Money

Getting Your Budget under Control

Getting Your Budget under Control

Getting Your Budget under Control

If you are like most people, your budget could use a little tightening; your credit cards need to be locked up, and your debit card could use a rest. The first step to getting your budget under control is to keep track of your income and expenses, so you know exactly how much you are bringing in and how much is going out. You can do this with software, an excel spreadsheet, or just old-fashioned pen and paper. You don’t have to get fancy; just get organized.

Write down or type in all of your monthly expenses: cable, hydro, heat, mortgage, car payments, credit card payments and any other expense you have. Don’t forget to include your life insurance and car insurance payments. If you don’t have life insurance, that should be one of the first things you fix in your budget. Whether you think you need it or not, you should have it to protect your family. There are many life insurance companies in Canada and it is fairly simple to get a quote.

Once you have all of your monthly expenses, work on your weekly expenses. Gas for your car, groceries, dry cleaning, lunch money and any other expenses you have. Add up your weekly expenses to your monthly expenses to get a total.

Now you have to put down all of your income. This includes salary, dividends, investment cheques, trust funds, inheritance and any other income you have. If you get paid bi-weekly, put down a monthly figure. Subtract your expenses from your monthly income and that will give you whatever is left over at the end of the month. If your expenses are more than your income, you need to look at either increasing your income, or decreasing your expenses.

No matter how much money you have left at the end of the month, you can find ways to increase your bank account. Cut down on groceries by growing your own vegetables, or cutting out processed foods. Walk or bike instead of driving. Work out at home instead of going to the gym. Buy clothes that do not have to be dry-cleaned. These are just a few ideas that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

One of the keys of controlling your budget is to stay organized. Keep files with all of your bills and receipts. Keep all of your insurance policies in one place so you know exactly where to find them when you need them. Be sure to keep contact names and numbers with the policies.

When you can control your budget and save a few more dollars each month, you will have a nice lump sum at the end of the year to do whatever you want with. You can go on a vacation, pay some more principal on your mortgage, pay off credit cards, or put it into an investment, like real estate. Buying a rental property is a great way to build your wealth and expand your nest egg.

Johnny Guyzer, a fresh university graduate, knows the importance of saving money and reducing living expenses so that he may be financially stable in the long run. He also knows that he can save a substantial amount on his life insurance quote and health insurance quote by using an online comparison service to compare quotes offered by multiple insurance providers.


Five Mistakes to Avoid When Looking for Funding For A Start-Up

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Looking for Funding For A Start-Up

With more and more people going into business on their own the pot of money available to start-ups is getting increasingly hard to access. And with the odds of a start-up business failing within five years somewhere in the region of 75% it is clear that most investors and financial institutions are going to be extremely selective when it comes to handing out seed money to start-up businesses.

The main reason that people get turned down when they’re applying for loans is that they make a number of mistakes in the application process. This article will outline the five most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Expecting the Lender to Take all the Risk. This is the single most common mistake in trying to raise funds. Why should someone take a risk on you if you won’t take on any risk yourself? In addition, if you’re not able to raise any funds at all to start this venture, how much faith in you can you really expect? Ideally, start-up investors like to see the borrower putting in between 30% and 50% of their own money.

2. Not Writing A Professional Business Plan. Many loan applicants will look at the business plan as a formality and just another form to be filled in the application process. This is a mistake. The business plan should be written as a document of intent for your business and a plan not just for the lender, but for you. It should be detailed and outline not just the best-case scenario, but also the worst, it should outline what could go wrong and how you intend to avoid that. It should show that you know your market and your competitors and where your business will be in years one, two and three in terms of profitability.

3. Not including Working Capital in the Projections. As part of that business plan and your application you will no doubt outline the property to be leased, the assets to be bought, the costs of improving your lease property and other expenditures to get you started. What many businesses forget is to also include a realistic figure for cash flow for the first few months while you are getting the business on its feet. Again, this is part of the business plan and the ability to admit that the business might not be cash positive for a little while.

4. Not Conveying your Expertise and Experience. Lenders need to know they can put their faith in you, the person running the business. You might have a good idea but have you got the skills to see it through? If you’ve got the skills, make sure you sell yourself. Include a convincing resume and examples of previous work or experience that will be relevant to this business. Also do the same for any other members of your team you might be bringing on board.

5. Don’t Fall to Pieces in the Presentation. Meeting the lender in person will be your only chance to sell the deal. You can either inspire confidence or make them think you’re not someone they want to invest in. First off, don’t forget the basics, like a suit, smart shoes, and a well-groomed appearance. Next, be confident and positive, but don’t be arrogant or over-confident. Try to get across to the lender a clear and articulate summary of what you hope to do with the business. Don’t try and wing it and see how it goes on the day. Practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.


Fighting Over a Blown Budget? Try eBay Therapy

Arguments about the family budget; maybe they happen during the monthly or yearly budget committee meeting (you are having those aren’t you?); or maybe they happen at dinner just before bed.

Regardless of when they happen or where they occur, these disputes always seem to result in mudslinging worthy of a heated political bout. The accusations are inevitably a variation of the same theme: “the reason we’re short on money is because you blew our budget!”

Time to face it: you two are great together, but you both have terrible judgment. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you have to admit that on at least one occasion (seriously, just once?), you have each made a poor purchase.

So in an effort to find a compromise, it’s time to recognize each of your lapses in judgment, and maybe even make back some of the money you spent with eBay Therapy. It sounds crazy, definitely simplistic, but it works quite well.

When the discussion starts to get tense, and the “you blew our budget” comments are about to fly, it’s time to do the following:

1. Stop the argument immediately. No, you’re not going to avoid the discussion, just put it on hold until you can find a compromise. The idea is to start the discussion again only when both of you are ready to face facts: a poor purchase is human, and you both have made at least one.

2. Find your Token. Each of you go find an item that represents one of the worst, most ridiculous purchases (between $50-$100) that you made last year. Make it count, find something you really regret purchasing and have gotten little use from.

3. Open your eBay account. List the tokens: auction style, aggressively priced to sell.

4. Sell the tokens. Add the money back into the budget. Now that you are wondering what’s so fantastic about such a simple idea, let’s analyze what occurs.

Cool Down – First, by moving from argument to token-hunting, you lighten up a heated moment and put a little fun into an otherwise stressful situation. Focusing on this new task gives you both a chance to cool down and avoid saying something you will regret.

Compromise – In addition, you are forming a compromise by admitting that you both have made at least one poor purchasing decision over the last year. According to Jay Slupesky, licensed marriage and family therapist: “sometimes the best solution to a disagreement between partners is to agree on a compromise.”

Each person gives a little on their position and the couple “meets in the middle.” Your tokens provide concrete evidence to the compromise. You each give a little on your position and now that you are on common ground, the discussion can resume on equal footing.

Focus – You limit the scope of the conflict to the point of contention. Unfortunately, financial arguments rarely stay confined to finances.

Mudslinging from other areas of life tends to be brought into play when financial arguments get heated. With eBay Therapy, you focus on the conflict: whether one or both of you blew the budget. Staying focused doesn’t help you prove your side of the argument, but it confines the argument to one topic: finances, and finances alone keep the mothers-in-law out of it.

Liquidate – Look past the argument that got you here and you’ll see another benefit of eBay Therapy: you both made purchases over the years that have real value…to other people! It’s time to start making some spare change off of the trifles that idly sit throughout your home.

So, will eBay Therapy solve all of your problems? Of course not…if you and your spouse are in dire circumstances, it’s time to seek out professionals that will help guide you. But it will help diffuse minor budget arguments.

Nor will eBay Therapy provide cover from an egregious budget violation, such as a new 60-inch LED TV, you’re on your own with that one. But by cooling the situation, compromising with your spouse, and focusing on a common goal, your participation in eBay Therapy is a good step towards a healthy budget and a healthy partnership with your spouse.

This is a guest post by staff writer at PT Money: Personal Finance. Check out the blog to discover more ways to save money, make extra money, and spend money wisely. See the latest review of the best credit card for college.


How Your Parents Money Choices Influence Your Finances

How did your parents manage their money? If you are not sure, chances are good that your parents did not have a strong impact on the way you are living and spending (or saving) money today. However, you may not realize that what your parents did with money really did impact your own lifestyle choices. Take a look at a few scenarios and how they could have impacted your financial future.

Your Parents Did Well Budgeting and Managing

Some parents, especially older parents, managed money very tightly. Credit was not something that they wanted and not being able to buy a home with cash was a sure way to show the world that you did not have the means to manage your money. Money was not wasted on toys, eating out or other things people do today. If your parents taught you to manage money like this, you are likely a saver and satisfied with minimal purchases and needs.

Your Parents Struggled Financially

In some situations, the outcome may be directly the same or different from your parents. For example, if your parents struggled and you had very few toys and new things, you may have resented your family’s struggle so much so that you now spoil yourself with the purchases you make. You may be spending money now, and using credit heavily, to fill in that void.

On the other hand, some children knew that their parents were struggling and thus they did not want to see themselves in that same situation, especially with their own children. This leads to the more frugal minded person who wants to spend less so that he can have more in the long run and never be in a financially bad situation like his parents.

Your Parents Spent Money

On the flip side is the parents that liked to spend. If your parents spent money easily and you received the things you wanted, you may have the same lifestyle now. You may be using credit cards quite heavily, even if you did not know that your parents borrowed money to manage their finances. You want to live and give the same style of life (having what you want) to your children.

Budget Families Are The Best

The smallest percentage of families is those that taught their children the value of a dollar. These people worked very hard to earn what they had and made sure their children knew it. They worked out a budget each month and the kids knew there was nothing extra. You may have been given an allowance as a way to teach you how to manage money, or encouraged to get a job at a young age.

The way your parents managed money is almost always a direct reflection on the way you manage your money. You can break the mold though. To do so, you need to make your own decisions on how to manage money properly, and pass on the right methods to your own children as well.


Three Reasons to Join Finances with Your Partner

Three Reasons to Join Finances with Your Partner

At a glance, you would think that a couple that keeps its finances separate would have less to fight about when it comes to money issues. Research has indicated that just the opposite is true. Keeping all of a couple’s finances separated can lead to more misunderstandings in the long run.

Separate Accounts can Mean Less Communication

Many couples in the United States today are comprised of two people with their own careers. In most cases, these professionals prefer to manage their own finances without combining them with their partner’s finances. Each partner is more comfortable having full control of his or her money, and they feel that there is no reason to mix the money together. This system is fine for everyday expenses, but it can become a problem when the couple has different ideas of how the money should be spent, especially when considering large joint purchases.

When both partners maintain their own finances that were established before becoming a couple, there is a tendency for each of them to feel that they do not need to discuss financial decisions with each other. This lack of communication about money can lead to huge misunderstandings about different financial priorities. It can also lead to a certain level of dishonesty when one partner does not want to fully disclose his or her spending habits. Keeping the money separate creates an opportunity to cut one another off from the full financial picture on either side, which can create uncertainty and stress in a relationship.

Problems with Big Purchases

Some of the purchases that a couple will eventually make will require input from both of the partners. For example, buying a house usually requires that a couple pool their resources so that they can afford the type of house that they would prefer to live in. It can be difficult to present combined assets when you are looking for a mortgage loan if your assets have been kept strictly separate. There can also be a problem if one partner has been saving money for a smaller house than the other partner has been saving for.

A Compromise Could be Best

Economists and relationship therapists suggest that couples combine some of their finances into a joint account to cover household needs. Each partner could agree to contribute a certain amount to the joint fund each month so that all of the basic needs are met. The couples would have to discuss their joint account and make mutual decisions about their spending, but they could also maintain their separate checking accounts if they prefer. The separate accounts would not hold as much power over the relationship because the joint account would provide everything both partners need.

Jessica Bosari writes for the money-saving site, Billeater.com, a site devoted to helping people lower their expenses, find great bargains and get better at saving money. Pay Billeater a visit for more money-saving tips!


Confessions Of A Walmart Shopper

Walmart has the largest client base in the United States for its reasonable priced goods and good services. Most of Walmart’s operations are directed towards the local customer who uses cash to purchase grocery and other items. It is the world’s largest retailer in the US due to the numerous branches in different states and a large clientele.

There have been cases where Walmart’s management and employees have made headline news but that does not dispute the fact that this retailer has succeeded in delivering what customers need. Walmart has expanded its market share to other countries apart from the US. A large part of the US population is made up of the middle class and low income earners who live on paychecks. People can afford to budget for basic items while in Walmart because every commodity is designed to meet the customer’s needs and income level.

While Walmart is targeting people who use cash to purchase foods, durable and soft goods, it is also making a higher income. This is because many people would rather shop at Walmart than shop at any other place that adds a dollar to the value of foods or durable goods. When a person is shopping at Walmart, he or she will save a lot of money that can be used for other important expenses or emergency cases.

Many retailers raise their operation fees due to change in global economy and higher social goals. Walmart remains obstinate to cater for the needs of people who work low paying jobs or people who have temporary jobs. This figure is a large number of people in the US and others prefer to purchase goods that do not fluctuate in prices. Walmart also cash checks at a constant value of $3.00 which has remained the same for a very long time.

Retailers have always carried out a research on customers’ needs and preferences. Walmart does more than a mere research by personally contacting customers and getting a direct feedback about their goods and services and the prices. Many people prefer the constant prices of goods and the friendly service provided by Walmart’s employees. Walmart expands at a faster rate and many businesses do not know how this happens. Walmart started with a few retail stores in Arkansas. It expanded from there to a world leading retailer because of its amazing relationship with local customers. This retailer has always understood what customers go through in life and how having low priced goods attracts more customers in many states.

Businesses always have their target group in mind during business operations. Many people focus on age and income levels which is a good perspective but Walmart has taken an extra step in trying to find out what drives a customer to buy goods in its stores and keep buying these items for many years.

Walmart marketers talk directly to customers and ask for their opinions on prices of goods and customer satisfaction. Walmart provides maximum value to middles class population with jobs. Many people in the US do not have bank accounts because their income do not qualify to be stored in a bank.

These people receive paycheck at the end of the week and Walmart also targets this group. Walmart only deals with collectible funds that will reduce risks of collecting large debts that cannot be repaid. This retailer has incorporated high technology in its premises to reduce operating costs and no business in the world can make profit by giving goods free of charge. Walmart’s pricing is low, simple and transparent creating loyal customers in generations to come.

People always complain about Walmart’s relationship with its supply management and also manufacturers. This is because the retailer has customer’s satisfaction as its original priority and making a customer want to come back for more goods is what brings profit to all the stores. Walmart uses ECM software that simplifies and automates work flow. This is a faster service delivery is the best in a store that has millions of loyal customers.

M. Heintz bogs on banking courses and she is the editor of the banking certifications blog to offers free help to people who want to undertake the financial career.


The Importance of Savings

Putting some money aside for savings is a really important and smart idea. It’s so easy to get caught up in our everyday lives sometimes it’s everything we can do just to keep on top of our regular finances, such as a checking account and paying bills, but we all know in the back of our minds just how important it is to start a savings account so that when, not if, but when the day comes that you find that you need some money you will be so happy that you took the initiative to start that all-important savings account.

What if?
There are so many scenarios that could come up that could require you to come up with a large sum of money that there are too many to list, of course. Therefore, you should ask yourself some ‘what if’ questions, such as what if a member of your family needed you to fly out and help them for a month? What if your daughter was invited to a special event that could help her with her career? What if you are the victim of a natural disaster or some other unforeseen occurrence and you need money right away?

A Rainy Day
We’ve all heard the old adage that says we should save for a rainy day. This saying is a constant reminder that we should prepare for the unexpected because we never know what’s going to come our way. If you find that you are getting somewhat of a late start when it comes to savings then it might just be your best bet to open a high interest savings account.

High Interest Savings Account
A high interest savings account allows you to earn more money in a lesser amount of time and is a fantastic way for you earn money on your savings. Most banks provide the convenience of a high interest savings account so you can start by asking your bank if this is one of the services they offer. Be sure to compare all rates, terms, and fees so that you know exactly what to expect as nobody likes to be surprised when it comes to money. Well, unless you’ve won the lotto, that is.

Know that your money is always safe as well as accessible when you choose to open a high interest savings account. Try it out for a while and if it seems to working, you can even think about opening more than one.

Richard Towler is driven to help consumers find the best deals on consumer finance products such as online savings accounts and term deposits by cutting through the marketing hype and comparing products side by side. He writes on a wide range of finance topics.


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.


The Who What When Where and Why of Getting Cash for Gold

Since the devastating recession of the American economy in the winter of ’07-’08, the battle cry of the average, hard-hit American has been “Cash for Gold!” This catchphrase is heard and seen everywhere, and has become deeply ingrained in our subconscious. What advertisers tend to do, however, is to robotically repeat the same lines about gold being at record high prices without clearly explaining the reasons for this phenomenon and the future of this field. Stop right here if you trust the advice of money- hungry gold buyers who inform you about the precious metals field on a need-to-know basis. Continue reading only if you really would like to understand what you’re doing before you finally sell gold in an effort to bring extra cash flow into your finances.

Firstly, it’s vitally important to understand the relationship between the value of the dollar and precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. Before we happily kept bespectacled Benjamins in our wallet and passed solemn Washingtons to the guy behind the counter in Starbucks, currency itself was actually valuable. Coins were made out precious metals like gold and silver. The money itself actually had value. Today, our currency is made out of worthless paper. The money itself has no value; it rises and falls with the country’s economy. A scary reminder of the worthlessness of actual money is the Post-WWI depression in Germany. Money was hyper-inflated, and there are pictures of children building towers out of bills, a housewife burning money in a fireplace because it was cheaper than coal, and a man using bills as wallpaper. It is now easier to understand why during a down economy, people flock to items of tangible value, and why the price of gold and other precious metals, the symbol of wealth, rises sharply.

This phenomenon can clearly be seen when studying yearly graphs charting the fluctuation of gold prices from before the recession to the present. With the difference of the numbers, the same trend applies to platinum and silver prices. Since 2000, the price of gold had been slowly rising at an average of 50 to 100 dollars per ounce a year. In the beginning of 2007, the average price of an ounce of gold was $650. When the recession hit in the winter of that year, the price jumped 200 dollars to $850 an ounce in just a few months! During the dismal economy of 2008, the price of gold wildly fluctuated between $700 and $1000. While the value of the dollar stayed low in the years 2009 and 2010, the price of gold climbed steadily 200 dollars a year, ending at $1400 an ounce in 2010! Thankfully, since we’ve entered the year 2011, the economy has begun stabilizing. Correlating to the stabilizing value of the dollar, the price of gold has begun stabilizing; it has declined from $1400 to $1320, and then risen to $1440. Following this trend, when the economy continues to stabilize and the value of the dollar rises….if you’ve been following, you understand that just as the price jumped when the dollar plunged, as the economy and the dollar rise the price of gold is about to plunge.

So how does this apply to the average small business owner? Gold, silver, and platinum really are at record high prices, and as history repeats itself, the next step is down. This is a great opportunity to make some serious fast cash. Old jewelry and heirlooms which have been collecting dust are worth a lot of money in the market right now. You can make big bucks from selling platinum, gold and silver. Before selling, however, it’s important to ensure that you get the most cash for gold and that you’re dealing with honest precious metal buyers. Kitco.com is a resourceful website that has current selling prices and a host of information about the precious metals market. It’s also advisable to deal directly with online buyers rather than jewelry stores, since they can offer more cash for gold as they cut out the middlemen and melt down the metal themselves.

In conclusion, selling gold is a great way for anyone to obtain some extra cash. However, the time to act is now, before prices plunge and the boom of the precious metals market becomes a bust.

Bio: Mark Rich is a jeweler and gold expert who urges consumers to get cash for gold now, while the going is good. He recommends Captain Cash for Gold, a metal refiner that is dedicated to a policy of integrity and reliability.


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