More Than Finances

Get your finances in order!

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3 Painless Money Challenges You Can Start Today

3-painless-money-challenges-you-can-start-today

Saving money is something people try everyday. Some have the discipline to follow the old adage to “pay yourself first”, but for most of us we need to find other ways.

We are a competitive people so when we make something a “challenge” or “contest” we are more likely to do it in hopes of winning. That is why a money challenge could be the best thing for you. But which one would work best?

The Tried And True 52 Week Money Challenge

Most people have heard of this money challenge. It’s popularity and ease make it the perfect first choice. How it works is that the first week of the year (or anytime you want to start it) you save $1. That’s it just a dollar, then the next week you add another dollar. Every week after you continue to add a dollar so on week 38 you would be saving $38.

This is a easy to follow saving challenge that will leave you with a total of $1,378 at the end of the 52 week challenge.

You can make this easier by automating the challenge. Transferring money from your checking to a savings account every week, or even every month to make it come out to the correct amount at the end. Averaging it throughout the year ($114.83 per month) having your bank automatically take that out.

The weekly cash method works great though, you don’t feel the burn as much at the beginning, and by the end you’re used to putting money aside. Not only that but you have all that cash you can then take to the bank, or just go on a nice night out.

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The Under Appreciated 365 Day Change Challenge

For some the weekly money challenge is too much, but who doesn’t have a few pennies to spare?

The 365 day change challenge is daily but requires much less money. On day one you put 1 penny in a jar, the following day 2 pennies, and so on and so on. On day 365 you are putting $3.65 in the jar (less then week 4 of the 52 week challenge).

At the end of the year you will have saved $667.95, less than half then the weekly challenge, but still a nice amount of money. With that you could go out to a very nice dinner, you could go on a long weekend getaway, or get new tires for your car.

The Unlimited Potential Dime Challenge

If you use cash to make purchases this may be the best money challenge for you. Every time you come across a dime in your daily life you set it aside. When you get home you put it in a empty 2-liter bottle, or a jar, or anything else available. Some days will be more profitable then others, but you may find yourself finding ways to get more dimes.

When getting change you may ask for it all in dimes, or you may buy an extra pack of gum so that you will get more dimes.

This challenge doesn’t have to be dimes either, you could choose pennies, nickels, quarters, dollar bills, or five dollar bills. The basic part is to pick something that you put aside and never spend and save it.

 Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Stop Overspending And Start Splurging Wisely!

Creating and sticking to a budget can be dull and difficult, but you can make life a lot easier some careful planning and forethought. Realistically, no matter how much you want to live within a sensible budget, the temptation to overspend on impulse buys is an ever-present danger and one sudden purchase can ruin your budgeting plans.

Trying to achieve a healthy financial state, organising your bills and paying your debts, doesn’t have to be all about doing without, though. If you build a ‘splurge fund’, an amount of money ear-marked for those impulse buys, into your budget you could actually save yourself money.

Manage Your Funds

Even the word ‘splurge’ might make you think of large, unplanned luxury purchases that throw budgets into turmoil. But you can plan, prepare and work them into a spending plan. Set aside a little money each month from your regular outgoings, either in a special bank account or just kept in a jar, for when temptation strikes.

The idea is to learn how to manage your funds without feeling deprived of the pleasure of spending on treats. Deny yourself the ability to spend a little something on a couple of inessential luxuries once in a while and you’re more likely to lose control of your spending at a later point. Having a splurge fund gives you a clear idea of what you can afford to spend on luxuries.

To free up money from the budget to put towards your splurge fund, review your current spending habits and cut back on the things that don’t matter to save for the things that do. Look at the things that you regularly spend cash on and rethink where your money goes. Lots of money is dribbled away on the little things that people buy from habit. You could swap expensive salon shampoos for supermarket own brands, stop buying take-out coffee every morning or popping out to eat every lunch time and save on transport by arranging a carpool to travel to work.

Shop Smarter

You can shop smarter to save money. Look out for deals, special offers and sales and don’t go to places where it’s too easy to spend money. Have clear objectives about what you want and what you need before you go shopping. Any money that you save can be put into your splurge fund.

If you’ve set aside a little money each month, then when the time does come for a little retail therapy, spend responsibly and get the maximum pleasure for the least amount of money. Just because you are splurging, it doesn’t mean you can’t still save money to splurge again later.

Wait for a while, whether it is one hour or a week, when you see something you want to splurge on. Research and compare what you want, check to see if there any deals on your planned purchase and don’t spend until you have that surplus of money saved. There is a definite sense of financial maturity with delayed gratification and none of the guilt of hefty interest payments on a credit card.

This guest article was submitted by Francesca, a financial blogger from the UK who writes for SO Switch (http://www.soswitch.com). Be sure to share your tips for smarter shopping by leaving a comment below, or Tweet her @franki_blogs.

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Is the poor economy eating into your savings?

There is no escaping the fact that these are tough financial times and many Americans are finding it difficult to survive on the money in their checking account.

While everyone knows how important it is to have savings, it can sometimes be impossible to get through the month without dipping into them.

With interest rates so low, it is undoubtedly a better idea to use savings than to take on extra debts such as credit cards to pay for essentials.

But the real question remains, are there alternatives to constantly spending money from the savings account in order to have enough money to survive?

The first step may sound obvious but few people take the time to do it properly and that is to plan a budget.

Sit down and write out your household expenditure and work out where you are wasting money. Looking at the last three months of spending from your checking account can be a good way to work out where the dollars actually go.

Once you have identified any areas where expenditure could be cut out, the next step is to make some savings.

Research has shown that most people are not very good at shopping around to get the best deal; once they have signed up with an insurer for example, they tend to stick with them at renewal.

Switching insurer or even changing to online shopping with a cheaper grocery store can bring considerable savings yet few people bother because of the effort involved in researching. A quick way to bring some of the best results is by using comparison sites to find the best deals.

Many experts recommend paying for everything with cash rather than charging it when you are trying to save money. This is a great idea as it helps give you a better idea of how much money you are spending but sometimes, a credit card can actually save you money.

This may sound like a contradiction but using the right kind of credit card could end up not costing you a cent and actually earn you money or bring savings.

Shop around the market and find a credit card that offers good rewards that would be useful with either cashback or discounts at your grocery store for example. These are things that would save money on basic living essentials rather than luxury items such as cheaper vacations or flights.

Once you have your card, use it for everything you can that month. Charge everything rather than paying cash. Just keep track of how much you spend and don’t go over budget.

When the bill arrives, pay it off in full so you do not get charged any interest. The money you have spent on your card will quickly earn you discounts or cashback, depending on the card you chose and as you paid the bill in full, you will not have any interest charged. Hey presto, you have a credit card that actually bring you savings!

The other way to protect your savings is by increasing your income. Is it possible to get some overtime at work or help out another department to earn some extra dollars? You could also think about taking on a small part-time job in the evening or weekend; this will help pass the time without spending money as well as providing more income.

Another option to boost your income without taking on more work is by selling unwanted items you may have around the home. Try advertising in the local paper, have a yard sale or even sell them online. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and this not only de-clutters your home but also boosts your savings with the minimum of effort.

There is no escaping the fact that these are tough financial times and many Americans are finding it difficult to survive on the money in their checking account.

While everyone knows how important it is to have savings, it can sometimes be impossible to get through the month without dipping into them.

With interest rates so low, it is undoubtedly a better idea to use savings than to take on extra debts such as credit cards to pay for essentials.

But the real question remains, are there alternatives to constantly spending money from the savings account in order to have enough money to survive?

The first step may sound obvious but few people take the time to do it properly and that is to plan a budget.

Sit down and write out your household expenditure and work out where you are wasting money. Looking at the last three months of spending from your checking account can be a good way to work out where the dollars actually go.

Once you have identified any areas where expenditure could be cut out, the next step is to make some savings.

Research has shown that most people are not very good at shopping around to get the best deal; once they have signed up with an insurer for example, they tend to stick with them at renewal.

Switching insurer or even changing to online shopping with a cheaper grocery store can bring considerable savings yet few people bother because of the effort involved in researching. A quick way to bring some of the best results is by using comparison sites to find the best deals.

Many experts recommend paying for everything with cash rather than charging it when you are trying to save money. This is a great idea as it helps give you a better idea of how much money you are spending but sometimes, a credit card can actually save you money.

This may sound like a contradiction but using the right kind of credit card could end up not costing you a cent and actually earn you money or bring savings.

Shop around the market and find a credit card that offers good rewards that would be useful with either cashback or discounts at your grocery store for example. These are things that would save money on basic living essentials rather than luxury items such as cheaper vacations or flights.

Once you have your card, use it for everything you can that month. Charge everything rather than paying cash. Just keep track of how much you spend and don’t go over budget.

When the bill arrives, pay it off in full so you do not get charged any interest. The money you have spent on your card will quickly earn you discounts or cashback, depending on the card you chose and as you paid the bill in full, you will not have any interest charged. Hey presto, you have a credit card that actually bring you savings!

The other way to protect your savings is by increasing your income. Is it possible to get some overtime at work or help out another department to earn some extra dollars? You could also think about taking on a small part-time job in the evening or weekend; this will help pass the time without spending money as well as providing more income.

Another option to boost your income without taking on more work is by selling unwanted items you may have around the home. Try advertising in the local paper, have a yard sale or even sell them online. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and this not only de-clutters your home but also boosts your savings with the minimum of effort.

 

More about personal finance:

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Lose Weight, Save Money

If you feel as though you have exhausted every possible way to save money each month and are still struggling to get by, you may want to consider your pant size. With obesity becoming a wide spread health concern across the U.S., many Americans are trying to trim calories out of their diets and maintain regular exercise regimens. However, losing weight and healthy living have more than just physical benefits. There are financial benefits to properly managing your weight as well. Areas in which a healthy weight will save you money include:

Health Care

Obesity can lead to a variety of high-risk health factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and joint erosion. Those suffering from obesity are also more likely to suffer from heart attack and stroke, and be more prone to other forms of heart disease. To reduce the likelihood of high health care premiums and high medical bills in the future, stay within the healthy weight range for your sex, height, and age.

Food

Many who are overweight eat out at least once everyday, and eating out just once a day can quickly add up. “If you are someone who chooses to go out for lunch every work day to escape the office, you could easily be spending $50-$60 a week, or $200 to $240 a month, on lunches alone which is more than enough to cover the cost of groceries for personal breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for a month,” says Charles Bulger from Currencies.com. Instead of eating out, cook for yourself or bring your lunch to work. Your waist will shrink while your wallet will remain fat.

Clothing

Larger clothing costs more because more fabric must be used. Clothing for larger individuals also requires special tailoring and unique designs which also make it more expensive. If you have excess weight, shedding those extra pounds to fit the your body type’s healthy weight will not only make it easier to find clothes, but will also make them cheaper.

Losing weight has numerous short and long term financial benefits, and if you want to start saving additional money each month and are overweight, you should consider starting a healthy diet and exercise program. Doing so will not only help you add years to your life, but it will also help you keep money in your wallet which can be invested to enjoy the extra years you will have added to your retirement.

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Savings Myths

The current economic downturn has affected us all and with no real end currently in sight, we are all desperately trying to do our bit to save some money. The amount of people with savings is at an all time low, whilst credit card debt gets ever higher.

People give all kinds of reasons as to why they haven’t got money set aside for the proverbial rainy day. Many of these excuses are based on myths, an idea that gets into the national psyche and sticks, but they are not all true.

Many people have convinced themselves that they simply can not afford to save, that each and every dollar coming in their next pay check is already spoken for.

It is quite likely that even those on the most modest incomes can, with a little creative budgeting, afford to save something. For instance, do you really need that extra large skinny cinnamon latte every morning?

If you enjoy a special cup of coffee every other morning instead of every day you could make a significant saving over the course of a month, money that you could be saving. You may also find that it becomes more of a treat and you will enjoy it more!

It is a common misconception that saving money in this way means you have to deny yourself things that you value and enjoy. You don’t have to go without to save, you don’t have to sacrifice completely the things you enjoy, but just take a measured look and re-evaluate.

One myth that puts people off saving is the one that dictates that you should save 10% of your monthly income.

If you can afford to save 10% then great, but this will not be the case for many of us. Save what and when you can is the best advice.

Debts, whether they be loans or credit cards are an expensive business and consider how much interest you are paying.

Interest itself can run in to the thousands, thereby increasing the overall cost of an item. If you are able to purchase large items such as a car or sofa with cash you have saved, you could save a small fortune.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to invest to kick off your account. These days, accounts can be opened with relatively little money and some accounts can be opened with as little as $1.

It is also not true that saving money means that it is tied up and can not be accessed in an emergency.

Not all banks charge penalty fees for accessing your cash. Shop around and select the account that is right for you.

There are many people who look at the value of their homes and other assets as an investment for their future.

It is worth bearing in mind that property values fluctuate and there are many circumstances, some beyond your control, that will affect the value of your property.

Saving money is easy, but many of us have just gotten out of the habit.

So now is the time to start factoring in an amount to your budget each month and start making it a habit again.