4 Essential Tips When Saving For the Future

It’s no secret that H and I have been working on saving quite a bit lately. Last summer, we spent a lot of cash on our house and neither of us was happy with the amount we had saved at the end of the year. We both recognized this and talked about it, and decided to finish up all of the house projects that we started, and from then on we would slow down the pace of the projects quite a bit. Just that single move alone would save us about $1,000 per month. However, that isn’t all that we’ve been doing to lower expenses.

One of the first things that I did was do a monthly expense audit. We looked at every place where we had a fixed bill every month, and started working on lowering that. I looked at getting a new cell phone and plan, as well as switched our internet provider. Just making these two moves alone, we were able to drop our costs in that area from about 200/month (1,200/year) to less than 75/month! That is a savings of $1,500 in just 12 months, and it took about 30 minutes total of my time! I haven’t even gotten to some of our other expenses, like car insurance. And what will we do with that extra money? Anything we want, whether it’s going out to a nice dinner or spending it as fun money on some Novibet online slots. When we save money, the choice is ours!

Next up, H and I have also been focusing on building our savings account. Though we have more than 1, we have been very focused on building up the money in our emergency fund. Our dedicated emergency fund is a lot lower than we would like it to be, so we’ve been moving all of our extra cash in that direction to we can build it up to at least 3 months expenses. That should happen by sometime in the second quarter of 2014. To focus more on our savings accounts, we’ve been using coupons a lot more when we’ve been going on our date nights. They have probably saved us about 100 bucks through out the time we’ve been doing date nights and saving the valpack coupons (we don’t get the newspaper).

We’ve also been focusing on our habits. I’ve noticed that when we plan to do too many things, we end up spending more money on stuff that we normally wouldn’t spend money on because we feel this huge time crunch. So, we have been very cognizant of what we are scheduling lately, and are not totally trying to run ourselves ragged. Even though we’ve been pretty careful, we still end up doing too much sometimes. For those times, we make sure that we’ve got some healthy snacks already prepared and on hand for us to just grab. This has really saved us quite a bit of money over the last few months, and we’ve been able to bank the rest into our savings.

We’ve also taken a hard look at how much driving that we do and have started riding our bikes more. We are saving quite a bit on gas, though I imagine that will change now that the weather has gotten colder and it wont be all that easy to ride our bikes around in the snow when its cold. Though we will probably start driving a bit more in the coming months, we were able to cut down on quite a bit of usage of gas in the brief fall we had and saved quite a bit of money.

This is what we’ve done over the past few months to save some money.

Readers: What have you done over the past few months to save some money? Have you looked at your monthly bills and checked to see what you can lower or do away with entirely?

Essay about The Importance of Personal Finance

This is a sample essay on the importance of personal finance. Students can use it as an overall guide on how to organize and structure your own essay on the same topic. If you have problems with such writing, turn to an essay writing service for help. In this case, you will get a professional to write the paper for you. This option is of much importance for those who want to see how real experts work on such pieces of writing.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that money is one of the most important aspects of living life. Many people spend the entirety of their lives needing money, training to make more money, or actually making it so they can afford all of life’s many expenses. That said, one cannot deny that the modern days numerous expenses call for personal financing and management for almost everyone, but especially students. It’s no secret that many college students struggle with their finances, and while this scenario can be somewhat attributed to the rising cost of a college education, there have also been many arguments supporting the notion that students simply do not understand the importance of managing their finances. This sample piece discusses the value of personal finance in a student’s life.

The primary reason many students suffer financially throughout their college years is that they are often impulsive, mostly due to being young and relatively inexperienced in living on their own. Most students do not fully understand the true extent of expense when living solo, often leading them to put less value on money for necessity rather than amenities. A lack of inhibition is to be expected to some extent, and there’s not much that can be done about it outside of life experience itself. Personal financing is an excellent alternative, due to its inherent nature of bringing money to the forefront of the student mind. The first step to solving any one problem, in this case, a student’s lack of awareness or experience on an issue, is to make the issue obvious so that it can be studied and accounted for. In this light, personal finance is important to students simply so that they may realize just how vital financial management is when living on your own.

Naturally, personal finance serves a very important functional purpose for students as well. Once the need for personal finance makes itself obvious, that usually equates to budgeting. Budgeting one’s finances is one of the most effective ways of countering the impulsiveness of youth, primarily by not condemning it outright. Being able to spend money on things one does not need but does enjoy shouldn’t be criticized, so long as it is done in moderation and secondary to necessities, which budgeting helps facilitate. By taking the time to partition one’s resources according to their needs, not only does a student learn the details of their living expenses, but they ensure that they can be met. Furthermore, this partitioning of money lets the student know exactly how much they have left over to satisfy their secondary wants following their primary needs. In this way, personal finance, and the budgeting it entails accounts for a student’s needs but does not punish them for also satisfying their wants, within reason. Not only does this lead to greater financial stability for them, but it helps keep them content as well.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, personal finance helps facilitate fiscal responsibility in students that have, for the most part, been able to rely on the financial abilities of their parents throughout most of their lives. There is much to learn about the financial world, especially once you are living on your own. Many students do not know the true value of an investment, saving money on a monthly basis, or the dangers of relying on credit, despite how important it is to build that credit. To call the financial world complicated would be an understatement, which is exactly why personal finance is such a broad term; and why learning its intricacies is valuable for anyone, not just students. In truth, the value of personal finance cannot truly be ascertained since it includes such a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills, and tricks, but that value also cannot be overstated enough. It is a valuable life skill that will serve any individual for as long as they live, but students, who are usually facing the world alone for the first time, can reap more benefits from personal finance than nearly anyone else.

In short, the value of personal finance to students is potentially even more significant than it is for the average member of society. There’s no real specific reason for why other than the simple fact that knowing how to manage your finances in useful no matter who you are or what you do. All other factors notwithstanding, there’s truly no argument to be made against an individual learning as much as they can about personal finance. But for a younger person that has less life experience than others, the benefits of learning and mastering the many facets of personal finance are great. Aside from teaching them more about managing their own money in a way that still allows them to indulge to an extent, they will also learn the value of many different financial tactics and the risks of relying too much on riskier financial alternatives. Going into full detail on the values of personal finance for a student is not possible in this brief discussion, but in reality, it doesn’t need to be. That personal finance is a valuable skill to learn is obvious, regardless of what member of society is in question.

References:

  1. Basu, Sudipto. “Personal Finance for College Students.” One Cent At A Time, 30 Dec. 2017, onecentatatime.com/personal-finance-for-college-students/.
  2. Clark, Sophia. “Why Personal Finance Education Is Important.” TechBullion, 18 Feb. 2018, www.techbullion.com/why-personal-finance-education-is-important/.
  3. https://www.BlueShoreFinancial.com, BlueShore Financial: “Ten Reasons Why Financial Planning Is Important.” Ten Reasons Why Financial Planning Is Important | BlueShore Financial, 2018, www.blueshorefinancial.com/ToolsAdvice/Articles/FinancialPlanning/TenReasonsWhyFinancialPlanningIsImportant/.
  4. Joy, Devin. “Personal Finance for College Students | Lesson Plans and Workbooks.” InCharge Debt Solutions, InCharge Debt Solutions, 2018, www.incharge.org/financial-literacy/resources-for-teachers/college/.
  5. “Personal Finance Lessons: Budget Planning for College Students | SunTrust Resource Center.” SunTrust, 2018, www.suntrust.com/resource-center/personal-finances/article/personal-finance-lessons-budget-planning-for-college-students.
  6. Sherman, Brad. “The Importance of Personal Finance Knowledge.” Sherman Wealth Management | Financial Planning in MD and DC Metro, 1 Nov. 2016, www.shermanwealth.com/the-importance-of-personal-finance-knowledge/.
  7. Zucchi, CFA Kristina. “Why Financial Literacy Is so Important.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 19 Mar. 2018, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/100615/why-financial-literacy-and-education-so-important.asp.

Beware of These College Savings Plan Pitfalls

When saving for a child’s education there are a few options available. Every family has different needs and a different situation so it is important to research what is best for you given the age of your child, your financial means and needs. A very popular option is the college savings plan which was created for the purpose of education costs savings plans. There are many benefits to this type of plan (i.e.; tax advantages, parental controls) but there are some drawbacks and pitfalls to college savings plans that aren’t always discussed. Here’s a closer look at some of these advantages and disadvantages:

Taxes

Most people are attracted to college savings plans because of their tax benefits. There are definitely tax benefits which include earnings grow on the tax-deferred basis and qualifying educational expenses are tax-free, but it is important that you are careful. If you do withdrawal earnings it is important that they are being used for qualified expenses at a qualified institution. If you don’t do this than the earnings are taxable plus a 10% penalty is applied. This can lead to some hefty bills, so it is imperative that you keep track and are following the rules on qualified expenses for your plan.

There is an application out there that can save you time, and help kickstart your college savings plan. U-Nest.com can take what used to take hours of expensive meetings with financial advisors, and involved faxing, copying, and emailing paperwork, etc – now can be done from your phone in about 5 minutes – and the process is entirely secure and paperless. Download their app to get started today!

Flexibility

College Savings Plans are not very flexible when it comes to changes in your investment. The frequency of changes to your selections are often limited. Sometimes an additional charge may be applied or you may be forced to change plans.

Complexity

Since college savings plans are very beneficial for saving for college, there are many particulars when it comes to certain aspects of the plans that can lead to mistakes. There are often rules about what are eligible expense, rules regarding gifting, rollovers to family, financial aid and tax quirks that are unique to these type of plans. As with the tax benefits, it is important to stay on top of these particulars.

Diversify

You may find that diversifying your educational savings is the way to go. Use the 529 for their benefits, but also use the other instruments to save as well. By spreading your savings around, you’ll give yourself the most financial flexibility for that day when your kid becomes a university freshman.

Consider the items mentioned above to make sure you are making the best decisions about your college and educational savings.

Tips to Build an Engaging Email List

Building an email list is important for most online and even offline businesses. I am actually shocked how many business owners do not take advantage of being able to reach me. In the past people would spend countless hours calling people’s homes, when an email blast sent from a warm or hot lead will reach the person at their home, their business or even on their cell phone.  With sophisticated email blasts you can customize messages to test which have a better conversion ratio (a/b testing).  In addition, and as important, the customer’s interaction with the email can tell you about your customers. For example, do they open the email late at night? Did they so many things and obtain

A bad email blast will cause people to unsubscribe or even look poorly on your core business so it is important to follow the tips below for a successful email list.

7 Tips for Building an Engaged Email List - Infographic by Campaign Monitor

Source: 7 Tips for Building an Engaged Email List by Campaign Monitor

Vacation Investments and Destinations for North American Holiday Travel

For the savvy European vacationer, North America can be a holiday destination for years to come.

Whether you’re planning the great American getaway or planning a longer stay in the states, there are plenty of options to consider as well as money pits to avoid. While many vacationers aim for a big city stay, there are better ways to stretch the Euro–and plan for returns in the coming years.

Avoid the money pits

High-cost AirBnBs, too-expensive hotel stays, and timeshare properties offer the allure of security for having a place for more than a week but can drain your resources sooner than you think. If you’re looking at the cost of a timeshare, you should know timeshare properties alone cost almost $1,000 a year. If you’re not visiting the states yearly, then it’s a hassle to sell off your week share, and you’d rather visit other places anyway, right? If you want to save on overt holiday costs as to make a North American vacation a yearly getaway, there are plenty of home exchange (house swapping) options as well as more affordable packages that allow for longer stays in central locations that provide travel to surrounding vacation sites.

Where to visit?

If you’ve already explored the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Paris, and Italy, then you have to experience America’s Great Lakes, Quebec’s Ice Hotel, Massachusetts’ Capes, California’s beaches, and Montreal’s botanical gardens, among hundreds of destinations that not every adventurer has explored. A week in Mexico, ten days in the states, and a tour across the upper Northeast of Canada’s coast makes for the perfect holiday–and next year you can explore the west coast version of the same trip!

Stretch that Euro!

Traveling to and through the states can be as affordable–or even more so–than European cross-country holiday. New York, for example, is a state (or “country”) unto itself! Most Americans can spend a whole two-week holiday exploring New York and not even scratch the surface when it comes to its beaches or upstate. No traveler can capture all of New York, Zihuatanejo, Mexico City, Quebec, Nova Scotia, or California’s attractions in one holiday, so why should you? Each year provides enough cheap flights and affordable travel packages for you and the family to explore a foreign–but familiar–country.

Whether you’re hungry to travel on holiday or looking to get away to somewhere new but farther away, Europeans of all types and classes are making North America their vacation destination, whether they’re planning years of exploration and future holiday getaways or just looking to find somewhere off-continent that might cost the same or less.

Distinguishing Wants from Needs

One of the most difficult aspects of living in a market-driven, consumption-oriented society is knowing when what you already have is good enough. After all, you’re bombarded with messages everyday telling you the thing with which you thought you were satisfied has been replaced by something ending with the suffix “-er”.

Whether bigger, better, faster, prettier or even smaller, we’re continually being told what we have isn’t good enough. This can make distinguishing wants from needs tough to do.

Needs and Wants Defined

On the face of it, the difference between needs and wants is pretty simple.

A need is something you must have to survive, while a want only makes your existence more pleasant. For example, you might well need a car to get back and forth to work to earn an income to help you survive. But you want that car to be a Porsche or a Cadillac—even though a Volkswagen or a Chevrolet will do.

When it comes right down to it, all you need to survive is nutritious food and water, competent health care, clothes, shelter, and an income to help you acquire those things. Desiring anything beyond the basic version of those things transforms the need into a want.

Mind the Questions You Ask

Marketers routinely plant thoughts in our heads to elevate wants into needs.

“Why throw good money after bad? Rather than fixing that toaster, just get a new one with more modern features.” (Because it will cost more.)

“Why settle for a HDTV, when Ultra HDTV is coming soon and will make HDTV obsolete?” (It doesn’t.)

“I’m already spending $20,000 to get the car, why not spend another thousand to get it in silver?” (Even though white is included in the base price.)

Succumbing to these rationalizations inevitably cause us to spend more money than we really should, just to satisfy an artificial “need”.

Stop and Take a Good Look

Getting caught up in delusional “needs” is very easy to do. In order to break the cycle, we have to step back, take a look at what we have and realize it’s so much better than good enough. When our brains convince us, we need something outside of our price range, we tend to focus on that thing to the detriment of the similar item we already have.

If we aren’t careful, this desire can become an obsession, rendering us incapable of appreciating the things we already own. This can push us to a relentless pursuit of “new and better.” In a society like ours, it’s all too easy to convince ourselves we’re being deprived, when the fact of the matter is we’re light-years away from deprivation.

Breaking the Cycle

With all of that said though, how much fun would life be if we just fulfilled our needs and never indulged our wants?

Pretty dull—right?

Maybe, but we must also be careful to avoid overindulging.

This is one of the reasons most Americans are in debt. To break the cycle, stop living from paycheck to paycheck and get out of debt, taking note of these impulses is a good first step.

Meanwhile, if the situation has progressed past your ability to make ends meet, it might be useful to contract the services of a company like Freedom Debt Relief. Firms like this can help you reduce your debts to a more manageable level, so you can pay them off and get back on solid financial footing.

Keep in mind; nobody’s saying you shouldn’t have nice things. We’re put on this earth to thrive, not merely to survive. However, learning to distinguish your wants from your needs will make it easier to enjoy those wants when you get them. Otherwise, you’ll always be seeking the next new thing, when the reality is what you already have is good enough.

Focusing On Bigger Things: Firing Your Business to Success

The biggest obstacle that holds back most enterprises from hitting the anticipated success is the inability to focus big.

Well, it is a bridge that can be frightening, but you need to cross it to succeed in business. It is time to stop focusing on small things and engage the gear towards the big things. Therefore, how do you focus on the bigger things?

Go for business coaching

Though you might have a great business idea or even started, it is the leadership skills that you have that will steer it to success. Do not feel too comfortable. This is the moment to make that great move. Business coaching is designed to help you look at the business from a different angle and craft better strategies.

Though your marketing strategy worked well and the sales are edging up. Good leadership skills leant through coaching will help to map more steps and cruise to success. Think of it this way. Beating the local competitors is not enough. You need to start competing with international firms.

Working with experts to make the big move

While it is true that your business product such as an app was only conceptualized for the local financial sector, it could bring evolution to the industry globally. All that you need is getting the right experts around you.

The professionals will help to amplify your idea and introduce another viewpoint to redefine success. The focus is on rethinking the product and positioning it at the global level.

Restructuring and working with strategic partners

When entrepreneurs think big, it can get very scaring because of the large financial implication.

Where will the money for expanding offshore come from? Your business only needs to restructure with the target to move to the next level.

For example, it is possible to hit the one million mark in sales by adopting a different marketing strategy. You could even save a lot of funds by using online marketing as opposed to the brick and mortar models such as television and billboards.

To grow abroad, things do not have to be as complicated as many people often put it. For example, you could work with strategic partners in an offshore destination before moving a business there. Do not let anything stand between your dream and the ability to achieve it.