Tag Archives: money management

5 Steps to Prepare for Retirement When You’re Young

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It can be easy to forget about planning for retirement once you start your career and attempt to live on your own in your 20s or 30s. Unfortunately, many people fail to plan for their retirement until it’s too late, which can make it difficult to exit the workforce. To prepare for the golden years and secure your future, there are a few important steps to take when you’re young. Continue reading

10 Ways To Control Spending

Another year, another Christmas come and gone. Although the gift buying season is over, you may find yourself with two problems: how to avoid those tempting after-Christmas sales, and how to live on less money for a little while, if, like thousands of us, you spent a bit more than you intended to over the holidays. Here are ten ways to get your spending back on track:

 
A Little Here, A Little There… can quickly put you in the hole. Budget out your discretionary spending for the week. Go to the ATM once and withdraw only what you can affordYour lunches and all other incidentals will come out of those funds. Period. 
 
Coffee and a Thermos. A couple of trips to Starbuck’s can easily run up $10. For that same ten dollars, and if you don’t feel you can live without quality coffee, buy a bag of beans and brew it at home. You can drink good coffee all week for the same price as two at the store in one day.
 
Brown Bag It. You don’t have to eat a sandwich every day. But you could make a pot of something: soups, stews, a casserole, etc. Divide them into individual portions and freeze. Grab a piece of fruit, some string cheese, or bag up some chips. (Buy a big bag and put them in baggies. Much less expensive than the individual packets). 
 
Clip Coupons. Most weeks, manufacturers and stores put out $150-$300 in coupons. Many stores offer double, some even triple, savings on the face value of the coupon. You can easily save $20-$50 on items you would likely buy anyway, and coupons are also a good way to know what new items have come on the market. And you can try them at a reduced price!
 
Make a Grocery List. Don’t go to the grocery store without a list, and don’t go when you are hungry. Avoid the endcaps on the aisles, where, frequently, tempting and expensive snacks are displayed. Likewise, don’t grab things at the checkout line, including magazines. And don’t forget your coupons!
 
Rent a Movie or Check on a Free “On Demand” Flick. Save movie theater money by renting a DVD instead. If it’s your date night, make it as romantic as possible. A home cooked meal, maybe a pretend picnic in the living room with candlelight, can be really lovely. If you have one of the premium movie channels, be sure to check out the Free Movie listings. Many of the films they show on HBO and others all month are available any time you’d like on “On Demand.”
 
Libraries. Yes! They still exist! Libraries have also evolved with the times, and many have not only great books to lend, but also DVDs and music.
 
Skip Friday Happy Hour. A lot of people go out with their co-workers after a long week. Those Happy Hour drink specials may seem like a bargain, but it’s still cheaper to pick up a bottle of wine at home. If you really feel like some post-week camaraderie, invite some people over for a BYOB and ask everyone to bring a snack to share.
 
Consider Carpooling. Gas rates right now are the highest they have been in over a year, and projections are that they are going to continue to rise. If there is a coworker who lives near you, you could split the gas and toll charges and save a few dollars.
 
Game Night. Board games are fun but in our high-tech world, they have often been moved to the back of the closet. Revive some of those old favorites and have a game night with family or friends. Make a pizza instead of ordering out! Or, if board games really aren’t your thing, invite some friends over or play video games with everyone.
 
PHOTO (cc): Flickr / SimonTheSnowman

 

5 Saving Strategies to Secure Your Finances

My first five years in New York, I led a good single life. Working as a technology and business consultant, I earned a nice salary which allowed me to enjoy nice dinners with friends, spend frivolously and not think twice about large purchases. 

I was spoiled by a solid job market within a bullish industry and did not max out my 401k let alone contribute to it nor did I set up a savings account despite the consistent pleading of my parents.

Then a move uptown came when the movers politely drove away with every last item I owned, never to be seen again. It may be hard to comprehend but a robbery was one of the most valuable life lessons I ever received.

Like the pre-bandit me, many singles save little because they have only themselves to worry about when in fact, planning is even more crucial for singles because they must face every financial challenge independently. During my disaster recovery, I learned some money management tips (and other safety tips) that I think every single should consider:

1. Learn to live within your means: Whether it is expensive purses or the latest must have electronic gadget, many singles tend to spend beyond their means. To live with a moderate mindset, learn to make conscious and realistic purchasing decisions. Keep track of spending in a journal and make smart adjustments on a regular basis. Your new found awareness will allow you to differentiate must-have purchases from those which are indulgences, keeping expenses at bay.

2. Set up an emergency fund: No one should ever have to deal with a robbery but face it, bad things happen all the time. Better to be on the safe side by stashing away some cash (at three to six months’ income) in a high-yield savings account. Remember these monies are a safety net, so do not spend them on "shoegasms" no matter how good it might feel. The best way to avoid temptation? Leave those credit cards at home!

3. Be on top of bills: Timely payment is important but you must also be sure to review monthly statements from services and credit card providers. These days, you never know who has tapped into your accounts! So look out for cash discrepancies based on your monthly deposits and withdrawals as well as faulty expenses that may be charged to your account.

4. Keep Records Straight: Invest in a file folder and keep a copy of every receipt, warrantee, invoice or financial and medical statement you receive. This way you will be able to return items that have gone faulty, dispute fraud charges and be on top of deductions when it comes time to pay taxes. And though we don?t wish it upon anyone, be able to prove insurance claims should the time come.

5. Max Out on Your 401k: Start investing for retirement! Maximizing use of your employer’s retirement plan or starting a simplified employee pension plan (SEP) if you’re self-employed is important for singles as a way to save for their future while getting a valuable tax break in the bargain.

Read more articles like this on SingleEdition.com

Staying on a Budget

I thought putting myself on a budget would be painful.  But I found quite the opposite to be true.  When I put myself on a budget I found that I really liked being in control of my money.  I felt less out of control.  I felt less incompetent.  I felt better about myself and about my ability to control myself.  I also like knowing there was excess money in savings if I needed it.  There was also the day at the grocery store when the card reader denied my debit card.  "Uh, no", I thought.  "That’s just incorrect.  There is plenty of money in that account."  And I was right.  It was a glitch in the system.

How did I do it?  Well, I hate to admit it, but I have to outsmart myself when it comes to money.  First, I have it automatically withdrawn every payday and sent to another bank.  A bank where I have no debit card, no charge card and no checks.  If I want to get that money out I have to drive over and make a withdrawal.  Too much trouble.  And since the money comes out automatically, I never miss it.

I also use my mother’s technique of saying to myself (and others) "I don’t have the money."  If you can convince yourself you don’t have the money you won’t spend it.  It then starts to accumulate. 

I increased the payments on my VISA card (yes, just one) and my mortgage.  Putting more money toward paying off the principal.  Watching those amounts come down is very satisfying.

I started riding the bus to work and apply the money I would have spent on gas to paying off the VISA. 

A friend of mine has problems abusing her credit card.  But she needs to keep the credit in case of emergencies.  Her solution?  Put it in a glass of water and freeze it.  You can’t microwave it because of the magnetic strip.  You have to let it thaw out at room temperature.  By then, her urge to buy that new dress has thawed as well. 

People find interesting and creative ways to save money.  There are many ways to do it, you just have to find what works for you.  Know what is important to you and what is not.  Know the difference between what you "need" and what you simply "want".  Cable TV is not important to me.  Broadband internet is essential.  Make choices and prioritize. 

Once you’ve cut back on your spending, be wary of alternative addictions.  When we restrict ourselves in one area we often start to splurge in another.  If you restrict your spending you may start eating more, drinking more or smoking more.  Just as people who go on strict diets may suddenly start shopping more or people who kick a drug habit may suddenly get heavily into AA meetings or religion, restricting your spending too severely too suddenly may provoke splurging in other areas.  Be gentle and patient with yourself.  This should not be severe or punitive, but comfortable and healthy.  You’re doing this to feel better, remember?

 

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