16 Small Steps You Can Take Now to Improve Your Finances

Pretty brunette with moneybox in hands

You have all kinds of financial goals you want to achieve, but where should you begin? There are so many different aspects of money management that it can be difficult to find a starting point when trying to achieve financial success. If you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Progress can be made in tiny, manageable steps. Here’s are 16 small things you can do right now to improve your overall financial health. (See also: These 13 Numbers Are Crucial to Understanding Your Finances)

1. Create a household budget

The biggest step toward effective money management is making a household budget. You first need to figure out exactly how much money comes in each month. Once you have that number, organize your budget in order of financial priorities: essential living expenses, contributions to retirement savings, repaying debt, and any entertainment or lifestyle costs. Having a clear picture of exactly how much is coming in and going out every month is key to reaching your financial goals.

2. Calculate your net worth

Simply put, your net worth is the total of your assets minus your debts and liabilities. You’re left with a positive or negative number. If the number is positive, you’re on the up and up. If the number is negative — which is especially common for young people just starting out — you’ll need to keep chipping away at debt.

Remember that certain assets, like your home, count on both sides of the ledger. While you may have mortgage debt, it is secured by the resale value of your home. (See also: 10 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth This Year)

3. Review your credit reports

Your credit history determines your creditworthiness, including the interest rates you pay on loans and credit cards. It can also affect your employment opportunities and living options. Every 12 months, you can check your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for free at annualcreditreport.com. It may also be a good idea to request one report from one bureau every four months, so you can keep an eye on your credit throughout the year without paying for it.

Regularly checking your credit report will help you stay on top of every account in your name and can alert you to fraudulent activity.

4. Check your credit score

Your FICO score can range from 300-850. The higher the score, the better. Keep in mind that two of the most important factors that go into making up your credit score are your payment history, specifically negative information, and how much debt you’re carrying: the type of debts, and how much available credit you have at any given time. (See also: How to Boost Your Credit Score in Just 30 Days)

5. Set a monthly savings amount

Transferring a set amount of money to a savings account at the same time you pay your other monthly bills helps ensure that you’re regularly and intentionally saving money for the future. Waiting to see if you have any money left over after paying for all your other discretionary lifestyle expenses can lead to uneven amounts or no savings at all.

6. Make minimum payments on all debts

The first step to maintaining a good credit standing is to avoid making late payments. Build your minimum debt reduction payments into your budget. Then, look for any extra money you can put toward paying down debt principal. (See also: The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt)

7. Increase your retirement saving rate by 1 percent

Your retirement savings and saving rate are the most important determinants of your overall financial success. Strive to save 15 percent of your income for most of your career for retirement, and that includes any employer match you may receive. If you’re not saving that amount yet, plan ahead for ways you can reach that goal. For example, increase your saving rate every time you get a bonus or raise.

8. Open an IRA

An IRA is an easy and accessible retirement savings vehicle that anyone with earned income can access (although you can’t contribute to a traditional IRA past age 70½). Unlike an employer-sponsored account, like a 401(k), an IRA gives you access to unlimited investment choices and is not attached to any particular employer. (See also: Stop Believing These 5 Myths About IRAs)

9. Update your account beneficiaries

Certain assets, like retirement accounts and insurance policies, have their own beneficiary designations and will be distributed based on who you have listed on those documents — not necessarily according to your estate planning documents. Review these every year and whenever you have a major life event, like a marriage.

10. Review your employer benefits

The monetary value of your employment includes your salary in addition to any other employer-provided benefits. Consider these extras part of your wealth-building tools and review them on a yearly basis. For example, a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) can help pay for current health care expenses through your employer and a Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you pay for medical expenses now and in retirement. (See also: 8 Myths About Health Savings Accounts — Debunked!)

11. Review your W-4

The W-4 form you filled out when you first started your job dictates how much your employer withholds for taxes — and you can make changes to it. If you get a refund at tax time, adjusting your tax withholdings can be an easy way to increase your take-home pay. Also, remember to review this form when you have a major life event, like a marriage or after the birth of a child. (See also: Are You Withholding the Right Amount of Taxes from Your Paycheck?)

12. Ponder your need for life insurance

In general, if someone is dependent upon your income, then you may need a life insurance policy. When determining how much insurance you need, consider protecting assets and paying off all outstanding debts, as well as retirement and college costs. (See also: 15 Surprising Insurance Policies You Might Need)

13. Check your FDIC insurance coverage

First, make sure that the banking institutions you use are FDIC insured. For credit unions, you’ll want to confirm it’s a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) federally-covered institution. Federal deposit insurance protects up to $250,000 of your deposits for each type of bank account you have. To determine your account coverage at a single bank or various banks, visit FDIC.gov.

14. Check your Social Security statements

Set up an online account at SSA.gov to confirm your work and income history and to get an idea of what types of benefits, if any, you’re entitled to — including retirement and disability.

15. Set one financial goal to achieve it by the end of the year

An important part of financial success is recognizing where you need to focus your energy in terms of certain financial goals, like having a fully funded emergency account, for example.

If you’re overwhelmed by trying to simultaneously work on reaching all of your goals, pick one that you can focus on and achieve it by the end of the year. Examples include paying off a credit card, contributing to an IRA, or saving $500.

16. Take a one-month spending break

Unfortunately, you can never take a break from paying your bills, but you do have complete control over how you spend your discretionary income. And that may be the only way to make some progress toward some of your savings goals. Try trimming some of your lifestyle expenses for just one month to cushion your checking or savings account. You could start by bringing your own lunch to work every day or meal-planning for the week to keep your grocery bill lower and forgo eating out. (See also: How a Simple "Do Not Buy" List Keeps Money in Your Pocket)

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With the new year here, it’s time to take control of your financial goals. From creating a household budget, to calculating your net worth, or setting a monthly savings amount, we’ve got 16 small steps you can take to improve your finances. | #personalfinance #moneymatters #budgeting


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Are All the Food Delivery and Subscription Services Worth It?

We’re living in an age of convenience. Groceries can be delivered, clothes can be picked out for you and just about every TV show and movie ever made can be beamed straight into your living room. If I had the money, I could get pretty much everything I need without ever leaving my house.

But unfortunately, I don’t have the money. Do you?

As our society has collectively fallen in love with subscription services, many of us have let them take over our budget. Because these are recurring expenses, it’s all too easy to sign up and forget about your card being charged every month.

It’s time to finally ask yourself -are all of these subscription services worth the money?

Are You Spending Too Much on Subscription Services?

Before you can decide if meal subscription and delivery services are eating up too much of your budget, you have to figure out how much you’re spending on them. This is a very subjective and personal question that depends on your income, total spending and other goals.

Look at your monthly subscription and food delivery spending in Mint, checking to see if the numbers align with your budget. Take the time to sort and categorize the transactions if you haven’t done so in a while. It may help to look through several month’s worth of expenses, because some subscription services like FabFitFun only ship once a quarter.

Spending may also vary based on the seasons or other external factors. You may spend more on food delivery services during final exams because you’re too busy to meal plan. If the seasons change and you don’t have any clothes, you may spend more on personal styling services.

Once you have an accurate account of how much you spend, compare it to your income and other expenses. Spending $50 a week on a meal kit service doesn’t mean anything without context. You need to know how that compares to your other expenses.

How to Cut Down on Subscription Services

If you found that you’re overspending on subscription services, it doesn’t mean that you need to cut them out entirely. Think about how much value each service provides to your life, and prioritize where your money is going.

Make a list of all the subscription services you currently have and how much you spend on them each month. Then rank the subscription and delivery services from most important to least.

Write down how often you actually use the products or services. Be honest with yourself. The goal is to keep the boxes and services that you actually use, love and enjoy on a regular basis. This can help you identify which services don’t fit into your lifestyle – or budget.

Try to be as objective and ruthless as possible here. Yes, you may love getting the monthly Stitch Fix box in the mail, but do you actually keep the clothes they send? Learning to cook with Blue Apron may be a worthy goal, but do you actually like the meals they send?

Once you have a list of essential subscriptions, look at your budget again and determine how much money is left for those services. If the available amount is greater than the total cost, you’re in the clear.

However, if the amount is more than you can afford, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of parting with your subscriptions, you’ll have to look at cuts you can make in other spending categories.

How to Save on Subscription Services

Chances are, you’re paying more for some of your subscription services than is absolutely necessary. Most video streaming services let you watch multiple screens at once so you can split it with friends or family. Some even have student deals if you have a university email address. Your school may even have its own special agreements with certain providers.

If there are a lot of subscription services you want to keep, consider alternating which ones you use throughout the year. Most subscription and delivery services make it easy to cancel and resubscribe later.

For example, if you have a beauty box subscription and a bathroom full of toiletries, quit the service until you’ve used most of the products. Many of these products expire, so you’ll be saving money and cutting down on waste.

If you subscribe services but only use them during a particular season, like a streaming service tied to a seasonal sport, get rid of them and reactivate when you’re ready. You can also do this with streaming services that only have a few shows you’re interested in. Once you’re done watching Stranger Things, for example, you can deactivate your Netflix membership for no penalty.

Seek Alternative Ways to Save

Looking for cheaper versions of your favorite services can also help you avoid overspending. Some grocery stores now have meal kits similar to Blue Apron or HelloFresh. It’s not as convenient, but it’s a much more affordable alternative.

Many companies give customers referral codes they can send out to friends and family. When people use your referral codes, you’ll earn free credit or cash. For example, Barkbox provides a free month if someone signs up for a six or 12-month membership through your referral link.

Sometimes companies will have a special coupon for new customers that use referral codes, like Stitch Fix who provide a $25 bonus for both the new customer and the one who referred them.

You can share these links on social media, by text or through email. Some programs have a limit on how much you can earn with referral codes, but it never hurts to try. If you end up exceeding that amount, you can apply for their official affiliate program to earn cash instead of credit.

If you do cancel a program, check your bank account to make sure you’re no longer paying for it. Some services are guilty of occasionally charging former subscribers even after they’ve quit.

Which subscription service are you going to cut back on this year? Let us know in the comments!

The post Are All the Food Delivery and Subscription Services Worth It? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

What Are Mutual Funds? Understanding The Basics

If you’re one of those investors with very little time to research and invest in individual stocks, it might be a good idea to look into investing in mutual funds.

Whether your goal is to save money for retirement, or for a down payment to buy a house, mutual funds are low-cost and effective way to invest your money.

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What is a mutual fund?

A mutual fund is an investment vehicle in which investors, like you ad me, pool their money together. They use the money to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. A professional manages the funds.

In addition, mutual funds are cost efficient. They offer diversification to your portfolio. They have low minimum investment requirements.

These factors make mutual funds among the best investment vehicles to use. If you’re a beginner investor, you should consider investing in mutual funds or index funds.

Investing in the stock market in general, can be intimidating. If you are just starting out and don’t feel confident in your investing knowledge, you may value the advice of a financial advisor.

Types of mutual funds

There are different types of mutual funds. They are stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds.

Which funds you choose depends on your risk tolerance. While mutual funds in general are less risky than investing in individual stocks, some funds are riskier than others.

However, you can choose a combination of these three types of funds to diversify your portfolio.

  • Stock funds: a stock fund is a fund that invests heavily in stocks. However, that does not mean stock funds do not have other securities, i.e., bonds. It’s just that the majority of the money invested is in stocks.
  • Bond funds: if you don’t want your portfolio to fluctuate in value as stocks do, then you should consider bond funds.
  • Money market funds: money market funds are funds that you invest in if you tend to tap into your investment in the short term.
  • Sector funds. As the name suggests, sector funds are funds that invests in one particular sector or industry. For example, a fund that invests only in the health care industry is a sector fund. These mutual funds lack diversification. Therefore, you should avoid them or use them in conjunction to another mutual fund.

Additional funds

  • Index funds. Index funds seek to track the performance of a particular index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of 500 large U.S. company stocks or the CRSP US Small Cap Index. When you invest in the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund, you’re essentially buying a piece of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies. Index funds don’t jump around. They stay invested in the market. 
  • Income funds: These funds focus invest primarily in corporate bonds. They also invest in some high-dividend stocks.
  • Balance funds: The portfolio of these funds have a mixed of stocks and bonds. Those funds enjoy capital growth and income dividend.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Protect Your Portfolio from the Volatile Stock Market

The advantages of mutual funds

Diversification. You’ve probably heard the popular saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Well, it applies to mutual funds. Mutual funds invest in stocks or bonds from dozens of companies in several industries.

Thus, your risk is spread. If a stock of a company is not doing well, a stock from another company can balance it out. While most funds are diversified, some are not.

For example, sector funds which invest in a specific industry such as real estate can be risky if that industry is not doing well.

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Professional Management.

Mutual funds are professionally managed. These fund managers are well educated and experienced. Their job is to analyze data, research companies and find the best investments for the fund.

Thus, investing in mutual funds can be a huge time saver for those who have very little time and those who lack expertise in the matter.

Cost Efficiency. The operating expenses and the cost that you pay to sell or buy a fund are cheaper than trading in individual securities on your own. For example, the best Vanguard mutual funds have operating expenses as low as 0.04%. So by keeping expenses low, these funds can help boost your returns.

Low or Reasonable Minimum Investment. The majority of mutual funds, Vanguard mutual funds, for example, have a reasonable minimum requirement. Some funds even have a minimum of $1,000 and provide a monthly investment plan where you can start with as little as $50 a month.

Related Article: 7 Secrets Smart Professionals Use to Choose Financial Advisors

The disadvantage of mutual funds.

While there are several benefits to investing in mutual funds, there are some disadvantages as well. 

Active Fund Management. Mutual funds are actively managed. That means fund mangers are always on the look out for the best securities to purchase. That also means they can easily make mistakes.

Cost/expenses. While cost and expenses of investing in individual stocks are significantly higher than mutual funds, cost of a mutual fund can nonetheless be significant.

High cost can have a negative effect on your investment return. These fees are deducted from your mutual fund’s balance every year. Other fees can apply as well. So always find a company with a low cost. 

How you make money with mutual funds.

You make money with mutual funds the same way you would with individual stocks: dividend, capital gain and appreciation.

Dividend: Dividends are cash distributions from a company to its shareholders. Some companies offer dividends; others do not. And those who do pay out dividends are not obligated to do so. And the amount of dividends can vary from year to year.

As a mutual fund investor, you may receive dividend income on a regular basis.

Mutual funds offer dividend reinvestment plans. This means that instead of receiving a cash payment, you can reinvest your dividend income into buying more shares in the fund.

Capital gain distribution: in addition to receiving dividend income from the fund, you make money with mutual funds when you make a profit by selling a stock. This is called “capital gain.”

Capital gain occurs when the fund manager sells stocks for more he bought them for. The resulting profits can be paid out to the fund’s shareholders. Just as dividend income, you have the choice to reinvest your gains in the fund.

Appreciation: If stocks in your fund have appreciated in value, the price per share of the fund will increase as well. So whether you hold your shares for a short term or long term, you stand to make a profit when the shares rise. 

Best mutual funds.

Now that you know mutual funds make excellent investments, finding the best mutual funds can be overwhelming. 

Vanguard mutual funds.

Vanguard mutual funds are the best out there, because they are relatively cheaper; they are of high quality; a professional manage them; and their operating expenses are relative low. 

Here is a list of the best Vanguard mutual funds that you should invest in:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Funds
  • Vanguard 500 Index (VFIAX)
  • Total International Stock index Fund
  • Vanguard Health Care Investor

Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund 

If you’re looking for a diversified mutual fund, this Vanguard mutual fund is for you. The Vanguard’s VTSAX provides exposure to the entire U.S. stock market which includes stocks from large, medium and small U.S companies.

The top companies include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. In addition, the expenses are relatively (0.04%). It has a minimum initial investment of $3,000, making it one of the best vanguard stock funds out there.

Vanguard S&P 500 (VFIAX)

The Vanguard 500 Index fund may be appropriate for you if you prefer a mutual fund that focuses on U.S. equities. This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500, which means it holds about 500 of the largest U.S. stocks.

The largest U.S. companies included in this fund are Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Amazon. This index fund has an expense ration of 0.04% and a reasonable minimum initial investment of $3,000.

Vanguard Total International Stock Market

You should consider the Vanguard International Stock Market fund of you prefer a mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks.

This international stock fund exposes its shareholders to over 6,000 non-U.S. stocks from several countries in both developed markets and emerging markets. The minimum investment is also $3,000 with an expense ratio of 0.11%.

Vanguard Health Care Investor

Sector funds are not usually a good idea, because the lack diversification. Sector funds are funds that invest in a specific industry like real estate or health care. However, if you want a fund to complement your portfolio, the Vanguard Health Care Investor is a good choice.

This Vanguard mutual fund offers investors exposure to U.S. and foreign equities focusing in the health care industry. The expense ration is a little bit higher, 0.34%. However, the minimum initial investment is $3,000, making it one of the cheapest Vanguard mutual funds.

Bottom Line

Mutual funds are great options for beginner investors or investors who have little time to research and invest in individual stocks. When you buy into these low cost investments, you’re essentially buying shares from companies.

Your money are pooled together with those of other investors. If you intend to invest in low cost investment funds, you must know which ones are the best. When it comes to saving money on fees and getting a good return on your investment, Vanguard mutual funds are among the best funds out there.

They provide professional management, diversity, low cost, income and price appreciation.

What’s Next: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor

Speak with the Right Financial Advisor

  • If you have questions beyond knowing which of the best Vanguard mutual funds to invest, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
  • Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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The post What Are Mutual Funds? Understanding The Basics appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

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Learning How To Survive On A College Budget

Find out how to survive on a college budget here. This is a great list!College is expensive and everyone knows that.

Between paying for tuition, parking, textbooks, extra fees, and everything else, you also have basic living expenses to pay for as well.

All of these costs are either brand new or somewhat new to you most likely as well, so you might not even know how to survive on a budget, let alone a college budget.

Don’t worry, though, surviving on a college budget is possible. Learning how to save money in college is possible!

Related post: How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans In 7 Months

Whether you are trying to survive the whole year off of what you made over the summer or if you have a steady job throughout the school year, there are ways to budget your money and not fall into any extra debt. Plus, you can still enjoy your college years on a low budget as well!

Below are my tips on how to survive on a college budget.

 

Use your student ID.

Your student ID is good at many places beyond just your college campus. Before you buy anything, I highly recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.

Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (such as laptops!), at the movies, and more. You may receive a discount, free items, and more all just by flashing your student ID.

After all, you are paying to go to college and you are paying a lot. You might as well reap one benefit of paying all of those high college costs.

 

Make extra money.

You may need to look into making extra money if you just don’t have enough to survive on. I am a firm believer in making extra money and I think extra time can be wisely spent doing this.

Some online side gigs with flexible schedules include:

  • Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I made over $150,000 last year by blogging and will make more than that in 2015. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
  • Survey companies I recommend include Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Product Report Card, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! It’s best to sign up for as many as you can because that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free!
  • Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much, but I do earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded points called “SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!
  • Check out 75 Ways To Make Extra Money for more ideas.
  • Read Best Online Jobs For College Students

 

Use coupons to stay on a college budget.

Just like with the above, you may want to start using coupons.

By doing so, you can save money on nearly everything. You can find coupons in newspapers, online, and in the mail. They are everywhere so you should have no problem finding them and saving money today.

Related post: How To Live On One Income

 

Learn how to correctly use a credit card or don’t have one at all.

Many college students fall into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.

Many college students will start relying on their credit cards in order to get them through their low college budget, but this can lead to thousands of dollars of credit card debt which will eventually seem impossible to get out of due to significant interest charges that keep building up.

In order to never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think you will rely on them too heavily.

You should think long and hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because many others have them doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you will be good at using them, then there are many advantages of doing so.

Related post: Credit Card Mistakes That Can Lead To Debt

 

Only take out what you need in student loans.

Many students take out the full amount in student loans that they are approved for even if they only need half.

This is a HUGE mistake. You should only take out what you truly need, as you will need to pay back your student loans one day and you will most likely regret it later.

I know someone who would take out the max amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not even sure why they thought it was a good idea.

Just think about it – If you take out an extra $2,000 a semester, that means you will most likely take out almost $20,000 over the time period that you are in college.

Do you really want to owe THAT much more in student loans?

 

Skip having a car.

Most campuses have everything you need in order to survive – food, stores, and jobs. In many cases, you do not need to have a car whatsoever.

By foregoing a car, you may save money on monthly payments, maintenance costs, car insurance, gas, and more.

Related post: Should We Get Rid Of A Car And Just Have One?

 

Eat out less.

Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating out entirely if you are trying to survive on a college budget. I know how it is to be in college and to want to hang out with everyone. These are your college years after all.

However, you should try to eat in as much as you can, make your own meals, and try to eat out only during happy hours or when food is cheaper, such as during lunch time. Eating out can ruin your college budget!

 

Have a roommate.

The more people you live with, generally the less you will pay when it comes to rent and utilities. If you are living on your own, then you may want to find roommates so that you can split the costs with them.

This will help you to lower your college budget and you may even find some awesome friends.

Related post: What I Learned Having Roommates

What college budget tips do you have?

 

The post Learning How To Survive On A College Budget appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

It is no secret that you need a budget.  But, it is imperative that it includes everything.  Take the time to review your spending and don’t leave anything off of it.  Below you will find a list of household budget categories you need to include. Forgetting even one off might be a big mistake.

It is no secret that the number one thing you must do to take control of your finances is to create a budget.  Without one, you really can’t see where your money goes.  Or, more importantly, you don’t get to direct your money to be spent as you would like for it to be!

While there are posts on how to create a budget, one question I get frequently is, “What categories should I include in a budget?”   When you are new to making a budget, something such as a personal budget categories list can help.  I agree.

As you create yours for the first time, it is important you don’t leave off anything important. A successful budget is one that includes a line item for every way you spend your money.

If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget.

There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.

 

To help you get a jump start on with your budget, and to make sure you don’t leave off any categories, download our free budget template.  This form has helped thousands get started with creating a budget.

SIMPLE BUDGET CATEGORIES 

Once you have your form, you are ready to figure out your budget categories!  While you may not have each of these as individual line items on your form, just make sure you include them all somewhere in your budget!

 

DONATIONS OR CHARITY CATEGORIES

These are all of the monthly donations you make to various charities.  Don’t forget about those you may make only once or twice a year as well!

Church
Medical Research
Youth Groups

 

SAVINGS CATEGORIES

While not needed to live, it is crucial that you always pay yourself before you pay anyone else.  Once you meet your necessary expenses, ensure you are saving enough each month.

If you are in your employer’s retirement plan, you pay those before you get your paycheck, so you would not include them.  However, make sure you account for the different types of savings accounts you may have.

Emergency Fund Savings
Annual Fees, such as taxes, insurance, and dues
College Savings
Investments
Christmas/Birthdays/Anniversaries
Additional Retirement (outside of your employer’s plan)

Read More:  Yearly Savings Challenge

 

CATEGORIES FOR HOUSING

No one will forget to add housing to their budget.  But, make sure you include the amount you may save for repairs and other expenses. To figure out how much to budget, look over your prior year spending and divide that total by 12.  You will add this to your savings, but you can track it under your housing budget category.

First Mortgage
Second Mortgage (if applicable)
Property Taxes
Insurance
Home Owner’s Association Dues
Maintenance
Housekeeper/Cleaning
Lawn Care

 

PERSONAL BUDGET UTILITIES CATEGORIES

You can’t live without your water and electricity.  It is essential that you don’t leave any of these off of your budget either!  These are some of the basic budget categories most people will not intend to forget, but just might.

Electricity
Water
Gas/Oil
Sewer
Trash
Cable/Satellite/Streaming Services
Internet (if not part of your cable bill)
Phone

Read more:  How to Lower Your Utility Bills

 

FOOD

You have to eat. There are only two ways that happens  — you cook or you eat out. Make sure you include both of these categories in your budget.

Groceries
Dining Out

 

TRANSPORTATION CATEGORIES

You have to be able to get around.  That doesn’t always mean a vehicle as it could mean using other means of transportation.  Whatever method you use, make sure you include all of those expenses in your budget.

Remember that you may not have to pay for some of these items each month, but it is essential you budget for them monthly so that the funds are available when needed.

Vehicle payment (make sure you include all payments for all vehicles)
Fuel
Insurance
Taxes
Tags/Licensing
Maintenance
Parking Fees
Taxi/Bus Fares

 

CLOTHING

A line item many people leave off of their budget is clothing.  They forget that it is a necessary expense.  While this doesn’t mean you should go and buy new clothes all of the time, it does allow you to replace items which are worn out.

It is also essential that parents include this item as kids need clothes a bit more frequently.

Adult Clothing
Kids Clothing

 

CATEGORIES FOR HEALTH

Don’t forget your health expenses when determining a budget.  Make sure you include the money you pay towards your co-pays during the year.

Health Insurance
Dental Insurance
Eye Insurance
Doctor Visits
Dental Visits
Optometrist
Medications
Deductible Savings

 

PERSONAL ITEMS CATEGORIES

Personal is a “catch-all” category which may contain much of your discretionary spending!  Some of the most common types you need to include:

Haircuts/Manicures/Pedicures
Life Insurance
Child Care/Babysitting
Toiletries (if not included in your grocery budget above)
Household Items (if you did not already include in your groceries budget above)
Education/Tuition
Dry Cleaning/Laundry
School Dues/Supplies
Magazines
Gym Memberships
Organization Dues
Postage
Pet Care (food, grooming, shots, boarding)
Photos (school and family photos)
Random Spending (always useful as a way to pay for the things you may not have broken out in your budget)

 

RECREATION

We all love to spend some time doing things we love.  Don’t forget to include your entertainment category when determining your budget.

Entertainment (movies/concerts)
Crafts
Hobbies
Parties
Vacations

 

DEBTS

Once you pay off your debt, these will go away entirely and will no longer be needed.  You can learn how to get out of debt and get started with that (once you have your budget).

Credit Cards (all debt)
Unsecured loans
Home equity loans
Student loans
Medical loans

 

Now you have the categories you need for your budget!  Take the first step in getting control of your finances by putting this to work for you.

caclulator on desk to figure budget categories

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Find Apartments with Move-In Specials

Home is where the heart and all your stuff is, so you probably want it to be pretty nice. Just not break-the-bank nice. There are a few easy ways to save before signing on the dotted lease line, fortunately. Do your wallet a big favor and check out these tips for finding the biggest and baddest apartments with move-in specials.

How to find apartments with move-in specials with Apartment Guide

Apartment Guide is making it easier than ever to know which properties offer the biggest bang for your buck by tagging them with a hard to miss, but easy to use hot deals badge.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to saving money on your next apartment lease.

1. Search for apartments in your city or neighborhood

Visit Apartment Guide and search as you normally would using filters to narrow in on your desired city, neighborhood, price and features. You can easily select a Hot Deals filter option, which will only show apartments in your search that have an active deal for you.

hot deals filter

In addition, as you’re scrolling through your full list of properties, you’ll notice a friendly red badge that says “Hot Deals” or “Deals” with your special offer.

apartments with move-in deals

 

2. Claim your move-in special

When you click on a property, you’ll know if it has an active deal when you see the red word “Deals” in an icon under the photos. Click on that badge or scroll down the page to see what special is currently being offered. It could be anything from a months’ free rent to a gift card when you sign a lease.

apartments with move-in deals

 

Then click on “Check Availability” to fill out your name and contact information and it will be sent to the property along with your move-in special. Someone from the community will contact you shortly.

While you’re on the page, you can also sign up for virtual tours, if they are available.

tour from home

 

Other tips for finding apartments with move-in specials

There’s no reason to stop there. Double (or triple) up on the savings by heeding a few of these tried-and-true tips for scoring the best apartment deals.

Timing is everything

No one wants to move during the busy holiday season, much less when it’s oh-so-chilly outside. So take advantage of everyone else’s hesitation and cash in on apartment community promotions that run rampant from October to December. Happy New Year, indeed.

Act quickly

If a deal seems too good to be true it probably isn’t going to be there long. Starting a few months before the big move, monitor rental prices in your desired area. This will give you a better idea of what’s fair to pay and what a true apartment deal looks like. That way, when a truly great promotion or rent reduction pops up you’ll be able to swoop in and grab it right away.

Rent new

Although it seems pretty backward, it can sometimes be cheaper to score a brand-new unit. This is because newbie communities have a lot of space to fill, so they run excellent specials to get people in the door. Just make sure your rent and amenity fees won’t get jacked up without your consent in a year or two.

Make the ask

Many people don’t realize that rental rates aren’t set in stone. If a community is struggling to fill units they’ll be more likely to throw you a bone or two, in the form of reduced rent or waived fees. Don’t be afraid to check out these potential caveats. The worst thing they can say is no, right?

negotiating

Brag a bit

Now’s not the time to be modest. Landlords would far prefer to have reliable renters in place, so if you have an impeccable credit history and references go ahead and drop this info like it’s hot. Be sure to include your score, if you know it. The apartment community is more likely to offer discounted rent to a sure thing, rather than someone who’s racking up debt all over.

Explore payment options

Some apartment communities have flexibility as to whether you pay month-to-month or upfront for a certain period of time, such as three, six or even 12 months. If you have the savings this could land you a discounted rent rate since they’ll already have your money in the bank. This apartment deal will cost you more upfront but will save plenty in the long-term.

Don’t be a diva

Sure, you might want a view of the bay or whatever, but if it works better with your budget to rent a middle floor unit it’s probably smart to make the concession. The same goes for ultra-desirable first-floor units. It’s simply cheaper to snap up a middle unit.

You can also save major bucks by opting for a community with onsite, rather than in-unit laundry. This minor inconvenience can net big savings in the end.

The same concept goes for fixer-upper units. Although it’s lovely to move into a turnkey place with a fresh coat of paint, pristine hardwoods and gleaming stainless steel, it’s also going to be reflected in the rent price. So think about what you really need, versus what you really want, all with your budget in mind. Many communities will approve minor repairs and upgrades, so check into that option and do the work yourself for a fraction of what they would have up-charged you!

Cast a wider net

Sure, you want to be in the trendy part of town, but it’s not worth being near all the hot spots if you have no money left over after rent, utilities and amenity fees to enjoy them. Instead, move a little further out to find the unit you want at a price that won’t break you. Then use ride-shares or public transportation to get you where you need to go if you don’t have your own wheels.

Find your apartment with move-in specials today

Searching for an apartment can be overwhelming in more ways than one. A little extra diligence on the front end, however, is likely to net big savings in the end.

So whether it’s a coupon, selecting a basement abode or a combination of the two, take a beat to figure out what you really want, when you want it and what you’re willing to give up to reap the best cash savings possible.

The post How to Find Apartments with Move-In Specials appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Meal Prep 101: How to make 20 meals for $25

This guest post is written by Richmond Howard for Good Financial Cents. Richmond runs the blog MealPrepify.

Four years ago my wife and I were almost broke. It was our first year of marriage and I had been out of a job for almost five months.

I wasn’t making money and I was about to start going to grad school. It’s hard to pay for grad school when you’re broke so I was applying for scholarships.

One of the scholarships required you to input a monthly budget of how much you were spending. Makes sense — they want to make sure you’re being a good steward of your resources and that you actually need the financial help.

The problem was I had no idea what we were actually spending. We were just kinda going by feel and trying to be frugal. We created an account with Mint and synced all of our accounts.

I still remember when my wife and I were sitting there watching the screen–waiting for all of the data to get sorted out to see the breakdown of our monthly spending.

It all looked normal at first. Our rent was $725. Car insurance was $200. Wifi was $30. Phone bill was around $100. Gym $40. Everything was checking out except one category.

Food / Restaurants: $825

Neither of us believed it, but it was our anniversary month so we chalked it up to the fancy dinner we went to. Surely, that’s what it was… We went back another month and saw $760. Then $730. Then back to $800.

The realization hit us hard.

For the last six months while I was unemployed and we were struggling to make ends meet — watching our bank accounts start to dip — we were spending more on food than rent for just our little family of two.

Like most people, we ate out too often for fun and for convenience.

Like most people, we were throwing away too much food that never got cooked.

Our food bill was out of control. We knew we had to find a way to save money on food, but we didn’t know how. We already felt like we were frugal when it came to food and we didn’t want to go back to the college diet of ramen and the chicken that’s marked down because it’s about to expire.

We wanted to eat real food that was good for us and good for our wallet.

We made a few major changes:

  • We completely stopped eating out for about two months.
  • We planned out our meals and didn’t let anything go to waste.

That worked for a while! We were eating all of our meals at home and our food spending dropped from $750+ to around $350.

It was exhausting though. We were cooking and cleaning multiple meals a day. It felt like we lived in the kitchen.

Then we started meal prepping.

We’d wake up early on Sundays to pick a few recipes and map out what we were going to eat that week. After church, we’d head straight to the grocery store and spent our afternoons making a week’s worth of food.

It took some time to get the hang of it, but meal prepping was a total game-changer for us. We started saving money and we weren’t spending 15 hours a week in the kitchen.

Here I am three years later and I now run a blog called MealPrepify where I help people learn how to meal prep and find great recipes so they can save time, money, and eat healthy doing it.

Today I want to give you my best tips and tricks to help you start saving money by meal prepping! I’ve also shared our favorite meal plan that we’ve used almost every single month to save money on food.

Meal Prep 101: 9 Tips to Start Meal Prepping

  • When I first started meal prepping, I was totally overwhelmed.
  • How do I pick recipes?
  • How much should I make?
  • How long will the food last?
  • Do I need to meal plan or just cook stuff and hope it goes together?

When I started looking for resources on meal prepping, most of it wasn’t helpful. The recipes they recommended were elaborate or unhealthy. The meal plans didn’t fit what I liked, and I usually ended up spending more time and money than I was saving.

Here are some helpful meal prep tips to get you started the right way:

1. Restaurant spending freeze

If you want to start meal prepping, the first thing you’ve got to do is stop eating out. If you’re anything like me, this is the hardest part. My wife and I are foodies and we love to try new places all over Houston, especially BBQ.

But there’s no way around it. If you want to save money on food and make meal prepping a habit, you have to force yourself to do it.

Your restaurant spending freeze doesn’t have to be forever, but commit for one month and see what happens. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save when you stop eating out.

2. Start small

The biggest mistake people make is trying to meal prep too much the first time. Start small. Pick 1-2 recipes you know you love and double the ingredients. The last thing you want to do is make a bunch of food that’ll go to waste.

3. Look in the freezer and pantry

The best place to start meal prepping is with stuff you’ve already got. Go make a list of all the meat you’ve got sitting in your freezer and find a way to meal prep with it. You’ll save money, reduce waste, and clear out space.

4. Create a list of super cheap meals

The key to saving money with meal prepping is to find cheap meals that you can make over and over again. My wife and I have a rotation of 7-10 meals that we absolutely love. They also keep our grocery budget in line and allow us to splurge in other places.

5. Find ingredient overlaps

The best meal prep hack is finding ingredients that work for multiple recipes. The fewer ingredients I have to buy at the grocery store, prep, chop, and cook, the better!

Grilled chicken is one of these for me. I’ll eat grilled chicken with a side of roasted vegetables, on a salad, or in a sweet potato. When I’m in a big hurry, I’ll grab a baggie of grilled chicken for a high-protein snack.

Bell peppers are another one. You can use bell peppers for fajitas, asian stir fries, or by themselves as a healthy snack.

6. Create a set time for meal prepping

If you want to meal prep consistently, then pick a set time to meal prep every week. My wife and I cook a week’s worth of lunches every Saturday afternoon and then we’ll double the amount for whatever we cook for dinner on Monday.

7. Get good storage containers

After you’ve finished all your meal prepping, you need to a way to store and save it all. We used to use regular plastic tupperware containers, but after a while we decided to upgrade to these glassware containers, which are better for heating, storing in the freezer, and cleaning in the dishwasher.

8. Map out your week

Meal prepping takes meal planning. Every Saturday morning, my wife and I wake up and we map out our entire week of meals. 

We actually put our meal plan into a google spreadsheet so we can see exactly what we’ll be eating. Then we put together a grocery list of everything we need to buy that week. We usually try to stock up on some healthy snacks as well.

The best part about keeping track of your meal plans is that you have your own bank of meal plans to pull from. Whenever we’re in a hurry we just pick a meal plan we’ve done before and head to the store!

9. Use the crockpot

There’s no question that using a crock pot is the easiest way to meal prep. All you have to do is dump in your ingredients, press a button, and wait 6-8 hours.

Turn it on before you go to bed and wake up with lunch and dinner already prepared. Here are some of our favorite cheap crockpot meals you can make for less than $3 a serving!

Sample Meal Plan: How we made 20 meals for $25 in one hour

People make meal planning way more complicated than it needs to be. I always pick three recipes that I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ideally they are cheap, healthy, and have some overlap in ingredients.

This is one of my go-to meal plans. It takes me about an hour of work to make 20 meals for $25.

Breakfast: Overnight oats

Meal prepping for breakfast is tough. Leftover eggs are rubbery and gross.

About a year ago I started making overnight oats and it was a game changer. Easy to make and incredibly cheap.

Overnight oats don’t require any cooking. Put them in a mason jar the night before with milk or water and they’re ready to go in the morning. The ratio is typically two parts liquid to one part oats. I typically do 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 cup water, and 1 cup milk.

You can add anything you want to the oats to fix them up! My favorites are strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.

The oats need at least four hours to soak, but will last for 3-4 days. I usually add liquid to half my jars and then on Wednesday I’ll add milk and water to the second batch.

Every morning, grab a mason jar from the fridge and you’re ready to eat. Overnight oats are good cold or warmed up.

Est. price: $0.50/ serving

Lunch: Sheet pan chicken fajitas

My wife and I love using sheet pan recipes because they save time on clean-up and we can meal prep a week’s worth of lunch in one batch.

You can make these chicken fajitas in a few easy steps.

  1. Put 2lbs of chicken breast/thighs into a ziploc bag or bowl and cover it with your marinade of choice. I use a store bought marinade to save time and make it as easy as possible. Marinade for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
  2. Slice 1 green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and onion.
  3. Cover the sheet pan with foil and dump the bell peppers & chicken on it.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 or so and check to make sure it’s done.
  5. Once the fajitas are made, you can eat them however you want! Stuff some tortillas or eat them with rice and beans. Eat the fajitas with some mixed greens and avocado for a healthy salad.

Est. price: $1.50/serving

Dinner: Quick coconut chicken curry

This coconut chicken curry recipe is one of our weeknight go-to meals! It’s cheap, healthy, and here’s how you make it:

  1. Put 2lbs chicken breast or thighs into a ziploc or bowl. Rub 4 tbsp curry paste all over them.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil to a cooking pan and get hot. Add red onion and saute with 2 more tbsp curry paste. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken to the pan and sear both sides (2 minutes a side).
  4. Add coconut milk and put in oven for 12 minutes @ 400 degrees.
  5. When it’s done, you can eat the chicken curry with pita bread, rice, or by itself!

Est. price: $2.50/serving

Grocery List

If you want to give this meal plan a try, here’s a grocery list you can print off and take with you to the store.

  • Oatmeal
  • Milk
  • Optional oatmeal toppings you want: fruit, berries, nuts
  • 2lbs Chicken breast
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 onions
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup rice
  • Fajita marinade
  • 2lbs chicken thighs
  • 1.5 cup coconut milk
  • 4-6 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion

Take Your Next Step in Meal Prepping

I don’t know where you’re at in life, but I truly believe that meal prepping can help everyone.

It can help the entrepreneur eat healthy and save money to reinvest in their business. It can help the young professional save money to put towards retirement. Meal prepping can save the stay at home parent hours of time every week in planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

Take your first step today!

The post Meal Prep 101: How to make 20 meals for $25 appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

FHA Down Payment & Rules: Two Truths To Know

If you’re wondering how much you need to put as a down payment on a FHA loan, then you have come to the right place.

The FHA down payment is 3.5% of the home purchase price. This low down payment is very flexible and reasonable for the first time home buyer. To put another way, you’re more likely to save up 3.5% to attain your goal of buying a house than to save for a conventional loan. The down payment for a conventional loan is 20% of the home price.

Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House.

For example, if you see a house that you’d like to buy and it costs $350,000, then a 3.5% down payment is $12,250. That’s the amount you will put down. Also note that you can use other people’s money for that down payment as well (more on this below).

But there are some rules you need to know. In addition to this low FHA down payment, among other things, you need to have a certain credit score.


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What is an FHA loan?

An FHA loan is a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (hence, the acronym “FHA”), so a lender can offer you a great deal. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the home purchase price, and your credit score can be as low as 580.

Note that the FHA itself does not provide any direct loan. To start a FHA loan application, contact any FHA approved lender. To find an approved FHA lender in your are, click here.

Nor does the FHA set interest rates. Again FHA approved mortgage lenders do that as well. However, FHA loans have better interest rates because the government insure the loans. Click here to compare FHA loan rates with LendingTree.

FHA down payment rules

The down payment can come from any of these sources:

In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which manages the FHA loan program allowed the 3.5% down payment to come from a third party.

They can be a family member, a friend, a charitable organization or an employer as a gift. So this is good news! That means you don’t have to use your own money, which can significantly reduce your costs.

But if you’re going to use a third party money as your FHA down payment, you must provide a crucial document. The mortgage lender who is going to offer you the FHA loan must obtain a gift letter from the 3rd party who is going to give you the down payment.

The letter must say that the 3rd party does not expect any repayment of the down payment. And finally, the letter must describe the relationship between you and the third party.

Find out if you’re eligible for an FHA loan at LendingTree.com.

Your credit score must be at least 580 for an FHA loan

In other to be qualified to this low FHA down payment of 3.5%, your credit score needs to be at least 580 or higher. If your credit score is between 500 and 579, then you will need to put at least 10% down. To know where you stand, get a free credit score at CreditSesame.

Overcoming the FHA down payment limitations.

Even if the FHA down payment is low, some people can still have a hard time to come with it, especially if they live paycheck to paycheck. If you’re in this situation, and no one else can help you out, don’t panic just yet — your dream of owning a home can still be a reality.

Here are some of the things you can do if you can’t come up with the 3.5% FHA down payment right away:

  • Postpone your purchase. If you have difficulty coming up with the 3.5% FHA down payment, you’re most likely going to have difficulty with the extra cost associated with owning a home. So if you don’t want to have any headache, a good option is to delay your purchase and start saving more money.
  • Evaluate your spending by cutting back on unnecessary costs. And start saving money regularly from your paycheck, no matter how small. While saving money, don’t forget to put it into a high-interest savings account, where you will earn a higher interest payment as high as 2.20%.
  • Increase your income. If your paycheck is not enough to allow you to save up for the FHA down payment, a good option is to make more money. You can do this by asking for a raise at work, pursue another career, obtain a part time job, or get a side hustle.

In summary:

Do you need a down payment for a FHA loan? Yes you do. FHA offers a low down payment and is a good option for first time home buyers with little money. The minimum is 3.5% of the home purchase price. The only loan where no down payment is required is a Veteran loan. But to be qualified, you would to be a veteran or an active military member.

Frequently asked questions:

What is the FHA down payment percentage? As mentioned above, the FHA down payment percentage is 3.5 of the purchase price, provided that your credit score is at least 580. If your credit score falls between 500 and 579, then you will need to put down 10% of the home purchase price. Get your credit score in order by getting a free credit report at CreditSesame.

Can I get FHA down payment assistance? The answer is yes, you can definitely receive FHA down payment assistance through a third party. If you can’t come up with that low 3.5% FHA down payment on your own, a family member, an employer, or a charitable organization can provide you with that fund for the down payment.

What is the conventional loan down payment percentage? The conventional loan down payment is 20% of the purchase price. That’s a lot of money comparing to the low 3.5% FHA down payment. Plus your credit score needs to be at least in 650-750 range to be receive a competitive mortgage interest rate. Click here to compare FHA loan rates with conventional loan rates to find one that suits you.

Related Articles about FHA down payment:

  • FHA Loan Requirements& Guidelines
  • 3 Things No One Ever Tells You About Buying a Home with an FHA Loan
  • FHA Approved Condos: Where to Find Them

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>

The post FHA Down Payment & Rules: Two Truths To Know appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

How to Save Money for an Apartment

Whether you’re hoping to move out of your dorm, upgrade your current space, or finally live roommate-free for the first time—the financial logistics of renting an apartment can be overwhelming. The good news is, you probably can afford an apartment as long as you know how to save. When you budget efficiently, the cost of […]

The post How to Save Money for an Apartment appeared first on Apartment Life.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly

The post Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Everyone wants to get out of debt fast.  But the reality is that it took you time to get into debt, so it may take a while to get it paid off.  But, that doesn’t mean it needs to take you forever to become debt free.

How to Get out of Debt - Tips to pay off debt fast

Debt can cause a lot of stress and financial anxiety. If you are in this situation, it might feel like you will never get there.  You keep paying and your debt balances don’t seem to drop at all!

My husband and I were in this situation a few years ago.  We just felt like we were drowning in debt.  Between two loans, a credit card and home equity loan, we were spending a lot more money than we wanted.

We made the decision that we were going to work ourselves out from under our debt.  It was not going to be easy, but it was something we both wanted.  There were a few things we did to help us reach our goal to be debt free.

 

SIX TIPS TO PAY OFF DEBT QUICKLY

1. One debt at a time

When you are in debt “up to your eyeballs,”  all you can think about is trying to get rid of all of it as soon as possible. It makes you lose focus.

When you start, find one debt on which to focus.  Rather than put an extra $10 on every single debt, send in an additional $50 on just one debt – until you pay it in full.

An additional payment on a single debt allows you to see real progress.  Each month you will see the balance dropping.  That helps to keep you motivated.

Read More: Which Way to Pay off Your Debts

 

2. Automate it

Once your budget is in place, and you have found a way to make an additional payment on your debt, automate the process.

By doing this, you will be less tempted to use any “extra” money towards either another debt or something else.  When the payment is automatically deducted from your account, it removes the temptation not to make the payment you want.

Read More:  Why You Should Automate Your Savings

 

3. Set goals

When we were working out from under our debt, we set up goals and rewards.  One sacrifice we made when working out from under our debt was that we did not have meals out.  It was NOT easy.  We decided to reward ourselves for our hard work by having a nice dinner out when we paid off a debt.

That gave us a goal. Determine what goals you know will work and set them. Make sure they are in writing and visible, so you are reminded of them every single day.

Read More:  The Importance of Financial Goals

 

4. Make more money

We all want to make more money.  However, if you are in debt, you need more income.  More money helps you pay off your debt more quickly.

Read More:  75+ Ways to Make Money at Home

 

5. Decide not to spend more

The most important thing you must do to pay off your debt is to stop spending.  Cut up the credit cards and do not use them.  If you shop out of boredom, find a new hobby or way to entertain yourself.   Before you can get out of debt, you have to stop building up more debt.

Read More: 12 Reasons Why You Keep Overspending

 

6. All excess cash towards debt

When you get any extra money, be it a tax return, bonus, refund – anything at all, toss it at your debt.  It is tempting to use a windfall for a new gadget or shopping trip. However, when you are in debt, you need to have laser focus, and any time you have even $5 left over out of your budget, you pay it towards your debt.

Your debt doesn’t need to take forever to pay off.  You just need to have a plan and stick with it.

 

quickly pay off debt

The post Six Simple Tips To Help You Pay Off Debt Quickly appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com