Showing posts with label spending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spending. Show all posts

Friday, February 8, 2019

Finances and Funds: How Smart Families Insure a Secure Future

Being financially responsible can sometimes feel as though it means that you can’t have any fun. Curbing your spending habits doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on the important things in life. Here are some techniques to ensure a secure financial future for your family.

Live within Your Means

Creating a budget will help you to live within your means. You know how much income is coming into your home, but you may not be aware of how much is going out. Taking a hard look at your monthly bills is the first place to start. 

There may be places that you can work to save some money. Evaluate the services that you’re receiving and determine if you can qualify for any discount programs. Many companies will offer you incentives in order to stay with your service provider.

Obtain Adequate Insurance

Insurance may seem like a waste of money until you really need. This includes health insurance, home owners insurance, and car insurance. Something terrible could occur and you would be on the hook for all of the bills that were associated with it. 

Start by getting several quotes so that you can find an insurance plan that will fit within your budgetary restraints. For example, getting an auto insurance quote from several different companies may vary widely in the price range that’s available to you.

Watch Your Expenditures

You have your set monthly expenses which include things like your bills, but there are also other expenditures that can start to add up. For example, dining out and entertainment costs can blow your budget if you don’t keep an eye on them. 

Set a limit on how much you can spend in these areas. There are always free forms of entertainment available for families that could help you to get out of the house without having to break the bank.

Save Each Month

Setting monthly saving goals will help to secure your financial future. This can be more difficult when you’re first starting out because you’re used to spending more each month on other items. 

Slowly scale back so that you don’t feel as though you’re having to make large sacrifices. For example, setting a goal of twenty dollars a week is more doable than trying to save it all at the end of each month. This money could come from giving up going out to coffee each day.

Being smarter about your money starts by examining your spending habits. Use these guidelines so that you can secure your family’s finances.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

6 Steps to Successfully Managing Your Personal Finances

If you regularly feel frustrated by your financial situation, you are in good company. Across many income levels, people commonly feel as though they do not have enough money to accomplish their goals. At times, they may not even have enough cash on hand to cover their bills. Paying down debts can seem challenging, and it may feel as though you can never get ahead financially.

Regardless of your income level, it is reasonable to live within your means and to achieve financial goals. However, you must approach financial management strategically in order to do so. These are essential steps for successful financial management.

1. Create a Budget

Managing your money properly without a budget is an impossible feat for most people. A budget tells you how your income is allocated each month. It enables you to find areas to cut back on, and it may help you to determine if you can afford to buy an extra pair of shoes or head to the movie theater tonight.

Budgeting may sound simple enough, but many people struggle in this area. Ensure that your budget is based on accurate numbers rather than hopeful numbers. Use your spending history to ensure accuracy. In addition, reconcile actual income and expenses regularly so that you always know where you stand financially.

2. Trim Down Spending

One of the many benefits of living on a strict budget is the ability to identify areas to reduce spending in. Financial stress often occurs when your spending is very close to your income level or if it exceeds your income level. Most expenses can be trimmed with proper effort, so there may be plenty of wiggle room to work with. 

For example, you may be able to refinance your home mortgage or move to a more affordable rental home. You can make energy efficiency improvements around the house, shop for better rates on Internet and smartphone service, prepare more affordable meals at home and more. With effort, you may be able to reduce regular monthly spending by hundreds of dollars or more.

3. Plan for Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Your budget gives you the ability to allocate regular contributions for savings and investments. By doing so, you may meet your short-term and long-term goals. For example, you can plan a short-term goal of taking a vacation or getting orthodontic braces for your child. A common long-term goal is to save for a comfortable retirement.

You will never reach these goals without saving money regularly. Therefore, you need to adjust your budget to include regular allocations of funds for each of your short-term and long-term goals.

4. Take Advantage of Modern Technology

Many years ago, personal financial management involved manually logging income and expenses through a handwritten ledger. You may have had to wait for a monthly bank statement or call a customer service phone number regularly to reconcile numbers and to ensure that you did not make a mistake.

Technology has thankfully improved. Banking apps can tell you immediately what your balances are, if transactions have posted and more. You can also use Excel to prepare a fixed budget as well as to keep a running budget for income and expenses. Excel is a part of the Office 365 suite and is available to everyone.

5. Save Regularly

Part of your budget should include a small allocation of funds to a savings account on a regular basis. Healthy personal finances include a well-funded emergency fund. This account may be used to pay for unexpected expenses, and it can help you to avoid relying on credit cards in a time of need.

Many people wonder how much money they need in their savings account. There is not a fixed answer that is right for everyone. Depending on your financial situation and life circumstances, you may feel more comfortable if this figure covered three months of your regular income, six months of regular expenses or another amount. 

For example, if you live in a large house and would need to pay an expensive deductible if you file an insurance claim, you may need more money in savings than a renter may need. You may also feel more comfortable having more money on hand if you are concerned about getting laid off soon, if you live very close to your means and would struggle if even a small unexpected event occurs and more.

6. Focus on Debt Reduction

High debt balances can erode financial security. They can also inflate monthly expenses and prevent you from saving and investing more. Reducing and ultimately eliminating debt is essential for smart financial management. The first step to take for effective debt reduction involves living within your means and avoiding taking on any new debts.

After you have accumulated a healthy sum of money in an emergency savings account, you may then contribute additional funds toward debt reduction. Concentrate any additional funds available to a single account, and focus on this account until the balance is paid in full. You can then move on to your next account. Debt elimination may take years in many cases, so avoid feeling discouraged by slow results.

Wrapping Up

Effective financial management can improve your life in countless ways. Each of these tips can have a profound effective on your personal financial health and security in different ways, and their cumulative results may be life-changing in some cases. Begin applying these steps to your financial management efforts today to benefit from their transformative effects.

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Contact Jasmine @JazzyWilliams88

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Finding a Balance Between Spending, Investing and Saving

It can be difficult to decide what would be considered a ‘sensible’ use of money. Naturally, most people try to save whatever money they have left over after paying for all of the essentials each month. 

However, though saving money is important, it is not the only good use of each months paycheck. You need to find a balance between saving, spending and investing, so that you can get the best use out of your money. 

If you have never considered what benefits investing could have for you, or if you are wondering what the best way to save some of your money is, then here are a few tips for you.


Investing money is a great way to profit from your assets, with minimal work involved. To invest in the stock market, all you need is a small amount of start-up capital. 

From that starting point, you can then find a broker, and most of these are available online or even through apps nowadays. Of course, the stock market is not the only way that you can invest your money. 

You could instead invest in the real estate market, or in a local business or new startup company: where ever you feel your money is most likely to profit, with as minimal a level of risk as possible.


Of course, when you get your paycheck, you immediately factor in expenditure on the essentials: food, bills, items that the kids desperately need, etc. 

That is universally considered to be a sensible use of a person’s wages. 

However, sometimes it’s okay to put a little money aside to do something fun. After all, you work hard, and that deserves some reward! 

As long as you budget carefully, you might find that you can put fifty dollars or so aside each month to go to the cinema, treat the family to a fun trip out, such as to an Escape Room, or take everyone to a family dinner. 

Even if you don’t have enough to do that every month, you could always save some money over a longer period of time specifically for this purpose.


As well as saving up for family days out, it’s also important to keep saving for a number of other reasons. 

While saving won’t give you the same returns on interest as investing would, invested funds are a lot less accessible than saved funds, and you may need a store of money to turn to at one point or another. 

Perhaps the car breaks down, or the heating stops working: in these instances, you will need cash to hand in order to get the problem fixed quickly and easily. Therefore, make sure to keep some money aside which you know you will only spend in emergency situations, and that you are not going to invest. 

It is a good idea to keep this allocated money in a separate account, as that way you are less likely to spend it, either accidentally or on purpose.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Adjusting our Budget for an Empty Nest

My husband and I have been married for 21 years and this is one of those years in which our lives will change dramatically. Our youngest goes off to college and we will once again plan our household budget around just the two of us. With two in college we have plenty to cover in our overall budget, but if we are careful and make adjustments we will end each month with savings that can be set aside for our rapidly approaching retirement years.

Here are the areas of our family finances where I think we can save.

Household Budget

Cooling and Heating

For nine months out of the year we will have an entire floor of our home that is uninhabited. We’ve been here for seven years and we plan to stay until it is time to downsize. That doesn’t mean we have to cool, heat and light up those areas of the house we aren’t using.

Whether your empty nest means a couple of rooms become vacant or an entire wing of your home goes empty, here are some tips for taking advantage of energy savings on the unused portions of your home.

  • Close blinds and curtains - It will stay hot during the days throughout the month of October in our area. To help keep out the heat the first step is to close the blinds and curtains of the windows facing east, west and especially south. Then switch that up during the cold months and open the blinds of the windows that face south. 
  • Close vents - Another step is to close the vents in the rooms that will not be in use. This diverts heat to the common areas that you will want to keep warm. 
  • Close doors - This one is obvious and it is something many energy conscious people do already. As much as I like an open house, it saves energy to keep doors closed so we aren’t cooling or heating areas that aren’t in use. 
  • Change thermostat - The final step will be to adjust the thermostat upstairs. We don’t want to make the downstairs unit work harder, so the adjustment will be slight, but it will certainly help save money each month. 


This may not seem like much, but along with not heating and cooling the rooms that are no longer in use, we will save time and money by not having to clean those same rooms as often. While I make a lot of my own cleaners, the ingredients still cost money. So does the electricity used to run the vacuum. The actual dollar figure saved may be small each week, but when combined with other savings it makes a difference.

Since I’m self employed, the time I save can be used to produce more income. If you work outside the home, this extra hour or so each week can mean a little more time to relax and unwind after a long day at work.


Again, this might seem like a minor savings, but our child heading off to college accounted for more than a third of our laundry expenses this past year because of her very active life. We are already saving a lot with Energy Star high efficiency appliances, but this fall our laundry load will be cut in half. Over time that is a substantial savings.

With both daughters doing their own laundry at school we will save on detergent, water and energy costs. I won’t realize much of a time savings here since the girls have washed their own laundry for some time now.

Gas Budget

As a family we spend very little of our budget on gasoline for our cars. I work from home so don’t drive on a daily basis and while we live in a rural area pretty far from town, we have always organized errands to use as little gas as possible.

Once the kids are on their own and paying for their own gas, most couples will see a reduction in their fuel costs. However, some will fill their empty nests with new activities and may actually get out more. The good thing is that you’re in control of this lifestyle change.

Grocery Budget

Cooking for two may be where many empty nesters can save the most money once the kids move out. Even if you occasionally splurge on expensive foods that you’ve avoided when there were more mouths to feed, careful menu planning can offer serious savings.

No matter how hard you work to keep your food budget low, teens eat a lot and are often the reason many families have snack foods in their pantries. Now is the time to break old habits and revamp your grocery list and the way you buy, prepare and store foods.

  • Check your recipes carefully to see how many servings they offer. If it is something that will not freeze or keep in the refrigerator, or if it is something that won’t be good reheated, don’t make more than you and your spouse can eat at one sitting. 
  • Plan a menu in advance and base your shopping list on this menu. I use to track store specials and I plan my menu around as many sale items as possible. Find a site that lists specials for stores in your area. 
  • Invest in storage containers sized for one or two servings so there is less air in the container. This will help prevent freezer burn. It is also helpful if the container can go from freezer to microwave for defrosting. 
  • Keep a list of meals you have stored in your freezer and rotate them so they don’t go stale or get freezer burn. 

A freezer stocked with meals ready to thaw and reheat offers flexibility to your food budget and your evenings at home.

When your children leave home, life immediately becomes less expensive, so make a conscious effort to take advantage of all the little ways you can save. Pad your savings account with all that extra money so you won’t feel guilty when the lure of dining out or off-season vacation rentals tempts you to splurge.

Betsy Muse is a staff writer for ConsumerFu where she offers tips to help people find ways to earn more and save more. She is the mother of two college-age daughters and spent much of her early career in the banking and insurance industries.

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