Many Americans complain they are having a tough time paying bills and can’t save money because of the economy, but for many of the complainers, their bill paying was tough in a good economy. Why? They overspend no matter how much money they make.
Save Money Now
Therefore, I will show you several ways to save money in any economy. If they under spend when the economy is good, they can save money when times are good and then live off the savings when the economy is tough.
Also, when the economy is tough, your good habits will be rewarded with financial peace of mind, transferring the good habits you learned from the better economy to the poor economy. Since the U.S. economic status fluctuates every 2-20 years, it is best to keep a sound financial budget in good times and bad.
1. Put away your credit cards
Paying off your credit cards is one of the best ways to lower financial stress and save money. You can’t pay them off if you are constantly adding to the balance. Carry only one for dire emergencies, and pay more than the balance, to pay off the balance in a reasonable time span.
Make sure you tell the company the additional payment goes toward your balance and check your statement when you get it, to verify you were properly credited with the over-payment.
2. Lower your cable cost
This is one of the more obvious cost cutting features. Get the bare minimum and put the additional money toward your credit card bills.
3. Plan your meals
Plan your meals for the lowest cost possible, and shop from a Specific grocery list generated from your menus. Food cost vary widely but you will save a substantial amount of money if you shop wisely from a planned menu and shopping list, and cut out prepackaged and junk foods and non-nutritious drinks. Get a free meny planner here.
4. Click coupons
Coupons are available everywhere, newspapers, magazines and the internet. Many coupon products are new and not always necessary. Make sure the coupon product is something you need and will use after purchase.
5. Loose the “I’ve got to have it syndrome”
Women are blamed for overspending on items they don’t need, but men are just as guilty. Women have a tendency to shop constantly, while men shop occasionally on much large priced items. It you refuse to recognize the fact that you have the “I’ve got to have it syndrome” you are your own worse financial enemy and financial peace and happiness will allude you forever. Get help with saving money, here, find your best finances.
6. Lower your rent
If paying your rent is stressful, shop for lower rent in a good area until you find reasonable living.
7. Pay attention to gas prices
When I’m out driving sometimes I notice five gas stations within a block or two, some prices are lower than others. Concentrate on the lower priced high quality gas.
8. Cell phones and contract prices vary
Many folks have several cell phone minutes left each month because they are not using what they pay for. Get the lowest available cell phone contract for your needs.
9. Turn off your lights, heat and air
Using too much energy is environmentally wasteful and uses unnecessary money. Don’t overuse on home energy cost or car air conditioning.
10. Sell your car
If your car note is difficult to pay, and you don’t owe more than it is worth, sell your car and buy one you can afford. Look at certified used cars, or a car owned by someone who kept it in good condition. Be careful to verify the car is in proper working order before you purchase. One idea is to seek a traveling certified mechanic who will go to the site of the car owner and run test to verify its quality. Get help getting out of debt here.
The term, youth hostel, has long been associated with student, economy accommodations, not with adults. However, if you love adventure and meeting new people, staying at a hostel could be just the ticket!
As Little As $20
Best of all, the price is right. In areas where $100 or more is common, a night’s stay at a “youth” hostel can be less that $20. There are hostels around the world, in almost every country and near some of the most desirable vacation destinations, such as Paris and Santa Fe.
Bargain Basement Prices
Yes, in some of the best places in the world, there’s a hostel with bargain-basement prices. So, why else would you want to stay at a place known best for providing housing for backpacking college students? Why indeed. Some hostels have features normally associated with higher-priced establishments, like ocean views, Jacuzzi tubs, and even an occasional swimming pool. Secure 24-hour access and special-needs accessibility can be found in large, urban environs.
Dormitory Style Accommodations
You can usually book ahead (though there may be a curfew, so don?t expect to come in too late). Though many hostels provide dormitory-style accommodations, others will have more rooms like those found at neighboring motels. The main difference is that it probably won’t be a private room, unless you come with your own fellow travelers. If you do plan on traveling in a group of two or more, some hostels will even reserve space for you (usually only offered in off-seasons).
For a price of at least half that of most other discount hotels, you can stay just two miles from the center of Old Town Santa Fe, with a beautiful view of the two mountain ranges and close to restaurants and Indian pottery shops.
Just an hour from our nation’s capitol and close to the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, you can stay for about $17 with Internet access and a train station nearby. The possibilities are endless and, if you enjoy meeting new people instead of watching TV or ordering room service, try a hostel.
Your Hostel Amenities
Although you will need to plan ahead to bring some of the convenience items which hotels are known for, like shampoo and hair dryers, you will be provided with a pillow and blanket. Most now even include a change of linen in the price; others have them available for a nominal rental fee. You will be using a common bathroom, though almost all keep women’s and men’s rooms (both sleeping and bathing facilities) separate. Each hostel will inform you of their individual requirements and arrangements.
You will find a couple of very reputable hostel sites online, including Hostelling International (HI), Hostels.com, Hostelworld, and European Hostels. HI even provides for reservation booking and reviews of most of their network, with over 4,000 hostels in more than 60 countries worldwide.
They claim that they’re “the most recommended hostels in the world,” and that their “blue triangle is internationally recognized for safe, clean, friendly and affordable accommodations.” The other sites offer similar assurances.
So, the next time you travel with a severely limited budget and dreams of visiting someplace special, think hostels. You may be more than pleasantly surprised with the saved money and people-friendly accommodations.
Basic investing is a concept all of us should know, but few I speak to seem to know the importance. Many of us have already given up on our deepest life dreams. But I think we should all consider starting a financial resolution.
It’s impossible to turn on the television and not see commercials with yet another famous celebrity touting some magic weight-loss plan.
It is important to be physically fit, but it’s also important to be financially fit, including basic investing.
Women take time off to care for children and other family members, and as a group we are paid less money than men for the same job. According to 2004 labor statistics, as of 2016 the percentages are about the same:
–White women earned 76 cents for every dollar men earned
–Black women earned 71 cents for every dollar men earned
–Latina women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned
–And Asian women earned 86 cents for every dollar men earned
The number of marriages per year is decreasing. Women often outlive their husbands, and divorce rates are hovering around 50 percent.
This translates into women spending some part of their adult life alone. And even if we do find prince charming later in life, that doesn’t mean he will be financially educated or understand the essentials of investing for savings, retirement, or education.
Thus we have to take the initiative and learn how to become financially savvy and understand many useful and, at least, basic types of investing.
Confidence is key when managing your money and the only way to get confidence is to be knowledgeable. Msfinancialsavvy.com has a lot of tools to help you get started in your quest for financial security, such as tutorials, calculators, and various articles written by experts.
There is also a book for the beginner investor, Live Rich Save Money! From Stocks to Mutual Fund Research in 47 Wonderful Way by Lois Center-Shabazz, which has great tips to help you manage your money. Go her for your free investing book excerpt.
It’s sad but true that many of us graduate from high school and college never really understanding how to manage our money. The first step to financial freedom and prosperity is to master the 5 E’s of Investing.
Educate – Learn all you can about how money works. Msfinancialsavvy.com is a great place to start. The site has a lot of information to help the novice investor on her way.
Emancipate – There are a lot of pessimists around who will intentionally or unintentionally give you bad information. Free yourself from internal and external negative influences.
Evaluate – Smart savers and investors make good decisions by observing and weighing the pros and cons of each situation. They learn about money and the market through research and observation.
Emulate – Savvy investors and savers are participating in job-sponsored 401ks, contributing to Roth IRA, budgeting and diversifying investments. Copying some of these proven strategies can help you on your road to financial success.
Empower – Once you have educated yourself on your money and have come up with a personal strategy, you will feel empowered in your decisions about your financial future.
It is important to master the 5 E’s of Investing now. The earlier you start investing and saving the more you gain.
Saving Money is the First Key to Get Started
Career Transition Financial Tips and Budget Planning
Budget Planning, Career, and Finances are at the top of everyone’s minds these days. You can’t listen to the news or read the newspaper without hearing some mention of the economy. Those who are in a career transition—or soon to be—may already be stressed out by financial issues.
A recent financial adviser forum I attended provided five Budget Planning Financial tips on financial management for those in transition at a Career Networking Group.
1) Write Down Your Monthly Budget
Budget Planning 101: This is a scary and painful word for some people but having a written budget plan is a critical first step for those who need to manage their money—especially those in transition. A written budget plan spelling out the exact dollar amounts of where your money is going will help you make necessary cuts.
For example, you might discover that eating out is costing you $50 a week. Staying at home or bringing a snack could drastically cut this cost.
A budget will also help you determine how long you can stay afloat without working.
Another bonus to having a written budget is motivation. Knowing the number of weeks you can manage without dipping into savings will often motivate you to step up your networking and other job search activities.
2) Work With Creditors to Avoid Hits to Your Credit Report
Procrastination is a big problem for people facing a financial crisis. However, financial problems won’t go away just because you ignore them. Having a written budget can help you reallocate money to pay down your bills. You could even send your budget to a company when negotiating a payment schedule.
Working with creditors may also help with FICA scores. Many companies report delinquent and failed payment to the credit bureaus. This can negatively impact your job search because many companies screen applicant’s financial backgrounds before offering a position.
It is impossible to plan without knowing exactly where your money is going. Writing down your budget plan is a way for families to make positive steps to staying financially fluent. In the event that you don’t find a job before feeling the financial pinch, you should try to work out a payment agreement with creditors as soon as possible.
3) Consider Opening a Home Equity Line of Credit or Using the HARP and 72T Programs
Many people are under the mistaken impression that opening up a home equity line of credit will negatively impact your credit report. However, if you are only approved for the money, but don’t start using it, your credit score won’t be impacted.
This step is best done when you and/or your spouse are working because it may be harder to obtain once you lose your job. You may never need the money but using a home equity line of credit often offers better interest rates than using credit cards. This is a last resort option, using money from savings or an extra job is a primary option.
There are several federal and state programs that help people stay in their homes:
HARP is a federal program that gives people in their primary residence, who do not have enough equity to refinance, get a lower interest rate. This is especially helpful for those who find that their home is worth significantly less than when they bought it. Contact a mortgage professional if you are interested in this option.
72T is a provision in the IRS code that has been around a while. It is more beneficial to individuals aged 50-59 and gives them the option of taking money out of a 401k without the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. This program works as a bridge to retirement.
4) Continue or Purchase Term Insurance as a Budget Planning Tool
Many people in career transition make the mistake of dropping term insurance. Companies often carry this type of insurance or something similar for employees; however, this insurance isn’t portable. Once you are no longer working for the company the coverage stops.
Term insurance, which usually just covers a select time period, tends to be less expensive than permanent insurance. Permanent insurance has a cash value but insurance premiums are much more expensive than term insurance. Once you start working it may make sense for you to upgrade your term insurance policy to a permanent one.
The advantage is that you lock in the lower rate (the earlier you purchase the insurance policy the better the price), you don’t have to re-qualify with a medical exam or medical questions and you get the benefit of building cash value.
5) Work With an Independent Financial Adviser
Being out of work for longer than a few months forces people to make some tough decisions. Sometimes you and other family members are too close to the situation to be objective even after you have actively engaged in budget planning.
Your financial adviser can help you develop a plan for you and your family to get through this difficult time.
Choose your financial adviser carefully because they are not all the same. Some financial advisers are tied to certain products which they will try to push their clients to purchase in order to increase their own numbers and/or commissions. Find an adviser who can give you the facts and a plan without being influenced by the need to push certain products. Do plenty of research before you decide on a financial planner as part of your budget planning process.
Check your credit history for free at AnnualCreditreport.com. Once you know what information is on these reports you can ensure accuracy, send in a note explaining a particular situation and track how your credit is being reported.
Individuals are eligible for one free report each year from each of the three credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian). Check your credit report every four months by contacting a different bureau and requesting a report.
Easy Budget Planner is a great tool for clean, crisp budget planning. You can use it over and over, and it will grow with you as your budget grows.
Easy Budget Planner is clear, concise and has sound advice along with MsfinancialSavvy Saving Money Articles and Budget Planner eBooks for creating a sustainable budget and getting out of debt.
Tax Savings Ideas
A collective sigh of relief can be heard around the nation after the April 15 deadline normally, but this year April 18, 2016, because many people only think about tax savings during tax season. Smart savers and investors realize that managing their tax burden is a year long commitment that can save them a lot of headaches and money. It is important to have a tax strategy early to take advantage of steps that can help relieve the April 15 (18) tax burden.
A good place to start is to analyze your paycheck to see if there are any opportunities you are missing that could result in tax savings or tax payment to Uncle Sam. People should decide if they want to get more money in their paycheck and perhaps have to pay something back each year or perhaps they would like to get a big refund check.
Some financial analyst suggest that people take limited exemptions and use the extra cash in their paychecks to invest. This is a good suggestions for those who are disciplined enough to put that extra money into an investment account instead of purchasing the latest fashion or using the money for entertainment.
If you are not one of those people who can be disciplined enough to dedicate the extra cash generated by limited exemptions and claims taking more deductions might be the better strategy for you. The larger check you receive when you file your taxes should be spent wisely with at least a portion of the money going to an investment account.
The government has creative ways to get more of your money and you have to use creative (and legal ways) to decrease your tax bill. Many people don’t think about taxes until it is too late to do anything about them. There are some steps you can take now that will help you feel less of the pinch of your tax bill. (Please be sure to check with your tax provider or visit the IRS Website for additional information.
Itemized vs. Standard
Keep a file of all the times you have donated to various causes, the Salvation Army and even donation to your church. Compare the itemized deductions with the standard one to see which one will save you more money. It important to remember that when claiming charitable donations on taxes that a receipt is required for donations $250 or more. Make sure that receipts are kept in a safe place.
The cost of higher education can be felt at public and private colleges especially when considering the starting salary for many careers start below the $30,000 a year mark. Make sure you include student loan repayments on your tax bill. Parents can also include contributions to a 529 college savings account on their taxes.
Contribute to Company sponsored 401K
There are two great reason to contribute to a 401K. The first is that it lowers your tax bill because money used for the plans are not taxed until you withdraw. The second reason is that when a company matches the plan giving you free money. There is usually a schedule of when you can take all the company match if and when you leave the company. (Ex. 2nd year+40%, 3rd year=60%, 4th year=80 % 5th year=100%) Please note that you can always take the money that you contribute from your paycheck with you.
Consider Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible Spending Accounts are ways to put away money for medical expenses. You can use pre-tax money to pay for out of pocket costs. These accounts can help you save money by lowering your taxable income. The important thing too remember about these accounts is that you lose whatever you don’t use during the year so plan carefully.
There are many deductions self-employed people can take. It is important to keep accurate and up-to-date records. Gas, home office supplies, conferences and memberships to professional societies are a few deductions that you can take.
Recently the government has allowed people to write off home repairs related to decreasing energy waste.
Most people employed by companies don’t use this credit because out-of-pocket expenses have to be above 7.5% of your income. The self-employed and those using unemployment benefits may meet the financial requirement.
Whatever your strategy is it is important to have a definite plan on how to manage your taxes. There is one thing that is always certain-paying taxes and the smart investor manages taxes. Check out this articles site and IRS.gov for more information, the IRS site has all of the current tax information for everything in publications, articles and more..
Promote Your Book Online
Congratulations on your book publishing contract. Using my 5 low-cost ways to promote your book online will help you get started. There are thousands of unpublished writers looking to get signed so you have made a great accomplishment. Take a few moments to enjoy the victory before the real work begins, MARKETING YOUR BOOK. Because many books are now ebooks, it is imperative that you understand how to promote your book online.
Publishing houses are expecting more of their writers to promote, in these times of budget cuts, which means fewer resources and personnel to promote your book. Sales of books are tracked and low book sales of your first book can make it more difficult to get that second book contract. Marketing your book online offers a low-cost and effective way to get your book noticed and sold.
#1 CREATE A WEBSITE:
The cost of hosting a Website or blog has come down quite a bit in the last few years. Authors can find decent hosting services for less than $100 a year. There are also free sites that post Websites and blogs. Paying for hosting services has two key advantages over the free sites. You won’t have to worry about ads on paid sites.
These ads posted by free sites can detract from the content on your site. You can choose the URL of the site as long as someone else hasn’t chosen the name first. With free websites, you may have to deal with a long string of characters making your site hard for readers to find.
#2 SOCIALIZE ONLINE: Create a Facebook page and Twitter account about the book separate from your personal page or account. The Facebook and Twitter accounts can be linked so that when you tweet it appears on Facebook.
Make the book Facebook page all about the book. Look for communities and groups that might be interested in your book and socialize with them. The goal is to build an audience that is interested in your story.
CAUTION: Be careful when promoting your book online. You want to be subtle in this arena or you will offend people.
#3 CONNECT WITH ONLINE AFFILIATES:
As it gets closer to your book ‘s publication date make sure you have a way for people to pre-order and order the book. The two most popular online affiliates are Amazon [affiliate-program.amazon.com] and Barnes and Nobles [www.barnesandnobles.com/affiliate].
These affiliate link should be on the homepage of your website and the links to these pages included in all online communications about the book.
#4 POST A VIDEO OR PODCAST:
Authors can inexpensively video themselves reading from key excerpts from the book and post that online. Readers are curious about the author and posting a video can help establish your brand. An author may be asked to participate in a podcast (basically an online interview). Once the podcast is posted include a link to it on the publishers and author book Website and Facebook pages.
#5 REACH OUT TO WEBSITES AND BLOGS:
There are blogs and Websites on every possible subject and topic. These sites are often looking for content. Write an article in exchange for a mention of your book. Ask if the site reviews books or does sweepstakes (free book giveaway).
If they do send the designed reviewer an ARC [advanced reading copy). Set up a sweepstakes and include the link on your Website. Always ask the site owner if they can recommend any other online contacts that might be interested in your book.
Compiling contacts of related sites and blogs will help the author develop a list that can be used in an e-newsletter campaign. E-newsletters can be created easily in newer versions of Microsoft Word. In addition to information on your book and how to buy it, these e-newsletters should have content related to the book that will appeal to readers. Create a budget for book promotion.
TIP: When communicating with blogs, and Websites make sure you update your email signature to include the name and Web page link of the book.
These 5 low-cost ways to promote your book online, should begin soon after the book is slated for publication. It takes time to build a Website and community. Use online promotion for your titles and you will sell books. An author looking for a long career invests time and resources in promoting their titles independent of what the publisher is doing for the title.
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