Why You Need to Save $100 This Month

Need to Save? Get a piggy bank.

Saving is easy, everyone can do it right?  That’s what they say, but if life were only that simple.  We all probably know that we need to save, but how many of us actually do it consistently on a regular basis?  Probably not a lot of us.

If you’re not putting money aside each month ask yourself why.  Maybe you don’t think you can afford to save, maybe you aren’t sure why you need to save or maybe you just need a little encouragement to get started.  Well you’ve come to the right place.

Here are four good reasons you need to save:

It’s not hard to find extra money

The truth is saving isn’t hard…if you want to do it.  If you avoid buying Starbucks everyday that’s $4 saved.  Multiply that by 30 days in the month and you’ve just saved $120.  Now that wasn’t hard was it.  The exact same rule can be applied to any personal vice: ice cream, gossip magazines, lunch, manicures etc.  If you just say no to extra spending even once a day you can easily save $100 each month.

You want to go on vacation

When is the last time you got away – even for a weekend?  If you have family obligations, play dates and a household to maintain the answer may be “I can’t remember.”  That can stop this year.  Getting away from your normal everyday routine – even if it’s only for a few days – can be a great way to recharge and relax.

So often people don’t take vacations because they think it will cost thousands of dollars to jet-set off to an exotic location.  But that’s not true.  Going away for the weekend can cost under $500 depending on the destination, so research your options and book a getaway.

Your kids will eventually need to go to school

There’s no better reason to save than for your kids.  A post secondary education is expensive and even though your children may have a part-time job they can always use a little extra money in their pocket.  The earlier you start saving the more your money will grow with the beauty of compound interest.  So open a 529 College Savings Plan and start investing for your child’s future.

It’s easy to get started

Saving isn’t rocket science.  All you need to do is spend less and put that money aside into an interest-bearing account.  Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account on payday and you’ll quickly see your savings add up.  Remember that consistency is the key to long term savings.

If you really want to make sure you start saving, hold yourself accountable and declare your need to save on the internet.  Enter a comment below and tell the world why you want to save.

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How to Work Through Debt as a Couple

Get through debt together

Debt can definitely be a deal breaker in a relationship.  Actually money issues of all kinds including overspending and never spending can cause turbulence between a couple ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­- but only if you let them.  If you were madly in love with your finance and found out he had debt would he still become your husband?

That’s a good question.  If you’ve had your share of financial struggles in the past and overcome them you know first-hand how much stress having high credit card balances with high interest charges can be. I’m not sure if you would be able to stay a relationship if he had debt because very often out of control spending so much more than just money.  I’m not sure if as adults you would be truly be able to work through your differences.  However on the other hand what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

If you really love him, here’s how to overcome debt as a couple:

Opposites attract

If he’s a spender and you’re a saver you can help each other.  You can teach him how to set a budget, cut expenses and pay off debt.  The faster you become debt free as a couple the quicker you can start spending that money on other things such as taking a vacation, buying a house or saving for retirement.

On the other hand if your purse strings are a little too tight maybe he can teach you how to loosen up a bit and enjoy your hard earned money, within reason of course.

Work through debt together

Nothing makes a couple stronger than surviving tough times like a financial crisis.  When you open the doors of communication and support each other until you reach the goal you will be a better couple for it.  It’s important to set goals so you can track them, check in on your progress and of course celebrate together at the end.

Use a budget tracking system (like the one I offer here –>> just look to the right) to ensure you stay on track and within spending limits.  You may even have to go back to personal finance 101 and help him learn about basic income and expenses.

Be honest about expectations

One of the worst things you can do for your relationship and for your money is ignore the debt.  If you don’t recognize the problem it will never get fixed.  I know that seems obvious, but it doesn’t become a reality until you say it aloud.   Don’t nag him about spending, but be sure he knows which expenses are being cut and why.  The 200 sports channel package probably isn’t a necessity, especially since he can only watch one game at a time.

Don’t let it be the elephant

Resentment is another buzz kill in a relationship.  His lack of cash flow will probably limit your couple’s date nights and weekend getaways, but don’t make everything in the relationship about the debt.  Remind him that payments are due or ask him to set up automatic payments.  And set milestones.  Having micro goals to look forward to can be great motivation towards paying off debt.  The rewards don’t even have to cost a thing – if you know what I mean.

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How to Feed a Big Family on a Small Budget

Feed a big family by cooking

It’s no secret that having a family of five can be very expensive – actually let’s not joke, having a family of three can be expensive because kids cost money.  The costs of school supplies, after school activities and child care can quickly add up.  That doesn’t even include everyday necessities like clothes, housing costs and food.  Let’s be real, the cost to feed a big family is expensive.  I want the best for my kids, but the best comes with a hefty price tag.

If you live like many families in America then you probably live on a fixed budget, meaning you have fixed monthly income so you need to also have fixed monthly expenses.  This includes your weekly grocery bill.  I like to shop weekly because it results in less waste and more fresh foods.  Processed foods seem like a good idea financially because they last a long time, but let’s not forget the power of healthy fruits and fresh veggies.

Putting food on the table may seem like a no brainer for every parent, but the truth is many families struggle just to put three meals on the table.

Here are five ways to feed a big family:

Skip it if it’s not on sale

Making a grocery list at home (when you’re not hungry) is the first step towards learning to feed a big family on a budget.  Write down the cost of each item and make sure it fits into your overall total cost, if an item puts you over the spending limit then skip it.  There’s always next week.

Wander outside your neighborhood

Convenient shopping usually costs a bit more money.  The local grocery store may be the closest, but it may not be the cheapest.  You probably need to travel outside your comfort zone and zip code to get the best deals.  Scanning apps and flyers to find the best prices can help make the trip more efficient.

Pick up the next best thing

If you want ground turkey and it’s not on sale ground chicken may be the next best, more cost efficient option.  My rule of thumb is don’t knock the no name.  Just like thrift store shopping can be pleasantly surprising when it comes to finding good deals, so can buying the store brand or no name products.

The freezer is your friend

Buying in bulk if the cost per unit is lower is a good way to feed a big family on a budget.  If you don’t eat all the food there’s no need to waste it; just throw it in the freezer and use it the next time.  This is extremely helpful with items like meat and bread that have very short expiration dates.

Price scan per quantity

Forget out the overall cost of an item because paying $8.99 for a jar of mayonnaise may seem like a lot of money.  However if a 1 liter jar of mayo is $8.99 and 500 milliliters is $6.99 then you’re getting a good deal.

What’s your best money saving tip for feeding a big family?

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4 Ways to Make Saving Easier

Beach Hammock

Do you want to save more?  I’m sure the answer is yes.  I think we can all tug at the purse strings and put a little more money aside.  I’m sure we don’t think we can afford it, but with some discipline and a little bit of dedication we can all make saving easier.

Here are four ways to help you start saving more today:

Set realistic goals

Saving is so much easier when you have something to work towards.  If you’re setting a portion (hopefully at least 10%) of your paycheck aside ask yourself why?  Maybe you’re doing it just because you know you should or maybe you’re doing it for a specific reason.

Setting goals is a great start towards living the life you want, but setting realistic goals is much better and will increase your chances of success.  It’s a good idea to research the cost of what you want to buy and start saving early so you can watch your money grow with compound interest.

Fit saving into your regular habits

Savings don’t happen magically, you need to make a conscious effort to put money aside each and every month.  Automatic transfers are the way to go if you want to ensure you save consistently over time.

Set up transfers from your checking to your short term and long term savings accounts (yes it’s a good idea to have different accounts for different goals) that coincide with your pay frequency.  That way the money will be gone before you wake up and you won’t miss it.

Don’t stop during tough times

Saving money is like working out.  It’s easy to build momentum once you see results, but it’s hard to get restarted once you stop.  If you have a financial emergency and don’t have the room to put aside your regular savings one month it’s O.K. to lower the amount, but don’t stop your savings all together.  Even saving 1% of your paycheck is better than saving nothing.

Make savings affordable

In addition to your food, transportation and housing costs savings should also be put into your budget.  There’s no point in saving regularly if it’s more than you can afford and you end up using credit cards to make ends meet until your next payday.

It’s better to save modestly and invest wisely rather than be too aggressive and have to cash out your savings to pay off debt.  Save regularly and save what you can afford – that’s how you’ll set and achieve your realistic goals.

If you already save and want to start investing download our one sheet which includes the 9 steps you will need to get started in the stock market.

 

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Financial Habits to Teach Your Kids

Financial Habits For Your  Kids

Spring is the time for new beginnings and if you want to change your financial habits or teach your kids new ones there’s no time like the present to get started.  Some of us don’t have great money management skills because we never learned how to be financially responsible as children and some of us have a less than perfect financial situation because we fell on bad luck at a younger age.  The great thing about money is that your situation – good or bad – is only temporary if you want it to be.

Very often people like to sit around and complain about their financial situation, but what if we actually took action and did something about it instead of just talking about it.  What kind of lesson is that teaching your kids?  Instead of teaching them to blame other people or circumstances why not teach them how to recover from financial hardship.  At the same time you’ll be instilling good financial habits into their little brains – it’s a win-win.

Like most parents you probably want more for your kids than you had and sometimes that means teaching them about money at a very young age.  Setting good financial habits as children will only benefit them as they grow older into teenagers and young adults.

Here are three financial habits to teach your kids:

Keep track of spending

People end up in debt because they spend money they don’t have.  That’s just a fact.  You don’t want that for your kids and the number one way to teach them how to spend wisely (and within their means) is to have them keep track of their spending.

You can use a notebook or an online software such as You Need a Budget or Mint.  It doesn’t really matter as long as they learn how to spend within limits and live on a budget.  If they splurge in one place they have to cut somewhere else, that’s just how it goes.

Teach them about saving

Living within your means to avoid credit is one thing, putting money aside into savings is a whole other lesson.  Take your kids to the bank and have them open a savings account.  They can learn how to establish a banking relationship as well as how deposits and withdrawals work.  This will help them save money and learn how to find the best products for their needs in the future.

I think kids always learn better when they have to do the work that’s why banking should be hands on instead of having it done for them.  Nerd Wallet says you can open a bank account for your kids as early as five years old.

Research the costs of their goals

Setting goals lets your kids know what they’re saving for.  Putting money aside and letting it burn a hole in their savings account can be torturous.  I’m sure no one wants to say no to their kids, but if you want them to save not spend sometimes you have to just say no.

Ask your kids why they want to save.  If they want to go to summer camp, save for college or have spending money on your family vacation they’ll need to save for it.  Ask them to research the costs so they know how much they need to put aside.  Watching your money grow and getting closer to something you want is a lot better motivation than saving money just because a.k.a. for no reason in kid world..

 

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