Investing

Steps to help you make, and keep a budget

Budgeting isn’t fun, and the very idea of it has discouraged most of us from even trying. However, having and following a budget is essential for our future, and easy when you know how to do it. Savings offer both instant, and long term rewards. Whether you already have a budget that isn’t working out for you, or you’re looking to start as a beginner, there’s no better time than the present to create a budget for you and your family.


– Your first step should be to prioritize. Depending on your age, career, lifestyle and other contributing factors, you may find some areas of the budget more important than others. For example, adults will find retirement planning much more crucial, where as individuals straight from college may be focused on paying off student loans. For this reason, this should be your first step. Determine how and where you’ll be dividing your money, such as with a savings, retirement fund, vacation fund, credit and other debts etc.


– Your next step should involve solid numbers. Collect the information you need, and make some concrete numbers you’ll be working. Begin with summing up your income, including your salary and any other money you receive on a strict monthly basis. Then, compare this with your average monthly expenses, including bills, rent, living expenses etc. Not all bills will be consistent, which means you’ll have to estimate and over shoot to be sure.


– Once you’ve worked out the concrete basics, you can start figuring out how to cut back and have more available at the end of each month. The easiest way to is to determine what unnecessary spending you do every month, which can be documented easily by using a debt card for all purchases, and avoiding cash. Having a paper trail to look at makes it obvious as to just how much you’re spending on coffee, snacks, and other expenses you could be avoiding. This can also involve calling your credit card companies and asking for fees to be waved, or other money saving techniques.


– Once you’ve determined how much money you have left over after expenses, you can determine how much you will set aside in a savings. If you don’t already have a savings, it’s advised you begin with an emergency fund. This is a savings everyone should have, and should contain several thousand that must be left untouched. An emergency may be unexpected auto repair bills, medical bills, etc. These funds can be used to help you keep your budget on track, and should be replenished as soon as possible.


– Sticking to your budget is much harder than starting one, which is why it’s important we take the time and effort to see it through. The best way to do this is to document all your spending and income, and always contribute to your savings funds every month. Always be looking for ways to save, whether it’s buying food on sale, or walking rather than driving as often as possible.

This post was authored by Holly Adams, who works for Coupon Croc. Check them out for discount codes on more than 2,000 stores.


3 Financial Tips for Young Adults

3 Financial Tips for Young Adults

Being a young adult is such an exciting time in life as new found freedoms and responsibilities arise. The pursuit of careers, relationships, first house, and FUN are on the priority list and financial decisions at this point in life can be crucial to financial success throughout life. Let me assure you that if you learn negative financial habits during as a young adult, the results may haunt you for life.

It is important to learn and understand the value of money. Money is valuable. Knowledge and behavior you learn as a young adult have the potential of sticking with you throughout your life. Because of this, you will want to acquire wise financial habits if you want financial freedom.

There are a few very important financial tips for young adults that if followed, will give you the necessary tools to live a life free from the bondage of excessive debt and the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. You don’t have to be a financial genius to have a savings account that actually has tens of thousands of dollars in it or a retirement account that will allow you to retire early. What you do need, though, is serious determination and commitment to follow sound financial advice day-by-day, week-by-week, and year-by-year.

First tip I’d like to share is concerns budgets. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of creating a budget and sticking to that budget monthly. Too many people simply spend more than they earn and resort to using credit cards to cover expenses and desires because their money has run out. This is not wise, as credit cards, though sometimes used to build up credit, normally end people up in a heap load of debt with high interest rates. Effective budgeting will help you know exactly how much money you’ve got coming in and how much you need to cover your monthly expenses. Sit down as soon as you can and make a list of income and expenses and see what you come up with. Make the numbers work for you and if you have to cut down in some areas, do so. Be sure to allocate money for savings monthly as well because you want to have a reservoir of savings and add to it monthly.

A second tip for young adults is to learn about checking and savings accounts.; If you don’t have a checking account, open one up at a local bank and ask for one that does not require a minimum balance and has online banking. Once you’ve opened your account keep track of transactions diligently so that you do not & bound a check. I know this can seem tedious but let me tell you that the day that you; bounce; 3 or 4 checks and have to pay over $100 in EXTRA fees is the day that you may kick yourself for not following this tip. Whether you use your debit card or write a check, record it immediately in your transaction register so that you don’t forget.

A third tip for financial freedom as a young adult is avoid unnecessary debt. The pressure to buy this and buy that to look cool or purchase your girl or guy gifts so that they will adore you even more can be quite strong, but I’m telling you that if you cannot afford it, don’t do it! Put as much money as you can into your savings account and be sensible with purchases. You will get credit card offers in the mail and so many young adults snatch the opportunity and pretend like that card is like cash but I assure you that it is not and the purchases you make with credit cards come with hefty interest rates and can accumulate very quickly. Before you know it you could have accrued $3000 in debt and not have the money to pay it off at the end of the month. Let me say it again; avoid unnecessary debt. That $35,000 truck that you think you desperately need might not be such a wise choice unless you are making 6 figures and debt free. Don’t let your emotions make your financial decisions. Think things through before purchasing them.

You have the opportunity to live a financially free life if you will put into practice simple financial tips now. If you’ve already made some bad decisions, it is not too late to begin being financially responsible and changing your financial future. You can do it.

This article was contributed by Dominique Rodriguez from CreditDonkey.  At CreditDonkey, you can find low interest credit cards to avoid overpaying for your purchases. Maintain a budget, put aside some savings and avoid unnecessary debt to a bright financial future.


The Five Most Common Tax Deductibles for Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

In the wake of the credit crunch and many years of erosion of the old job-for life culture, more and more people are coming to the conclusion that there are no longer any advantages to be had working their guts out for someone else. Instead, self employment and setting-up your own business are becoming increasingly popular, as are freelance and contracting working styles, both for the freedom they bring and for the possibility of greater financial rewards.

However, despite working extremely hard to make every penny count and to get their businesses off the ground, many new small businesses, contractors and freelancers neglect to take full advantage of the entitlements of their new work style and the tax deductibles that can help them take home even more money. Once you are self-employed you should immediately find yourself a top-notch accountant. They will assist you in finding the crucial tax deductibles for the self – employed and for your particular industry. Meanwhile, this article will consider some of the most common areas of tax deduction that contracting and freelance sector workers should consider.

Firstly, there are a great many deductions to be had if you work from home. If you are working either in your house or in a home / office premises then there will be various different things you can make a claim on. First, begin by working out what percentage of your home could be categorised as a home office and dedicated purely to your business. This percentage can then be deducted either from your rental payments or your mortgage payments. Next, make sure you don’t throw away any business expense records related to the home office premises. These include building costs and maintenance costs as well as any business equipment such as printers and computers, phones and stationery. Similarly, the business share of utilities bills such as broadband, phone and electricity is also tax deductible.

Secondly, make a note of all travel expenses, no matter how small, as they are all tax deductible if the journey has anything to do with the day to day running of your business. Journeys can normally be split into those made for business only and those made for both business and pleasure. Your available tax deductions will depend on the manner of each journey. Many self-employed workers and small business owners keep a log-book with the car to record all business journeys.

Thirdly, any professional training courses that are useful for your business and for building your skills and making you more attractive to clients are also tax deductible, particularly if they lead to some kind of professional accreditation.
Fourthly, remember that if you need to hire any one yourself to help with the running of your business, or alternatively to help out at home while you concentrate on your business, you will be able to claim for the cost of hiring these people. So, if you are working freelance and need to hire a nanny or a baby-sitter, or need to put children in day care, then this will be deductible. Similarly, if you hire legal professionals or financial professionals, or even someone who designs the logo for your company, all of these costs can be deducted.

Lastly, remember to keep up to date with the latest information on tax relief and tax credits on offer from the government. Talk with an accountant about all the tax credits available to you and your business.

Greg Dickson is a journalist and copywriter. He currently writes a weekly blog for the Bedouin Group on finance and the contracting sector, covering everything from taxation to umbrella companies


Tricks to combat impulse buying


Think before you buy. Easier said than done really. As most people find the urge to splurge quite hard to resist. Impulse buying is a dangerous habit and is the cause of needless debt. So how exactly do we avoid this trap when we are but mere humans, constantly subject to sale posters and marketing ploys?

1. Stay at home.

Avoid going to the mall after school or at work. Unless you really have to, never step foot in a shop. And should you find yourself in one, shorten your stay and stop mindless loitering. Clearly tell yourself that you are perhaps just there to browse and NOT TO BUY. Believe me, you won’t die if you don’t buy anything at all despite what your emotions tell you. You’ll find yourself with heaps of regrets when you are unable to commit to just browsing. If you do see something you fancy, then just take note of it and do tip #4.

2. Mark your credit cards.

Credit card gives you the false sense that you can afford that wonderful kitchen strainer in your favorite color, even if you already have two back at home. Many claim that letting go of those cards are just unreasonable as they are there for emergency situations. Sure, that closing sale is an emergency. But since it is truly hard to part with them, here’s a trick to prevent you from using them.

Why not put them on a sleeve with an image of your kids, that holiday you have been longing for or of something which is actually more significant than a DVD set of your favorite show? This tip is a great visual tool that will make you think twice before taking that card off its sleeve. Or you can always put the cards on the freezer.

3. Limit your cash.

You do not have credit card you say? Good on you mate, but this does not mean that you are free from the urges of impulse buying. Acknowledging that you are likely to be prone to the desire to buy is a giant step. Better limit the cash on your wallet and set an allowance for yourself every week instead.

Place just enough cash to pay for your transportation or meals and nothing else. Seeing heaps of money within your grasp has a similar effect to credit cards. They trick you in believing that you have money to spare. So curb your impulses by limiting access to cash.

4. Delay purchase. Start the habit of jotting down items into a wish list instead of buying stuff right away. You can schedule a time to go back to the list after a fortnight or when you have saved enough for a “big” purchase. Part of combating impulse buying is controlling ourselves to stop and think. With enough time, the urge to splurge settles down. You can also try the $100 rule when you wait a day for every $100 you plan to spend. Delay, delay, delay.

Using these tricks can help you handle your finances more prudently. It will help you realize that those wonderful must-have items popping out on shop windows aren’t really necessary after all. Prioritize your purchases to avoid finding yourself in debt or with little cash for important spending. There is nothing more shameful for a shopper than the feeling of next-day regret. So wise up and arm yourself with these helpful tips the next time you shop.

Jessy is an Autralia-based mom, frugal blogger and social web entrepreneur. She blogs for HomeLoanFinder, the free eco-friendly refinance home loan comparison tool. You can also follow Jessy on Twitter as @JessyTroy


Keep Your Finances In Order With Some Money Saving Ideas

Keep Your Finances In Order With Some Money Saving Ideas

FinanceWand has some great financial tips and ideas but I was mulling over some ways of simpler ways that we can all save money in the home.

I’ve put together a list of simple money saving ideas. These will help to keep your outgoings down and leave a little more cash in your wallet for those little luxuries tha we all like to buy from time to tim.

Zap Your Electricity Bill

The cost of living goes up everyday and your electricity bill is a prime target for some cost cutting measures.
Fit low energy light bulbs. This type of buld uses about 75% less power than a standard bulb. They are more expensive but will pay for themselves in a relatively short space of time.

Don’t fill your kettle to the brim as this uses significantly more electricity than putting just what you need in it.
Tumble Dryers and washing machines. Try washing at a lower temperature and hang your clothes out to dry one a line. Not only will this save you money but your clothes will smell so much fresher.
Lights out. Turning off the lights in a military barracks not only tells the troops it’s time to sleep but, with all the rooms to light, it saves money. When you leave a room, turn the lights off.

Switch everything off at the mains. Most modern devices such at TV’s and DVD players contain a small battery that will keep the time settings. If there’s no reason to have it plugged in, pull it out!

Household Water Bills

Regulate the amount of water you use by having a meter fitted. Water is a precious commodity and the more that we use the less there will be in future (and it’ll be a lot more expensive).
Buy water butts for the garden. You’ll save even more money by not watering your flowers using a hose pipe attached to the mains supply. You’re happy and your flowers are happy!

Saving Money In The Home

As recently as 30 years ago, many homes didn’t have central heating. Take a leaf out of your parents book and put a jumper on when it’s cold. This will save you a lot of money on your heating bills.
Insualte that creaky old roof! The home is like the human body – most of the heat goes out of the top! Get it insulated and watch your heating bills drop.

Shopping

ñ Don’t buy the latest, greatest products. Use money savers such as discount codes to redcue your bills. If you’re looking for new clothes buy something you like and not an item of clothing that you’ll throw away after you’ve worn it a few times.

Hope you like these money saving ideas. Here’s one last thought before I go: before you throw anything away stop and think for a moment; can anybody less well off use them? If so, take it the charity shop. My name is James and I run Voucher Frenzy, a UK based discount code website.


Top 5 Free Online Money Management Tools

Today with the economy being the way it is, everyone is trying to make his or her money stretch as far as possible. To help you manage your finances there are some good free money management tools available online.

Yodlee

Yodlee MoneyCenter is an online management tool that has been around for a long time. It is easy to use and has a colorful dashboard with everything you need right at your fingertips. This is innovative software that can do many things including track all of your account balances and track what you spend. You can create a budget and set up alerts to let you know when something has been posted.

GnuCash

GnuCash Money Management Tool can be used for both small businesses and personal use. It tracks all of your finances including income, expenses and bank accounts. This software works on all platforms including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It is a powerful flexible free accounting and financial software that tracks all expenses and income in one system. It has an interface that will remind you of a checkbook register that is easy to enter information into.

Mint

Mint is a popular money management tool that is very easy to use. With this software, you can incorporate all of your accounts into the system including bank and credit card accounts. After you have it set up, the software automatically puts all transactions from your various accounts into the system. It sets up a budget and tells you when and where your money is being spent. That way you can track everything in one place to help you budget your money better.

Geezeo

Geezeo is a comprehensive online money management tool that helps a person to budget their money better. A unique feature of Geezeo is that is has a huge online community that you can join. Here you will meet people who have the same goals as you; to save money and stick to a budget. Another unusual feature is the real time public feed that lets you see what other members are doing. This online tool is more than just an accounting tool it is also has a built in support group.

Money Strands

Money Strands online management tool allows a person to track their spending and helps them set a realistic budget. This software spells out your spending habits in a variety of graphs and charts. Not only does this tool track your finances it also gives you tips on managing your money better. It tracks all of your reoccurring monthly bills in a color-coded system that shows whether the bill has been paid or still needs to be paid. This helps you to stay on track and make timely payments.

The reasoning behind online money management tools is to have all your information in one place. They are also designed to help you track your spending. Most of us don’t realize it, but we tend to spend over our means. When it is in black and white, our spending habits become a lot clearer.


The Endowment effect a really difficult challenge

Biases distort our view of the world and lead us to make wrong investment decisions. When written down in a simple way we can laugh at the simplicity and boast that we would never be taken in. But it will happen to you time and again. Let me illustrate with two stories, one personal and one involving one of the best investors around.

1. About twenty years ago I made a specfic share recommendation to someone very close. When the shares didn’t perform and ill health curtailed his investment activities he gifted those shares to me.Over the next few months those shares dropped in price but there was no way i would sell and admit the loss. Eventually the company closed and the shares were worthless.

2. Contrast this with how Nassim Nicholas Taleb ( of Black Swan fame) talks about George Soros.How he has absolutely no hesitation to admit that he was wrong and can make significant investment decisions which are completely at odds with his prior policies. Ruthless is a word sometimes used but i would say that he is free of this bias.

Anyway lets return to the official description of the Endowment effect. Basically it asserts that we value more highly things which we own. Whether these are assets, shares or opinions if they are “ours” we will hold on them longer than we should.

What do you have in your portfolios that should have been sold or closed out months ago? How honest are you about the true value of your investments?

This article was written by Mike Holly. Mike lives and works in Northumberland ( UK)


How can we believe that U.S recovery is not too slow?

How can we believe that U.S recovery is not too slow?

It is not wrong to say that the US economy is not growing at the rate that the central bank wants it to after the recession and the financial crisis. As per reports and statistics available, it will be not wrong to say that the US economy is recovery at a much better rate than any other economy does after a financial crisis.

The reason why the recovery phase is slow is not very certain. It can be due to the unaggressive policies or to the banking system or the extraordinary economic headwinds. As per Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman, the reason for the sluggish recovery can always be that the policymakers and the governments of these economies did not formulate aggressive fiscal and monetary policy. An aggressive policy is needed when any economy is recovering from slowdowns and recession. The Federal Reserve, when made policies, was aggressive and this is the main reason why the US economy is recovering well.

The Federal has announced that they will take the needed actions to increase the level of inflation in the economy and also help it to recover at a faster rate. In order to get the borrowing costs low, analysts are expecting it to start buying longer term government debt again. The level of unemployment still has not come down in the US economy and this is mainly because of the fact that the economic recovery is not happening at the expected rate and that also because of the policy. The financial markets are performing well now, but certain other aspects of economic recovery need more attention.

The economic recessions which hit the US in 2007-2009 was due to inability to manage risks, manage financial institutions and anticipate the flaws in the economic theory and the policies. It is important for economists to analyze and have a better understanding of human behavior so that they know the reaction of the masses in certain situations so that they are in a better position to plan. The US economy is recovering well but an in depth analysis is needed to avoid the same situation later.


Voucher codes have revolutionized the way we shop online

Everyone is looking to get a discount these days, once you’ve used a voucher code to save money on your online shopping you’ll want to do it again and again. But do you know everything there is to know about them? Maybe not. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about voucher codes.

1. The very first coupon was created in 1887 by the Coca Cola Company, who gave out free coupons to their employees to distribute to their families. Within ten years, one in nine Americans had received a free drink through a complimentary coupon, putting Coca Cola very firmly on the map.

2. In the USA, coupon collecting is a way of life and has been since before the second world war. Any retailer not offering coupons will struggle to build a loyal customer base.

3. Retailers in the USA often use discount coupons to promote new products. This is the exact opposite to the UK, where new products are generally sold at a higher price.

4. 58% of British shoppers said they used e-vouchers when Christmas shopping in 2009, according to a survey commissioned by website Voucher Hub.

5. The most popular voucher code with customers is a free delivery voucher. It seems no-one likes to pay for delivery when shopping online.

6. Customers seem to feel more comfortable knowing exactly how much discount a voucher code will give them. For this reason, voucher codes offering a fixed discount like £10 off are more popular than percentage discounts.

7. Most voucher codes have a shelf life. To avoid disappointment, always check the expiry date before you try to use one. Sites like Money Saving Voucher Codes only display valid codes that you can use right now.

8. The majority of online shoppers like to make their purchases at the start of the week. Statistics reveal that online shoppers are most active on Monday evenings. Despite this clear shopping trend, most retailers release their best voucher offers on Friday afternoons as a way to try and boost weekend sales figures!

9. Voucher codes are now available on smart phones, meaning there is no longer any need to print off a paper copy. Save time and paper by downloading a code to your phone, then just show it to your waiter or sales assistant to claim the discount.

10. Stevenage in Hertfordshire is the top places in the UK for voucher code hunters, according to Shopsafe.


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