Archive for Saving

Personal Budgeting: Common Issues And Quick Fixes

calculatorAn air-tight budget is one of the most valuable things you can have in life. They will give you a much clearer picture of your financial situation, both in the present and the future, and make it so much easier to afford some of life’s luxuries. With a good enough budget, you’ll know where every last cent you earn is going, why it’s going there, and how you can divert your cashflow more economically. While everyone should be able to enjoy the freedom of a good budget, it comes more naturally for some people than it does for others. Here, I’ll go over some of the common problems people have with budgeting, and what you can do about them.

One of the most common issues people seem to have with budgeting is that their category estimates are way off. When you first had to set out a budget, you may have copied out the categories you found in a simple guide. Like many people, you simply wrote out the list, made an estimate on what you needed to budget for each category, and then tried to live by it. Again, like many people, this first attempt at a budget may have been a total failure! When you’re not that experienced in managing finances, it can be pretty easy to get certain categories way off. Energy bills have a tendency to run higher than you expect. Food bills, on the other hand, tend to be lower. The various categories of your budget can fluctuate greatly depending on various lifestyle choices, and throw your estimates off drastically. If you’re suffering from this issue, then the best way around it is to start everything from scratch. Over the next month, save every little receipt and invoice you have, add up the figures for each category, and settle on a more accurate figure. From there on, everything will be so much easier to afford.

Another common problem which people seem to have with their budgeting is that life’s little emergencies cause it to fall apart. I know a lot of people who started off with what seemed like an exceptionally tight budget. However, many of these people quickly had to learn a hard lesson. Not every month is going to play out exactly as you’d want it to! You might have to have guests over, bumping up your food costs. At other times, you may have to spend more on general household costs when you or your partner gets ill. Sure, you might have a pretty good handle on all the regular costs you have to cover. However, if you’re not thinking about these variations which can come completely out of the blue, you could end up consistently going over budget, which will completely screw up your personal finances. This may lead to you obtaining cash loans, or having to tighten things up in other areas. You’re going to need a little breathing room, and you can create it by adding a little more to every category on your budget. Even an extra $40 under each heading can give you some wiggle room when life pulls a fast one on you. Sure, this might mean a little less recreation at the start of the month. However, you’ll probably be able to spend under your budget through most months, and have a little more money to play with!

If budgeting seems like a massive amount of work to you, then you may have done your first one with nothing but a pen, paper, and a calculator. You may have been keeping all your receipts in a single envelope, and stressing yourself out by sorting through them and writing down various figures. If this sounds familiar, then it’s no wonder that you avoid budgeting like the plague! Fortunately, there are several tools to make budgeting much easier, such as Mint. This makes sorting through your budget much easier. You can simply type in a receipt and the program will instantly sort it into the right category. You’ll no longer have to sort through a massive pile of receipts, or get angry with your calculator when you make a slip-up and have to start again! Some tools also have helpful forecasting features. Do some research, and buy some software which you’d mesh well with.

Attention Students: These 3 Tips Will Cure Your Money Problems Instantly!

college-picThere can be many stressful moments in life, especially when you’re a student in college. During those years, you may find it tough to scrounge money together and survive. So, I have some financial tips to help any students in need:

Eat Well For Less

A big reason many students have no money is because they spend too much on food. We’ve all heard of the typical student diet. It consists of fast food and microwave dinners almost every night. When you think about it, this diet can be costly. Plus, as a student, you may have no idea how to shop for food properly.

 

Are you one of those students that  just goes out and buys everything you want all at once? Well, with a few clever tactics, you can make healthy meals and save loads of money. Stay clear of branded products. You’ll be surprised at how much more expensive they are. A big example is with cereal. Kellogg’s cereal costs way more than store brand cereal. Is there a difference in taste? Another tip is to stop buying ready made meals. You may think this is convenient, but it costs too much. You’ll save money by buying individual ingredients and making it yourself. The more you save, the more financially secure you’ll be during your studies.

Sell Unwanted Items Help Out Around The Campus

Do you have a lot of unwanted junk? Think about all the clothes you’ve bought and don’t wear. What about those DVD’s and video games on your shelf collecting dust? There are probably loads of things you can find lying around your room that you can sell. In fact, you can make some extra cash selling back a textbook or two. Every year, you need books for your classes. Then, they become useless, and it’s wasted money lying around. Other students will need them, and you can sell them for instant cash.

Help Out Around The Campus

 

Most colleges have opportunities for students to work. These include payment for helping out on open days or big events. You may even be able to get paid by older students to take part in their final year research project. Take a few surveys and sit in on some focus groups and you’ll earn some extra cash. Have a look around your campus and see what opportunities are around.
This article is perfect for any students out there that need financial help. Or, if you have kids that are students, share it with them to give them a helping hand.

Are You Making the Most of Your Bank’s Reward Card?

bank reward cards

I use my debit card almost exclusively these days. Unlike checks, debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, and you can make large purchases with a card without having to carry around a wad of cash. I keep “vending machine” cash and change in my wallet, just in case I get a hankering for a 6-pack of Oreos. And even vending machines are starting to accept cards!

Besides those obvious benefits, debit cards offer some good benefits, courtesy of your bank. It’s worth talking to someone at your bank (or taking a closer look at the next debit card rewards leaflet hidden amongst other junk mail) to find out exactly how to make the most of these benefits.

Here are some reasons why you should consider using your bank’s reward cards and how to maximize their benefit.

Cash Back

One of the most common rewards offered by debit cards is “cash back.” You can think of this like a discount on your purchases, because a percentage of your total purchase is credited back to your account. There is a catch, though: you’ll only get cash back when you buy from participating retailers. The retailer and the bank team up to try to increase each other’s business. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons of, for example, shopping at a different grocery store in order to take advantage of cash back rewards.

Saving Programs

Similar to cash back programs, saving programs give you a small percentage of your purchase, but this time it is added directly to your savings account instead of your checking account. If you have a hard time remembering to periodically add funds to your saving account, this rewards program can help.

It’s important to note that not all saving programs operate like cash back programs. Some will move your own money between your credit and checking accounts instead of giving you a small cash reward.

Prize Points

You can rack up points with every purchase made with your debit card, and then exchange those points arcade-ticket-style for prizes like a deluxe toaster, a gift certificate, or even (if you exercise good self-control and don’t spend your points willy-nilly) truly awesome prizes like vacation packages. Ask your bank for a full catalog of options and set a goal for yourself.

Airline Points

Worthy of its own category, it’s also common to earn airline points with your debit purchases. Once you accumulate enough points, you might even be able to fly for free, or perhaps even upgrade your seat. Make sure you know which airlines participate in your bank’s reward program, since not every airline may participate.

Important Considerations

Remember that a debit rewards program may not be something you’re automatically signed up for just because you have a bank card. Talk to a representative at your bank to find out if you need to do anything to participate.

Another important caveat is that bank rewards cards are most beneficial if you are making a lot of purchases at participating retailers. That doesn’t mean you should spend money just for the sake of accumulating points, because you’re not going to actually “benefit” from the program if it doesn’t save you money in the long run.

In short, your bank’s reward cards can be an untapped source of discounts. Know what your options are and use your card wisely every time you hit the shops.

Does your bank offer unique rewards? Let us know in the comments!

Cathy Habas is a Spanish to English translator, as well as the managing editor for Coquí Content Marketing. Cathy specializes in writing about home improvement and global advocacy. You can reach her at www.cathyhabas.com or on Twitter: @CoquiContntMktg

Get More Cash From Your Personal Injury Settlement

MoneyPersonal injuries can be a big disruption in anyone’s life. First, there are medical problems causing pain and long-term discomfort. there’s also the matter of the financial costs. Medical bills and loss of earnings due to injury are just two of the many ways you could lose money from a personal injury. If you’re not at fault, you will most likely go for a settlement to recoup your losses. This guide is here to help you in recouping as much as possible and losing as little money in the process.

Protect your income

Something all employed people should consider is income protection insurance. It can provide short-term coverage for any loss of income, whether it’s due to injury or other factors such as sickness or stress. Income protection insurance usually pays a set percentage of missed payments. It’s no replacement for settling the losses in court but it is a good way to cut those losses down until the settlement comes through.

Know the figure you want

You should calculate the settlement you’re aiming for before you set foot in a court. There are methods of dividing how much you are likely to get, such as this calculation for personal injury settlement awards. It takes into account bills and income lost as well as inconvenience and emotional distress. With a figure to share with your attorney, you are put in a better place to negotiate from.

Mitigate your costs immediately

Lawsuits can be expensive. There are firms that offer no-win, no-fee agreements, but these can end up costing much more in the long run. You can mitigate the costs of your representative by arranging a lawsuit cash advance. This is a specialized loan for legal costs during a lawsuit, with the ability to pay it back after the suit is successful. This is recommended for cases that are clear cut, allowing you much more freedom.

Collect as much evidence as possible

The more evidence you have about your personal injury, the better your chances are of reaching the settlement you deserve. Inform the police about the accident as soon as possible so it’s on record. Take photos, collect your medical bills and produce proof of the earnings you have lost since then. Keep a diary of any discomfort or troubles caused by the accident since. Note all the details of the scene and course of events during the accident itself. The more accurate information you can provide, the stronger a case you will have.

Hire lawyers you can trust

Choose your lawyer carefully. Deals that may sound too good to be true often are. Make sure you do your research online and check out their ratings and referrals. Talk with them personally and make sure they specialize in personal injury law. Even more important is that you understand exactly how you’re going to be billed before you hire them. Finally, their availability to talk with you and provide these details is a good sign.

Loss of some money during the process of getting your settlement is inevitable. Follow the tips above and you can cut those costs down dramatically, before ensuring you get the full amount you deserve.

Picture by Tony

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