Archive for February 2017

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every Month

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every Month

5 Reasons Your Budget Fails Every MonthAs you already know, budgeting is a key skill that can help you keep your finances on track in both the short and long-term. However, even if you take the time to craft a budget for your household, you might find that you have trouble hitting the mark each month.

There can be a variety of reasons for coming up short on your budget, and you will need to figure out exactly what is going wrong if you are going to resolve the problem. Below is a list of five potential reasons your budget fails?every month.

Overly Optimistic

More than anything, a budget needs to be realistic. If you aren’t realistic with the budgetary expectations that you set each month, you are inevitably going to fall short.

It might be tempting to think, for example, that you can cut back on your food costs by 20% in the months ahead. However, is that really possible, or are you just setting yourself up for failure?

Be realistic with what is possible and chart a course that you will actually be able to stick with over time.

Losing Track of the Little Things

In the world of budgeting, the little things can add up in a big way, causing you to overspend your budget. What counts as a little thing? For the purposes of this example, let’s count anything under $5 as being a ‘little thing’.

That means snacks that you might buy during your break at work, or the coffee you pick up in the morning rather than making your own cup. None of these expenses seems very important at the time, but they can be crippling to your budget when all added up.


Even if you have already taken the time to think out your budget, it can still be tempting to put off the actual execution of the budget until ‘next month’. Of course, next month never comes and you keep doing the same things over and over again. This can be a difficult cycle to break, but you must find a way if you are going to finally make progress in your financial life.

One Big Mistake

Some people see their budget undone by a series of small purchases throughout the month, while others tend to make just one big mistake which sets them back. If you have a habit of spending a significant amount of money on one big purchase each month, try setting a spending limit for yourself with regard to single items.

For example, if you are thinking about buying anything over $100, you have to stop and think about it for an extra day before making the purchase. By giving yourself a 24-hour period to think about the expense, you may realize that you don’t need to buy that item after all.

You Don’t Have a Budget in the First Place

Of course, your budget can’t work if you don’t have one in the first place. If you don’t bother to take the time to construct a realistic, reasonable budget for yourself and your family, you will have no way to know how much you can spend on a monthly basis. Building a budget actually doesn’t take very much time at all, and yet it can be one of the best things you ever do for your financial life.


Does your budget fail often? Have you noticed any of these things causing your budget fails?


Photo courtesy of: RyanMcGuire

How to Ease the Burden of a Large Tax Bill

How to Ease the Burden of a Large Tax Bill

How to Ease the Burden of a Large Tax BillNow that the holidays are over and everyone is back to school and work, it’s time for the next big event of the year. Tax season!

Some people rush right in to see their accountants and get their taxes prepared right away. In fact, some of these people may actually be done with their income taxes already. Then there are those like me, who wait until the end of March, or even into April, just barely beating the deadline.

When it comes to income taxes, you will either end up owing taxes or receiving a refund. Being as close to zero as possible is best. If they owe, most people might have to pay in up to a couple hundred dollars. That’s not too bad. But, what if you receive a tax bill for a couple thousand or more? What do you do then?

Here are some ways ease the burden of a large tax bill.


If you do get hit with a large tax bill, just breathe. It’s ok to take a couple of minutes to panic. But then you need to start calming down so you can make a plan. You can and will get through this.

Double Check Your Return

If the amount you owe seems incredibly high ?and you haven?t had any major?changes to cause it, such as a huge increase of salary, losing dependents, etc., there might have been an error in filing. If you did your taxes yourself, double check it. When?you still can’t find anything wrong, it might be worth hiring a professional to check it too.

If you think your tax professional made a mistake, go talk to them. Get a second opinion if needed. This could be as easy as a typo and getting your numbers double checked is worth the extra expense if you can lower you tax bill.

File Your Return

When your taxes are prepared you will see how much you either owe or how much your?tax refund for state and federal?will be. Even if you owe a larger sum than expected, go ahead and file it with the IRS by the deadline. Waiting to file until you have the money will land you with penalties, as well as potentially giving you red flags for next year?s return.

Find a Way to Pay

Depending on the amount owed, this may be as simple of a solution as dipping into savings to pay the balance. If you don?t have an emergency fund or that much in savings this can be a problem.

Look at pulling from other accounts and investments if you can. Try not to pull from retirement accounts unless you absolutely must. Withdrawing funds from a retirement account can have negative tax implications for next year. Pay as much as you are able at the time of filing. Paying anything is better than paying nothing.

Work With the IRS for a Payment Plan

The IRS wants your money and will work with you to get it. If you can’t pay your entire tax bill, work with them to create a payment plan.

There is still a penalty for this, and you must make the monthly payments on time and in the full required amount. But it’s still better than not paying at all. Opting for a payment plan means the IRS can put a lien on your house or other property if you default on payments. You can also get an extension but this is only for filing, not for paying. Once filed, you must pay. The IRS will get your money one way or another.

Plan for Next Year

This year may hurt, but to avoid this happening again, you can prep for next year. Look at what deductions you take and what more you should be saving. Talk to your accountant before the end of the year to see what your taxes may look like. It?s better to be safe than sorry.

Though these steps may not seem like they would ease your stress, knowing what you are up against will help. Making a plan and knowing your options makes owing taxes less intimidating.


Have you ever had a large tax bill? How did you manage your large tax bill?


Photo courtesy of: stevepb

6 Ecommerce Companies with Great Email Newsletter Campaigns

6 Ecommerce Companies with Great Email Newsletter Campaigns
6 Ecommerce Companies with Great Email Newsletter Campaigns

Email marketing can feel like a drag sometimes. You know it?s important for your ecommerce business, but it can often feel repetitive and stale. Do you really have to email your list every week? What are you going to say next?

The following brands know the answer to that question. Following their lead can help you get out of your slump (or started on the right track if you?re still in the ecommerce builder stage) so you can engage with your customers and earn their loyalty as a result.

Even if you?re not interested in these companies? products, you might want to sign up to these lists just for the emails. They?re that good. Here are six ecommerce companies with great email newsletter campaigns:

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club plays it cool when it comes to emails. They don?t try the hard sell. Instead, they just offer you free stuff. That?s right. Dollar Shave Club will check in with you every now and then and ask if you?d like free samples to go with your shaving products. You can say yes with one click. Now that?s a brand confident in their products!


Express has mastered the art of a simple, direct subject line. They don?t try to keep you guessing or entice you with ambiguous language. Often it?s something as simple as ?Shirt Sale: All Shirts Are BOGO $29.99.? See? Straight to the point.

Express is also a retail brand that segments their list by gender when possible. A woman might be thrilled to get an email about a skirt sale, while a man (probably) isn?t interested. Segmenting your audience helps make your message more relevant and improves open and click-through rates.

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods is an ecommerce store that offers many different products. Their emails highlight the extent of their collection, but in a way that feels more like a curated Pinterest board than an email newsletter.

They accomplish this through excellent photography, stylish typography, and links to product categories. Even with so much imagery, Uncommon Goods emails are perfectly mobile friendly. With so many people checking emails on the go, your newsletters should be mobile friendly too!


Chubbies is a well-known clothing brand that specializes in men?s shorts and cheeky marketing. Their emails are definitely on-brand and packed with humor, witty copy, and user-generated content. Subscribers enjoy reading emails from Chubbies even if they?re not interested in buying then and there. The emails are just fun, entertaining, and a joy to read.


Don?t subscribe to AirBbB?s email list unless you want a serious case of wanderlust. They send emails full of destinations they think you?ll like. And they?re usually pretty convincing with beautiful photography and simple calls to action. If you haven?t traveled in a while, they?ll get you on the road again. If you have a trip coming up, they?ll tempt you to extend it a few days. Thanks a lot, AirBnB!


STORQ is a small ecommerce shop that sells maternity clothes and accessories. They don?t carry a whole lot of products, so they offer a curated experience for their email list instead of repetitive product promotions. Each email newsletter they send is full of relevant, curated content related to pregnancy and parenthood. Simply put, they share cool stuff they think their audience would appreciate. And you know what? It works!

There you have it. Email newsletters don?t have to be boring or repetitive. The best ecommerce companies keep things fresh and exciting with their subscribers. You can too! The key is to stay on brand. Be quirky, creative, sleek, modern, fancy, whatever your brand is, let it shine in your emails. It?s just another way for your customers to get to know you, and that?s the start of a beautiful relationship.

Do you use email newsletter marketing for your business?

Photo courtesy of: Pexels

3 Ways to Say ?No? to Overspending Pressure

3 Ways to Say ?No? to Overspending Pressure

3 Ways to Say ?No? to Overspending PressureThe society that we live in today is one of overspending and consumerism. Many people measure their worth against everyone else by the things that they own, rather than the person that they are and what they contribute to society.

In addition to the unhealthy nature of consumerism, overspending is an easy way to blow through your budget ? even if you have a great job and a good salary.

To keep your financial life on track well into the future, you are going to need to find ways to ignore the silent, and not-so-silent, pressure to overspend on things you don?t need. Here are 3 ways to say ‘no’ to overspending pressure.

Be Proud of Yourself

By far, the biggest key to keep yourself on track on this point is simply to remember that you are far more important than the things you own. If someone else is going to judge you by the items that you possess rather than who you are ? that is their problem. You can?t do anything about how others are going to view you, so forget about their opinions and focus on only what is best for you and your family.

Do you really need the new car with the upgraded interior and fancy stereo? Probably not ? and you shouldn?t be swayed toward buying that expensive package just as a way to impress your neighbors.

Set a Budget

When you live within the confines of a specific budget, you will find it much easier to avoid falling into the trap of overspending for no good reason. By sticking to your budget, buying decisions will quickly become very easy ? either you can afford something, or you can?t. There is no gray area within a good budget, which is why they work so well for families trying to make sure they can stay on the right financial track.

Take some time to work out a budget that makes sense based on your salary and the needs of your family, and then stick to that budget as closely as possible in the months and years ahead.

Look Around Your House

If you catch yourself thinking that owning a certain product is going to make your life significantly better, you can look to the past to disprove those feelings. How many things around your house have been purchased for the same reason? How much money have you spent in the past on things that you didn?t end up using all that much once you paid for them? It is common to covet certain material things only to find that they don?t really make much of a difference in your life after all.

Overspending pressure is a real force in the world today, and it can come from a variety of places. Whether it is a TV commercial telling you that you need a new cell phone, or someone at work asking why you haven?t bought a new car, the pressure comes from all around you. However, it is possible to step aside from that pressure as long as you have a plan ? and a budget. Good luck!


How do you deal with overspending pressure? Where does the overspending pressure in your life come from?


Photo courtesy of: Clker-Free-Vector-Images

6 Financial Habits that Build Wealth

6 Financial Habits that Build Wealth

6 Financial Habits that Build WealthEveryone wants more money. Everyone wants to be able to retire comfortably. Everyone wants everything. And they want it now!

But when reality set s in, we all know that we can?t, and probably shouldn?t, get everything we want.

As the Rolling Stones once sang, ?you can?t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need.?

This rings true especially when it comes to building wealth. Unless you inherit enormous sums of money, building wealth takes time. Wealth comes from simple, yet smart, financial habits.

Here are six financial habits you should enact if you want to build wealth.

Save, Save, Save, and Save Some More

If you look at any wealthy guru, you’ll see that they have money saved. The smart ones don?t necessarily live extravagantly. Instead, they live frugally and well below their means. They know you can?t make money without saving money. Savings can (and should be) diversified between 401(k)s, IRAs, general savings, etc. There are no get rich quick schemes that build wealth.

Automate Savings

Playing off of my?previous point, if you aren?t currently saving money, you need to start. The best way to get in the habit is to make it automatic.

Set up your bank account to transfer funds to savings, investment portfolios and retirement accounts as soon as your paycheck comes in. Out of sight out of mind. This way you don?t overspend and not save anything. You can do this relatively easily with an online bank, such as Discover Bank?- you can earn interest?on your spare cash or even open a retirement account through them.

Remember: Needs Not Wants

Live within your means and be frugal. If you want it and it?s not necessarily a need, then don?t get it. If you really want it, then save up to purchase it.

You may think you ?need? a brand new mixer, but if your current one still works, then you don?t really ?need? a new one. You just want one.

Not buying things because you don’t need them takes some getting use to, but if you don?t need it, don?t buy it. This adds to your savings and will lead to wealth and greater financial freedom. Plus this habit will get easier after you tell yourself “no” to your wants the first few times.

Track Your Spending

If you don?t know what you are spending you won?t know how much you can save or how to allocate your funds. You may only think you spend $100 a month eating out, but you might actually be spending $300 a month. By tracking your spending,?you can see where you can make some cuts and start saving more.

Change Your Mindset

This is the hardest habit to establish. But it might be the most important.

Most of us naturally want everything, and have a spend first, save last mentality. To build wealth you need adopt a save first, spend last mentality.

With your take-home pay, pay yourself first. Put money toward your financial goals first, bills second, and then take whatever is left to spend.

Changing this mindset will change how you look at every purchase, savings goal, and investment. This is usually for better, especially if you are paying off debt, saving for a house, or increasing your retirement portfolio.

Pay Off and Avoid Future Debt

This is critical to financial freedom and to how much you can save. Home loans and student loans are not usually considered bad debt, but they are still a hindrance to your saving goals. With a majority of Americans having high credit card debt, this is what you should work to reduce first. The rule of thumb is to pay off those loans with the highest interest rates first and work your way down in order to save the most money. Then avoid future debt so you can put your money toward building wealth.

Habits take a while to change and you have to be diligent about it. Once you get into a habit it’s easier to save and harder to spend money. Remember that Rome wasn?t built in a day and neither will your wealth be. It will take time, but if done smartly you may be able to grow it faster than you had originally planned.


Are you using these financial habits to build wealth? What other habits are essential to build wealth?


Photo courtesy of: Michael Thomson