Archive for April 2017

How to Budget for Your First Car

How to Budget for Your First Car

How to Budget for Your First CarAcquiring your first car is a big step in your financial life. Most likely, your first car is going to be a used model, but that doesn?t matter. What?s important is that you are able to pay for it, and that it can get you around town successfully from day to day.

Of course, you don?t want to get in over your head from a financial perspective on this purchase. Overspending on your car could mean you have to get rid of it shortly after you pick it out. To avoid that outcome, check out these tips to help you budget for your first car.

Thinking Monthly

The first thing to consider is how money you can afford to spend on a monthly basis for your first car. Figure out how much money you make each month. Then add up how much of that money is already spoken for with other expenses.

Of course, you want to be able to save some money at the end of the month as well, so don?t be tempted to push your budget right on up to the max. Once you have picked out a number that you are comfortable with for your monthly expenditure on this purchase, you can then move on to the next step in budgeting for your first car.

Don?t Forget Insurance

Making the payments on your first car will be the biggest part of your?expense. But don?t forget about insurance as a part of the puzzle. The insurance premium that you need to pay each month is going to depend on a number of factors, including your driving history, the value of the vehicle, and more. Before you finalize the purchase of any car, make sure you research the cost of the insurance in order to get a clear picture of your total costs.

Buy or Lease

You have two options when you are going to acquire a car for the first time. You can buy the car (new or used), or you can lease it. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so you will want to think about which one makes the most sense in your case.

Most leases have relatively tight mileage restrictions, so leasing might not be a good option if you tend to drive a lot of miles. Purchasing a car is usually seen as the better way to spend your money, but there are situations in which a lease makes more sense.

Plan for Maintenance Costs

One of the hidden expenses associated with owning a car is having routine maintenance performed on a periodic basis. You will need to change the oil from time to time based on the manufacturers recommendations. There will also be other costs such as tires, brakes, and more.

While these aren?t going to be expenses that you will incur every month, they should be considered. They are going to be part of the overall cost of operating the vehicle. You don?t want your car to become a point of stress within your budget, so think about these maintenance costs while you are building out your budget for this exciting purchase.


When did you get your first car? Can you think?anything else that should be included in the budget for your first car?


Photo courtesy of: State Farm

Should You Use a Bank or Credit Union for Your Money?

Should You Use a Bank or Credit Union for Your Money?

Should You Use a Bank or Credit Union for Your Money?When it comes to banking solutions there are many different ways to manage your money. Just as it can be difficult to decide how to manage your money, the task of finding the right financial institution for your money can be just as daunting. Between banks and credit unions, both of which offer different pros and cons, the decision can be challenging.

While many people think banks and credit unions are one and the same, the truth is that they are not. First off, a credit union is nonprofit financial cooperative, owned by members who store their money there. They usually offer the same services as a bank, but there can be other pros and cons. On the other hand, a bank is operated as a for-profit business.

To help you decide if you should use a bank or credit union for your money, here?are the pros and con for each type of institution.

Credit Union Pros:

Member Owned

As mentioned, a credit union is owned by it’s members. This means that all members are owners and have voting power, unlike a bank which is owned by shareholders who invest in the bank.

Nonprofit Status

As a nonprofit, they can offer higher interest rates on accounts and provide lower interest rates on loans. This is good for you as a member because it will help you both save money on interest and earn more money on interest.

Lower Fees

Credit unions generally charge less fees on services and products. They usually have free checking and no fees on debit cards. Over time this can save you money. Bounced check fees are usually?less than what a bank would charge you too.

Member and Customer Service Focused

As members are co-owners of the credit union,?they strive to make sure you are well taken care of. Credit unions?tend to have friendlier customer service and strive to make you feel at home.

Credit Union Cons:

Fewer Services and Account Options

As credit unions are typically smaller than banks, they do not offer as many services or?options as some banks.?Therefore you might not be able to get the accounts or services you need from a credit union.

Fewer Locations and ATMs

Being smaller and often having tighter regulations on who can join a credit union, there are fewer options on where you can ?bank? and withdraw money. You may only have one location in your town or surrounding area, and they might just have the one ATM at the physical location. However, credit unions have recognized this disadvantage and many have started partnering with other credit unions?to make ATMs?more accessible.

Bank Pros:

Many Options

You can get several different types of savings and checking accounts, not to mention money market mutual funds, and other account types as well. Banks also offer a wide variety of credit cards, loans and financing options as well.

More Availability

Depending if they are a large national bank, or small local bank, banks may be more accessible than a credit union. They tend to have more than one ATM and physical location, making it easier for you to deposit or withdraw your money.

Bank Cons:

Fees and Regulations

Banks are for-profit. So, there are usually fees on checking accounts, savings accounts, debit cards and online banking services. These fees can add up over time and cost you a lot of money. There are also strict guidelines or regulations on their accounts. For example a ?free? checking account might be free only if you make a certain number of deposits each month, maintain a certain dollar balance, and make a certain number of purchases with your debit card each month. These regulations can be difficult to keep track of.

May Be Harder to Get Loans

Banks have tighter stipulations on who can be eligible for a loan and what type of loan you can get. This can be challenging if you don’t necessarily fit the picture of a perfect borrower.

Not as Personable

Bigger banks tend to have more people coming through their doors, and so the staff may?not know customers as well on a personal level. However, that?s not to say a smaller, locally owned bank wouldn’t know their customers and be welcoming.

When it comes to deciding if you should use a bank or credit union for your money, it all comes down to what your financial goals and needs are. Visit both types of institutions to see which would be better for your money.


Do you use a bank or credit union? Why?


Photo courtesy of: mrganso

4 Digital Savings Tools to Save Money When Shopping Online

4 Digital Savings Tools to Save Money When Shopping Online

4 Digital Savings Tools to Save Money When Shopping OnlineOnline shopping is growing more and more popular with each passing year. Where once people were slightly uncomfortable with the idea of making purchases online without visiting a physical store, today that kind of shopping is the norm.

Shopping online makes it easy to compare prices before purchasing to make sure you get a great deal. However, by using specific digital tools, you can make the prospect of saving money easier than ever before. Below is a list of four tools that you should consider putting to use as you browse the web for your next buy.

Amazon Prime Membership

Amazon is the undisputed king of online retail, so it only makes sense that a Prime membership is at the top of our list. Sometimes you have to spend a little money in order to save money, and that is exactly the case here.

An Amazon Prime membership usually will set you back $99 on an annual basis, but most people will make that money back (and then some) over the course of 12 months. Most of the products you buy on Amazon ? and they carry nearly everything you could imagine ? will be eligible for free two-day shipping when you are a Prime member. There are also other advantages, such as streaming music and video services, making this membership an easy choice.


This is a coupon site that has the potential to help you find great savings on your next purchase. Before you complete the checkout process for the item you are going to buy, check out RetailMeNot (and any other coupon sites you may wish to check) to see if any applicable coupons are available. This is a free service to use, and it only takes seconds to check for a coupon.


If you shop around the web in a variety of locations, you may wish to join the Ebates program to get cash back for some of your purchases. Ebates is relatively easy to use, it works with a long list of ecommerce sites, and the cash back rewards are generous in many cases. This is essentially free money on things you were going to purchase anyway, so it is another easy choice.


Okay ? so this isn?t technically a trick to save when shopping online, but it can save you money nonetheless. If you download the GasBuddy app to your phone, you can use it to track down the best deal on gas in your local area. You don?t really have much of a choice when it comes to needing to purchase gas for your vehicle, but you do have a choice on where you go for that gas. Rather than driving around hoping to find a low price, simply open the GasBuddy app and find out in just moments where you will get the best price on your fill-up.


Do you use any of these tools when shopping online? What other ways do you save money?


Photo courtesy of: WDnetStudio

The Path to Being Your Own Boss and Taking Charge of Your Lifestyle

The Path to Being Your Own Boss and Taking Charge of Your Lifestyle

Financial freedomThe Path to Being Your Own Boss and Taking Charge of Your Lifestyle is the aspiration of most people across the world. However, there are individuals who earn high salaries in their employment but they do not have the time or the freedom to enjoy the money they wake up every day to make. Being a highly paid employee is great thing, but if the employment denies you the freedom to have time with your family and to do other things that matter to you most, then you need to restructure your lifestyle. The restructuring comes in the form of being your own boss and having the freedom to determine what gets into your calendar and when it gets there.

This aspirational status can however not be achieved when still working as an employee in another person?s business; you will need to jump into entrepreneurship in order to start having the flexibility that you want in life. Starting your own business can be an exciting adventure if you have a good background in the line of business you choose to venture into. You can choose to go into consulting or offering a service that you are familiar with. On the other hand, you can choose to start a business that deals with tangible products such as selling food, clothing or even electronics.

Choosing a Business

Your choice of business will be determined by among other factors your familiarity with the market dynamics of your chosen product as a well as your available capital. Market familiarity is not a big challenge though; since you can always conduct research using online sources and through physical interactions with players in your chosen market segment, in order to gather relevant market insights. Funding happens to be the most difficult challenge to overcome for new beginners who want to be their own bosses by venturing into entrepreneurship.

The primary source of funding is always your personal savings and borrowings from family and friends. However, as your business starts to grow, you will get to a point whereby you will need external capital injection from sources such as equity investors or from a business loan. Equity investors share in your profits and losses; but for a business loan you repay the creditors their interest and part of the principle amount on a regular basis as agreed in the loan contract. You will therefore need to ensure that the rate of interest on your borrowed funds is lower than the rate of return you expect from your business before you go for the business loan option.

Building Your Business

Having made a choice as to which business you want to get into and the market you want to serve, the next step in your journey to being your own boss is to develop a business plan for your new venture. Writing a business plan is very important since it acts as your guide when you start your operations. By outlining what your product is, your target customers, marketing channels, your organizational structure and your business growth plans; you will have a drawn a road map that will guide you each day you are running your business. The business plan will also help you to put business systems in place in order to ensure that you run your daily operations in a structured manner that is organized and most efficient.

Beyond the business planning phase, you will get into the implementation phase whereby you will need to start acquiring the resources needed to start running your business operations. Once the resources are in place including the employee; you can then open your business doors and start welcoming your customers. Having gone through the whole process of creating a business from scratch and reached the point of opening your business to your customers; you will have then realized that being your own boss comes with a lot more responsibilities and it is not as easy as it is made to appear.

Running the day to day operations in your new venture can be tiresome and very draining. Working long hours is common and you will need to start learning how to deal with your employees and responding to all sorts of customers in a polite manner in order to maintain your business reputation. The aspired freedom in being an entrepreneur might appear to be a mirage at some point; and you might feel discourage by the toughness of the journey of being your own boss.

However, the end always justifies the means. With entrepreneurship, you will be literally writing your own pay check every month depending on the goals you set for yourself and how much effort you put towards achieving them. Ultimately, the reward of being your own boss comes in the form of exponential growth in your well-structured business; that is now able to attract top talent to run it over the years, as you the founder take a back seat in the boardroom for strategic decision making.


Have you ever wanted to be your own boss? How can you get there?


Photo provided.

5 Ways to Side Hustle Your Way Out of Debt

Side Hustle Your Way Out of Debt

Side Hustle Your Way Out of DebtMost everyone today has debt in some way shape or form. The most common for this decade has seemed to be credit card debt and student loans. With more people being straddled with debt, there are fewer families that have proper savings for emergencies, for buying a home and especially retirement.

The number one way to get out of debt is to pay it off. It sounds obvious, but how can you do that if you can barely afford to pay the minimum payments have enough money to live on? One way is to increase your income.

There are lots of ways to increase your income. One way is by finding a side hustle. Here are some different side hustle ideas to help you get out of debt.

Work Weekends or Evenings

The weekends are prime time to bring home extra cash. You could try finding a part-time job making deliveries for a fast food restaurant, or working retail. When you’re tired, remember this isn?t a full-time or long-term thing. It’s?only temporary until you have your debt paid off. Paying off debt is not easy and neither is working more than one job, but it is worth it to be debt free.


There are a lot of freelance opportunities if you know where to look. First start contacting some of your friends or acquaintances who freelance or who own their businesses. They might need some help, or know how to help you get started. You could also try online job boards for freelancers such as Upwork and Fiverr. These may not bring in a lot of money per job (especially at first), but every little bit helps.

Sell Goods on Etsy

Etsy and other sites like it are great for using?your hobbies to help make you money. Some people have quit their day jobs to go full-time with their Etsy business. Use what you know for this. You don?t have to learn a new skill. Use your current skills and hobbies and find a way to market them.

Pick up Extra Shifts

Now this isn?t necessarily a side hustle, but it is a way for you to earn?more money. If you are paid hourly, find out if you can work extra shifts. But, keep in mind that this only works if there’s work to do at your job. You can?t stay late or work extra if you don?t have work to do while you’re there.

Babysit or Petsit

This may seem elementary and something you haven?t done since you were in high school, if ever. But, it’s a great way to make some extra money. There are tons of parents and pet parents who want a reliable babysitter and can?t find one for a night out. Start by using friends first and ask them for referrals.

There lots of?side hustles you can do to make extra income and pay off debt. Start with your things you’re already interested in when you’re looking for ways to make extra money on the side. You can pay off your debt quicker if you really want it by having a side gig and using the money only for debt. It takes hard work and dedication, but soon you’ll be able to go from?paying off debt to saving for the future instead.


Have you used a side hustle to pay off debt? What did you do to make extra money?


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