canstockphoto9157930According to the 2014 Financial Literacy Survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, 61% of Americans don’t use a budget. If you’re in this category, you will be glad to discover that creating a budget is a lot easier than you think. It’s also a good way to take more control over your finances.

Creating a budget has many benefits. You can make solid plans to achieve your financial goals and live the best life that you deserve by adopting a budget. A good budget is easy to follow, create sound financial habits and it will also leave a bit of room to have fun instead of feeling deprived of the things you enjoy.

 

Follow these simple steps to begin your journey of creating a budget that best works for you:

 

1. Identify your source of income. You’ll need to know the amount of your total income before you make a decision on how to save and spend your money. Get started by creating a list of all of your income and calculate the total amount. Also include how frequently you’re paid off.

The most common sources of income include the paycheck from your regular job and monthly alimony payments. If you’re making additional income such as a yard sale or a side hustle such as dog walking, make sure this information is also included.

 

2. List and categorize all of the expenses. When you’re creating your budget, make sure to carefully categorize all of your expenses. Consider what portion of your income you’re going to use for various types of expenses.

Many budgeting templates classify expenses in two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are those that regularly occur for a set amount. Insurance premiums, monthly rent/mortgage costs and car payments are examples of different types of fixed payments. Variable expenses take place at different times or for irregular amounts of money. It is really important for you to estimate the amount and timing of your variable expenses.

If you’re having difficulty setting aside a portion of your money for emergency savings or  achieving other financial goals, categorizing your expenses in terms of wants and needs can be very helpful.

A great way to save more of your money is to consider whether each expense is a true want or need. For instance, do you really need to have cable services, a cell phone or perhaps a pedicure? After you  make a decision on things that you can do without, reduce spending on the items that are only “wants.” This is a bit tougher than it sounds. For example, most of us know that food is a necessity in our everyday lives, but the type of food that we choose to purchase may reflect a want compared to an actual need.

 

3. Leave room in your budget to enjoy a lot of freedom. Staying on top of your budget will help you achieve a balance between your spending and saving habits. It also allows you to do things that you enjoy while taking better control of your finances.

 

4. Boost your income. Just as you are tracking your expenses and setting short and long-term financial goals, look for ways to make some extra money.

 

Getting a second job, using your skills to start a home-based business or selling items around the house that you’re no longer using are excellent ways to increase your income.

 

 5. Use budgeting tools. Writing out a budget can be a tedious or boring task. Using budgeting software programs can make it easier for you to automatically record and track all of your financial transactions.

 

6. Keep a close watch your budget. It’s common to experience changes in your finances over time. For this reason, it’s really important for you to review and adjust your budget on a regular basis.

Whenever you create a budget, keep in mind that the price of food, gas and household bills are constantly fluctuating and there may be changes in your financial goals such as buying a new home or car.
Creating a budget is very important to stay on top of your finances. Use these tips to build a realistic budget that will help you to reach your financial goals while enjoying your the things you love to do guilt free.

 

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If you’re constantly left with a few bucks or a zero balance in your savings account, the way you’re handling your finances may be the blame. Unfortunately, you’re not alone in not achieving your financial goals. According to a recent June 2014 survey conducted by Bankrate.com, 75 percent of Americans have no savings and are living paycheck to paycheck. If you are currently in this situation, there are steps you can take to get your finances back on the right track.

Use these methods to stick to your budget and achieve all of your financial goals:

1. Refrain from impulse shopping. Resist the temptation of impulse shopping if it’s your weakness. When you go shopping for an item that you’ll need, take along a shopping list or a responsible friend with you to help you stick to your budget. Only purchase items that you have on the list.

Leave your credit and debit cards at home and only carry enough cash to pay for the items that you need. This will help you to save money at the cash register and also avoid paying interest charges.

2. Find out what causes you to overspend. For example, if you find that you’re always tempted to spend more money when you’ve had a difficult day, only go shopping when you are more relaxed.

3. Recognize what specific items are hard for you to resist. For instance, if there is a particular store or even a website where you have a habit of going over your budget, find a new location to shop. You can also avoid going to certain aisles in the store.

4. Get more organized. Use a new method to organize your important documents and receipts if the bills that you forget to pay seem to pop up after the payment is due. This behavior may have you paying unnecessary money for late fees and interest charges. These expenses can add up very quickly!

Place your bills in a place where you you can easily find it like a folder or binder. Remember to always pay your bills on time.

If you have any magazine or any other subscriptions that’s not being used, cancel it before they are auto renewed. You’ll be amazed about how much money you’re going to save.

5. Shop around for better rates. If you are satisfied with the services from your current service provider, do some comparison shopping anyway. Consider reviewing your expenses and search for ways to reduce the amount that you’re paying for services such as the cable, telephone and even your car insurance. Contact the provider, and ask if you will save money by bundling the services or cut back on features that you hardly ever use. Even though you may not receive a discount, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

6. Nip your weaknesses in the bud. Review your expenses periodically and see if you can identify areas where you tend to overspend. The most challenging categories for most people are clothing, food, housing, entertainment and transportation. Once you’ve identified which category of expenses where you exceed your budget, seek ways to make smarter spending choices when you purchase things in this particular category.

Changing your spending habits can be very challenging. For example, if your rent or mortgage is taking over your budget, the only solution may be moving to a smaller home or a less expensive location.

7. Seek advice from a professional. If you are frequently going over the budget, seek help from a professional as soon as possible. Most financial planners and accountants offer helpful advice and you will also learn how to take control of your finances. There are lots of free and low cost advice on financial planning and budgeting online. You can also find these services that are provided by churches and local chamber of commerce in your area that offer free or low cost financial planning and credit counseling for their members.

Becoming aware of your spending habits and selecting a strategy to deal with it is the first step to reaching your financial goals. Stick to your budget and you will increase your savings before you know it.

4 Ways to Get Through a Financial Emergency

canstockphoto6226763How do you get through a Financial Emergency? Just when you think you are on top of your finances and things are going smoothly, disaster strikes. It could be something as minor as getting a flat tire on your way to work or something big such as job loss or a medical emergency. If you plan ahead, you’ll get through it, even if you are going through hard times.

The purpose of creating a budget is to save money for the unexpected. Most financial gurus agree that everyone should have an emergency fund that will cover their expenses for at least six months. Even if you are doing well with your savings, it doesn’t mean that you should stop adding money to it.

Here are some tips on how to get through a Financial Emergency whether you think you are prepared or are in deep debt:

 

Review Your Budget

Although, you may have enough money in your emergency fund to pay for car repairs, you will still need to prepare yourself in case anything else happens. What if you or your loved ones are faced with a medical emergency that your insurance company won’t cover or what would you do if you were laid off from your job today? You will need to find ways to readjust your budget.

Reducing the amount of money that you spend on your cable bill is a great way to save money. If your contract has expired with your current provider, you can ask for a smaller plan or eliminate the service all together. You can also contact your cellular phone and internet service provider and ask for cheaper plans or find another company that has better deals.

Canceling magazine or newspaper subscriptions can also save you some money. There is a good chance that there are free online newspapers and websites where you will find the same information for free.

 

Earn Extra Money

If you are currently without a job, there are still ways you can earn some extra cash. You can provide a cleaning service, wash cars or provide a dog walking service for your neighbors. If you would like to make money in your pajamas, there are easy ways you can make money online. If you have items in your home that’s no longer in use, sell it on eBay. There is a good chance that someone is looking for that item as long as it’s in good condition.

You can even use your skills to make money as a freelancer. Check out places such as taskrabbit, fiverr, eLance and oDesk.

 

What if you don’t have enough money to cover the expenses?

Negotiate the Payments

If you are faced with high credit card bills or are behind on your mortgage, contact the company as soon as possible. Ask if there is a way that you can pay a lower monthly payment until your financial situation improve. Most companies will work with you, especially if you have a good history of making your payments on time.

If you had a medical emergency that’s not covered by your health insurance company, contact the financial department of the medical facility and ask if there is a way you can pay in monthly installments until it’s paid off. However, if the payment is more than you can afford, find out if there is a way you can send a lower amount.

 

Ask for Help

If you are going through hard times, swallow your pride and ask for help. Find out if there are charities in your area that donate food and clothing. If you have a disability, visit the Social Security Administration to sign up for SSI and food stamps. This will help out with your household expenses until you are able to get back on your feet.

 

These are a few ways to get you through a Financial Emergency. It may seem impossible at first, but if you follow these tips, you will become debt free before you know it.

dreamstime_m_32586124Going overboard with your finances is not a hard thing to do. It is  estimated that the average American family owed $4,878 in credit card debt during the first quarter of 2013 according to Transunion.com. Fortunately for you, there is a way of getting around this which is by planning a budget. A budget can be implemented at any time, so gather your bills, find a quiet spot in your home and let’s get started.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out what you have coming in and what you have to pay. Once you have sorted through your bills, you should organize them into groups of what has to be paid such as the mortgage, rent, utilities, loans and credit cards. If you cannot afford to pay the electric or gas bill, you should make contact with the companies. Most of these businesses offer a monthly budget plan in which you would only have to pay around half of the bill, and they will bill you the remaining balance over the next few months. In regard to credit cards, you can make the minimum payment to get you through the first month.Then move on to your weekly expenses such as groceries and gas.

If you really would like to stretch your family budget, then you will have to do without the extras for a while. Start bringing your own lunch to work, make your own coffee at home and make home-cooked meals instead of eating out. Recovering will not take long since there is a lot of money you will be able to save just by doing the few things that’s mentioned above.

When it comes to shopping at the supermarket, make out a list that will include planned out meals for the week. You will be amazed at how much money it will save you when you stick to the list and plan your meals. Start clipping those coupons to further your savings and save some extra money. Consider making a few casseroles every week as you can easily have leftovers that will easily make two meals for  your family.

Lower the temperature on the furnace before going to bed or when you’re away from home. If you have been thinking about replacing the old light bulbs with the new energy efficient bulbs, now is the time to do so. Making this change will be a real money saver. Turn off the appliances when they are not being used or unplug them and you will really see your utility bills decrease.

Many families go overboard when it comes to their budgets, not realizing that there are simple methods to save on their everyday expenses. By utilizing some of the above advice, you will be shocked at how much money you will accumulate . Be smart and put away that extra money in case you need it for a rainy day.

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