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save money

10 Ways To Save Money In Any Economy

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.

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10 Ways to Save Money in Any Economy

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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11 Powerful Ways to Save Money on Utilities, and Use it for Your Budget

11 Powerful Ways to Save on Utilities and Find Money for Your Budget

You can save on utility bills and then use the money for your budget. I have a lot of experience with utility bills. The many homes I have owned give me experience in utility choices, use, and maintenance. After living in areas with high utility bills and areas with lower utility bills, I can safely say I have utility experience.

The areas with low utility bills have a way of sneaking high cost in if you do not pay attention. Understanding utility use and care is a large part of maintaining a home.

11 Great Ways to Save Money on Utility Bills And Find Money for Your Budget:

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1. Lightsuse energy efficient light bulbs and automatic on/off switches to conserve energy

When you use overuse lights it makes a big difference in your bill. In some places electric bills are awfully expensive where there is a utility monopoly. Too many families or even singles do not keep what I call, “light awareness”. If you leave a room, turn out the lights, it is that simple.

If you want to use lights for security purposes, use automatic on/off switches. You can pick up one from your local hardware store, there are many examples. These are useful when you go out of town and do not want others to know that no one is home. Just make sure you keep the light use to a minimum.

Energy efficient light bulbs shave considerable money off your bill. Some energy efficient bulbs you will use, will seem to last forever. If you use the combination of low light use and energy efficient lights, you can see low utility bills here by far. 

Children are another reason lights are kept on too long. It is OK to explain to your kids, no matter what their age without putting pressure on their little minds. Some kids even feel important when they are asked to help and why.

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2. GasKeep gas for cooking and fireplaces to minimum to knock a dent in your bill.

Many of you love cooking with gas, so there is a lot of gas being used. There are also gas fireplaces. There are two types of gas. Natural gas usually used in the cities and LP Gas (liquid propane) usually used in rural areas.

Because I have experience with both, I can say that electricity is far cheaper than LP gas in rural areas and natural gas is less expensive than electricity in urban areas.

Because LP gas is so expensive, I never run my pilot in my country home fireplace. Of course, natural gas is cleaner to burn for the environment. To save money, it is best to build a wood burning fireplace, especially where wood is plentiful. Keep all gas appliances during off during non-use to save money on burning. Keeping gas use low, will enable a low utility bills in this area.

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3. Water – Is one of the least expensive utilities, but you can save money by controlling use
If there is a leak, you water bill will explode. One way you can find if there is a leak is if your water bill is exceptionally high over past few months. Use only what you need and turn your water off when not in use. Get leaks fixed immediately.

4. Low flow water fixtures are recommended – these save on water and heat

Low flow water fixtures keep the flow to a minimum, so you do not use as much water as if you have a high flow valve. So, they save on water and if it is hot, save on hot water.

The problem is that many people do not understand how important this is and instead they remove the part that restricts the water flow in show heads and faucets. It works best with toilets.

Understanding the difference, it can make in your water and heat bill, will help to understand its importance.

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5. Septic/sewerAvoid busted pipes and improper maintenance

In rural areas or urban areas that have not been fully transformed you will have a septic system instead of city sewer system. It must be maintained with a septic enhancer or you could have an expensive backup. You also must have it cleaned out every few years or you could get into expensive trouble.

6. Landline phone vs cell service You can now get one monthly fee for local and long distance.

With landline phones you get enhanced 911 calling, which is important for the extremely sick or elderly. This means if you live in a major area the call is traced to your location immediately. The ambulance will know where to go even if you hang up.

With cell service this is usually not the case, they can only tell the general location.

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Landlines are usually is less expensive than cell service. The issue is you will not have cell service when you are away from home if you do not own one. There are very inexpensive cell service contracts, you must talk to your chosen carrier and get an inexpensive fit for you. Cell phone contracts are competitive and constantly changing, so stay informed.

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7. Heat/air — This is where the cost can be quite high.

The thermostat is king; keeping the thermostat down with heat, and up with air, can save a few thousand dollars a year. Investing in a programmable thermostat will save when you are away. The largest costs come when you must replace your system. Know what the costs are before you ask a professional to replace your system.

Also, updating to an efficient system will save money over time and pay for itself. We upgraded to a complete heat, air, and programmable thermostat modern system and it paid for itself in 3 years. Out bill was almost cut in half. Here is where you can find money for your budget in a huge way. 

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8. Fireplace – A wood burning fireplace is a great alternative for heat.

You can keep the thermostat down exceptionally low and make up the heat with the fireplace. It will basically take the chill out of the air. But, you will be comfortable.

9 Open windows In places where you get a cool breeze from windows.

Use natural breeze instead of air conditioning. Air conditioners are an extremely expensive way to cool when you have free cool air. Keeping air conditioning use to a minimum will allow you to find a maximum 

10. Energy efficient window coverings help to control the atmosphere.

There are many types of window coverings that control the heat or cold at the surface of the window. Energy efficient window coverings run the gamut from shades to curtains. Check with your local window covering retailer and they will review the best options for your windows.

11. Unplug plugged up electrical appliances use electricity and generate costs.

Many homeowners and apartment dwellers do not know this. You will see a difference in your electrical bill when you unplug all unnecessary outlets. It is also wise to unplug during major electrical outages to prevent short circuits.

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In Summary

If you do not need the lights, gas, air, or heat – keep it off, and you will lower your bill. You will save money on utilities that you can use for your budget, only when you have “utility use awareness”.

Leave home and turn off – do not keep your electricity or heat on if you leave home. There are a few exceptions. An exception would be if you live in an area that gets cold winters and your pipes would freeze if the heat is not kept on low. Remember to wrap pipes, wherever you can to prevent frozen pipes bursting during cold winters.

Use an automatic timer to turn on and off lights when you are away, or they need to be on for an extended time.

Fireplaces are great for heat if you can get the wood at low or no cost.

A septic/ sewer system requires maintenance, find out from your local septic person.

Water is not free, so use it sparingly, in some areas it is downright limited.

You can get an inexpensive landline or cell phone contract, do your research.

These are surefire ways to save money on utility bills. As you use these suggestions, you will see a deep cut in the money you spend on utilities.
You will be surprised that you will find money for your budget, you hadn’t dreamed of. Save money when maintaining a home, by understand how to efficiently use your utilities.

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Lois Center-Shabazz| Money Strategist | Course Delta Agency

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How Bad Financial Habits Can be Replaced with Good Financial Habits

How bad financial habits can be replaced with good financial habits
In This ” Bad Financial Habits” Article You Will Read:

1. The first step to replacing bad financial habits with good ones are realization.
2. The second step to creating good financial habits is to cut up credit cards.
3. The third step is to stop bad financial habits when you start to save.
4. The fourth step is to get a higher paying job or negotiate a higher salary.
5. The fifth step to changing  financial habits; is to find a cheaper place to live.
6. The sixth thing to do to get rid of bad financial habits is to monitor.
7. The seventh thing to do to stay out of bad financial habits; is to surround yourself with positive people and stick to a budget.

Change bad financial habits; Ladies for peace of mind when you buy a car you must understand the rules.
Surprising as it may seem, many who have bad financial habits don’t understand that they do. This is because of the extent of their financial upbringing or lack thereof. Some kids are taught very young that they should have a piggy bank and budget their money.  They are also taught they can’t have everything they want, and money doesn’t grow on trees.

Other kids are from the “my kid has to have everything I did not have” parent. These parents don’t understand that no matter how much money they spend or credit they use to give your kids what they want, the child never feels enough. This happens because kids, or even young adults start using these things to give themselves a false sense of feeling good. At least this is the message they get from parents, grandparents or other relatives. They teach kids to use things to solve problems the wrong way, with things.

So, buying things, and overspending at any income, becomes a never-ending spiral. The old stuff gets old, outdated, boring or broken and there is a constant stream of new stuff presented by stores, the internet or television advertising. The joy is usually short-term, but the inability to solve problems and other issues organically, not with things, becomes a long – term problem.

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Once you get on your own, you find out there is no one to pummel you with a constant barrage of gifts so you get into huge unbearable debt, until you have the revelation. The revelation is, “I don’t have to live like this, constantly trying to make myself happy with things that don’t provide long term happiness and put a smoke-screen on the real issues I have. I understand that I am making myself miserable with the attempt to be happy with unlimited things.  

There is another way, you finally realize that you have bad financial habits that are destroying your peace, joy and happiness. Now, all you must do is figure out how to replace those bad financial habits with good one.

The first step to replacing bad financial habits with good ones are realization

The first step to getting good financial habits is to realize you have bad financial habits. You made that realization above when you moved out on your own or married, and concluded that you would have to be deep in debt to get most of the things you wanted.

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With that said, you realized that the debt was making you miserable. You got sick when you went to your mailbox and opened your bills, you stayed up at night trying to figure out how to shift the bills so you could pay at least half of them this month, then of course the occasional bill that slipped into collection agencies and you had to turn off your phone to get peace on your day off work. It was an endless cycle of headaches, and all you wanted was peace of mind, joy and happiness. So, you started to think that it must be possible, since the current situation is so miserable.

The second step to deleting bad financial habits is to cut up credit cards

You had a ceremony cutting in half, all but one of your credit cards. That one credit card will be left at home except when you travel – you need it to rent a car or to stay in a hotel.

You make a spreadsheet to list big things you can do to immediately make money to pay off credit cards.

Stop spending money on everything you don’t need to buy, or need to do.

Stop eating out – it is expensive and unnecessary.

Buy your groceries at a discount and shop with coupons.

If you have a car buy a monthly buss pass IF it is cheaper to ride the bus or train, if not use your car only when it is necessary.

Ask your parents if you can move back in to save money and pay off debt, with a timeline to move out.

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If you don’t have parents who can help, ask a friend or relative if you can rent a sofa for at least 50% less than your rent. Use the 50% savings to pay off debt.

Before you move sell everything you can sell and pay off bills with the proceeds.

When you get your bills down low or to a manageable amount, go to step 3.

Keep a spreadsheet of your debt payoff and your budget. Use google spreadsheets.

The third step is to stop bad financial habits when you start to save

Open a savings account, have money automatically transferred from your paycheck or your checking account to your savings account – at least 100 dollars a month.

Now you are saving money by not paying market rent, at least 400 per month and the 100 auto deduct to your savings account. You should be able to save 500 per month.

Keep a spreadsheet of your savings and timeline for savings.

Pay extra to credit card principle every single month. Pay off the lowest balances first.

Save dollars and coins in a large vase so when you need small things you can take them from your cash stash.

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The fourth step is to get a higher paying job or negotiate a higher salary

Some people are afraid to leave their comfortable job or talk to their boss about a higher salary. They feel it may be their doom. They ask themselves questions like: Would if my boss gets angry if I ask for more pay? or Would if my new job doesn’t work out? Do your research first. Find out what you must do to make yourself more valuable to your boss and company, then go to your employer and tell them how you have improved the business by giving at least 3-5 major things. Make sure he offers the first salary move, then if it is not enough you can counter it and let him know you would like more and why.

If you find the salary is simply too low with little opportunity for advancement look for another job. Before you start to look for another job, do lots of research to find out what you qualify for abd whats available. Talk to people in the field and take an online class or a few to improve your skills before you start to look. Improving yourself with online courses will also help with your current job. Just don’t take expensive courses that will put you in debt. There are many free or inexpensive courses online.

The fifth step to changing bad financial habits is to find a cheaper place to live

After you have gotten your debt paid way down, you have saved a substantial amount of money, you have trained yourself with the mantra, “money doesn’t grow on trees – I learned that the hard way”.
Then you can make more major changes.

Start looking for an affordable place to stay after you have increased your salary, or you get a higher paying job. Try to stay away from 12-month leases. It is hard to find a place to rent that is month to month, but it is possible.

The sixth thing to do to get rid of bad financial habits is to monitor

You now must monitor everything you do. Use your spreadsheets monthly to monitor your debt pay off, savings, balances, and budgets on everything. As you pay down debt, increase savings and come closer to your goals you will notice a peace, joy and happiness space surround you. Remember this feeling so you don’t go back to nausea, headaches and sleepless nights you get from high debt and bad financial habits.

The seventh thing to do to stay out of bad financial habits, is to surround yourself with positive people

Don’t forget to include your student loans in your debt payoff and create a spreadsheet for them. If you have student loans do everything you can to make the payment in full and extra to principle to pay them off early – that may include a second job. When you make extra payments to principle this cuts out not only the principle, but the interest associated with it. Associate with others who are paying off their student loans early.

Now that you have understood how you came to have bad financial habits and how you got out, try to surround yourself with people doing the same. It may be a family member or a good friend but choose wisely and work with that person to help each other stay away from bad financial habits and keep your good financial habits flowing for life.

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5 Frequently Asked Questions About Mutual Funds For Women

Frequently asked questions about mutual funds

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Mutual Funds For Women
I have given a lot of lectures about mutual funds for women. I like mutual funds because, if you do your research you can purchase low-cost and low-risk mutual funds on your own. Mutual funds are easy to understand and invest in. You can do it yourself once you have done some research. Here are five of about twenty-five of my most frequently asked questions about mutual funds by women I lectured to. After a few decades of successfully investing in mutual funds, I felt it is only fair that I share my expertise with you.

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  • ARE MY MUTUAL FUND INVESTMENTS GUARANTEED AT ALL?

Insurance is provided by the SIPC, which covers fraud. In other words, if you invest your money in company “C”, a registered investment company (registration with finra should be checked), and it is stolen by the President of Company “C”, you will be covered for up to $500,000 for each account, depending on the circumstances. Example: If a husband and wife have a joint account it is covered up to $500,000, if the each have additional retirement accounts in their separate names, the retirement accounts each are covered up to $500,000. Here is the SIPC insurance breakdown.

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  • WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN A MUTUAL FUND?

With a mutual fund you will get professional management, diversification, an affordable investment, and it is liquid. This is one of the main reasons that I encourage investors to invest in mutual funds, after reading my frequently ask questions about mutual funds. It only takes a little research and study to master mutual funds, but because there is a learning curve I encourage you to master them first.

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  • WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN A MUTUAL FUND?

You still have costs even when returns are negative, you don’t control the investments totally, you don’t know for sure if the price will go up after you purchase – but after research you can verify that you are getting a quality mutual fund where there is a good chance the price will rise in the future. If you invest on your own you can keep cost low and more money will go to you, but if you go with a broker, you will be required to pay brokers fees which are sometimes hidden and costly.

  •  YOU CAN EARN MONEY FROM YOUR MUTUAL FUND IN THREE WAYS

Dividend Payments — A fund may earn income in the form of dividends and interest on the securities in its portfolio. The fund then pays its shareholders nearly all of the income (minus disclosed expenses) it has earned in the form of dividends.

Capital Gains Distributions — The price of the securities a fund owns may increase. When a fund sells a security that has increased in price, the fund has a capital gain. At the end of the year, most funds distribute these capital gains (minus any capital losses) to investors. Most mutual funds pay money into your mutual fund account yearly, a few pay on a quarterly basis. This means if you pull your money from your mutual fund that pays out capital gains and dividends at years end, you will lose your profits.  So, be patient, and know your payout date.

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Compounded Returns – unlike simple interest accounts the interest on top of the dividends and capital gains will compound year after year, giving you compounded interest.

  • WHAT IS THE NAV OF MY MUTUAL FUND

Increased NAV (Net Asset Value) — If the market value of a fund’s portfolio increases (from dividends and capital gains), and after deduction of expenses and liabilities, then the value (NAV) of the fund and its shares increases. The higher NAV reflects the higher value of your investment. The more the NAV increases, the more money your investment will be worth. The NAV value can fluctuate from month to month or year to year, the important point to look at is that it has a net increase over time.

You have two choices:

Let someone else manage your money and end up with little or nothing OR learn some simple basic rules that could turn a little into a lot over time. I provide you with all the help you need in my eBook on Mutual Funds. I even give a 30-minute free clarification session after you read this article. The eBook I have written is clear and concise, after you finish it you will understand how to efficiently invest in mutual funds.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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14 Ways to Save Money for the Holiday Season

14 ways to save money for the holiday season

14 Ways To Save Money for the Holiday Season

Shop with Cash for the Holiday Season

Save money for the holiday season by shopping with cash, sounds simple but the number or people who shop with credit cards, feeling that their budget is unlimited is huge. You don’t have to fail at holiday shopping just because your neighbor is, or you THINK everyone else is. Your misery afterwards will only be shared by you, not others. So, when you keep that in mind that will make it easier to shop with cash and save money for the holiday season. Also considered cash, is a standalone debit card, where you can go to your bank and ask to purchase a debit card with the maximum amount you want to spend. You can also purchase debit cards everywhere these days, grocery stores, drug stores and other places.

Save Money When You Set Aside a Limited Amount for the Holiday Season

If you have saved in a holiday savings account, take the money now to shop for the holidays. If you have not, start a savings account now, you still have time to save for the holidays. No matter what you plan to buy, there absolutely must be a limit to avoid going into debt. Set your limit and stick with it no matter what. You can find out how much everything cost and do comparison shopping by going online, online price comparisons are quick and easy.

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Make Sure You Shop with a List

Take your list with you when you shop. Save time, money and gas by mapping out your route before you shop. Some folks will go from store to store wasting precious gas money, sometimes as far away as 20 or 30 miles. Know before you go holiday shopping by 1. Knowing exactly what you plan to buy, 2. Know where you plan to buy it, 3. choose several stores in the same location so you don’t waste money on gas.

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Don’t Shop During the Holiday Season When You are Tired or Hungry

If you holiday shop when you are tired or hungry, you will tend to over-shop, so you leave the store quickly. Your thought process becomes “muddled” and you buy stuff you would not have bought if you were relaxed and on a full stomach. And, when you’re tired you will tend to make mistakes due to a cloud in your thought patterns. When you are hungry, your stomach starts to growl, you will think more about getting something to eat than what you are picking up off the shelves. So, sounds like common sense, but a lot of people just don’t take the time to note whether they are hungry or tired before they go holiday shopping, so a warning to you, “take note” of your condition before you leave the house.

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Your Kids May Not be the Best People to Help You Buy Holiday Gifts

Don’t ask your kids for advice on buying gifts for others. Most kids just don’t have the ability to understand the limits you should put on every single gift. So, you be the “captain of the gift buying ship” and decide what you will buy, and only you decide. Of course, you can ask your kids to give you choices for themselves and let them know you will choose a few holiday gifts from their choices. Don’t let your kids think “money grows on trees” during the holidays, let them know there is a limit.

Can You Really Afford That Holiday Party?

Holiday parties are all over the place during the holidays. But, before you go all out for your holiday party, ask yourself if it makes sense to spend the money. To make it an affordable holiday party, you can do a “potluck”, where everyone brings a dish. And to make it less work for you, ask a few friends or family to be on the cleanup crew. Ask everyone to bring a unisex gift under $10, and pick names from a hat to give a gift at the party. Here I have created at least 3 ways to save money during the holiday season.

Why Holiday Gifts Don’t Always Cost Money

You can teach your kids or grandkids that holiday gifts don’t always cost money. For example, you know that pantry you wanted to clean and organize – let you child know that would be a great Christmas gift to Mom. Your elderly neighbor’s yard may need to be cut and trimmed – let your child know that would be a great gift to the neighbor who watches your house when you are on vacation or who brings in your newspaper when you come home late. Maybe your attic is cluttered and disorganized, let your children know that would be a great gift to Mom and Dad to have them declutter and organize the attic. These are a few suggestions for “holiday gifts” that don’t always cost money, you can think of more.

Your Holiday Budget Does Not Have to be Complicated

Plan for your holiday budget. When it comes to your holiday budget, please don’t throw “caution to the wind”. In other words, take your holiday shopping serious and you can save serious money during the holidays. It is easy to get distracted with all the beautiful holiday decorations and Christmas music in the stores. Even if you shop online, which many of us love to do, most of us want that holiday experience in the stores also. But, be careful, that experience is alluring. But you can keep your head on straight as long as you realize that the atmosphere is designed to make you spend all the money in your pocket and on your credit card.

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Save Money with Re-arrangement For Your Holiday Budget

You can re-arrange your monthly spending to include enough gift money for the holidays. Cut back on something you don’t need to buy or do for the next few months, that you have done on a regular basis. That may be going out to eat once a week or saving money on gas by skipping your weekly card game. You can think of at least a few things you regularly do that you can cut back on for the holidays, then use that money for holiday spending.

Write Down Your Holiday Budget and Your Holiday Gifts

The more you write, the more you save. Writing down your savings just keeps you, your mind and heart, informed about the money you are spending moment by moment. If you know how much you must spend, in most cases you won’t go over your spending amount. It also lets you know when it is time to leave the store or online shopping site. The more you write, the more you will become aware of your limits. All you need is a small diary, some cell phones come with a writing pad, you can use that. Also, you can use a word document if your cell phone permits.

Write a Diary of Holiday Gifts and Why Everyone Deserves it

Know who deserves which holiday gift. Make a note of why they deserve the gift. For example, 1. If your son brought his grades up and learned to keep his room clean, 2. If your daughter does household chores without being told. 3. The times your neighbor took you grocery shopping and to run errands when your car was in the shop. 4. When your sister helped you get your car fixed after you lost your job. These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. The holiday gifts should be in line with the deeds. The holidays are a great opportunity to let folks know that you appreciate them and what they have done for you during the holidays. It is also a great opportunity to teach your kids or grandkids why we give gifts with a purpose.

Set a Holiday Budget Spending Limit According to Importance

You know what your holiday spending limit is. Unfortunately, too many shoppers go over that limit before they realize they put themselves in holiday debt. Keep the credit card in your pocket. You can use cash or get a debit card with a limit, at your bank. So, if your Holiday spending limit is $500 dollars, you would get a debit card for $500 and keep track of all your receipts and balances left.

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Remember That You Don’t Ever Have to Spoil Your Kids During the Holidays

I haven’t figured this out yet, but some parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, feel it is important to spoil their kids for the holidays. My suspicion is they feel their kids won’t feel loved if they don’t get all the material things they want. Not true. Love is not gifting it is positive time and attention. So, when you feel you have to buy that over-priced gift or another gift they may not use after a short time, try sitting and have a long thought-out conversation with your child about their life, and what they do when they leave the house, their friends, their favorite interest. Kids feel important when adults, especially their parents show them they care enough to have a deep and long conservations with them about their interest. So, the gifts should not only be in line with what they deserve, but also, what you can afford.

Who is The Most Important Person on Your Holiday List?

Make a list of your holiday persons. I know this sounds like favoritism and it is, so start at the top and move to the bottom with a list of the most important to the least important people to give a holiday gift to. The most important may be a spouse, parent or child who has been special to you during the year, the least important may be the holiday secret gift at work. No matter who gets a gift, make sure you keep it in perspective and give accordingly.

I have listed 14 ways to save money for the holiday season, now that I have you started, you can think of more.

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9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

How to Understand Mutual Funds

9 Great Ways to Understand Mutual Funds

Understand mutual funds by beginning with the definition of a mutual fund, and then going on to understand the different types of mutual funds.

A mutual fund is a company that pools money from many investors and invests the money in securities such as stocks, bonds, and short-term debt.

The combined holdings of the mutual fund are known as its portfolio. Investors buy shares in mutual funds. Each share represents an investor’s part
ownership in the fund and the income it generates.

What Are Mutual Funds Used For?

Mutual funds are investments that are generally long-term investments that are used for general savings, retirement savings, and college fund savings.

Mutual funds are purchased because they are professionally managed, diversified investments, an affordable investment, and liquid.

Some have up front fees to purchase and or sell called loads. Some have no-loads, but all have yearly management fees from as low as .2 to 8%.

I prefer fees less than 1% with no-loads. There are good mutual funds that fall into all categories.

Mutual funds make money when dividends are paid, usually every 3 months to every 12 months. Capital gains are usually every 12 months. Mutual funds also make money when the NAV value of the fund increases. The NAV is the Net Asset Value of the mutual fund, similar to the price of a single share of stock.
There are many types of mutual funds within these nine types of mutual funds. Here are the 9 different major types of mutual funds. The risks of mutual fund investing runs the gamut of very low to very high and many levels in between within one type of fund. Do your research thoroughly before investing in order to understand mutual funds.

I have invested in mutual funds for at least 30 years now, and they have served me well.

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The 9 Different Types of Mutual Funds:

1. Allocation
Risk: Low to Medium

Allocation funds are a combination of stock and fixed income securities and are subject to the risks involved in each of these security types. Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. In general, the bond market
is volatile and fixed income securities that carry the interest rate, inflation, price volatility and other risks.

2. Alternative
Risk: From Low Risk to High

The fund may invest in securities that may have a leveraging effect (such as derivative and forward-settling securities) which may increase market exposure, magnify investment risks, and cause losses to be realized more quickly.

3. Commodities
Risk: High

The commodities industry can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions.

4. International Equity
Risk: Medium to High

Foreign markets can be more volatile than U.S. markets due to increased risks of adverse issuer, political, market, or economic developments, all of which are magnified in emerging markets. These risks are particularly significant for funds that focus on a single country or region.

Make absolutely sure your budget is in order before you begin to understand mutual funds and start investing.

5. Money Market Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low

A money market mutual fund is a type of fixed income mutual fund that invests in debt securities characterized by their short maturities and minimal credit risk. You could lose money by investing in a money market fund. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Before investing always read a money market fund’s prospectus for policies specific to that fund.

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6. Municipal Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Low

The municipal market can be affected by adverse tax, legislative or political changes and the financial condition of the issuers of municipal securities. Interest rate increases can cause the price of a municipal bond to decrease.

7. Sector Equity Mutual Funds
Risk: Medium to High

Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Sector funds can be more volatile because of their narrow concentration in a specific industry.

8. Taxable Bond Mutual Funds
Risk: Very Low to Medium

In general, the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

9. U.S. Equity Stock Mutual Funds
Risk: Low to Medium

Stock markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Investing in stock involves risks, including the loss of principal.

You will understand mutual funds when you begin with understanding the different types of mutual funds.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Personal Finance: Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Money Strategist

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Personal Finances Should be Personal

Your Personal Finances

I was speaking at a women’s meeting about personal finances and a young woman, about 35 came up to me and ask me what are “personal finances”. I was really shocked since being there meant that she was in some way affiliated with a business she owned.

She looked me in the eye with a very serious face. I pointed to her and said “your – personal – finances”. Your finances that you take very personal. You monitor, you manage, and constantly improve your finances yourself, even if you have help. It’s crucial that you understand your own finances.

It seems like it would be common sense to understand the term personal finance. But, the definition seems to elude some of the most intelligent, and highly successful people. The proof is in the finances of many.

The workplace embezzlements of high-level employees, the bankruptcies of high-income people, the general personal finance mismanagement of people which becomes evident when they lose a job and lose all or most of their assets due to mismanagement.

I CAN SUM IT UP IN 3 WAYS:

  • RANDOM SPENDING

Take your finances serious – don’t randomly spend money. This is the most important aspect of personal finances. Some folks act as though the money they have in their checking account belongs to someone else, so they spend it until it is gone or before all bills are paid.

Then they go to the credit cards, when those run out, they go to others to borrow money and make up the difference. Then they lose relationships, which is can be more serious than wasting their money.

  • TRACKING YOUR SPENDING

Keeping track of your spending is getting very personal with your finances. Most people don’t understand how fast money goes when it is spent randomly. You can see this also when you charge on credit cards the balance escalates rapidly.

A major aspect of getting personal finance maintenance is paying cash as much as possible unless you use a credit card for points and you have the money and discipline to pay off the balance once a month. With frequent credit card use, many tend to lose track of spending, and their finances become very impersonal.

  • BUDGETING YOUR MONEY

I talk to people all the time who tell me they thought they were budgeting until they read many of my budgeting articles and the advice I give on budgeting. My program includes guerrilla budgeting.

With all the distractions, we have – advertising – expensive products – overpriced cars and high maintenance homes- getting personal with your finances means that you must create a guerrilla budget to survive no matter what your income.

Some folks think all they must do is make more money until they find out they spend more for things and get more expenses, so they are either in the same place or worse financially, as income goes up. They realize the problem is they did not get personal with their finances.

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The Reason Your Personal Finances Should Be Personal

5 Retirement Tips for your Retirement Planning Young and Old

5 Retirement Tips That Make Retirement Planning a Serious Issue

5 retirement tips for your retirement planning young and old

Retirement tips are for those who never think that retirement day will come, or don’t know the potential difficulties they face when they retire. It always seems so far away, but those who have retired tell me it came faster than they ever imagined.

Here are some actual examples of problems seniors tell me they’ve had because they didn’t take their retirement date seriously in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. Here are 5 retirement tips to include in your retirement planning.

Retirement tips #1 – Medicare + 20%

Medicare pays 80% of most of the senior medical cost. Because of this, senior citizens are required to take out a Medicare Supplement policy. The supplement pays the extra 20%. Some seniors planned so poorly that they can’t afford or pay for the Medicare supplement. Because they have no supplement insurance, they are required to pay the 20% each time they go to the doctor, have surgery, chemotherapy or any other medical treatment. If they have a home, the home will be attached to pay for their medical balances, usually if they sell it or pass away. If they don’t have an insurance supplement or pay the 20%, some medical facilities will not treat them. There are two types of medicare: Regular Medicare (government sponsored) and Medicare Advantage (private coverage). Regular medicare typically pre-authorizes and pays promptly. Medicare advantage includes
many “extras” to “induce” seniors to sign up, but does not authorize major
treatment in many cases, and does not follow through with the extras. Doctors I talk to recommend seniors sign up for regular medicare.

Retirement tips #2 – Social Security as a Supplement

Many employees, both young and old, can pay into a 401k plan but opt-out of it, because either they, 1. Don’t understand what it is, 2. Don’t get matched by their employer, or 3. Feel they have plenty of time to worry about it later. The fact is there are numerous articles to explain 401k plans, the match is a nice side benefit—but you still get a tax benefit when you contribute without a match. The amount of a monthly social security retirement check is small compared to your working retirement income. Because of this, social security is meant to be a supplement to your retirement, so think hard about creating your main retirement now. The earlier you start, the easier it is, and the less you need to put into your account, monthly.

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Retirement tips #3 – 401k Protection

A popular retirement supplemental plan is the 401k, but you must protect it. Once you start to fund a 401k protect it with all your might. The protections include; 1. Leaving it alone for retirement – this means no borrowing. This is a provision that should not be allowed in a 401k plan since it is meant for retirement. Everything should be done to avoid borrowing from your 401k, including careful planning early in your career. Here are some protection ideas. Make yourself several “would if” scenarios and fulfill those scenarios early.

The examples are — “what if I lose my job”, “what if I need a large home repair”, “what if I want to go on a nice vacation”, “what if I have difficulty paying my mortgage”. All those issues can be addressed by 1. Creating savings accounts, 2. Cutting your living expenses now, 3. Make all major purchases affordable. You can come up with more solutions. The point is to come up with solutions to problems that don’t exist yet, so you never need to borrow against your 401k plan later.

Another protection is to keep your 401k balance to yourself. Scam artist prey on older people and sometimes younger people who have large 401k balances, because they know you can take that money out of your account anytime. A large lump sum withdrawal will trigger a large tax bill if you take it out at once. But, that is no concern of any sales person (many of whom are fake), when it comes to your 401k. You should be the only one who knows the balance. It’s not a good idea to share your balance with strangers.

The popular show, American Greed profiled the case of two ladies, not very old, but managed to retire with large 401k type accounts. One had $600,000 and one had $1 million. Both told friends, who told a fake investment person, who contacted them, talked them into investing with him, and he stole all their money. Their primary problem was that they should never have met with or believed in a stranger who claimed to be investing in the music production business with high returns.

The only thing they got was a huge bill from the IRS since they took the money out within a short period. The man went to prison, but they did not get their money back. Friends, family, and strangers have no right to the information in your 401k or 403b plan. Some elderly people have had their 401k stolen from them by their own relatives, including greedy children.

Retirement tips #4 – 403b Protections

The 403b is like the 401k, usually for non-profits. Fund the accounts, make sure you understand where to keep the money when you retire, you will have a few options. But, mostly understand that your balance is your personal business, and you must pay taxes on the amount you take out. The purpose of your 401k or 403b is to supplement a pension or other retirement plan.

Retirement tip #5 – Tax Shelter Annuity Movement

Many school districts offer tax shelter annuities as supplemental retirement accounts. After retirement, they are offered the right to roll over into an annuity outside their job. Be careful, make sure the costs aren’t prohibitive.  Also, you can only take out a little at a time, otherwise taxes would be too high. Again, your tax shelter annuity balance is your business, no one else’s. Look at online investment banks such as fidelity.com, troweprice.com, schwab.com or others – call and discuss low cost annuities to roll over your annuity. You can also discuss other low risk options. Take your time and don’t allow anyone to pressure you.

This is only the beginning, but if you take these retirement tips serious, and include them in your retirement planning, you will be on the road to retirement bliss. Understand the limits of social security when you plan your retirement.


Lois Center-Shabazz 

Personal Finance:  Author | Blogger | Course Creator | Money Strategist

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Get a Quality Home or Mortgage With Big Thing Buying Skills

Home or Mortgage; Buying an Affordable Low Maintenance Home and Get a Quality Mortgage

YOUR BUDGET

The first thing you have to ask is, “How much house can we afford” The payments include P+I+T+I (principle+interest+taxes+insurance). Most of your payment will be principle and interest, taxes vary according to state, and insurance is not a very big cost.

But, you can figure it out with most online calculators. You have to know how to calculate P+I+T+I to get a quality home or mortgage.

You should be stable in your job or with your business before you decide to take the leap to sign on with a mortgage.  

Most banks want you to be on your job or in your business for a solid two years. Set up a file system for steps 1-8, don’t rush and do your research.

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Step 1

MORTGAGE COST

Below is a typical cost analysis of a home or mortgage with average tax state, always find out how much typical insurance and taxes are in your state before you decide your budget.

Choose a home price you think you can qualify for based on total payment. You will keep adjusting home price until you can find one that is close to your budget. Use my mortgage amortization calculator at LiveRichCalculators.

Say your home or mortgage costs are as follow:
$300,000  price of home
at, 4% interest
30 year
Taxes=6000/yr
Insurance=500/yr
Monthly Payment and Interest=1,432.5
Monthly Taxes and Insurance=541.67
Total Payment=$1,973.92

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Step 2

DOWN PAYMENT AND ESCROW COST

Find out what a typical down payment is at your credit union, bank, or mortgage company. Now, make sure you have the savings or start a savings account with the down payment and escrow cost.

If you find a buyer who is anxious to sell and they have a lot of equity in their home sometimes you can negotiate that they pay your buyer’s escrow cost.

For the example above the downpayment is:
5%=$15,000
A 1% escrow cost = $3000

Step 3

MAINTENANCE COST

Allow a monthly saving account for maintenance cost, most homes have maintenance repairs from time to time.

Old homes usually have a higher maintenance cost than newer homes, unless all electrical, plumbing and other major items replaced. The important aspect of a good home is a good inspection, preferably by tradesmen.

I prefer hiring an actual plumber, electrician, and carpenter to inspect your new home instead of one single home inspector. Some of those home inspectors only take a 6 month home inspection course.

The tradesmen work in the field every day for years. You should also do your own inspection with a moisture meter and electrical meter to see if there are any glaring defects.

If you place a marble on the floor does it roll or stay put, if it rolls you could have a damaged foundation. That is extremely expensive to repair. If you know the repairs you may be able to add those into your mortgage and fix after your move in.

Step 4

CREDIT REPORT

Get a copy of your credit report before you start to look for a home. Read it carefully. Some people are shocked at the mistakes that get on their credit report. Make sure you document the mistakes on your credit report and challenge them with Experian credit bureau.

Experian will usually send the corrections to the other bureaus. When all corrections are in place, get another copy of your credit report, and credit score. Getting an affordable, quality home or mortgage starts with a good credit report and high credit score.

Step 5

PAY OFF BILLS

You know what your bills are, and you know if they are excessive. You will need to find room in your budget for a mortgage. You don’t want a mortgage that increases your current bills per month too much.

Like you don’t want to get from $500 per month of rent to $1900 per month for a mortgage unless you have been saving at least $2500 per month so that savings will go into your mortgage.

You should also still have room for a savings account or two after you get a mortgage. You will need savings for home maintenance, car maintenance, and general emergencies. Pay off as many bills as possible before you start a mortgage.

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Step 6

SAVE FOR A DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING COST

Down payments are ranging anywhere from 5% to 10% down. The more you put down, of course, the lower your monthly payment will be. Then, there are buyers closing cost you must pay also. This is usually a surprise to new home buyers.

Closing cost is typically 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. So, for a $300,000 home, the closing cost would be about $9,000.

Step 7

MORTGAGE RESEARCH

Before you decide to use a financial institute, do your research. If you have a credit union or local bank you do business with and you have good credit, it is usually relatively easy to get a loan at one of those places and you will save on additional cost that is charged by mortgage companies.

If you can’t get financing from your credit union or bank, research the best mortgage companies in your area. You can also ask friends and family who they had good luck with.

Before your visit anyone for a mortgage. Research mortgages, make absolutely sure you understand what a quality mortgage is. Know what the current rates are for a 15 year or 30-year mortgage.

Don’t allow anyone to give you a low-quality mortgage, if they think you have not done your research, some will try to give you a low-quality mortgage, even if you qualify for a high-quality mortgage.

If you qualify for a  low-interest high quality conventional low-interest rate 30-year mortgage, make sure you get one. The industry is full of nice, dishonest people, protect yourself.

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Step 8

MORTGAGE RATES AND QUALITY

Call your local credit union or bank to get current rates on quality mortgages.

Use my mortgage calculators at LiveRichCalculators.

Use the department of housing website to read about various types of Mortgage Issues.

This is most of the information you need to purchase a quality home or mortgage if it is your first home or your second or third.

Get all the facts  to buy a quality affordable home with low maintenance.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
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Summary

Remember that buying a home is a serious process. You should take your time and be very methodical.

Some places have home prices that are outrageous – in that case, you may have to drive a long distance to get to work, by living in an affordable area further from your center of town.

Some towns have affordable housing compared to income. Take your time it may take anywhere from 6 months to 5 years to go through the process I list above.  Article Updated 2019

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3 Ways to Save Money When You Own a Small Business

Save Money When You Own a Small Business

3 Ways to Save Money When You Own a Small Business

Owning a brick and mortar business or a online business can both be expensive, I have done both, but there are many ways to save money when you own a small business. So, you must know what to spend money on and how to limit and analyze your spending. If you don’t Spend on the right items, you will not have movement with your business. After deciding the business structure, the importance of knowledge of the product and your target market, then you have to find out how to get customers.

  1. Create a Marketing Budget

Most of the small business people I know spend a lot of time and energy on creating content or products but forget about marketing them. One of the most effective ways to get noticed is effective marketing. The more you market, the more you are loved. Don’t fail to market because you don’t have a marketing budget, create one. You can save money when you have a small business by doing your own marketing until you get established.

  1. Create a Monthly Advertising Budget

Advertising is trickier than marketing. The graphics and the text need to be ultra-attractive, otherwise, you will not attract any attention. No attention means a wasted advertisement. The best way to get effective ads, is to use an ad specialist. Ad specialist study and know advertising better than you know because it is their constant study and analyses.

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  1. Create an Outsourcing Budget

You can’t grow alone. The best way to grow if you are online is outsourcing. There are people who specialize in the most minute areas from social media marketing to copy-writing. There are many web businesses that specialize in providing independent contractor who will work for you. You save money when you own a small business by outsourcing due to the fact you don’t have to pay employee taxes and salaries.

The Secrets to Successful Home Buying for Women

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
Personal Finance: Author, Blogger, Course Creator, Money Strategist

Interested in a Free Discussion about how I can help you with Fantastic Finances? Let’s Chat – Make an Appointment Here


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