budgeting tips

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Save Money & Plan Ahead With Budget Software

budget

To budget or not to budget

More and more families are needing to stretch their monthly budgets just a bit farther. It certainly isn’t easy, but it can be done. One thing that can be quite helpful is using budgeting software.

Some discover what money management expert Richard Bach has called “the latte factor,” small expenses that regularly drain your finances. Using this software will help you patch the holes in your budget and remove those pesky lattes – or whatever else is tempting you from keeping a sturdy budget in place.

It used to be that budgeting software was quirky and a bit difficult to use. But today’s software is intuitive, user friendly and works with the click of your mouse. Here are several options for great budgeting software.

YouNeedABudget.com

This personal finance budget software can be used on either a Windows based computer or on a Mac. What YouNeedABudget.com promotes is not only that they will encourage you to use their software – but their budgeting methods, which they say “has helped thousands of people gain control of their finances.”

You have the ability to try the full version with all its features for free for 34 days. The features include using Cloud Sync, so you can be up to date wherever there is an Internet connection. There are both iPhone and Android apps available so when you are spending on-the-go, you can log the information right into your budget.

One of the things YouNeedABudget.com is proud to say is that many people discover they are able to start by saving $200 after a single month. In nine months, people are able to save $3,300. If you have been living paycheck to paycheck, this is both impressive and exciting. They encourage a budget that wont let you spend too much and will also help you reach your financial goals.

Quicken

Quicken states they are the #1 personal finance software tool. One of the reasons to choose Quicken is that you can connect this software to your bank, to easily manage your account(s). People who use Quicken like that their expenses can be sorted into categories. You’ll see them both as a list with dollar amounts and percentages – but you’ll also see a colorful pie chart. It is easy to see exactly where your money has been going. Whether you are a “left brain” or a “right brain” type, this software is one that will be logical and easy to understand.

The software then sets a monthly budget for you based on your past history. You can customize your budget and also help to plan for future financial goals. The program works in “real time” so you’ll know exactly how much money you have in your accounts and to work with in your budget.

There is a mobile app so it is easy to make financial decisions on-the-go. If you are running errands and want to add in your expenses as you are spending, it is easy to do. You can check your budget and make financial decisions – all before you make that purchase.

Mint.com

Mint is a popular favorite when it comes to budgeting tools. You’ll find that Mint.com is available for free, there are no charges to use this software. Mint.com has received positive recommendations from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Money (Magazine).

Many who use Mint.com like that it has mobile apps available. You can choose from iPhone, Android and iPad. This makes it easy and convenient to save money by sticking to your budget while on-the-go. You can think before making those impulse purchases that sink anyone’s monthly budget because you’ve got all of your information available.

One of the reasons people like to use Mint.com is the information you enter in it is secure. This software simply reads the information you enter into it. You are not able to move the financial information you place in Mint.com and no one else can either, this is for your security and protection. It will connect you with your financial accounts in real-time using just your Mint.com password.

Just as Quicken uses a pie chart to visually show you where your money goes, so does Mint.com. This is helpful for right brain thinkers as well as left brain thinkers who are comfortable viewing a column of numbers and percentages. When you realize you are spending too much money on take out meals, based on how large that part of the pie chart is – it can help you get your spending under control.

Remember that no budgeting software will work unless you use it regularly. Take the time to enter your information and also to analyze its supplied data. This can help you set financial goals and plan for both your short term and long term future.

Lauren Hill writes for Galorath.com, a company offering software that helps you deliver your goods as promised in a timely fashion.


Budgeting 101: The Envelope System

Budgeting 101: The Envelope System

Many people struggle with budgeting on a daily basis. And, the simple truth is that it doesn’t matter if you make $20,000 a year or $50,000, you may still find it hard to make your money last. This is why many people use the envelope system. If you’ve never heard of this system, you may be wondering how it can help you make better financial decisions. Whether it’s the need to create a budget before you begin or the discipline to use less money, this can change your spending habits. Let’s take a closer look at the envelope system.

What Is the Envelope System?

The envelope system is a budgeting system based on allotting a certain amount of money for each expense. This money is set aside in envelopes and once the money is gone, it’s gone. This forces people to rethink their spending habits and learn to make the most of their money.

How Does It Help?

This system can help anyone who is living from paycheck to paycheck. However, you need to be able to pull the money out of your account at the beginning of the month. For many families, this means saving up the money so that you can get started with this system. The good news is once you get started, you can start relying less on credit cards and learn to live within your means. That means that this plan is also excellent for those that can’t control reaching for their credit cards or spending more than they should by just charging everything and worrying about it later.

How Do You Get Started?

The first step is to create a budget. You need to account for every expense and make it work with your monthly salary. If the numbers don’t work, you need to rework the budget until they do. Once you know how much needs to be spent on each expense, you need to withdraw the total amount and separate the funds into envelopes for each expense. For example, if your budget includes $200 for groceries, $200 would go in an envelope marked groceries.

One of the best tips for making this system work is to be conservative. Spend the first couple weeks of the month trying to only buy what you absolutely need. This will help ensure that the money goes farther. Another great tip is to split variable expenses into four envelopes, such as groceries. This helps ensure that the money lasts. Last, but not least, lock up those credit cards. This will help ensure that once the money is gone, you can’t just charge more expenses. This will be hard to get used to at first, but will force you to make better decisions.

The envelope system is one of the best budgeting plans. However, it does require a bit of planning and it definitely requires discipline. The good news is that this will teach you to live within your means and get out from under all that debt.

About the Author: Ji Kunka love studying personal finance, investments, and penny stocks. She loves using the envelope system to keep careful track of her food and fuel budgets, especially since she works so far from home.


Five Financial Mistakes to Avoid

Five Financial Mistakes to Avoid

Wise money management is a skill that many people struggle to acquire. The combination of poor budgeting and careless spending can lead to deep financial trouble down the road. Consider the following mistakes and work hard to avoid them. Their consequences could have lasting effects.

  1. Making minimum credit card payments. The average American household carries roughly $16,000 in credit card debt, a sum that many pay off in small, minimum payments. While the credit card companies allow customers to pay off debt in this way, it isn’t for the sake of convenience. Consumer credit interest rates can top 20%, adding thousands of dollars to the principal balance over time. The less you pay, the more they earn. Ask yourself if those original charges are worth the outrageous markup and start paying more than the monthly minimum.
  2. Living from paycheck to paycheck. Whether you live extravagantly or struggle to make ends meet, the practice of living on the edge of debt is never a good one. Emptying your bank account without regard for savings is short-sighted at best. What will you do in an emergency? How are your long-term goals (e.g., retirement) affected by short-term fixes? Attempt to see the bigger picture and create a budget that sees it too.
  3. Becoming house poor. The U.S. housing crisis saw over four million foreclosures between 2007 and early 2012. Among the many contributing factors was the concept of becoming house poor. Buying a home is a large responsibility full of hidden costs. Signing on for an expensive mortgage also means signing on for insurance fees, property taxes, repairs, etc. Allotting more than 25% of your income to home costs can leave you vulnerable in times of financial trouble. Skip the spacious colonial and stick to a property you can afford.
  4. Under-insuring. Insurance coverage is an unavoidable part of life. While you may be content to use under-insuring as a cost-cutting tool, rolling the dice with liability could land you deep in debt. Your home, vehicle, and even life insurance require accurate reporting to serve their intended purposes. If a tornado destroys your house, will a small payout help you rebuild? If you are in a traffic accident, will liability-only insurance help you get back on the road? Monthly premiums may be steep, but scrimping on your coverage could carry expensive consequences. Play it safe in this arena.
  5. Living risk-free. Caution in some areas does not necessarily translate in others. Consider the following example

Troy is a 29-year-old chef. Over the years, he has managed to save $32,000 for retirement. Troy is unfamiliar and nervous about investment options, leading him to place his funds in an ordinary savings account.

Troy’s commitment to retirement savings is admirable, but his approach needs a little guidance. Long-term growth is imperative to establishing a well-funded retirement account. Allowing your funds to sit stagnantly means missing out on potential opportunities. Speak with a financial advisor about how to handle your savings. A professional can help you set up a plan that addresses your goals and your risk tolerance.

This guest post was provided by Sarah Elliot, a writer in the credit repair industry.

Image credit to millionaire mindset secrets


Budgeting Tips for a Spectacular Holiday

Budgeting Tips for a Spectacular Holiday

No matter how wonderful they turn out, the holiday season always seem to bring a lot of stress. While we all enjoy the holidays, not having to worry about them financially would make them even brighter. There are many things that can be done to create a spectacular holiday without the existence of enormous bills to deflate us after and create the mood commonly known as the holiday blues. In order to budget for a holiday, planning is a must. First figure out everything you will need in order to pull off your version of the perfect holiday. Here are a few tips to help you save while still out performing yourself as usual.

Decorations – If you are someone who wants the holiday to permeate your living area it is time to get a little crafty. There are many homemade items that will not only look beautiful but you can also gather the family and get them involved as well. When the family takes part in the holiday decorating, it gives it special meaning. As the years go by they will always remember the fun they had decorating the house for the holidays. If you have younger children have them help with stringing popcorn or making their own pictures to proudly display around the home. Older children can help make candles or ornaments adding that special touch of warmth.

The ideas are endless and relatively inexpensive compared to boxed items. Buying a tree gives the aroma of the great outdoors and brings back fond memories of when we were children before the holidays became a commercial event.

Meal time – Today with the chain stores all competing for every customer they can, there are always sales. Check your weekend flyers for sales on the items you will need for your holiday feast. The tough times can actually work to your advantage here. You may have to visit a few stores, but the savings will be well worth the effort. The dinner can be created with all family members participating adding yet another opportunity to have that closeness during the holidays. Desserts should be cooked at home to save some money. They are guaranteed to taste better too.

Gifts – While we all want to give our families everything they want, times are changing. It might be a good idea to get a main gift for all of the children to share if you have more than one. Depending on their ages and your budget there are many items out there that can be given as a combined gift. Children are more aware of the times than we sometimes give them credit for. They do not need to wear gold necklaces and receive hundreds of dollars worth of gifts each for the holiday. If you have been hit hard in the wallet these past few years do what you can, try not to put yourself in the position of having to bail out afterwards, this will only erase the fond memories you have worked so hard to create. Remember it is not what you give but rather that you give from the heart.

Christina Drury works for Without The Stress, a Same Day Passport Service in Los Angeles. In addition to Rush Passports, the company employs UK Visa Experts to assist busy travelers with obtaining student visas to the uk, settlement visas to the uk and work visas to the uk.


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