Archive for January 2018

4 Ways to Help Family Members Get Their Finances in Order

4 Ways to Help Family Members Get Their Finances in Order

4 Ways to Help Family Members Get Their Finances in OrderAnytime someone you love experiences hardship, often, your initial reaction is to help them in any way you can.

Unfortunately, when the problem is financial, it can be difficult to know just exactly how to do that.

While offering up money yourself might feel like a valid suggestion, if you’re truly hoping to help your relative get their finances together, merely providing them with money can often do more harm than good.

Instead, consider these four ways to help family members get their finances in tip-top shape.

1. Help Them Create a Budget

More often than not, financial disarray comes from either a lack of a budget or a budget that merely doesn’t work. Whether your relative needs to create a budget or find one that better fits their situation, setting up a budget is one of the best ways to assist your family member.

Sit down and acquire the details of their income and all their expenses. After which, organize an appropriate budget based on what they earn and what is a need for them. Furthermore, take a look at some of their unnecessary expenses and have them consider what they could cut out or cut back on.

2. Set Up Their Bills

After a budget, setting up regular bill-pay or a bill paying schedule is the next best step. Not accounting for certain bills and expenses can leave many people spending when they really should be saving for their needs.

Help them consider their options with automatic bill-pay and direct deposit, or assist them in coming up with a solid schedule that will always keep them on track.

3. Help Them Find Professional Assistance

Sometimes, getting someone else’s finances in order, especially if they’re too much of a mess, can be out of your depth. So, unless you’re a financial whiz, one surefire way to assist a relative is to help them find the right professional assistance.

Whether they need help with taxes, debt, jobs or even lenders, make a point to help them research and find the right help that best suits their needs.

4. Be a Resource

Although lending money might not be the best option, you can always be a resource in other ways. Be your family member’s accountability enforcer to help them make sure they stick to their budget and plan.

Moreover, be someone they can turn to with whatever they might need help with financially. Again, if you can’t help directly, help them find someone who can. For example,?installment loans are always an accessible option and you can easily just help them find a proper lender.

At the end of the day, simply be your relative’s resource to come back to whenever they have questions or concerns. Merely having a sounding board can be a huge help.

It can be difficult to refrain from jumping in and doing things yourself when it comes to family. However, if you truly want to be of assistance, take steps to help family members on the path towards good financial habits.

By setting them up with plans, goals, and budgets, you’ll set their finances in order for life.

 

 

What are some ways you might help family members who have trouble with spending or sticking to a budget?

 

 

Are Warehouse Club Memberships Worth the Cost?

Are Warehouse Club Memberships Worth the Cost?

Are Warehouse Club Memberships Worth the Cost?Generally speaking, you want to keep as many memberships off of your monthly budget as possible. Memberships are charged month after month, and businesses like that arrangement because they get to collect your dollars even if you didn?t use the service.

Gyms are notorious for being able to stay in business by collecting monthly membership fees from those who don?t actually go to the gym.

However, this rule of thumb doesn?t mean that you should automatically eliminate all memberships from your monthly expenses.

If something could potentially save you money ? like a membership to a warehouse club ? that would at least be worth considering. In the end, it all comes down to math.

How Much Does It Cost?

The first thing to think about is how much the membership costs per month. You may wind up paying annually for the membership, but it is still best to think about the cost on a per-month basis.

So, for example, if the membership is $60/year, that works out to be just $5/month. That probably doesn?t sound too bad, but there is a little more math to do.

How Much Will You Save?

This is where things can start to get tricky. When people shop at a warehouse club, they tend to overestimate their savings ? sometimes dramatically.

For instance, if you purchase a large package of soft drinks, you might save $5 over the cost of shopping at the grocery store. That?s great ? right? If you save $5 on the soda, you will have made back your investment for the month just with that one purchase. Or so you may think.

The hidden cost of a warehouse club is in the purchases that you didn?t need to make, and would not have made otherwise. Would you have purchased that much soda if you were just shopping at the grocery store? Maybe, maybe not.

If not, you would have actually saved more money by staying away from the warehouse club ? and you would have saved calories, as well. In some cases, warehouse clubs simply promote over-consumption, leading shoppers to actually spend and consume more in the long run than they would have otherwise.

Use Memberships Responsibly

We are not trying to argue that it is always a bad idea to join a warehouse club. In fact, these memberships can work out nicely ? as long as you use them responsibly. It is your job to shop with a plan, think about your needs, and not fall for the marketing tricks used by the store.

One way to get value in this situation is to use the warehouse club to purchase non-perishable staples and household goods rather than traditional groceries. Clubs like Costco have great deals on non-perishable items. Costco hours for their gas stations aren’t cut off either, so feel free to stop after the warehouse closes for the evening.

For example, you might decide to buy your toilet paper in bulk at the warehouse club. The paper is not going to go bad, so you don?t risk wasting it by not using it fast enough. Also, this is an item you were going to purchase anyway, so you haven?t increased your consumption.

When you apply critical thinking and common sense to warehouse club shopping, you can get your money?s worth in the end.

Do you shop at a warehouse club? Why or why not?

Photo courtesy of: tokaijru

Do?s and Don?ts for the First Time Budgeter

Do?s and Don?ts for the First Time Budgeter

Do?s and Don?ts for the First Time BudgeterMaking the decision to start budgeting is one of the first steps to getting your finances in order and keeping them there. But sometimes it?s easier said than done.

After all, there are several steps to the budgeting process. In addition, you can find financial advice from many different sources, some of which contradict one another.

To help sort everything out and keep you from referencing multiple documents at once, here is a list of do?s and don?ts for the first time budgeter.

Do?s for the First Time Budgeter

1. Do give yourself a little wiggle room in your budget.

Build in some flexibility, such as allowing a little bit of your money to go toward entertainment. You can choose later if that entertainment is going out to eat or to a movie or some other fun activity. Creating wiggle room can keep you on budget.

2. Do search for low cost or free options to replace some of the things you are currently paying for.

For example, try DirecTV Now for watching television instead of cable and save money.

3. Do use apps.

Apps make it easier to budget and manage your finances. One to try is Personal Capital. It’s free to use and pulls in all of your accounts so you can see everything in the same place at the same time.

4. Do plan ahead for bills that fluctuate.

Heating, water and other bills may change from month to month or season to season. Make sure you set aside enough to cover what you owe during higher usage months.

5. Do set financial goals.

Some of your financial goals might be things such as saving for a new car or saving for retirement.

6. Do create priorities for using your money wisely.

For instance, you may need to pay debt down before you are able to set aside money for a newer car. It’s not wise to continue paying interest on debt when you could be paying it off faster.

7. Do pay more than the minimum on debt you owe.

Paying extra is the only way you will ever get ahead, especially if you have high interest debt, like credit cards.

8. Do automate paying bills whenever you can.

This way you ensure you don?t miss a payment so you can avoid being charged late fees. It also takes a few more things off your never-ending to-do list.

9. Do re-evaluate your budget.

You should re-evaluate your budget every six months to a year to account for any major life changes. For example, if you got married, your bills probably changed drastically. So, you need to budget for the changes.

Don?ts?for the First Time Budgeter

1. Don?t be inflexible when it comes to what you want.

You may have to give a little to create a workable budget. For example, you might have to cut back on salon visits or exercise at home instead of paying a gym membership.

2. Don?t forget to set aside money for emergencies.

There is no way to plan for some things that happen in life. If you plan ahead for financial emergencies by saving money in a rainy day fund you will be able to cover them when they happen.

3. Don?t overlook annual or irregular bills.

Some include taxes, doctor bills, dentist visits, eye doctor appointments, car repair bills and more. Set aside money for these expenses each month in a saving account. Then, when you have bills come up periodically for these bills, you will be able to pay them.

4. Don?t neglect to take into account deductions that are taken on your pay.

Calculate your budget based on your net income and not your gross income. You should at least have taxes that are coming out of each paycheck and possibly retirement contributions and health insurance too, among others. What?s left is your net income.

5. Don?t stop budgeting if you get off track one month.

Instead of giving up, look at where you went wrong and why. Try to prevent it from happening again, and get back on track.

6. Don?t use someone else?s budget for your own.

Your own needs will be different and your bills will likely be different too. You need your own budget tailored to your needs and expenses.

7. Don?t procrastinate when it comes to paying your bills.

Paying them on time can save you money in late fees. Instead, use that money to pay down debt.

8. Don?t try to keep up with the Joneses.

It doesn?t matter what your co-worker, neighbor or family member has or does. Trying to keep up with others makes you spend more and puts you in debt.

Budgeting is an important part of financial well-being. If you are a first time budgeter, use these dos and don?ts to help you create a budget that works.

 

What other do?s and don?ts would you include in this list?

 

Photo courtesy of: kaboompics

Walk Your Way to Financial Freedom with this Simple Side Hustle

simple side hustle

simple side hustleThis is a guest post from Brian Winch, creator of Cleanlots, a parking lot litter removal business that began as a side hustle and has grown into a successful career.

A little over 35 years ago I was at a personal crossroads. I worked full time at a retail establishment, but I knew I wanted more out of life than stocking shelves and ringing up customers. With only a high school diploma, a small savings account and plenty of bills to pay, I wasn?t sure what opportunities would come my way. So I decided to pave my own way and devise a plan to make extra money on the side with a side hustle!

How did I do it?

As a child, I recalled that my father used to make extra money on the side by cleaning up litter in a nearby shopping plaza. I had gone along with him a few times, and I remembered thinking how easy it was. It was a case of us walking around the property cleaning up litter before the stores opened the next day?and getting paid for it. I?ve always loved the outdoors and had a passion for the environment. Marrying those ideals with this childhood memory, I began to grow my side hustle until I was making enough money to quit my retail job.

Would most people describe my business as glamorous? Probably not ? but a litter removal job has many advantages ? if you can see past the trash. How successful you become depends only on your work ethic, persistence and attitude.

Benefits of my side hustle:

Working within a Green industry.

I have a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that my business is making a cleaner, greener environment. Not everyone wants to clean up after people- I get it. However, I enjoy making a noticeable impact in my community with this green service.

Getting exercise.

How many jobs can you name that will pay you to take a walk? In parking-lot litter removal you are taking care of yourself as well as your customers and the environment. 10,000 steps a day? No problem!

Recession-proof.

Are people littering less than they were 30 years ago? I can assure you: NO! People don?t tend to think litter is an issue unless they shop at a messy property. Property owners have a hard time keeping up and that?s where we step in!

Low-risk.

When I decided to launch my side hustle idea I only invested about $200. There are no unique skills or training involved.? (Remember: I started this business with only a high school diploma!). Eventually, I grew my business enough to recruit others to help me with the cleanup work. Now that $200 side hustle investment has turned into a $650,000+ per year business.

Make great money.

You can bill your time out from $30 – $50 per hour. Contract work means money coming in month after month, year after year.

Easy to do.

The simple hand tools make cleaning up almost as fast and easy as going for a walk!

Flextime time schedule.

It doesn?t interfere with a 9-5 job. This service is completed out of the sight of customers-which often means getting your side hustle on during evenings or early mornings.

I?m often asked, ?If this business is so good, why share it with anyone?? The fact is this business is successful at the local level. I couldn?t operate in your city just as you couldn?t in mine. The truth is, I have nothing to lose by teaching you what I know so you too can make extra money on the side. I believe it?s a win/win situation for the both of us (as well as Mother Earth).

To learn more about Brian?s journey and to get more information about how you can open your own parking lot litter removal business please visit http://www.cleanlots.com.

 

Do you have a side hustle? What do you do for extra money?

 

Photo courtesy of: Clean Lots

Start the Year Right with These 5 Tips to Pay Down Debt

Start the Year Right with These 5 Tips to Pay Down Debt

Start the Year Right with These 5 Tips to Pay Down DebtThere is nothing magical about starting a new year. The marking of the passage of time is simply a human creation, with the calendar nothing more than a way to stay organized with our fellow humans.

If you are planning to do something new, you don?t have to wait until the calendar technically ticks over to a new year in order to make it happen ? you can start anytime.

With that said, many people still hold to the tradition of making resolutions each January. If you are in that camp, some of those resolutions may relate to your finances.

Indeed, countless people resolve themselves to make significant financial changes when the new year rolls around. Should you find yourself in need of paying down debt in the coming year, consider using the following tips.

1. Clean House and Save

As long as we are making resolutions, why not combine a couple of them? To pay down your debts slightly, consider selling off old items that you no longer want or need.

This idea will serve the dual purpose of cleaning out your house and also working on your debts. You might not make a lot of money this way, but apply whatever money you do make directly to the debts you would like to eliminate.

2. Pick Up Part-Time Work

This is a popular plan when debt is getting in the way of a financially comfortable lifestyle. After the holidays, you may feel that you finally have a little more time on your hands. If that is the case, look around for a part-time job that can help you make some extra money.

Even if you only work a few extra hours per week, that money will add up in a hurry month after month while working on your debts.

3. Eliminate a Bill

When the calendar turns over to January, take a good look at your monthly expenses and pick out one bill that you are going to get rid of in the new year. This may be a gym membership you never use, or a subscription to a service that is not necessary.

When you eliminate this bill, take that money and add it immediately to your debt payments. Just like that, you will have taken money that was previously being wasted and applied it to an important goal.

4. Skip One Meal Out

Of course, a common resolution for the new year is to lose weight. If you are both trying to lose weight and pay down debt, it might be wise to skip one meal out per month. Even just one meal per month could save you $50 or more, which is a nice sum to be able to add to your debt payments.

5. Review Your Overall Budget

It is easy to just go from month to month with the same budget, but it is worthwhile to review that budget once per year. The start of the year is as good of a time as any to do just that. Take a look at your budget as a whole to see if you can find any line items which can be reduced in favor of making extra debt payments.

 

Did you make any resolutions this year? How are you going to stick to them?

 

Photo courtesy of: Tessa Rampersad