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Women's Personal Finance Blog. I started Girls Just Wanna Have Funds in 2003 as a way for women to begin the conversation about money. Empowering women to break financial ceilings one stiletto at a time
Staying on budget throughout the holidays is always a challenge. Those extra gifts and that extra food can seriously blow a hole in your budget.
You can argue that it’s all about self-control, but for those of us without control need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve compiled these great tips to ensure that you will be able to control your spending this coming holiday season.
Make a Budget
The first step is to have a budget in the first place. So many people only have a rough idea in their minds of how much they’d like to spend. That’s not enough. You need a firm budget.
Develop this budget via a spreadsheet and stick to it. Log every single purchase you make, including any planned purchases.
Spend with What You Have
This is a problem if you’re collecting points by spending via your credit card, but if you’re notorious for spending too much we highly recommend you do your holiday spending with cash.
Cash has a highly calming effect because you can see what you have. When you only have cash you know you can only spend that much or you’re not going to be able to buy everything else on your list.
Starting a Christmas fund earlier in the year can help avoid the money woes. Many people are forced to get creative with their finances during the holidays. Whether this means selling unwanted items on Craigslist or taking on a loan to help provide a good holiday. People with bad credit may have to stick with lenders that offer loans for bad credit. Those fees can be high so it may be better to spend what you have and to not go into debit over the holidays.
Make a List (for everything)
The psychological benefit of a shopping list is amazing. Write one down every time you go to the store and stick to that list. This will stop any of the additional purchases you make on top of what you need. It’s an excellent way of ensuring that you don’t make any bad decisions along the way.
Share Your Budget
Even if it’s just with your mother or another family member, sharing your budget is a powerful way of making a real commitment.
We don’t want to fail in front of others. It’s a natural human instinct. By sharing your budget with someone else you’ll have even more motivation to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes.
Beware of Sales
The chances are you’ll be assaulted by sales and special deals at this time of year. But beware because they’re designed to catch the unwary.
Think about it like this. If there’s a sale where you can buy 3 for the price of 2 you might want to jump at that great deal. But hold up one second. What if you were only ever going to buy one in the first place? Suddenly that sale has led to you paying double the amount you normally would.
That doesn’t mean all sales are bad. But this is why we always advocate a shopping list so you don’t fall victim to these marketing stunts.
Take a step back and consider whether a sale is really a good option for you.
Do You Need those Extras?
The holidays are all about decorating and having fun. Unfortunately, some people get too carried away. Is it necessary for you to buy the premium turkey you’ll only eat half of? Do you need to pay $5 for coffee every time you leave the house to go shopping?
Ask yourself these questions before deciding on the extras.
Last Word – Staying Within Your Budget
So many people go over their budget and find themselves with a mountain of credit card debt come January. Keep in mind you can always make some gifts this year. This year don’t let that happen to you. Follow these tips and have a happy start to 2018.
Do you have any other tips for staying within your budget?
The transition between youth and adulthood is pretty fuzzy for most of us. But then we have experiences that remind us that our days of being a kid are long gone. Maybe it’s the first time you have to change a diaper, or when you decide to call it a day at 9:30 PM on a Friday. Everyone gets older, and nowhere does this feel more obvious than when approaching your personal finance life.
Money makes everything more complicated, and complications are a big part of adulthood for most. Here are five financial signs that you’ve entered the world of the grown-ups.
You Have or Are Thinking About Getting, Life Insurance. Life insurance is for responsible people who take care of other people in some way or another. Some single, unattached adults may have reason to forego life insurance, but it’s a necessity for most. This financial product is a great source of peace of mind for people who buy it, but you can be sure that if you’ve ever Googled “term life insurance rates”, you’re absolutely an adult type person.
You Save For Important Stuff. Saving is not limited to adults, but you can be sure that if someone is saving for a home, additional education, a minivan, or other major purchases – this person is almost certainly not a child. Kids who save this way have a great start in life, but may as well be considered honorary adults anyway.
You Have “A Portfolio”. Simple investment terms like “portfolio” are often mysterious to people who aren’t very old. It takes experience and sophistication to create a strong portfolio. Even if you have a portfolio that’s nothing special, you’re still ahead of most adults. Investing doesn’t mean you’re a fuddy duddy, but it almost always means you have entered the land of the somewhat-aged.
You Budget. Budgeting is one of the best aspects of getting older. Sure it’s not sexy, but budgeting is almost always associated with financial freedom. People budget to get out of debt, make sure they spend beneath their means, to open up extra cash for saving, and other reasons as well. Some kids budget, but you only get truly sophisticated in this regard when you are past your last growth spurt.
You Aren’t Always Broke. This one is controversial because some grown up folks are broke through no mistake of their own. However, people who aren’t broke and don’t become broke are usually either rich people/kids, or they are mature people who have learned not to spend more money than they have. It’s nice to leave the college days when you don’t have any money to do or buy much of anything. This is definitely one of the perks of being a financially savvy grown up.
Not every aspect of getting older is pleasant; in fact, most aren’t. On the other hand, getting your personal finances together is amazing, and has tons of secondary benefits. If you relate to any or all of the above, you’re probably over the age of 18 (or even 30), but you should be proud that you’ve figured this much out!
Many personal finance experts preach a message of fear that encourages a debt aversion. You’ve probably heard or read stories about folks who ended in a financial rut because they took on more debt than they could manage. However, debt in itself is not inherently bad – debt becomes an issue when not properly managed. I like to think of debt as a chainsaw that can help you cut down massive financial commitments such as buying a home into smaller manageable bits. However, a chainsaw when facing the wrong way can actually cut you off at the knees. This piece provides a contrarian outlook in support of debt with three reasons debt can be good for your finances.
It can help you make more money
Investing is one of the smartest ways to increase your sources of income especially when you invest in assets that generate passive income. However, if you decide to save up investment capital, it might take some time before you save up enough money for a decent investment. Hence, you might miss incredible investment opportunities because you are still saving up your investment capital.
However, borrowing money for investment purposes in appreciating assets such as real estate could help you get started on your investment journey faster. How much money you’ll be able to borrow depend on your income, credit score, and other assets that you own. Nonetheless, you need to do your due diligence and ensure that you make smart investment decisions so that your ROI is more than the Interest payment.
It can smoothen out knots in your cashflow
Irrespective of how smart you are with your income and your expenses, you’ll still have the occasional cash flow gaps. Maybe something happened and your salary for the month wasn’t processed in good time, maybe you lent a friend some money and he wasn’t able to repay you by the agreed time, or maybe you work a commission-based job where the bulk of your earnings is paid as an end-of-year bonus.
However, you need to objectively calculate your expected income and expenses, so that you can know how much money you can afford to borrow and repay without getting into financial troubles. Short-term debts offers can help you get the funds you need to tide you over until your cash flow finds a balance. If you refuse to take advantage of such credit offerings, you’ll be putting yourself under an avoidable financial and emotional stress that could have an adverse effect on other areas of your life.
It can help you be disciplined in your spending
Many folks spend a great deal of money on lifestyle items and consumables annually – even though the spending happens in small bits with $5, 10, $25 here and there. Taking on good debt can help you make smarter financial decisions on how you spend money. You know that you have monthly payments to make for the servicing of your debt; hence, you’ll have an automatic scale of preference that allocates money to your debt obligations. The good thing is that the money you didn’t spend on consumables will in turn work for you via your investments (see 1) and set you on a faster path to financial freedom.
Girlfriends! We’ve all faced the same frustration, aggravation, and expense when our appliances go on the blink. There is nothing more infuriating than a washing machine that suddenly stops spinning, or a dryer that blows cold air. Perhaps you’ve encountered a faulty dishwasher that coated your kitchen floor with a pool of slippery water? I wish that these inconveniences were somebody else’s problem – but I’ve encountered them several times over the years. When you’re learning to be financially independent, there are a couple of things that the textbooks don’t teach you.
Your Appliances Matter – Take Care of Them
First of all, home warranties are important. These plans, and the coverage they offer, may not appear necessary when you’ve just bought a brand-new double door refrigerator, a convection oven, or a state-of-the-art Bosch dishwasher. You may think – as I mistakenly did – that the warranty provided by the manufacturer is sufficient protection against malfunctions or defective merchandise.
But what happens once that warranty runs out? You certainly don’t want to be left with huge bills to replace these items. Back in the day, I’d call out a handyman and bargain with him for the best price to repair the equipment in my kitchen. The dishwasher disposal, the icemaker in the refrigerator, the heating element in the oven, or the boiler in the bathroom.
No More Sticker Shock
You don’t want to get sticker shock when you repair these household appliances and systems. A double door refrigerator can cost you anywhere from $1200-$1700, a dishwasher runs anywhere from $158-$700, and a water heater ranges from $100-$700, depending on where you buy it.
These are all unnecessary expenses that you can certainly avoid by doing the sensible thing: purchasing a home warranty plan. In the absence of such a subscription, what are your options? You could call that kid up the road who repairs electrical gadgets and gizmos as a part-time hobby. Chances are he’s not that good anyway, and you can end up paying for shoddy work and replacing the appliance.
Home Warranty Plans Cover Normal Wear and Tear
If you go with a professional handyman, you may as well be purchasing a brand-new disposal unit or dishwasher – that’s how expensive their services can be. If your devices or appliances are causing problems to begin with, chances are they need to be replaced.
That’s precisely why home warranty providers should be considered as a money-saving option. In case you’re wondering, this is what a home warranty typically covers: the replacement costs for home appliances and home systems, or the cost of repairing those systems or appliances. The home warranties are structured in such a way that all items included in the plan will be covered according to normal wear and tear.
There are many home warranty service providers on the market, and it’s a little challenging choosing between them. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s best to conduct a little analysis before signing up with a provider. I was pleased with what I learned from my First American home protection reviewed study.
For starters, this company offers a Basic Plan and a Premier Plan. You can also get additional coverage for extra appliances and systems. And the cost is what grabbed me from the get-go since I’m so budget conscious: just $25 per month for a basic plan. Coverage for your home warranty plan should cover all the main areas, including electrical, heating, plumbing, home appliances and fixtures. My advice to you: watch for what isn’t covered so you’re always in the loop!
No doubt you’ve heard the old adage before, “that car will start to lose its value as soon as you drive it off the lot.” To be more precise, its value drops about 10% right off the bat. Within that first year, it will probably lose another 10% of its value. In the years following, you can expect the value to drop about 15-20% annually.
Why does the value drop so quickly? What does depreciation mean for you as a car owner? What can you do to try and sustain your vehicle’s value so that you can get a good deal when it comes time to trade your car in? Today, we’re going to dive into the topic of depreciation and try to answer some of these crucial car owner concerns.
Why Do Cars Depreciate?
There are several factors that have an influence on vehicle depreciation. The one you might be most familiar with is wear and tear. As time goes on, you rack up mileage on your car. The more miles, the more likely there is to be damage to the vehicle.
Interior issues like tears in the upholstery, mechanical problems like the brakes, or even exterior damage from minor accidents start to add up, and even if you get them repaired, they all factor into the car’s history.
While this is certainly a big deal, it doesn’t count for all the depreciation that occurs. There are subtle economics at play too. Think about it; new cars are being rolled out at a constant rate. The second you drive off the lot, there’s already something newer, better, and more attractive for potential customers to choose from.
If the car you bought is still popular in a few years time, there’s a chance that it will retain a good deal of value. Toyota Tacoma’s, for instance, are known for being reliable and highly sought after even when used. As a result, you’ll likely get a good amount in resale—more than you might with other models.
On the flipside, check out the least popular car listing. These cars are more likely to lose a larger portion of their value because the demand for them is lower. Of course, knowing what’s going to stay popular in the years to come is a difficult task, so what should you do to make sure that your resale potential stays high?
The answer is to carefully consider the factors that are within your control. You can keep your car in good condition by driving normally and avoiding accidents to the best of your ability. Maintain your vehicle regularly, and if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, take it to a talented mechanic who can.
Keep the interior of your car clean. Get it vacuumed, use floor covers to keep the bottom from getting damaged, keep the upholstery unmolested, etc. If you have pets, keep them off the seats if you can, or invest in covers so that your seating stays in good condition.
When selecting a car that you think you might resell, go for something with utility, great fuel economy, or both if you can. A used car’s value holds better if it has a purpose or feature that is particularly attractive.
For vehicles like pickup trucks, that purpose is hauling stuff in the truck bed. For highly fuel efficient cars, that purpose is saving the owner money on gas.
In addition to this, make sure you get the right features that will add to your car’s attractiveness. They may cost you more upfront, but they will also net you more when it’s time for resale, and go a long way to a trade-in on a newer vehicle.
When you’re running a small business, you might not have the funds to hire a complete team. While you’re still getting up and running, many employees will have to work double duty to cover all the necessary tasks in the finance department. To help your small business thrive, consider these tips.
Stay On Top of Bookkeeping
Many small businesses that are working with a limited number of team members tend to let bookkeeping fall by the wayside. While it might seem more important to focus on other aspects of the business, it can be a disaster if you put off accounting work for too long. To cut down on panic when it’s time to reconcile expenses, make sure to place a high priority on bookkeeping for your small business.
Utilize Available Software
Being a small business owner is actually becoming easier with each passing year, as the technology available continues to improve. In the past, there were no handy tools to help your business stay organized and efficient. Now, there is a wealth of information and tools available to help small business owners be successful. If you’re struggling with accounting, consider investing in a software service for accounting tips. New cloud-based services make it easier than ever to stay organized with automated data input and file sharing.
Open a Line of Credit
Even small expenses can be difficult for a fledgling business to absorb. If you’re struggling to make ends meet in the beginning and you’re also working on improving your business credit score, consider opening a line of credit. Similar to a traditional credit card, a line of credit for your business can be extremely helpful in making routine purchases and can act as a quick source of capital when needed. However, be sure to make payments on time and in full to avoid hurting your credit score. The right credit card for your business can help you boost your credit history and you can even gain cash back rewards.
Make Conservative Estimates
While it’s tempting to underestimate your expenses for the sake of optimism, it’s best to be practical and prepare for the worst possible outcome. When preparing an expense estimate, make sure to overestimate rather than underestimate. For your business to be lucrative and successful for the long haul, it’s important to be realistic from the very beginning. By ensuring that you’ll be able to handle all expenses, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that your project comes in under budget.
Revise the Budget Often
When you’re in charge of running a small business, never delay revisiting and making changes to the budget. In order to make sure that the business operates as smoothly and efficiently as possible, it’s vital to take time out to carefully evaluate the budget. If you find that you’re consistently underestimating time constraints and expenses, don’t be afraid to start from scratch and create a more realistic budget and set of goals. By regularly scrutinizing the budget and making changes when needed, the business will have the best possible chance of surviving and improving in the future.
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