interest over the long haul.

Making a Study

If you’ve got a spare room in your house, you’re enjoying a luxury few have! Rather than waste it by simply filling it with dusty boxes you never got around to unpacking, you can clear the room out and make it serve a more productive purpose that will make it an asset to the house.

Today we’re looking at the steps you need to follow create a study you can really work in, whether you run a business from home, or simply want somewhere you can work on your life admin in comfort.

The Blank Canvas

The first thing you need to do is make space. If you can, unpack any of the boxes you have stored there and give the items a home, or arrange to donate or dispose of them. If you’re making a study you need a place you can shut out the world and focus, and a cluttered environment actually creates stress, rather than promoting calm.

If you need to keep some of your clutter, or don’t wish to permanently get rid of furniture you’ve cleared out of your nascent study, you might consider considering local storage facilities. byStored storage in London offer additional services like the free collection and delivery of your stored items that mean you don’t have to worry about actually driving your boxes and furniture to the storage facility can get on with the important business of decorating your new study.

Decoration

If your room is large and well lit, decorating it with pale, restrained colours may make it appear bland. If you’re not trying to make a strong statement with this room, and simply want somewhere you can focus, this may suit your purposes. If you’re trying to stamp a little more personality onto this latest addition to your home, it’s worth picking out one wall (likely the one facing the largest window) to feature a more vibrant colour, or a strongly patterned wallpaper.

In a smaller room, bright colours can be overpowering so it’s worth going for lighter colours to create more of a sense of space, and placing mirrors to reflect light.

Equipment

When the paint has dried, you need to gather the necessary equipment, so you can do all the work you need to. A desk and chair are essentials, and it’s worth taking the time and spending the money to some you can use in comfort for extended periods without causing back or neck pain.

It’s also worth getting a printer so you can print important documents without using offsite facilities, and stocking a stationary cupboard as you would at work. If you need to make an unscheduled trip to buy more printer ink, that’s a chance to get distracted and not do the work you urgently need to in your new study.