Money

Ways To save Money In 2012

Ways To save Money In 2012

Money is tight for many individuals and families this year and everybody is looking for easy ways to save some money. Everybody could use a few extra dollars at the end of the month to spend on groceries, medical bills, cell phones and entertainment. By making a few financial adjustments, you can squeeze a few extra dollars out of your paycheck every month. You do not have to miss out on entertainment and necessities to save money.

The best way to save money is to keep track of the money you make and spend each month. Begin with the smallest expenses first. The smallest expenses are typically the easiest to eliminate. Look at your cell phone bill, for example. Examine each part of the plan and look for a way to eliminate paying the portions of the plan you are not using. If you only talk on the phone for two hours each month, do not pay for a 600 minute per month plan. If you want to talk to friends internationally, use Skype instead of paying for an international plan.

Everybody must shop for groceries but there are still ways to save money on food. Do not just go to the store; plan it out first. Know what you want to buy and only purchase those items. By looking at the sales ads and writing down precisely the items you want, you will avoid making impulse purchases or spending too much on food you don’t really need. You do not need to clip coupons to make out with savings either. Take advantage of the club cards offered for free by each store.

Entertainment is an important part of having an enjoyable life but there are ways to have fun on a budget. Many families pay for the entire cable package, including premium and movie channels, but there may be ways to stop spending so much for channels that go unwatched. If you do not watch the premium channels frequently enough to warrant paying for them, take them off the bill. You can watch movies and television shows legally by paying for subscriptions to certain websites. The cable company may also offer On Demand options, where the viewer only pays for the programs watched.

Making financial adjustments to make way for a better budget may cause some discomfort initially but it can really impact the way you live. Eventually you might not even notice the changes you have made. You will appreciate your efforts at the end of the month when you have more money to spend on the things that matter most. Saving money takes work but it has great benefits. You are not likely to regret at least looking into new ways to save.

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging in the business, finance, and technology industries for three years. Nicole recently decided to open an IRA to save more money. In order to save even more money Nicole finds ways to save money on a daily basis. She checks for daily deals on everyday things to save little by little.


Charity Chuggers – What Happens to Your Money?

Charity Chuggers – What Happens to Your Money?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your money when you give it to a charity? Lots of people like to contribute some people run for charity, others shake collection tins, send anonymous donations, or take part in sponsored silences and other similar events, but once the event is over, where does the money go?

A lot of the answer depends on how you give money. If you run for charity, collect sponsorship, and give it directly to the charity, then most of the money will be used by the charity to do whatever it is that they do.

However, if you’re stopped on the street, or someone knocks on your door and asks you to sign up to a monthly direct debit, then there’s a good chance that the person you’re talking to is not a volunteer, but a paid employee of a business that collects for more than one charity. In that case, a good chunk of the money that you donate will go to the business, with the charity getting only a small cut.

Many people are disappointed when they hear that a large percentage of their donations will go to a company that aims to make a profit, but the sad fact is that a lot of charities have been forced to use such companies because it’s too difficult, time consuming, or expensive for them to raise money in other ways.

Charities will use whatever method works best for them, so if you want them to avoid third party collection businesses, take the time to find out whether the person you’re talking to is an employee or a volunteer and if you don’t get the answer you want to hear, take some literature from them and contact the charity directly when you get home so that you can donate directly to them. Add a message to the donation, explaining that you don’t like the thought of giving money via a third party that will take a significant cut.

Time vs. Money

It used to be possible to donate time (or skills) to a charity instead of money, but that’s getting harder and harder to do these days. Many charity shops refuse to take clothes unless they’re designer brands, and avoid taking certain electronic items outright for safety concerns. When it comes to donations of time, getting a voluntary position can be almost as hard as getting a real job thanks to legislation and training concerns.

None of the above is the charity’s fault, just a sign of the difficult time they have staying afloat these days.

If you want to help a charity, then the best thing to do is either a direct donation, or a donation via a sponsored event run for charity in your local marathon or half marathon, take part in a well-publicized event such as a 24 hour famine or a sleep rough for a day” challenge ran by the charity in question. Whatever you do, make sure you’re dealing direct with the charity if you want control over how the money is spent.

By James Harper on behalf of The Poppy Run, who organize 5k charity runs in aid of The Poppy Appeal.


Do You Need to Make a Financial Change?

Do You Need to Make a Financial Change?

Do you feel like you need to make changes? Is your budget just not working out? You might not feel comfortable with your income and expenses, or be unsure how to approach money. If you need a change, here are some questions that can help you get on track and find your way.

Where Am I?

Evaluating where you currently stand is essential before any other financial steps that you are considering. Even on a small scale, this is true; how would you compare car insurance rates without first evaluating what type of car insurance you need? Take the following points to get you started:

  • What is your debt situation? Take a look at your debt-to-income ratio, how your debt is spread out (i.e. in credit cards or personal loans, at a variety of interest rates?), and so forth.
  • Consider your savings goals. Do you have certain financial goals that you wish to meet? Are you on target to meet them?
  • How do you organize everything? Do you have an efficient system for keeping your budget, accounts, and important documents in order?

Note that some ways to improve your finances are complementary to one another. In the last point above, simply changing the way you budget can help you get more organized, and in turn produce financial results.

What Do I Do First?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. While it might take time to conquer debt and get a truly comfortable hold on your finances, there are always ways to take small steps to your goals.There is one tip that doesn’t involve anything special: it begins with your budget. Once you start devising your budget, take a step-by-step look at your finances and where there is opportunity to save money. By keeping up to date with your insurance options, credit card choices, and your general living expenses, you can take a systematic approach to managing your money.

Look at your familiar problem areas, and also any that you haven’t addressed in some time. If you haven’t, for instance, taken the time to compare car insurance rates in the past –or just haven’t done it recently– then perhaps there’s an opportunity to find a lower premium if you look around. From saving to investing money, you might be able to identify relatively simple ways to help right your financial ship, so to speak.

“Can I Do That Myself?”

Yes, you usually can! It’s often a matter of motivation. There are some poor personal finance habits that are caused by a lack of financial know-how. Maybe disorganization and a poor memory are to blame, in part or in full, for other financial woes. Both these problems can be remedied if you apply yourself to picking up the skills you need. Consistency and motivation make up one of the most important dynamic tandems in personal finance. Keeping yourself on track and moving forward is very important for success.

Spend some time on a complete overhaul of your finances. Look at ways to save money, get out of debt, and make your money work for you with term deposits or other savings and investments. At the end of the day, your success will come down to organization and execution. You need to stay motivated and consistent, and simply keep working toward your goals one step at a time.

What will it take to improve your finances? Whether you think you need an extra job, or just a tweak to your budgeting methods, what needs to change? Start asking yourself some financial questions to figure out your way forward.

Citations:

This article is by personal finance blogger Brian Neese, who shares his car insurance comparison tips and term deposit rates updates online to help ordinary people save and make money.


What Does Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Mean For You?

What Does Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Mean For You?

Last fall when President Obama announced his plan to ease student loan burdens, it meant that student borrowers who have made their monthly student loan payments for a period of at least 20 years after leaving college may be eligible to have the remaining balance forgiven – and for those who have worked for at least ten years in public service positions, their loans may be forgiven once they reach their ten year anniversary of public service employment.

In addition, due to the fact that recent grads are not making the kind of money that was available to them several years ago, Obama’ program also calls for the capping of monthly student loan payments at ten percent of a student borrower’ take home pay.

For those who are members of the military, there is also some good news. Anyone who works for any of the five branches of the service and who also possesses a college degree may be able to also obtain forgiveness of their student loans.

Why This Is Important Today

Anyone who has ever taken on a student loan is well aware that this obligation can become a huge burden – especially for those who are not obtaining immediate employment upon graduation.

Years ago, it was easier for those who had their pick of post-graduation jobs to segue their student loan repayments into their other living expense budgets. Today, however, things have changed a great deal and even the smallest of expenses can become a big deal for those who are unemployed or even underemployed.

What Does This Mean for Student Borrowers?

In today’ economy, many people could breathe easier by saving even just a couple hundred dollars per month on expenses – and this is exactly what this program aims to do. According to the President, even though the student loan forgiveness plan doesn’t actually create jobs or even help in boosting the economy, it will make a big difference to millions of people who are having to make the decision every month regarding which bills to pay and which to hold off on.

For those who may not fall into any of the above categories, there is another possible option available in the student loan forgiveness program. This is to sign up for income based repayment loan terms.

The good news here is that this may be available not just to those with newer loans but also older loans as well. In any case, it is a good idea to compare the type of loan possessed with the best repayment and / or forgiveness option that is available to that particular borrower.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on President Obama’ plan is to help ensure that those who choose to continue their education beyond high school do not end up broke because of the financing that is required in order to obtain that education.

When it’ all been said and done, even though President Obama may be remembered for his health care reform, the Student Loan Forgiveness Program will likely have affected a far larger number of people overall.

George Gallagher is a writer and blogger for the financial sector of the web. He is also a consultant to graduates concerning their student loan consolidation needs.


Money Management is Important When Saving Money

Money Management is Important When Saving Money

It’s is important to save money by managing money so that we can enjoy financial freedom in the future. Perhaps, you are just realizing how imperative it is to manage money wisely. If you’re a beginner, then are few simple tips that are easy to implement and will lead on the fast track to saving money.

Money Management List

Put together a list of your goals and of the reasons why you want to manage your money better. In order to gain motivation, you need to know why you’re doing this. Know that this is positive step forward and being able to manage money is a very valuable skill.

Take Inventory

Next, gather all your bills and receipts and spread them out. Take note of where your money is going. If you notice that too much of money is being wasted on trivial purchases, then change the way that you spend. Incorporate a budget. Make sure that your checkbook register is up to date. If you prefer not to use checks, then there are some great financial journals out there. Financial journals are also perfect for helping you budget and organize your bills. Calendars are a fantastic alternative to registers because you can see where your money is going day by day. Plus, you can keep it posted up as a reminder to stay on track.

Get Your Credit Report

Your credit report is essentially how you manage your money on paper. Get a copy of this to further understand what steps you need to take. You can request a free report every year from annualcreditreport.com.

Get Rid of Debt

After that, take a look at all your debt. If you have credit cards, stop using them unless you are able to pay off the entire balance each month. Locate the debt that has the highest balance, interest charges, annual fees and pay extra on it while paying the minimum on all your other accounts. The longer you carry a balance, the more interest you’ll be charged. As a result you will save money by paying off the account quicker. Once this debt is paid off, contribute the spare to the next biggest debt. Repeat the process until all your debt is paid off. This process can reduce and completely eliminate your debt within a few years.

Save The Rest!

A portion of what you have left over after paying all the bills needs to go into a savings account. If you don’t already have one, make sure you find one that pays you the highest interest and doesn’t charge you any monthly fees. It’s necessary to build a solid nest egg so you and your family will be taken care of in the future. Don’t blow any extra money you receive. Tax return money and that end of the year bonus needs to be put in a savings account. Money management takes self-control.

Since you’ve made the decision to manage your money wisely, pass down that information to your kids. Teach them from an early age so that they don’t fall into some of the same traps. Learning how money works will make our children more successful once they enter the real world.

Getting rich is simple if you watch what you spend. Many people waste money on non essential items when they could have been saving money and becoming financially secure!


Buried Treasure: A guide on how to reclaim forgotten accounts

Buried Treasure: A guide on how to reclaim forgotten accounts

We’ve all experienced the joy of finding cash down the back of the sofa or in an old coat pocket. Now multiply that feeling and imagine the loose change as lost bank accounts worth a substantial amount of money.

For many it would seem inconceivable that bank accounts could be lost or forgotten about, but it happens more frequently than we imagine; moving address and a change in personal circumstances such as getting married, divorced or widowed are main factors.

It is estimated that up to £1 billion is sitting dormant in accounts in the UK in the form current and savings accounts, premium bonds, pension schemes and insurance policies. Banks do try and trace the owners of accounts which is usually prompted by returned letters and statements and accounts with long periods of inactivity.

Legislation set in 2009 now means if an account remains dormant for over 15 years it automatically gets transferred to the government fund and invested into public and social programmes. This however does not affect your right to money which is rightfully yours and you are entitled to reclaim in at any time.

Tracing lost bank accounts
Recent figures suggest that there are around 150 million bank accounts in the UK and around half a million ‘lost’ which can easily be recovered. If you know the provider your account is with, begin by contacting them with as many of the account details as possible such as account name and number. Remember to search accounts that may have been set up in a maiden name. The bank has up to three months to respond and decide on the validity of a claim. If it refuses you can complain to the internal complaints department and if this is unsuccessful you can contact the financial ombudsman service. There are also special websites which offer a free tracing service such as the NS&I’s My Lost Account. It’s worth a go as lost accounts can sometimes build up to a substantial amount due to interest accrued over the years.

Tracing Lost Pensions
On average we change careers five to seven times in our life so its unsurprising that keeping track of all pension paperwork might be difficult. It’s also difficult to keep abreast of insurance mergers over a lifetime as companies dissolve and merge into one another. Those most likely to be affected are those who may have been starting their career amidst the boom of company pension policies in the 80s. Until 1988 it was compulsory to pay into a company pension scheme if there was one in place and if you worked there for a couple of years it’s likely your pension may have been preserved. Recent pension legislation changes have also allowed small personal pension pots of up to £2,000 to be accessed as a lump sum rather than a paltry annuity amount.

Firstly, contact the Pensions Tracing Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions, who keep the details of up to 200,000 pension providers and their latest contact details. Details of both company pension schemes and personal pension schemes are kept. Try to remember important details: where was the policy run from, did the employer trade under a different name for instance, what type of business was it and when did you belong to the scheme? It’s up to you to contact them and its important to check whether you are entitled to any pension. You may also be able to claim the pensions of relatives that may have passed away.

After being reunited with a potentially substantial amount of money, it’s always a good option to enlist the help of an independent financial advisor and re-invest. For your savings a high yielding savings accounts such as a savings bonds or an ISA will find the best interest rates. Similarly, make the most out of lost pensions by exploring your options regarding annuities.

This post was written by John Hughes who is the resident blogger at Independent Financial Advisor , a UK based site that provides access to financial advisors as well as to debt advice charities for those struggling with their debts.


Free Online Financial Calculators Provided by the U.S. Government

Free Online Financial Calculators Provided by the U.S. Government

Few Americans have a kind word to say about their government these days. It would appear as though our tax dollars are going to the funding of an inefficient overseer, who, despite having access to huge sums of wealth, is unable to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. While the full breadth of government waste and weakness cannot be defended, it’s worth mentioning that while it seems as though every tax dollar goes to unnecessary or useless expenditures, the various agencies and departments of the federal government we fund are ultimately there to help Americans. In particular, these agencies provide Americans with an array of useful information and tools available online.

One such tool is the online financial calculator, which has made breaking down and comprehending large-scale money moves an easier process for countless Americans interested in taking out loans, making investments, and committing to bulk purchases. Thanks to the existence of several agencies of the U.S. government, such calculators are as accessible online as car insurance quotes. Just take a look at the following examples:

Paying off credit card debt: The Federal Reserve website features a credit card repayment calculator that individuals can use to project how long it will take them to pay off their debts. Simply insert either your desired monthly payment or your desired point of payoff, and the opposing sum will be figured.

Taking out a mortgage: Which is the better choice considering the size of your down payment, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage or a 30-year mortgage with increasing interest? You can find the answer by visiting the Ginnie Mae website and plugging in the various variables regarding several mortgage options.

Making investments: The SEC has a web page devoted to an array of tools and calculators for investors. Options vary from mutual fund cost calculators to a risk meter for investment fraud. It’s a useful source of information for first-time investors, and would otherwise be hours of Google research if it weren’t for the existence of this government agency. In addition, the Treasury Department has everything you need when it comes to computing the investment value of bonds and securities.

Going green: For business owners, homeowners, and everyone in between, the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as the Department of Energy have websites devoted to calculators that quantify the savings incurred from buying energy efficient appliances and electronics. For anyone still skeptical of the economical benefits of going green, these federally-provided calculators give you all the proof you need.

Borrowing to pay for school: One major problem that millions of Americans are facing is the weighing stress of student loan debt. Figuring the final bill for four years or more of higher education is difficult when you are taking out several types of loans. By using the Department of Education‘s federal loan repayment calculator, however, you can get a firm grasp on the long-term outcomes of borrowing PLUS and Stafford loans at varying interest rates.

It’s not easy finding something worth praising the federal government for these days. But for the majority of us who deal with personal finance and investment concerns on a daily basis, it’s nice to know that our tax dollars are at least going to online tools that can make our decisions a little more educated in their design.


5 Ways to Be Frugal

5 Ways to Be Frugal

Being frugal does not imply that you are cheap, selfish or mean. You are only being frugal because you are trying to save for something specific or clear a certain bill. To stay focused, you have to write all your goals down and know what you want to achieve. Through a lot of commitment, you will be in a good position to meet all your goals.

1. How To Be Frugal
First of all, you should calculate the amount of all the cash that you have on hand, and how often you will receive more cash. Once you finish, you need to compile a list of all the things that you need. Then, go through it again to confirm that all of these things are actually necessities. Once you have made the confirmation, it is advisable that you start calculating the cost of the different commodities that you have listed. This way, you will know the amount of cash that you have to spend every month.

2. Start Shopping!

Look for stores that have free samples and discounts. The free samples will come in handy, and you will not have to spend a single cent on these items. By searching and asking around, you will be able to find different places where you can be given different kinds of samples. The best place that you can go to is online. Once you have subscribed to various listservs and emails (if you don’t want your email full of junk, open an account just for this), all the items will be sent to you through your mail. To keep getting the deals, you’ll have to renew the subscription.

3. Go Green!
Use energy-saving equipment. These include solar panels and energy-saving bulbs. When using a panel, you won’t have to make any electricity payments. This is because you will be getting your energy from the sun! Just.make sure that it has been installed in a place where it can be fully exposed to the sun.

4. Medicinal Cures

When buying medication, you will notice that the brand-name items are more expensive than the generic brands. If you are really trying as much as you can to use less cash every day, you should really purchase the generic medicine. They are effective, and so long as you follow the instructions carefully, you will be able to heal all the same.

5. Bonus Tip
To really be frugal, invest the cash you have saved on a lucrative project, some promising stocks or at least a good savings account. This way, you will be making more cash at the end of the day. After you’ve worked hard enough, you can finally reap the rewards!

Taylor Levine writes about frugality, travels extensively and frequents Homeownersinsurance.org.


3 Easy Ways to Get Frugal

3 Easy Ways to Get Frugal

There are a lot of things that one works hard to accomplish. No matter what your goals are, they’ll only be achieved if you are committed to seeing results. A great example is being frugal. The chances of saving a lot of money are only high if you are committed, confident and creative. All you have to do is to carefully think about a plan, then decide what you should and should not do when it comes to spending. From here on out, it’s only a matter of sticking to it!

Read these tips to guide you in your plans

1. Bills

Pay all your bills on time. By doing so, you will not have to pay extra charges. You should also do away with all unnecessary expenses. This way, you will have enough cash to have all the payments made on the day they are due and less bills to pay in the first place.

2. Budget

You have to come up with a budget. Make sure that you list everything that you cannot do without. You should then calculate the amount of cash that you are supposed to use in one month or week. Once you have it all down, you have strictly follow the budget. Only if you are true to the plan will you save any money.

3. Spend Less

Live below your income. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to spend a little more than you make each month, thinking you can pay it off later. Once you commit to this new method, you’ll be in a great position to actually save cash at the end of each month. Keep in mind, though, that if this is your only or primary method of getting frugal, you won’t see results right away. However, if you’re patient, you’ll see results after only a couple of months.

Through frugality, you will be in a good position to meet any financial goal. Maybe you need to put away more for retirement or college. Maybe you want to go on a trip down the road. Regardless, the best thing about frugality is that it’s a lifestyle choice. Like any healthy lifestyle choice, you’ll get used to your new, positive results.  This is perfect, because if you decide to splurge on a big trip someday, you’ll have the skills to save up for another trip after you’ve returned! Never stop being frugal – you’ll  be happy you listened to that little voice inside your head.


5 Money Saving Tips for Buying Groceries

5 Money Saving Tips for Buying Groceries

Saving money is important, but it takes more than just tucking away a portion of your paycheck to really be successful at it. Cutting corners to reduce your monthly bills, as well as other measures, such as spending less at the grocery store, are equally important. Here are some tips and hints to help you keep costs down when you head out to do your food shopping.

Use Coupons
You don’t have to be an extreme couponing master to take advantage of the money saving opportunities found in coupons, which can really make a significant difference in the total amount you spend at the grocery store. Your first, and often best, resource for coupons is still the Sunday edition of your local newspaper, but don’t forget to look into rewards programs and bonus shopping cards that might be offered by your favorite stores, and also check online for printable coupons. Great places to look are on manufacturer’s websites, and websites devoted to any favorite brands you might have, as well as your market’s website if they happen to have one. Another strategy for obtaining coupons is signing up for newsletters at these various websites, as they often feature money saving offers. If you’re concerned about the extra amount of email generated by this technique, you can create a separate folder just for this purpose and direct the mail straight into it, or, you can also create an entirely separate account specifically for them.

Purchase produce that’s in-season
If you’re craving a tomato in your salad in the middle of January, be prepared to pay substantially more for it than you would in the summer months. When you buy produce that’s been shipped in from wherever in the world it happens to be the proper growing season, not only are you paying more than you should, but you’re also taking part in a practice that’s damaging to the environment.

Plan your meals
We all know that it’s important to use a list when we go grocery shopping, and also to not shop when we’re hungry. Another effective way to avoid over spending is to create a weekly meal plan. Try sitting down at some point over the weekend, and working out a weeks worth of menus. You can then create a shopping list of necessary ingredients from the menu plan, fill in the blanks with other household items you might need, and you’re done!

Take full advantage of your freezer
Learn to “feed the freezer” at the same time you feed your family. Simply prepare more than you’ll need for each meal and freeze the extra portions for easy and quick meal options in the coming weeks. If you try this technique and find that you enjoy having the extra meals at hand, and if you have enough space, try Googling “once a month cooking” for a whole range of tips and tricks on how to prepare food in advance and stock your freezer to save money and time all month long.

Get gardening
It may seem like a foreign concept right now in the cold months of the year, but, spring really is right around the corner and there’s no time like the present to start planning a vegetable garden. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available online and in your local library if you’re a novice gardener, and make it your goal to enjoy fresh, delicious produce all summer long for a tiny fraction of what you would pay at the grocery store, or even at the farmer’s market, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing you grew it in your own soil with your own hands.

Keep these tips in mind to help you become more experienced at saving money on your grocery bill.


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