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Smart Ways to Make Positive Changes in Your Budget

Looking to be a bit more sensible with your finances? Maybe you’re fed up of running out of money mid month- or perhaps you have a new savings goal that you want to reach. You might want to get out of debt, or even just feel more organised. Whatever your motives are, being organised with money is no bad thing- here are some smart ways you can go about making changes. 

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Switch bill providers

The companies that you pay your bills to are highly competitive, meaning a little shopping around will snag you the best rates. Every year, run some quotes through price comparison sites, and switch to the company which will provide you with the best rates and overall price- it makes no sense to be loyal to the company you’re with as they make their money from their long term customers. While you’re always going to have to pay for things like electricity, broadband and insurances, you shouldn’t be paying over the odds. A few hours just once a year searching for the best providers can save you a decent amount of money overall. 

Meal plan

Food is one area that just about all of us tend to overspend on. We all need to eat, and so it’s something that everyone should be more organised in, once a week, write up a menu for the next few days and then shop to that list. When you get home from work you know what you’re having and always have the ingredients on hand to make it. You don’t end up buying what you don’t need at the supermarket and you reduce your food waste too. Go on sites like Pinterest and write a list of all of the meals you enjoy eating or want to try. Then when you’re building your menu each week, you can pick meals off the list rather than having to think off the top of your head (which can be harder than it sounds!)

Set a budget for extra or luxury spends

We all enjoy our little luxuries- when you work hard it’s these fun extras that make it all seem worth it. Maybe you enjoy going out for meals in nice restaurants, perhaps clothes are your thing or you might just enjoy a night at home every now and again with a glass of wine, a takeaway and a few dollars to flutter at a slots casino. We all have our little enjoyment and luxuries and it’s nice to have them, but just make sure you’re budgeting for them. Your bills, food, travel and other important expenses should be paid first on payday. It’s only then should you treat yourself to any extras, using money that’s leftover. It can be helpful to have a cap or limit on your treat spends, that way you don’t go overboard and can save anything you have afterwards and put it in a savings account. 

Set up extra sources of income

Even if you already have a full time job, it’s a smart move to set up additional streams of income. Blogging, freelancing, even a home business can generate extra cash- this can make your life easier financially, help towards your savings goals or contribute to paying off your debts depending on your situation. If you ever lose your job then you have at least a little something to fall back on while you look for something new, and it generally provides you with a bit more financial security. 

Sell what you no longer use

Most of us have new things coming into our home all the time, so decluttering needs to be an ongoing process. Not only is this good on a practical level (we can sell what we no longer use to raise money and make space for the things we do) but it’s also great for mental health and wellbeing. Being surrounded by clutter, mess and having a house packed to the rafters can create feelings of stress and unease- research even shows that a messy bedroom can cause sleep problems. Go through your cupboards, drawers, wardrobes and other areas of your life and sell anything that’s still good but that you don’t use any more. Put this money into a savings account or spend it on debt- either is a much better use than having it tied up in items that are simply sitting there collecting dust. 

6 Easy & Pain-free Ways you Can Cut Your Spending

Budgeting. It’s one of those things that we all know is good for us. Yet committing to a budget can be a lot easier said than done.

One of the hardest things about budgeting is that you’ll have to make a handful of compromises. This means that you can’t just buy everything you want without thinking about it. Instead, you need to decide what you really need to buy, and what you can live without.

If you’re concerned about how difficult it can sometimes be to reduce your spending, don’t fret. We’ve got a handful of easy ways you can spend less, without feeling the pinch.

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1.    Only Buy Store Brands

Human beings are creatures of habit. We tell ourselves that we need to buy the same make of cheese and toilet paper time and time again. However, the truth is that most of the products you buy in the supermarket today are the same as the own-brand options you can get for a much cheaper price.

When you pay for more for fancy brands, usually, you’re paying for the cost of their advertising and packaging, not for a product that’s any better than you’d get elsewhere. Stick to store-brand only, and you’ll save a fortune.

2.    Plan your Meals

Have you ever been searching through your kitchen cupboards and found a bunch of old, outdated sauce mixes and meal packets in there? You’re not the only one. It’s easy to get inspired and buy something at a shop, then forget all about it when you get home. To make sure that you’re not wasting your money on un-used food, make sure that you plan your meals.

Set aside an hour or two each week to think about the kind of recipes you’ll look forward to eating. This will make it less likely that you’ll be tempted to order in. If you can, try to make multiple meals using similar ingredients, as this will cut down the amount you need to spend too.

3.    Always Keep Snacks Handy

Snacks might not be the best thing for your diet (depending on what you eat), but they’re great for your budget. When you’re out and about, it’s easy to spend a fortune on an expensive lunch when you’re starving and far away from home. However, if you’ve got some snacks in your glove compartment, or your bag, then you can save yourself some hard-earned cash.

To keep things healthy, carry a bottle of water with you at all times, as well as some non-perishable foods like nuts, or a granola bar. When you’re tempted to eat out, even a bottle of water can be enough to fill you up until you get home.

4.    Use Things Up

Most consumers today are more wasteful than they realise. The chances are that you’ve thrown away plenty of “almost empty” bottles of cleaning substances in the past. However, the amount of cash you waste on not using those items until they’re empty is more significant than you may realise.

Whether it’s a bottle of makeup or something that you regularly use around the house, focus on trying to use everything before you buy something new. This will help to stop you from making frivolous purchases on items that you don’t necessarily need. It should also stop you from ending up with excess clutter in your home too.

5.    Make it a Challenge

Budgeting can be boring – so why not have a little more fun with it? Every time you’re shopping for something new, challenge yourself to save money. This could mean going online and finding out how much cash you could save on a new loan if you go with a different provider. It could also mean downloading apps that automatically add discounts to your cart when you’re checking out with an online store.

If you focus on making sure that you’re always on the lookout for a bargain, you’ll be less likely to make passive purchases that take you over your limits in your budget.

6.    Ask for Better Deals

Finally, don’t be afraid to haggle with your service providers. Whether it’s the company that provides your car insurance, or the brand you’re paying for utilities like gas and electric, make sure you’re always paying the lowest price. If you can’t find a better deal online, you can always call the company customer service desk and ask for a discount.

Many businesses will be happy to go above and beyond to keep you on their team. That means that you can find plenty of great deals.

13 Budgeting Tips to Help You Survive on Social Security

 It is believed that roughly 25% of those aged 65 years and above live with families that rely on social security. For this reason, retirees who earn less than $1500 in social security must operate a very tight budget in order to meet up with their financial responsibilities. The following are some of the measures you can put in place in order to stretch your social security and meet your financial obligations;

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Try to delay taking your social security

Though you should start collecting your social security at the age of 62, your monthly social security benefits will get higher if you can just wait for a little till your retirement age to start collecting the money. If for instance, you start collecting your social security at 62 when your retirement age is 67, your social security benefits will be reduced by 30%. Learn more about this from Navigation Wealth Management experts.

Consider moving to an area with lower costs of living

You can maximize your social security benefits when you reduce the costs of your living. Do not hesitate to move to a city or town with lower costs of living when you retire.

Try and pay off your debts before retiring

Credit card bills and mortgages are some of the biggest debts that can deplete your social security funds. Try as much as possible to repay them before you retire.

Consider moving to a more tax-friendly state

Many states, including the Washington DC, do not tax social security benefits. Living in states that do not tax social security will help you stretch your benefit further to cover your daily expenses.

Join discount membership programs

There are some fantastic discount membership programs you should consider joining if you want to get more from your social security. The AARP membership, for instance, will provide you with discounts or savings on your health expenses, entertainment, shopping, and restaurant meals. There are some other community memberships you can find that provide discounts for seniors.

Request from senior discounts when you make travel bookings

As a senior citizen on social security, you will have more time to travel but flights and hotels can be incredibly expensive. You can save more money off your social security by simply taking advantage of discounts on airlines such as Southwest Airlines, and American airlines. There are several hotel chains around the world that also offer discounts to senior citizens worldwide.

Make sure you don’t overpay for prescriptions

The costs of medications can quickly add up and you should consider choosing the generic payment options if possible if you want to save money on such medications. You may want to join a prescription membership program to receive rewards such as discounts.       

Volunteer or get a senior job

If you do not have a health challenge that will reduce your mobility, it will be ideal to become a volunteer or get a non-physically demanding job. Volunteering is a good way to spend your free time, even if you don’t get financial rewards for such.

Avoid adding new debts

If you cannot pay off all debt before you retire, then you should avoid adding new debt, if you want to maximize your social security benefits. You should consider steering clear of whatever that causes impulse buying and practice self-control so that you can stick to your budget. It is disheartening to know that many people are still entangled in debts even after retirement, this eventually makes it almost impossible to save money off their social security.

Downsize to a smaller home

One of the best ways to save money while living on social security is to sell your home and move into a smaller one. Fortunately, home values increase over time and you should take this opportunity to sell that family home and move into a smaller home that will cost much less to maintain. Moving into a smaller home does not mean you have to give up on your comfort, you just want to give up the unnecessary free spaces and reduce the costs of maintaining such large homes. If you don’t want to move out of your large home, you may want to consider renting out a room or apartment from the home, to save more on your social security. Having a roommate will help you save costs of utilities, including electricity, water, and cable.

Consider online income opportunities

If you have not considered online money-making opportunities before, this could be the ideal time to do so. Online income opportunities such as freelance writing, data entry, and survey participation can give you a few hundreds of dollars to augment your social security.

Make use of restaurants that offer discounts to seniors

It is okay to eat out at restaurants once in a while, even though you want to be frugal with your living expenses when you are on social security. There are numerous restaurant chains that offer up to 25% for seniors, on all types of foods and drinks. There are some restaurants that offer free meals to seniors on a particular day of the week or month.

Make use of free entertainment advantages

You don’t have to spend part of your social security to have fun and be entertained. There are museums and movie places where seniors can enter for free at a certain time of the day. Your local theater or coffee shop may organize open mic shows that you can attend for free. Book readings, free outdoor activities and free lectures at local colleges, are some of the free entertainment and educational opportunities you should take advantage of.

Conclusion

Living a frugal lifestyle perhaps is the most important skill you should embrace when living on social security. Cutting costs can be very inconvenient for many, but the rewards can be very enticing. You may want to take advantage of free evening schools for seniors in local colleges and universities where you can learn a new skill you can apply outside of the school to make extra income and live comfortably with your social security.

Preparing Your Children for the World of Accounting

Accounting is a hugely important factor of life — and it’s not just important in the world of business. You see, accounting is basically the management of money, and everybody has to manage their money whether they are an accountant or not! Everybody — whether they are a student, a part time worker, a stay-at-home parent or a big business boss — has to manage their money by tracking their income and saving it when and where they can in order to cover their future expenses. And your children, as they grow, will be no different — they’ll have to do this sort of thing too. And the best way to get them prepared for doing it is to actually prepare them! For advice on how to do so, make sure to read on.

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Teach them about recording and tracking

The recording and tracking of expenses is the most important thing that is done in the world of accounting, so it is apt that we begin with it. And, when it comes to teaching your children about it, no it doesn’t mean that you have to teach them how to become an accountant or a bookkeeper or send them off to do a an MBA Accounting online course as soon as they are old enough. In fact, when you teach your children about recording and tracking you don’t even have to use money to do it. You can just have them write a list of their toys and where they have been put when tidied away. You could play a shopping simulation game with them where they record what it is they have bought and how much fake money they have spent on it. Or you could provide them with a sheet that includes all their chores and pieces of homework, have them tick off what they do, and note down what their prize was for doing them.

When things are written down, they stay written down. And because they remain written down, they can be studied, summarised and analysed in the future. So, try to instil into your children the importance of writing down and recording everything that is of importance to them. By doing so, not only will they be well versed in the management of money in the future, but they will be far more organised in their general way of living.

Teach them about budgeting and the stretching of money

The biggest pitfall when it comes to the saving of money is spending it. Yes, it’s good to spend money and buy things that bring happiness. And yes, it’s good not to let money rule your life. But, in order to live a happy, care-free life, money must be saved and your financial future must be covered. And your children must know this.

Your children must know how to stretch their spend and most importantly what should be given precedence with what they spend. A simple and effective way to teach this is to give them a small amount of change to work with in a shop, and for them to buy whatever they want within the price range they have been given. They should also be taught that if they save the little money they are given in the for of pocket money, then it will eventually grow to be a big pile of money. To do this, you could inform that instead of buying a few sweets every week, they could save up for a number of weeks or months and instead buy themselves a brand new Playstation or Xbox game.

When money is spent wisely it can be the centre of one’s happiness rather than being the root of all evil. And it is imperative that your children know this as they grow. For more advice on how to prepare your children for the world of accounting when they reach adulthood, make sure to check out this guide.

Dodge These Family Financial Pitfalls, And Learn How To Climb Out If You Do Fall In!

When you have a family to take care of financially, you will want to do your best to avoid any pitfalls. However, even if you do take a tumble, there are ways of getting out again. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Buying a house that is too expensive

One the biggest problems I see families getting into is buying a property to live in that is far too costly to afford comfortably. This is because it’s all too easy to buy into the dream of getting that perfect home or forever house, no matter what the cost.  

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However, when you have a family to take care of, there are other costs to include in your budget, not just your rent or mortgage. Unfortunately, when these take up most of your earnings it leaves very little left for other essential things like clothes, bills, and transport, and even less to pay for fun family times and making memories together.

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I’m, not saying that your home it’s unimportant it, is. As it’s the base that keeps you safe and allows you to raise your family, but it’s all about balance. So, if you find yourself in a home that is a drain on your finances, it may be time to consider moving to something more reasonable. As all you are doing is taking money away from others areas of your life, often the ones that are vital to its overall quality.  

Not getting your taxes right

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Tax, the dreaded task most of us have to do! The problem is that when you are busy, and you have a family to care for it can be pretty easy to put it off, or not be as accurate as you might if you were sitting in an office at work doing your return. However, not giving your tax return the proper attention is a big mistake, because not only can it cost you a fortune in unpaid taxes and fees, in some cases, you can actually get in trouble with the law as well. Something you will want to do your darnedest to avoid, especially if you have a family depending on you.

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So to avoid falling into this hole in the first place it best to keep excellent records including receipts, invoices, and notes on anything that is tax deductible. Then when you have to file your return, it will be a lot easy to make sense of everything.

If you have a problem with your return once you have filled it, don’t panic. Instead, schedule a free tax consultation with Joe Callahan, or another specialist and get them to help you assess the situation. Remember just because the IRS is making a case against you, doesn’t mean that they will win. So get as much information and help as you can to build your side of the case and give yourself a good chance of success.

Forgetting To Save For A Rainy Day

Rainy days, they do happen, and that is something we should all be aware of. That is why is so important to have something tucked away just in case it’s needed. After all, it’s unlikely you will foresee every problem that you come across in life!  

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To prepare for this, it can be useful to put away a certain amount each month into a saving account. This keeps it separate and also allows you to earn interest on your money, so it’s working harder for you.

Of course, you may get caught down this particular financial hole, without having an emergency fund to fall back on. In this case, to get out, you will need to find the money elsewhere. To do this, try selling something of value that you own like a piece of jewelry, some IT equipment, or a musical instrument. Another option is to take out a loan either from a bank, or payday lender if you only need the cash for a short amount of time.

Lastly, one of the cleverest ways of getting yourself out of this particular hole is by taking out a 0% credit card. This allows you access to the money that you need, while also ensuring you don’t actually have to pay back more than you borrowed, as you do with most other loans. Although it is worth mentioning that the 0% interest rates on most credit cards only last for a certain amount of time and usually don’t apply to cash withdrawal, only actual shopping purchases. Meaning they will only be suitable for some situations.