Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Preparing for Unexpected Financial Challenges

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
I think most of us agree that saving money is important, but are we putting our money where our proverbial mouths are? According to a 2015 survey, 35% of American’s had no savings, and 34% had less than $1,000. This means that 69% of Americans are financial fragile. When life starts throwing curve-balls at them, these individuals and families likely will not have the necessary funds to meet the challenge(s). It also begs the question: “Is just one savings fund enough to meet all my life’s financial challenges?” The answer is not really. If all you have is one savings fund, it is still worth taking pride in. Saving money can be very difficult and any progress you’ve deserves celebration. But don’t stop with one. There are three basic types…
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What are You Saving for?

What are You Saving for?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
We all know that saving a little bit of money here and there throughout the month is one of the best strategies for accumulating savings. However, it can be difficult to keep that in mind while you’re shopping, especially if your goal is generalized to “save money”. Using coupons is a popular method for saving money, and can absolutely be an effective way to generate savings. There is a mental trap that many people, myself included, fall into. When you save $3.00 with a coupon, it becomes very tempting to turn around and use that savings on another item. In other words, you feel like you saved money with the coupon, and want to reward yourself.But really, this means that you didn’t save any money. Yes, it stretched farther, but…
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Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Are the Budget Blues Bringing You Down?

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
If you’ve followed my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed several articles on budgeting. Why so many? Because a budget is one of the most valuable tools for understanding, managing, and growing your money. Yet it seems to me that many people break-out in a cold sweat the moment I say “budget”. If the B-word induces anxiety in you to the point you can’t bring yourself to write one, try changing your terminology. A budget is just a plan for how you are going to spend your money, so try calling it a “Spending Plan”. Using a Spending Plan is a small lifestyle adjustment to help you reshape your spending habits. It takes time and practice to write and use Spending Plans that are reasonable and accurate, but as you develop…
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Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Plan your Meals; Plan your Spending

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money, Take Action
Making food at home is an easy way to trim your spending, but it can often feel difficult to fit in cooking, and clean-up, within daily life. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I started meal planning to save money and eat healthier and so far, we’re achieving our goal. There are different kinds of meal planning. In one of the most popular methods, you plan and prepare every single meal for the week in one day. We chose to adapt this method slightly and only plan our meals for the week, but planning and preparing on the same day is very effective for many people. Here is some more information on the strategy, as well as a guide to help you start out. Because Sunday is our day…
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Don’t Drive into Debt

Don’t Drive into Debt

Budgeting, Debt, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Take Action
Now that tax, and tax return, season is upon us, maybe you’re thinking about purchasing a car. A tax return can make a solid down payment. Because cars are a depreciating investment, it is important to find a reliable car that fits your budget and won’t break down, causing extra bills and stress1. What do you need from a vehicle? Before you even start looking, you need to know what you’re looking for. It's easy to buy a vehicle for emotional reasons, but because it's a large expense, buying a practical car is a huge benefit to your financial well being. Do you haul trailers or equipment frequently? Are you a commuter? Do you have a family or have hopes to start one in the future? All of these questions will…
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Is the Mortgage Tax Deduction in Your Best Interest?

Is the Mortgage Tax Deduction in Your Best Interest?

Debt, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Saving & Investing, Take Action
So tax season is upon us, and if you’re paying on a mortgage, you probably feel pretty excited about the home mortgage tax deduction that comes with it. After all, everyone says that you should hold off on fully repaying your mortgage because the tax deduction saves you money. Unfortunately, that common sense advice isn’t really sensible at all, and may actually be costing you money. The home mortgage tax deduction is a type of itemized tax deduction that allows you to reduce your taxable income by the amount you paid in interest. This deduction combines with all other itemized tax deductions and if that total exceeds the standard deduction it will take its place. Now, you can claim up to two homes for this deduction, and the definition of…
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Follow Your Funds

Follow Your Funds

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Take Action
There’s always pressure to make changes around the new year. Aside from my annual resolution to exercise more, this year I decided to track of my spending. Unlike exercise, it’s an easy habit to maintain, and like exercise it improves my long term well-being.The last time that anyone stressed the value of tracking your spending to me was in middle school when we learned about balancing checkbooks. I occasionally started a log in high school but never maintained it. In college, I didn’t even attempt to keep track, I would just periodically check my bank account balance online. As years went by, this system became less and less sustainable. I decided to make two big changes to the way I spend. 1) I use cash for most of my daily…
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Stop Letting Your Money Manage You

Stop Letting Your Money Manage You

Budgeting, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Take Action
Confession time… I have never had a formal budget. I would put money aside for my bills, but as far as groceries, gas, and all my other spending, it was a free for all. Honestly, I was scared of writing a budget because it meant I would have to face up to my bad spending habits. The issue with not taking time to budget and actually plan how to spend your money, is that you put yourself at the mercy of your own fear and bad habits. It wasn’t a sustainable life style and I felt perpetually broke and stressed.I was doing it to myself, of course. Although I didn’t realize it then, by not writing a budget and taking control of my money, I was choosing to be stressed,…
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First Step to Overcoming Financial Stress

First Step to Overcoming Financial Stress

#WMWeek17, Credit, Debt, Goals / Taking Action, Miscellaneous, Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement, Relationships & Money, Take Action
It’s easy to despair over your finances, whether it’s your debt load, learning poor spending habits left you broke, or simply realizing you don’t know squat about doing your taxes. And it’s okay to have a cry once in a while. Crying is a normal reaction to stress. But when tears and despair become the norm when you think about your finances, you’ve got a problem. The more you despair, the more you lose hope and feel powerless to make any meaningful changes. News flash: this is your life, and you’re the only one who can improve it. And the first step to creating change and hope is gratitude. Feel free to roll your eyes at me. I know this answer sounds somewhere between “too good to be true” and…
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