financial tips

International Women’s Day 2017 – Be an independent woman and a money-wise mom

Mothers should always make a serious effort to get a clear comprehension about money and all this includes understanding how much money should be earned in a household and how much should be spent in order to maintain a firm balance between expenses and income. Mothers usually have a full treasure of information on various things like healthcare, cooking, maintaining tabs on whether or not you’ve cleaned your room and about every single thing under the sun apart from money. Somehow it has always been noticed that money was the realm of the father or the so-called head of the family.

If you’re a mother who’s reading this article, don’t you feel you should know how you can become a money-wise mom? If you still couldn’t become a money-wise mom, here are few financial tips that you should take into account.

#1: Know your money and try to understand it better

This just means that mothers should invest the time and effort to understand about their money. This step actually starts with understanding how much money is earned by the household and how much money is being spent in the important expenses. How much money is being saved every month? Even if it is being saved, how is it being saved? Are there ways in which your household money can be spent in a better way? Considering the fact that how much uncanny mothers can get when it comes to understanding the depth of things, this step would be easier.

#2: Know the science of investing and discuss about money

The second step that you should take to becoming a money-wise mommy is to discuss money either with your husband, friends, children or family. All mommies need to take the effort to initiate conversations which entirely revolve around money with their family members. Having a serious conversation with your partner is of ultimate importance and this leads to the potential to understand money in a deeper sense. Have a knowledge sharing session so that you can both educate yourselves on money. A mother also needs to understand the science of investing as it helps planning finances in a better way.

#3: Try to manage your finances on your own and be accountable

The step will be the ultimate one in making mommies money-wise. If a mother has already followed the above mentioned steps, she will definitely be able to this step effortlessly. You should plan your investments in a wise manner and also be involved in the actual act of investment. Once you start getting involved in all such investment decisions, you can have different aspiration for kids and you will also become a strong lady at the same time.

So, now you know that there are just 3 steps for you to become money-wise. The steps are easy-to-follow and straight forward to adopt. All mothers who arm themselves with this kind of fiscal suaveness can bring a new dimension of confidence that you can pass on to your kids.

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Financial tips for newly-weds – Doing the ‘Money Talk’

We often promise to our spouse, “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer” while getting married. But how many of us live up to this pledge in a marriage? But unfortunately, majority of the couples fail to survive either richer or poorer due to bad money management skills. There are some couples who stick to their personal way of handling money which might or might not match with your spouse’s. There are some spouses who even cheat, lie and overspend and this leads to all the mistrust in the relationship.

There is always hope for you but you need to take immediate actions. Money management can be rewarding to bond with your loved one. Here are few tips that the newly-weds can take into account if they want to keep a tab on their finances.

? Keep talking about your finances: Before marriage, it is best to talk with your spouse about your finances as soon as you can. You will need to discuss about the accounts that you have and how much debt you can carry. This will also clear up how much money you can expect to be handled. Inform your spouse if you anticipate him to discuss purchases which are above $100 and ensure both of you have good understanding.

? Write down the financial goals you share: Once you’ve determined your current fiscal status, discuss the long term goals as well and plan the right time to retire. Which of the financial goals do you share with each other? Do you both believe in sticking with a budget? Do you both believing in both of you working or on a one-income family? The more goals that match with each other, the better will be your chance to achieve success.

? Build emergency fund together: If you already don’t have an emergency fund, make it a top priority task. The money that is set aside in case something costly happens like family illness, lost job or natural disaster or a home repair. Save up to 6 months of your household expenses so that you can keep spending money even when there’s an emergency.

? Have money meetings in a week: When you have weekly meetings on money with your spouse, this can help you both stay on track. While you both sit for meetings, discuss how your budget would look for a month. If there are approaching bills that you pay, how should you manage the financial goals and everything else related to money? Such meetings are usually great as they strengthen communication within the spouses and increase the level of trust.

? Save enough for retirement: Whether you’re married or not, you always need to ensure you have enough to keep going in the long run. You need to save for your retirement and in case you work with a company, you should definitely save money in your workplace retirement fund as that is the best way of securing your golden years.

Ultimately, whichever steps you follow, you should never stay in debt. Whenever you accumulate debt, be sure to take immediate steps to repay the debt amount. The more you stay in debt, the harsher will be the impact on your credit score.

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Mush alert: Are you taking these financial considerations into account before you start dating?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBefore the mush meter hits its high, stop and think! Stop to think about your finances. Stop to think about your expenses and of course your savings. Couples mostly don’t think about the financial changes that take place after they start dating. So, we are going to do just that. No. we’re not giving precedence to money over mush but definitely asking you to spare a thought. Money ends relations – even the sweetest of them. So, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get your “financial” act right before saying yes to mush! So, read on in order to be duly acquainted.

Are you chalking out the “monetary” rule of thumb with your date?

Now we all do it. Jotting down everything non-financial is regularity:

  •  We’ll go out together on special occasions
  • We’ll be the first ones to call each other on our special days
  • We’ll call each other at least twice every day (calling each other before hitting the bed is a must!)
  • No romantic exchanges during studies or work
  • Let’s part the moment we feel we aren’t compatible
  • We’ll be friends even after breaking up (if that happens)

Add to that….

  • We’ll split finances when we’re eating out or shopping or holidaying
  • There’s no my-boyfriend-spends-all thingy working here
  • We will not be scared or uneasy to talk finances at any point of time during our relationship

It is actually quite impractical not to take the financial considerations at all into account when you start dating. Why on earth should there even be an iota of doubt if your partner asks you to split finances when you are spending on any form of entertainment?

Can dating drive you into debts?

Yes, it can. If you are too swayed by your emotions.. if you are splurging indiscriminately then don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling short of dollars in a few years time. How fast or slow you fall out of your fortune will depend on the kind of fortune you have and the kind of propensity you have for spending mindlessly.

Occasional chocolates, roses, fitness gear and earrings don’t cost much. However, if you are finding yourself spending on movies, restaurants and night-outs almost four days a week then you can quickly find your financial condition spiraling its way out of your control. Don’t let that happen.

In fact, if your partner is unwilling to contribute equally then you can jolly well treat it as a red flag which will assume a monstrous shape in future!

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Financial tips for college students – Teaching them the way to deal with money

The semester is well underway and it is pretty exciting time for all the college freshmen. While there are many who are navigating their new campus environment, learning how to live independently without their parents, creating social circles, some others are busy wondering how to manage their own finances. College has become a synonym among young people assuming a graver responsibility for handling money, away from the reliable security of their parent’s wallet. Not everyone is able to handle money in a proper manner and since college life is the time to taste financial freedom, there are many who start misusing their dollars. They are the ones who soon end up in credit card debt or student loan debt.

College students should actually learn the art of living on a budget if they don’t want to see themselves drowning in a sea of debt. You should keep in mind that the key to financial success is remaining aware of how you’re spending your money. Learn the difference between being cheap and spending savvy. Here are some valuable tips to follow by college students who are looking forward to set their future.

? Create a frugal budget: This is one of the most important points to keep in mind. List down the sources of your monthly income including wages, savings, allowances from parents and then jot down the predicted expenses for a specific month. Although it’s not too easy to recognize college living expenses, still you should try. Include costs like school supplies, food apart from your regular meal, laundry care and personal care items. Without managing your budget, it is impossible to track your expenses and stay within a limit.

? Differentiate wants from your needs: Is a $40 a week for gas a ‘want’ or a ‘need’? What exactly should you budget for non-planned food? How much should your laundry cost you? Once you spend a few months on college campus, you will get to know the exact expenses and then find it easier to differentiate between wants and needs and put your plan into action. Don’t indulge too much in ‘wants’ as they can be done without. Focus more on your needs.

? Don’t abuse your credit cards: In the year 2014, 85% of undergraduate students owned at least one credit card, as per a research by the International Journal of Business and Social Science. College should be actually considered as the best time to start building credit but at the same time it is very easy to accrue huge amounts of debt while in school. It is vital to understand the striking difference between overextending and credit building.

? Do your research on financial aid and loans: College graduates usually face a tough time while balancing their ever-growing education loan delinquencies against their declining income. You need to understand about the right size of student loan debt and what it may amount to after graduation. Not only that, you should come up with a plan to repay it on time. Even if that may mean staying with your parents for a short span of time, you may even do that to repay your debts.

College education can be expensive if you don’t know how to manage your money and loans properly. Student loan debt is currently the most talked-about topic in the finance industry as it has already reached an alarming level of $1 trillion. If you don’t want to follow the herd of students saddled with student loan debt, be sure about taking the right financial steps. Don’t forget to save money to move ahead and reach your financial goals.

 


3 Ways To Spice Up Your Accounts With Spreadsheets

Noting all your accounting and financial information for your business or personal finances can be a pain. Whether it’s for your accountant or financial advisor, or your own tax or financial records, it’s a chore that is difficult and sometime complicated to achieve and can become a real problem at times like accounting and tax-year ends when information needs to be nicely organised.

Which is where spread sheet come in, particular Microsoft Excel which the majority of people use and understand, although others apply similar principles for example Google Spreadsheet or Apple’s version called Numbers. If you’re already familiar with these you will appreciate how you can easily open and add information there and then, or if you’ve never really used them then they appear daunting.

glassesHowever in reality they are just a way of writing things down on your computer, even if you just tap numbers in and press the ‘enter’ button each time to go down to the next line, you can always pass this to an accountant or whoever to then use the basic information.

Here are 3 ways to spice-up your spread sheets rather than just lists of boring numbers. Ways to more easily present and actually use all this accounting information at your fingertips, and easily applicable even if spreadsheets are new to you:

1. Rows & Columns – make use of the spread sheets moving both horizontally and vertically and therefore the full 2 dimensions. So instead of listing just one column of figures, use says the rows to match the types of expenditure and income and then columns as different time periods e.g. months of the accounting year. This time/type split is popular, although can be vice versa with time on the rows.

2. Tabs – each spread sheet file has a separate ‘sheet’ or ‘tab’ within it, often accessed from the bottom of the spread sheets. Just click the new tab, and a whole new sheet appears. This is great for including everything in one file rather than having endless files everywhere, for example different types of accounts like profit and loss or balance sheet.

3. Colours – a simple addition that can make a huge difference, particularly for those who are visually focused. Numbers can be made red for when say negative values, sections of important figures or rows/columns of figures made a different colour, and even sections of data different colours, for example certain types of expenditure within one category.

On final advanced tip is the use of charts and graphs. These will appear far too complicated to use when you first start, but once you get the hang of how they are created and what information on your spread sheets to use they can be easily used to produce impressive visual impressions of otherwise streams of raw financial figures.

A final point as well is that spreadsheets can exist online now rather than just on your computer. Traditionally they are software programmes, particularly excel, where you open it on your own computer and everything is stored on your computer. Online spreadsheets are on a website, so everything is saved online – the advantage is that they can be easy to access and use, and able to be shared with others, the downside is that they can have limited features.

Andy Nuttall is from The Website Designer and the BEST range helping source the right local businesses.


25 Quick And Clever Ways To Save Money

Many claim that saving becomes more and more difficult due to the high cost of living. This may be true in a sense, on the other hand, saving money seems impossible at times because of how we treat money. We allow money to easily slip through our fingers sometimes without giving it a moment of thought. Then we find that saving is not an option right now and that is how the act of saving money seems challenging. Saving does not depend on your income or your expenses, here are ways to help change the way you handle money in future:

A green button with the words Erase Debt on it 1.       Stop Making Debt

Often you might say or hear someone say “Saving is not an option for me now, I have way too much debt”. But the very next day we get ourselves further into the very situation that is believed to obstruct the act of saving money. Refrain from using any credit facility to make purchases, even if it means cutting up all your credit and store cards. The less debt you have the more opportunity there would be to save money.

2.       Don’t Pay Interest Unnecessarily

Debt prevents most people from saving money due to high interest rates that consumers are obligated to pay as a result of buying now and paying later. Small purchases made on credit is reason why many consumers fall under the debt trap to begin with. Purchasing an item worth R200 on credit with a payment plan of 12 months on an interest bearing account is one example of paying unnecessary interest.  Save for a couple of months to buy the item cash instead to spare yourself from paying interest for an entire year for small purchases. The money that you would have contributed towards interest could have been saved for future purchases.

3.       Settle All Debt

Compile a list of all your debt related expenses such as accounts, store cards, credit cards, personal loans etc. Work on a strategy to decrease the amount of debt you have. One way to realistically do this is to focus on one account at a time until it is settled. Select the account with the lowest balance as a starting point to slowly change the way you deal with debt. Make it a priority every month to pay double the total due amount, for example a store account with a 12 month payment plan can be settled in 6 months by using this strategy. As soon as the account is settled follow this process with the next account until eventually all your debt is squared up. The freed up money you find yourself with after having no debt can go towards saving.

4.       Consider Debt Consolidation

For those battling to keep up with debt repayments should apply for debt consolidation. It has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day you have more of your income at your disposal each month allowing you to cope with living expenses as well as making it possible for you to focus on saving money.

5.       Purchase an Investment

The only justifiable interest bearing purchase is an investment such as purchasing a house. A home loan is considered an investment because it is one of your assets. Therefore, investing in property is a great way to save money as opposed to renting. Think of it this way: the money that you spend on rent over 10 or more years could have been used to pay almost half your bond.

6.       Pay Extra on Your Home Loan

By ridding yourself of all insignificant debt obligations, you now have a lot more funds at your disposal. A smart manner to make use of the additional funds is to commit to paying extra on your home loan instalment each month. This could reduce your payment term noticeably, depending on how committed you are in settling your home loan. Also the amount of interest you pay drops, saving you money long term.

7.       Open Multiple Savings Accounts

You save money to accomplish various things and one savings account is not enough. Have a savings account for each goal you want to achieve for example, one savings account for that holiday you planning, another to renovate your home and not forgetting the most important savings account: your emergency fund. This is a useful way to save as it allows you to monitor how you progressed in reaching each goal. Set up the amounts you want to deposit into each account depending on whether it is a short or long term goal and the total amount you need for each occasion.

8.       Save First Then Spend

We often determine the amount we are able to save by first calculating all our expenses then allocating what is left over to a savings account. It should be the other way around, you first need to reserve money for saving before deciding what you should spend your money on. Never leave saving as an afterthought, it should be your main concern.

save-money-using-home-depot-coupons9.       Budget for Saving Money

List saving as an expense when doing your monthly budget and be sure that it takes priority over entertainment. Working it into your budget is one way to ensure that you save dutifully and you would see growth in no time.

10.   Deduct Savings Deposit from Your Salary

Many times we open that savings account and make deposits for the first couple of months and thereafter we find other ways to use that money. Allow your savings account to debit the specified amount from your salary. This way you are guaranteed that you regularly contribute to your savings and the habit of saving is forced upon yourself.

11.   Not Spending Money Equates to Saving Money

One of the easiest ways to save is to simply not spend money. By deciding against making an unimportant purchase you have already saved money. A fancy savings account offering the highest interest rates is not the only solution to saving money. Sticking your money in a jar is also a means of saving and to make sure that it stays there for longer is to just leave it alone instead of finding reasons to spend it.

12.   Justify Each Purchase

Before making any purchase ask yourself if it is needed or wanted. And classifying the purchasing of coffee every morning before heading to work as a need is not justifiable. Drink water instead because it is healthier and free. If there is another solution that involves spending less or no money then the purchase is not justified. Choosing the less expensive option allows you to save money.

13.   Always Negotiate

The ability to drive a good bargain is a useful skill to have especially when making big purchases. Seize any opportunity to negotiate with the seller to lower the price. Target independently owned shops and stalls, most times they are willing to negotiate to make a sale.

14.   Purchase Second-Hand

Before heading to the store, try and find want at a second-hand store. You can get it almost for half the price compared to purchasing it brand new. Just make sure that it is worth the bargain and in good condition before buying anything second-hand as you would not receive a warranty.

15.   Generic Brands

Keep your eye on the price rather when shopping and opt for generic brands as they are always the less expensive option. It never hurts to choose the less popular brands that looks and functions the same as the household brand names. When trying to save money it pays to be oblivious to name brands.

16.   Find a Substitute for Money

Thinking of purchasing a relatively expensive item? Hit the classifieds or trading websites to find someone who is willing to make a swop for an item that you have of the same value. By swopping you kill two birds with one stone as you get rid of the item you don’t want and receive the item you want at the same time without it costing you a cent.

Or maybe someone you know has something to sell that is of interest to you. Instead of buying it cash, think of something that you could do as payment for getting that particular item. The less you spend on purchases the more you are able to save money.

6953588530_6a2339de6c_n17.   Sell Unwanted Goods

When in the business of saving money you should never just throw away items of value that you no longer need or want. Use the classifieds or trading websites to sell your goods to put a few hundreds back into your pocket.

18.   Join Loyalty Programs

Be rewarded by merely shopping or making use of a service. Loyalty programs are exceptionally helpful in assisting consumers to save by issuing coupons or vouchers to use against future purchases. These rewards allow you to save hundreds or sometimes thousands on grocery shopping annually.

19.   Do Not Get Lured into False Bargains

Be aware of promotional offers that trick you into buying things that you do not need or in excessive quantities all because it is a special offer. This is where your justifying purchasing skills come in handy when deciding the worthiness of the offer. Many people try and justify pointless purchases by claiming that it was an offer they could not refuse. You are not always the winner when buying 5 items for the price of 4 when you really only need 1 of it.

20.   Quit Habits That Cost Money

Start by quitting cigarettes, it is an expensive and unhealthy habit. Many smokers will finish a packet of cigarettes a day. A packet of the average brand of cigarettes costs about R21. As a smoker, you are literally blowing close to R600 a month. Money which could have contributed to your savings account or even to settle some debt.

Non-smokers are not off the hook, there are many other habits that people indulge in that cost quite a bit on a monthly scale. For example, buying fast food for lunch every day. A reasonably priced meal costs about R30, which also amounts to R600 a month spent that could have been saved by making the effort to pack in lunch instead.

21.   Generate Extra Income

Rent out a room or turn your hobby into a small business to supplement your income. Deposit the money straight into a savings account or use it as additional payment on debt.

22.   Share Costs

Share daily costs with family, friends and colleagues by clubbing for various purchases and making use of the goods or services together. For example, find someone to share a gym membership with on one of those 2 for the price of 1 contracts that are on offer. Or start a lift club to share the cost of travelling to and from work every day. As a result you spend a fraction of the cost for things you would have paid full price for had you done it alone.

23.   Review Your Banking Methods

Inspect your bank statement to check that you are not paying more than you should on banking fees. Find a method of banking that is suitable for your needs as well as cost effective. Cheque accounts usually work best to manage your salary. Open a cheque account if you do not already have one and choose one that would complement your monthly banking transactions.

24.   Review Car Insurance Options Annually

Every year the value of your car drops, make sure that you are not paying too much on your car insurance premiums. Get quotes from different insurance companies annually to find the best deal.

25.   Start Life Insurance Early

Applying for life insurance later could cost you. See that you are covered to dodge the high premiums you would have to pay each month. Getting life insurance at your earliest convenience helps you save thousands of rands.

Danielle van Reenen is a senior writer at MoneyVine.co.za, one of South Africa’s leading financial advise portals.


Easy Financial Plans For Newly Weds

If you are just about to get married then your elders might have sat you down and started advising you on effective money management tips. You might not be too interested in listening to the “drab” financial advice a few days before marriage but it is important. You have got to handle both your pre-wedding jitters and financial concerns at the same time. Here are some valuable financial tips that newlyweds can follow:

4133286713_e025108effTo start off with—- brides, who are mulling a change of surname post marriage should visit their respective Public Accountants (Certified).  Once again it might turn out to be one of those “drab” duties before marriage but it’s important to notify the government of a possible surname change as soon as possible so that once the tax season arrives your papers are ready with your changed names. For instance, your Social Security card must reflect your name change. On top of that it’s also important to notify your address change to the concerned authorities in this regard. It is equally important to know that your tax filing status would change post marriage. Joint tax filing is an option often chosen by couples. Please make sure that you are duly discussing with your tax consultant in this regard and remember that if you wait for the last moment for making changes then it would only lead to chaos.

From the complicated to the comparatively easier. You won’t need the help of a financial advisor for following a few simple steps with regard to the management of your personal finance. Post marriage both of you will be earning. But try living on one person’s earning and save the remaining amount. One of your partners might be laid off, he/she might want to quite his/her job and start a business. One of you might even want to get back to school to complete a part-time or a full-time course. Therefore its always advisable to prepare a family budget based on a one salary instead of two.

Consider Purchasing an Insurance Policy. All you newlyweds out there consider securing a life insurance policy. This is one of the most crucial stages to consider an insurance cover. Now one of the major concerns at the back of your mind would be about the future of your spouse in case you die. This makes you more responsible as a financial planner for your family and securing a life insurance for the safe future of your family is the first step towards fulfilling that responsibility. There are a few factors that you should keep in view while availing the policy. You’re earning, debt to income ratio; present volumes of debt are just some of those factors.

Don’t Overspend: Coming back to the basics. Stick to a budget. Don’t overspend. Just because you are newly married there’s no need to splurge on new furniture, dresses and other such gifts. Instead, spend the money for clearing off present debts and bills.

Provide a remarkable start to your married life by following these few tips!


The Best Money Tips For New Graduates

Graduating from college is a milestone that leaves many students overwhelmed with finding a new career, managing monthly expenses and paying off student loans. Finding a solution that allows you to manage your money wisely is the best way to start a new career, and an independent lifestyle, without accruing more debt than you can handle. Learning which steps to take to create a new home and new life, and which to avoid, helps you avoid some of the most common mistakes that new graduates make.

Prioritize Your Spending

Setting up a new apartment is one of the first steps that you will take after college. It is important to take the time to decide which items you really need to purchase, and which can wait a little longer. For example, you will need furniture, but a top of the line television is a luxury that you can put off until you are a little more financially secure.

It is also important to look at your weekly budget for food costs and entertainment. Setting a budget for food, drinks with friends and other non-necessary expenses can save you thousands of dollars a year. You can also take the time to learn new skills, like cooking, that can help you stretch your money. Cooking meals at home is one of the simplest and most effective ways to cut spending.

Use Debt to Your Advantage

Debt isn’t always a bad thing to have. A manageable amount of debt can be an advantage when you make payments on time. Making payments on time allows you to begin building your credit score, which will assist you in buying a new home or car in the future. Just make sure that you only take out loan amounts that you can comfortably manage to ensure you aren’t overwhelmed by the monthly payments during the first months after graduation.

Start Saving

Saving can seem challenging to new graduates but this step is one that you shouldn’t skip. Even a small portion of your income can make a big impact on your retirement or emergency fund over the course of several years. Start by investing about two percent of your income into a savings account that is set aside for emergencies, such as unexpected car repairs, then switch to investing in your retirement account. You may want to research your options before choosing an investment account to find the best returns on your investments.

Get Organized

One unexpected aspect of being financially independent in keeping up with and organizing paperwork. Choose to use online statements and automatic payment options whenever possible to help reduce the amount of paperwork you need to organize at home. Not only will paperless options cut down on clutter, automatic billing and payments taken directly from your account ensure you make payments on time without the hassle of sending a check.

By planning your finances carefully and prioritizing spending, graduation can be an exciting adventure instead of a financially stressful event. Begin planning your financial future early to be confident that you are prepared for your new life as a recent college graduate.

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Daniel Ramos is working for Garden Savings bank. He loves to blog and offer people advice on their personal financial issues. When he is not blogging, he enjoys writing for his own finance blog.


The Top 10 Ways That A Notepad Can Improve Your Finances

When making ends meet starts to become a struggle there are a large number of different things you can do to help boost your finances. For most this will mean changing bill and service providers, writing out a fresh budget, or getting a loan of some sort – but there are other more subtle means to improve your financial well-being too that that involve changing your own behavior and the way you think about your cash.

One great example is to start carrying a notepad. This is a tiny difference that will cost you very little and add barely any weight to your load – but once you start using it daily it can make a big difference in the way you handle your money and add significant value to your overall finances. Here we will look at why a notepad can be so useful and how you can use it to improve your cash flow.

Cash Book

The first and most obvious use of a notepad is to use it to keep track of all your expenditures and purchases. This way you can turn any notepad into effectively a cash book that will allow you to keep track of what your balance should be at any time. In turn this will make it easier to stick to your budget, and to keep a running total of how much money you should have (making it easier to spot discrepancies).

Of course you will ideally keep a spreadsheet or another more complete system for keeping track of your money, but carrying a laptop everywhere with you is hardly practical and remembering every little transaction can be tough too. With a notepad you can write down your purchases right there and then, and then just add them to your spreadsheet when you get home.

Wish List

Sometimes you will find yourself in something of a ‘mental battle’ with yourself when you really want to make a purchase but aren’t sure if it can be justified or not. In such a situation you can stand in a store beating yourself up, and more often than not you’ll end up making the impulsive decision to just buy the item and worry about it later. Unfortunately though, you’ll often find that when you get home, you realize you didn’t need that item and you just wasted your money.

What’s going on here is that you’ve made an emotional decision influenced by the in-store marketing, and by the desire to get that new thing. The whole way stores are laid out and their advertising is employed is designed to prime you into a mood where you want to buy things – which means the decision is often almost out of your hands. You can feel like you need to get it now because you’ll forget to come back for it otherwise and because you want desperately to use it that night.

Of course waiting for a few days and coming back later is by far the best way to avoid these very emotional financial decisions, and that means getting your urges under control. Using a notepad can help you to do this simply because it means you can write down what you want. Once you’ve done that you’ll know you aren’t going to ‘forget’ it, and you can come back to it later. This allows you to breathe easily in the store, and to make a more logical decision later on.

Math

Having a notepad and paper allows you to do math and calculate totals when you’re adding items to your shopping cart, or when you’re looking at the cumulative price of all your bills. This is very useful when making decisions about your finances, and particularly when you’re out and about and you don’t have a calculator on hand.

Notes

Of course with it being called a ‘notepad’, the main use of this little tool is to allow you to write notes. This can be any number of things from remembering to take out the trash to writing a to-do list for your day. So it follows that you can also use a notepad for notes that pertain to your finances, and whether this is remembering to pay a bill or remembering that you need to transfer some cash, it can often help you avoid getting into trouble.

This article is authored by Chris Snelling. He is the owner and editor of the popular financial blogging site www.budgetways.com. He believes that the best way to save money is not to spend it in the first place. You can visit his website to read his latest article on effective and skillful budgeting. You can also follow him on Twitter.


5 New Year’s Resolutions To Make For Your Money

Financial DecisionsNew Year is a time when many people make promises to themselves which often involve being more positive, being healthier, and even being more responsible with their money. During tough economic times, it’s very important to remember that the financial decisions you make today will greatly impact your future. We look at some resolutions you can make for the coming year to help you build a better financial future:

1. Keep track of where your money goes

If you don’t keep track of your spending and saving every month, it’s definitely time to make the resolution start. It’s vital to keep track of your finances by logging all of your income and expenditure, as well as tracking interest earned on savings and the growth, or indeed losses, made by your investments. Christmas is a time when many people overspend, one last present, one forgotten relative or one new outfit for the special day, can lead many people to spend more than they have. Christmas is probably the hardest time of the year to keep track of your spending, but the New Year should be the time you resolve to put it right.

2. Save more by repaying debt

Interest rates are very low, so putting your money into savings accounts will not earn you as much as it used to; you may also find that stock market investments are too risky for you. Repaying debt can therefore often be the answer. The interest rate you pay on unsecured debt, for example personal loans and credit cards, can still be high, even in these times of relatively low interest rates.

Why save and get an interest rate of 3% or 4% when you might be paying nearly 20% on your credit card debt?

3. Diversify your investment portfolio

If you are an investor, resolve to keep track of how well your portfolio is diversified in the New Year. Successful investors know how important it is to diversify your portfolio, between different asset classes, such as equities, fixed interest assets, property and cash, in order avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket. Working with a professional, trustworthy Independent Financial Adviser, who will guide you every step of the way, can be a great way to diversify with ease and confidence. Alternatively there are many websites available to help the DIY investor achieve the same objective.

4. Learn about investing

If you don’t know anything about investing your money, use the coming year to learn all that you can. The first step to successful investing is to educate yourself; the time you put into your financial education will certainly be rewarded in the future, as you make fewer mistakes.

There are a huge range of resources available to choose from. You could take a class in person or online, or you can read up on the subject by browsing through books, magazines and a select few of the countless websites on the subject. Of course each method is different some starting with basic concepts whilst others will look at the advanced techniques used by professionals.

Websites such as MoneySavingExpert or Motley Fool are a great place to start.

5. Choose an Independent Financial Advisor

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own investment decisions, then the answer is probably to find the right adviser.

Of course working with an adviser will mean you have to pay them, nothing comes for free, however, it should mean less mistakes are made and ultimately that you make more money, which at the end of the day is the main aim of investing.

Picking a professional who can teach you and help you grow your money at the same time is the perfect way to get on track quickly and easily. The right adviser will be able to understand your needs and address them in the best way for you, but be careful; the wrong advisor will lead you into making the wrong decisions, so do your research, interview a number of advisers, take recommendations and above all, choose wisely.

If you can’t get a recommendation for an adviser, try Unbiased to search for IFAs in your area.

Phillip Bray writes for Investment Sense and is an expert on all areas of personal finance including savings, investments, and pensions, particularly SIPPs.


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