Sunday, January 01, 2017
Happy New Year! Did you create any New Year’s Resolutions? It’s not too late. Hopefully one of your resolutions was to improve your finances. Finances are a big part of your life. Finances can destroy relationships; result in divorce, cause arguments, sadness, depression, anxiety, fear and health issues. Finances have to be properly managed at all times to ensure you are able to handle any ups and downs in life.
One key to improving your finances is to set financial goals that you know you will be able to achieve. Make a promise to yourself that you will do at least one thing to become better at managing your finances in 2017. Make sure your resolutions are positive statements that are linked to a specific goal, i.e. I will pay off my Visa bill (whatever that amount is) by March 2017 instead of an uncertain or negative goal such as, I hope I can pay off my Visa bill by March 2017 or I will try to pay off my Visa bill by March 2017.
If you stop following your new year resolutions, don’t fret. Dust yourself off and get back on track. Remember you have 364 more days to get it right. Take advantage of them. Here are 9 easy ways to help you improve your finances in 2017.
If what you did in 2016 did not work then stop doing it. Avoid repeating the same mistakes. Do research or seek counsel to find a better way to do things and achieve your goals. You deserve it!
Ghost charges. Review your monthly financial statements, credit card statement and bank statements. Review every transaction. Look for recurring or variable charges that you no longer use, need or want and cancel them. Ensure that all charges are accurate. If not, contact the company immediately to dispute the error.
Save on interest. Refinance your auto, home, student loans or other loans to lower your monthly payments and interest rates and save money over a period of time.
Create a budget or spending plan and subtract your total monthly income (net) from your total monthly expenses and bills. Track spending daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Spend 70%, save 20%, donate 10% to charity.
Pay bills as soon as you get your paycheck. Pay bills online, by phone (if there is no charge) or by postal mail.
Learn how to negotiate prices. Pay less for everything. Learn the sales cycle for every store you shop. Ask the store manager when items go on sale and the types of sales they offer. Sign up for text or email alerts or connect on company social media sites.
Spend less than you earn. Reduce spending by 30%. Pay for most items with cash. Buy more needs versus wants.
Increase your income by at least $3,000 by getting additional training or education, getting a higher paying job or creating multiple streams of income.
Automate savings. Open a savings account at a bank that is outside of your neighborhood or away from your employer. Create a savings account to cover monthly bills and expenses for 12-18 months. Look for online savings accounts that offer higher interest rates at www.mybanktracker.com.
Do not depend on social security because it may not be enough to live on during. Remember retirement is for one; do not depend on your spouse or partner’s retirement to cover your retirement. Look for no load or funds with low fees.
Save at least 20% of your monthly income towards retirement. Your retirement account balance should equal at least 30 times your current salary. Maximize contributions at least up to the percentage your employer matches. Make “catch up” contributions if are 50 or older.
Pay down debt. Pay loans off prior to the end of the loan term. Refinance loans to pay them off sooner. Pay more than the minimum monthly payment on credit cards and loans.
Monitor your credit for free by ordering your credit reports at least once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com and increase your credit score by at least 15 points. Keep credit card balances to 20% or less of the credit limit (pay off 80% of the balance).
Get insured. Make sure you have adequate health, auto, life, disability and long-term care insurance. Reevaluate insurance policies yearly or when a big event occurs – marriage, childbirth, death, illness, divorce, etc. Ensure you have adequate coverage.
Setup an estate plan no matter what your income to ease the burden of handling your financial affairs when you die. Create a will and advanced medical directive. Create a trust to reduce estate taxes and clearly identify how, when, where and to whom you want your assets distributed.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
How often have you seen charges that ranges from $2-$30 and for a second you wondered what the charge was but ignored it. Don’t! This is a sign that you may have a victim of fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on debit card scams. However, most of the charges are not disputed. In addition, some charges are not detected by bank antifraud software. Some customers do not bother to dispute fraudulent charges or unaware of them. Here are 6 ways to protect your personal and business credit and debit cards from fraud.
Follow Your Intuition
Go with your gut feeling. Don't doubt yourself.
Avoid Giving Out Personal Information
Do not give out your checking account number, tax id, personal or credit card or debit number over the phone or via email unless you know the company and understand why the information is necessary.
Verify the Caller
If someone says they are taping your call, ask why. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Verify the Company Policies
Companies do not ask for your bank account information unless you have expressly agreed to this payment method.
Do Business With Well Know Companies
Do business with reputable companies. Be sure the company website has a physical address that is verifiable and a phone number that is answered by a live person. Verify the company phone number in the Verizon online yellow pages or conduct an internet search on the phone number.
Report Fraud Immediately
Report the fraud to the FTC at ftc.gov by filling out an identity theft complaint form. Also report the fraud to your bank or financial institution.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
It is extremely easy to spend money during the holidays with all the advertisers, family and friends asking you to buy this or buy that. Resist the temptation to spend money that you do not have, buy more than you need, or buy something you probably will not use simply because it is on sale. Many times items that are on sale are not really a bargain.
Remember the real reason for the holiday and focus on giving and being with your family. If you have to go shopping perform comparison shopping to see if you can find the item for a cheaper price at another store or online.
If you love the Thanksgiving meal but do not enjoy the money spent from your wallet, you are not alone. The added cost of decorations and feeding family and friends can be overwhelming and full of peer pressure. Saving money during the holidays may seem like an impossible task but saving money on your holiday meals is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are 15 effective ways to save money during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Avoid waiting until the day before Thanksgiving to go shopping. Lines at the register are longer and the selection of items is limited. Try shopping at least a week in advance or early in the morning.
Know the Sale Cycles
Every grocery store has a sale cycle. During the holidays turkeys, Cornish hens and other poultry go on sale in early November. Buy your turkey or big meat items at least two to three weeks prior to Thanksgiving to get the best deal.
Buy Sides Early
Buy side items at least one week prior to Thanksgiving to get the best deal. Spirits and non-perishables items such as stuffing mix, cake mix, and other packaged items can be purchased at least a week in advance.
Make a Budget
Create a food budget and avoid going over your budget. Avoid going grocery shopping when you are hungry.
Create a Menu
Create a menu ahead of time and stick to it. Consider making low cost items for the menu such as potato salad, salads, sweet potatoes, casseroles, etc. Also consider asking guests to bring dishes.
Use a Shopping List
Use a shopping list and stick to it. Buy items in season. Make a list of what you need and can afford to buy. Make a list of what you need but can’t afford to buy and ask attendees to bring those items.
Know your prices and when items go on sale. Use coupons to save more when buying items on sale items. Shop at stores that offer double coupons or honor competitor price matching. Check your local Sunday or Wednesday newspaper. Visit coupon websites, online coupon clubs, and manufacturer websites for additional coupons.
Shop at Dollar Stores
Buy spices and condiments at the dollar store. Use olive oil instead of salad dressing. You can also purchase paper products.
Verify quantity and prices during checkout. Ensure all discounts and coupons were applied to your total. It is easier to fix errors at the store than when returning to the store later.
Make From Scratch
Make you own bread, pasta, soda, jelly, preservatives, canned fruits, etc.
Visit local farmers or farmers’ markets that sell their food directly to customers. Purchase fruits, vegetables, meats and deserts directly for much less than you would pay at a grocery store. Buy meats from local farms or Omish markets. Consider buying either a turkey or ham but not both.
Ask for Help
If you are having breakfast, brunch or dinner at your home ask friends and family to bring a dish to help cut down on costs.
Make Your Own Decorations
Make your own decorations or shop online to find inexpensive decorations. Buy plastic flowers instead of fresh flowers which can be reused. Pack and store decorations carefully to reuse next year.
Monitor the amount of leftovers each person takes especially if you have guests that take large portions.
Freeze leftovers, take to work for lunch or eat the rest of the week. This will help to save money on grocery costs and eating out.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
November is Vegan Month. Eating a healthy diet has several benefits. Eating healthy provides nutrients for your body that give you energy, keep your muscles working, keep your heart healthy and keep your brain sharp. Nutrients also help your body build strong bones and regulate body processes, such as blood pressure and blood sugar.
Eating healthy can lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. Eating less saturated fat may lower your risk of heart disease. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables can lower blood pressure and may lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Eating healthy also helps those who already have a disease which also helps you maintain a healthy weight.
The old adage, eat in moderation is still true today. Eat a variety of foods that are colorful such as green leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, brown grains and pastas and meat.
A main form of energy that your body needs is carbohydrates. I stopped eating carbohydrates two years ago and found out from a nutritionist that I was depriving my body of energy food. I started eating carbohydrates again such as kidney beans and brown rice. I add kidney beans each day to my salad. Within a few shorts weeks I have already seen an improvement in my energy level.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and if your body does not get enough carbohydrates, your body can make glucose from protein. However, if you eat too many carbohydrates your body turns them into fat.
Eating healthy provides your body with antioxidants that help you feel and look younger and reduces the chance of getting a disease. They also help protect your body from damage from toxins, the sun and smoke. It also provides your body with protein, vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your immune system, keep your teeth and bones strong and burn carbohydrates for energy.
Here are 19 tips to help offset the high cost of food and help you eat healthier.
The grocery is the least busy early in the morning, in the middle of the week, and on any day but the first day or two of the month or first day or two of the end of the month.
Buy Small Items
Buy items that are less expensive such as: beans and lentils, brown rice and grains, soups, meat and fish, marinades, sauces and spices.
When cooking make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for leftovers or lunch. Double or triple recipes, then freeze the remaining in portion size bags.
Buy items in bulk such as meats, bread, starches and beverages. Freeze perishable items such as meat, milk and bread.
Buy canned foods with low sodium.
Comparison shop to find the least expensive generic or store brands.
Know the Sales Price
Buy items on sale but watch out for trick sales, the regular price may be cheaper than the sale price.
Skip Eating Out
Minimize eating out. Many items at restaurants are high in fat and calories.
Buy Raw or whole Foods. Whole or raw foods are much healthier.
To maintain muscle you need to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. You can substitute protein my drinking protein shakes or eating protein bars.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables which are inexpensive especially when buying out of season items.
Buy In Season Items
Only buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Out of season items cost more.
Support local farmers and shop at farmer’s markets. The food is fresh and tastes better.
Skip Multiple Trips
Avoid shopping at multiple stores to save money unless they are in a close distance to each other.
Look at the Wednesday or Sunday newspaper for coupons or try online sites such as coupons.com or couponmom.com for discounts on items. Also shop at stores that double coupons.
Use Loyalty Cards
Sign up for grocery store discount cards to save money.
Create a Budget
Create a grocery budget to help save money when buying healthy items for your family.
Use a Shopping List
Make a shopping list of the things you absolutely need. Make a list of things you would like. Buy all the items you need first and if you have money left over use that to buy some of the things you would like to have. This also prevents impulse shopping.
Avoid going grocery shopping when you are hungry; you tend to buy more items than you normally would or tend to buy more unhealthy items.
Plan you meals for the week and shop according to your meals. This helps you stay focused and prevents you spending more money than you should.