The holiday parties may be over but the financial hangover is just setting in. Holiday sales for 2016 were estimated to top $655 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. If you blew your holiday budget, donât panic. A January spending freeze may be just what you need to get back on track. If youâve never done a spending freeze before, hereâs what to expect.
See the average budget for someone in your neighborhood.
How Does a Spending Freeze Work?
During a spending freeze, you avoid making nonessential purchases. For example, if you buy fast food two to three times per week or movie tickets once a month, youâd cut those expenses out temporarily. A spending freeze gives you the chance to rein in your spending and evaluate your budget. The money you wouldâve spent on fun and entertainment can then go toward paying off the debt you racked up during the holidays.
Before starting your spending freeze, you may need to mentally prepare yourself for whatâs to come. Getting rid of bad spending habits can be tricky. But with the right mindset, you may be able to cut costs and achieve some of your financial goals.
The key to making your spending freeze work is being able to separate your needs from your wants. Youâll need to be able to pay for essential costs like rent, mortgage payments and debt payments. But youâll need to recognize that other expenses â like the cost of a daily latte or a pair of new shoes â can be removed from your budget if necessary.
If youâre having trouble curbing your spending, agreeing to splurge on just one item during the month of January may make sticking with your freeze a bit easier.
Related Article: How to Recover From a Holiday Shopping Spree
Put the Money Youâre Saving to Work
Once you begin your spending freeze, youâll need to figure out what to do with the extra money in your bank account. Paying off your credit card bills should be a top priority since credit card debt tends to have a bigger impact on your credit score than installment debt. Specifically, you may want to focus on paying off your store credit cards since they often carry high interest rates.
Which credit card should you pay off first? You may want to begin by paying off the card with the highest APR since thatâll reduce what youâre paying in interest. Or you could pay off the card with the lowest balance. That may give you the momentum you need to knock out the rest of your credit card debt.
Related Article: How to Stop Spending Money Carelessly
Get a Partner Onboard
Implementing a spending freeze can be difficult if youâve never done one before. Having someone else along for the ride may help you fight your urge to splurge.
If youâre married, for example, you could ask your spouse to jump on the spending freeze bandwagon with you. Singles can find a friend or family member whoâs willing to join in. Just remember that when youâre choosing a partner, itâs best to pick someone whoâs going to encourage you to stick with your freeze and make good financial decisions.
A key financial decision people struggle to make is how to allocate savings for multiple financial goals. Do you save for several goals at the same time or fund them one-by-one in a series of steps? Basically, there are two ways to approach financial goal-setting:
Concurrently: Saving for two or more financial goals at the same time.
Sequentially: Saving for one financial goal at a time in a series of steps.
Each method has its pros and cons. Here’s how to decide which method is best for you.
You can focus intensely on one goal at a time and feel a sense of completion when each goal is achieved. It’s also simpler to set up and manage single-goal savings than plans for multiple goals. You only need to set up and manage one account.
Compound interest is not retroactive. If it takes up to a decade to get around to long-term savings goals (e.g., funding a retirement savings plan), that’s time that interest is not earned.
Compound interest is not delayed on savings for goals that come later in life. The earlier money is set aside, the longer it can grow. Based on the Rule of 72, you can double a sum of money in nine years with an 8 percent average return. The earliest years of savings toward long-term goals are the most powerful ones.
Funding multiple financial goals is more complex than single-tasking. Income needs to be earmarked separately for each goal and often placed in different accounts. In addition, it will probably take longer to complete any one goal because savings is being placed in multiple locations.
Working with Wise Bread to recruit respondents, I conducted a study of financial goal-setting decisions with four colleagues that was recently published in the Journal of Personal Finance. The target audience was young adults with 69 percent of the sample under age 45. Four key financial decisions were explored: financial goals, homeownership, retirement planning, and student loans.
Results indicated that many respondents were sequencing financial priorities, instead of funding them simultaneously, and delaying homeownership and retirement savings. Three-word phrases like “once I have…,", “after I [action],” and “as soon as…,” were noted frequently, indicating a hesitancy to fund certain financial goals until achieving others.
The top three financial goals reported by 1,538 respondents were saving for something, buying something, and reducing debt. About a third (32 percent) of the sample had outstanding student loan balances at the time of data collection and student loan debt had a major impact on respondents’ financial decisions. About three-quarters of the sample said loan debt affected both housing choices and retirement savings.
Based on the findings from the study mentioned above, here are five ways to make better financial decisions.
1. Consider concurrent financial planning
Rethink the practice of completing financial goals one at a time. Concurrent goal-setting will maximize the awesome power of compound interest and prevent the frequently-reported survey result of having the completion date for one goal determine the start date to save for others.
2. Increase positive financial actions
Do more of anything positive that you’re already doing to better your personal finances. For example, if you’re saving 3 percent of your income in a SEP-IRA (if self-employed) or 401(k) or 403(b) employer retirement savings plan, decide to increase savings to 4 percent or 5 percent.
3. Decrease negative financial habits
Decide to stop (or at least reduce) costly actions that are counterproductive to building financial security. Everyone has their own culprits. Key criteria for consideration are potential cost savings, health impacts, and personal enjoyment.
4. Save something for retirement
Almost 40 percent of the respondents were saving nothing for retirement, which is sobering. The actions that people take (or do not take) today affect their future selves. Any savings is better than no savings and even modest amounts like $100 a month add up over time.
5. Run some financial calculations
Use an online calculator to set financial goals and make plans to achieve them. Planning increases people’s sense of control over their finances and motivation to save. Useful tools are available from FINRA and Practical Money Skills.
What’s the best way to save money for financial goals? It depends. In the end, the most important thing is that you’re taking positive action. Weigh the pros and cons of concurrent and sequential goal-setting strategies and personal preferences, and follow a regular savings strategy that works for you. Every small step matters!
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This article is from Barbara OâNeill of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:
How to Manage Your Money â No Budgeting Required
5-Minute Finance: Create Financial Goals
How to Pull Your Small Business Out of a Cash Crunch
March was a mixed month in my financial world. I ended March with a slightly higher net worth (up 0.6%) but my spending was the highest it’s been this year: $5989.10. Yet, that spending was mostly mindful. I wasn’t frittering away money on silly things.
If I wasn’t buying dumb stuff, then where did my money go? A few worthwhile places:
I spent $653.31 on the yard and garden. Specifically, Kim and I tore out a big cedar tree in the corner of the yard, then converted that space to a small orchard. I use the word “orchard” loosely here. We planted three fruit trees, four blueberries, four grape vines, and a bunch of strawberries. I hope to write about this more in the near future.
I spent $625.72 on health and fitness. In the middle of the month, I had quite a scare. Out of nowhere, I had chest pains, so I visited the local hospital ER. My co-pays and prescriptions are reflected in March’s spending — and there’s more to come. (We’re about to have a l-o-n-g article on the $6800 hospital bill I received in the mail yesterday. That’ll happen in April or May.) Meanwhile, Kim had knee surgery at the end of the month. I paid for some of her stuff out of my pocket.
I spent $579.36 on gifts in March, which is very very unusual.
I paid the $450 annual fee on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. (Yes, I know this seems like a lot. But remember the card comes with a $300 travel credit, which means my effective annual fee is $150. I believe I receive $150 in value from the card’s other benefits.)
I don’t consider any of that spending frivolous although I recognize that some of it isn’t necessary. (Do we need an orchard? Do I need to give gifts?)
That said, I did have some weak spots in my spending. I bought several movies on iTunes. In fact, I spent $72.63 on iTunes in March. I need to be careful lest I return to my former profligate ways. No more looking in the iTunes store! I also spent $230.15 on alcohol during the month (most of which was beer).
How did I do with groceries? As you know, my food spending had grown out of control, which is one of the primary reasons I’m tracking my spending in detail this year. Last year, I spent over $1000 per month in food. This year, I’m spending less than $700 per month.
I was very proud of my food spending for most of March. I spent a total of $658.21 during the month: $468.27 on groceries and $184.24 on dining out. That’s my lowest monthly food total in two years (excepting months during which I’ve been on the road).
Going into the last week of March, I’d only spent $241.87 on groceries. That’s amazing! Things fell apart, however, when I stocked up on food for Kim’s convalescence. Meanwhile, we only had three restaurant meals during the month. For one of those, I paid for two guests. Not bad. Not bad.
Now that we’ve made it through the first three months of 2019, I was curious how my quarterly spending compared to last year. Monthly spending can fluctuate quite a bit. You can get a better idea of your actual habits by looking at a bigger picture.
Here are some highlights:
I spent $116.56 at the iTunes store during the first quarter of 2019. That’s less than I spent on movies and TV shows during any single month last year, so that’s a win.
I spent $2076.54 on food for the quarter, which is lower than any quarter in 2018. I spent $1179.53 on groceries, $323.52 on HelloFresh, and $542.29 on dining out. That restaurant spending is another big win. The grocery spending was good — better than any quarter in 2018 — but I feel like I can do better.
I spent a lot on health and fitness during the first three months of the year: $1752.60. And the thing is, it’s not going to get much better.
This year, I decided to separate hot tub expenses into its own category. I spent $151.88 on hot tub stuff (chemicals, etc.) during the first three months of the year. And, no, that doesn’t include electricity.
Our zoo — three cats and a dog — cost us $447.54 during the first quarter of 2019.
You know where I could save big bucks? By drinking less. I spent $586.36 on alcohol during the first three months of the year (and that includes four weeks during which I didn’t drink a drop!). That’s $6.44 per day. Time for me to cut back on my craft beer obsession…
I spent a total of $15,364.85 during the first quarter of 2019, an average of $5121.62 per month. That’s not a great number, to be honest. It’s pretty much what I was spending last year. Still, I’m trying not to get too stressed about things…yet.
The whole point of this exercise is for me to figure out where I’m spending my money and why. Once I have a clear picture, I can make some course corrections.
April is the Cruelest Month
Unfortunately, April is going to have some crazy, crazy spending numbers. My accountant called yesterday to give me my tax bill. I owe $20,000. (I’m not joking.) The hospital called too. They wanted to let me know that I owe them $6800 for the ER visit in the middle of March. To cap things off, payment is due on the vacation that Kim and I booked a year ago. We’ll be headed to Greece and Italy in August — but we’re paying for it today.
Fortunately, I knew that some of these expenses were looming, so I have cash set aside to pay for taxes and our trip. (The ER visit was a surprise, obviously, and I don’t have money set aside for that.) That doesn’t change the fact that April’s expenses are going to be insane, though. It just means I’m somewhat prepared for the insanity.
The upside to having a $6800 hospital bill so early in the year? It gives me a chance to make maximum use of my health insurance! My max “out of pocket” is $7900 annually. Since it looks like I’m going to hit that, it makes sense to address all medical issues that are bugging me in 2019.
At the end of 2018, I had a net worth of $1,334,227.20. At the end of March, my net worth was $1,397,545.18. That’s a leap of more than $63,000 (or 4.75%). That’s great! In reality, this simply reflects a hot stock market. My investment accounts are up $77,933.04 this year (11.45%).
You just learned of the passing of a loved one. During this stressful and emotionally taxing time, you also find out that you’re receiving an inheritance. While you’re grateful for the unexpected windfall, knowing what to do with an inheritance can bring its own share of stress.
While the amounts vary greatly, the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances reports that an average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year. First words of wisdomâresist the urge to spend it all at once. According to a study funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one-third of people who receive an inheritance spend all of itâand even dip into other savingsâin the first two years.
Not me, you say? Still, you might be asking, “What should I do with my inheritance money?” Follow these four steps to help you make smart decisions with your newfound wealth:
1. Take time to grieve your loss
Deciding what to do with an inheritance can bring with it mixed emotions: a sense of reprieve for this unexpected financial gain and sadness for the loss of a loved one, says Robert Pagliarini, certified financial planner and president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors.
During this time, you might feel confused, upset and overwhelmed. âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money,” Pagliarini says. As an inheritor, Pagliarini adds that you may feel the need to be extra careful with the funds; even though you know it is your money, it could feel borrowed.
The last thing you want to do when deciding what to do with an inheritance is make financial decisions under an emotional haze. Avoid making any drastic moves right away, such as quitting your job or selling your home. Some experts suggest giving yourself a six-month buffer before using any of your inheritance, using the time instead to develop a financial plan. While you are thinking about things to do with an inheritance, you can park any funds in a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit.
âA large inheritance that pushes you out of your financial comfort zone can create anxiety about how to best manage the money.â
2. Know what you’re inheriting
Before you determine the things to do with an inheritance, you need to know what you’re getting. Certified financial planner and wealth manager Alex Caswell says how you use your inheritance will largely depend on its source. Typically, Caswell says an inheritance will come in the form of assets from one of three places:
Real estate, such as a house or property. As Caswell explains, if you receive assets from real estate, you will transfer them into your name. As the inheritor, you can choose what to do with the assetsâtypically sell, rent or live in them.
A trust account, a legal arrangement through which funds are held by a third party (the trustee) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary), which may be an individual or a group. The creator of the trust is known as a grantor. âIf someone inherits assets through a trust, the trust documents will stipulate how these assets will be distributed and who ultimately decides how they are to be invested,” Caswell says. In some cases, the assets get distributed outright to you; in other instances, the trust stays intact and you get paid in installments.
A retirement account, such as an IRA, Roth IRA or 401(k). These accounts can be distributed in one lump sum, however, there may be requirements related to the amount of a distribution and the cadence of distributions.
When considering things to do with an inheritance, know that inherited assets can be designated as Transfer on Death (TOD) or beneficiary deeds (in the case of real estate), which means the assets can be transferred to beneficiaries without the often lengthy probate process. An individual may also bequeath cash or valuables, like jewelry or family heirlooms, as well as life insurance or stock certificates.
Caswell says if your inheritance comes in the form of investment assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, you’ll want to think of them as part of your own financial picture. âAll too often, we see individuals end up treating inherited assets as a living extension of their passed relative,” Caswell says. Consider how the investments can be used to support your financial goals when thinking about things to do when you get an inheritance.
An average of roughly 1.7 million households receive an inheritance each year.
3. Plan what to do with your financial gain
Just like doing your household budgeting, it’s important to “assign” your inheritance to specific purposes or goals, says Pacifica Wealth Advisors’ Pagliarini. Depending on your financial situation, the simple concepts of save, spend and give may be a good place to start when deciding on things to do when you get an inheritance:
Bolster your emergency fund: You should have at least three to six months of living expenses saved up to avoid unexpected financial shocks, such as job loss, car repairs or medical expenses. If you don’t and you’re deciding what things to do with an inheritance, consider parking some cash in this bucket.
Save for big goals: Now could be a good time to boost your long-term savings goals and pay it forward. Things to do when you get an inheritance could include putting money toward a child’s college fund or getting your retirement savings on track.
Tackle debt: If you’re evaluating what to do with an inheritance, high-interest debt is something you could consider paying off. Spending on debt repayment can help you save on hefty interest charges.
Reduce or pay off your mortgage: Getting closer to paying off your homeâor paying it off entirelyâcan also save you in interest and significantly lower your monthly expenses. Allocating cash here is a win-win.
Enjoy a little bit of it: It’s okay to use a portion of your inheritance on something you enjoy or find rewarding. Planning a vacation, investing in more education or paying for a big purchase could be good moves.
Donate funds to charity: Thinking about your loved one’s causes or your own can continue legacy goals and provide tax benefits.
When deciding what to do with an inheritance, taxes will need to be considered. “It is extremely important to be aware of all tax ramifications of any decision around inherited assets,” Caswell says. You could be required to pay a capital gains tax if you sell the gift (like property) that was passed down to you, for example. Also, depending on where you live, your inherited money could be taxed. In addition to federal estate taxes, several U.S. states impose an inheritance tax and/or an estate tax.
Since every situation is unique and tax laws can change, when considering things to do with an inheritance, consult a financial advisor or tax professional for guidance.
Make your windfall count
Receiving an inheritance has the potential to change your financial picture for good. When thinking about the things to do when you get an inheritance, be sure to give yourself ample time to grieve and to understand all of your options. Don’t be afraid to lean on the experts to get up to speed on any tax and legal implications you need to consider.
Planning can go a long way toward making the right decisions concerning your newfound wealth. Being responsible with your inheritance not only helps ensure your financial future, but will also honor your loved one’s legacy.
The post 4 Smart Things to Do When You Get an Inheritance appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Imagine this: You’ve gone to collegeâeven grad schoolâto pursue a career path you always thought you wanted. But after a few years and many tuition dollars spent, it suddenly hits you: If you have to write one more press release, it might push you over the edge. If this is the case, it’s time to prepare for a career change.
Transitioning careers is not unusual. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the American Staffing Association, 38 percent of working adults say they are likely to change careers within the next year. The only problem is, if you are unsure of how to make a career change and whether it will be financially sound, you might be hesitant to make the leap.
âNo one wants to change careers without knowing the chances of success,” says Mark Anthony Dyson, host of The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, a show designed to help those in career transition. “Adequate preparation can make all the difference.”
âPreparation in every formâfrom updating job skills to financial planning and really taking time to think about what you desire in a fulfilling careerâwill be a huge factor in your career-change success.â
“How do I make a big career change with this adequate preparation,” you ask?
Learning how to prepare for a career change financially and finding out which skills you’ll need in your new career are great places to start. Take these steps to understand your career intentions, then determine the best financial strategies for achieving them:
Figure out if a career change is right for you
Before preparing for a career change, start by doing an honest self-assessment on whether or not a switch is right for you. This is important, says Dyson, because you’ll want to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of changing careers versus exploring a job transition within your current field. Doing the latter might make more sense for you if you aren’t quite ready to go through a full-blown career transition. Either way, taking the time for self-reflection will help you get to your desired career path sooner.
When you are thinking about how to make a career change and if it’s the right time for you, Dyson suggests asking yourself these questions:
What are the professional and financial impacts if I stay on my current career path? A quick list of pros and cons might help your analysis.
Are there other opportunities in my current field that I haven’t yet considered? Talk to a human resources professional or research online to understand the qualifications, salaries and opportunities for advancement within your area of expertise.
What does my ideal career look like?
Do I currently have the skills and experience that can transfer to a new career?
What are the possible financial and professional outcomes if my new career doesn’t work out?
Kelan Kline, a jail deputy turned personal finance blogger for The Savvy Couple, felt stifled by his previous job and the limitations it imposed on his time. He believed that in order to achieve career growth and increase his money-making potential, he would have to change careers. “I knew I was done working for others altogether,” Kline adds.
You may not think you have the skills and experience necessary to transition into a new career, but a tip to prepare for a career change is to consider the skills that have led to your career success thus far. That’s what 10-year human resources veteran Lisa Cassella did when she decided a new career direction was in order and wanted to follow her passion for real estate.
“As hiring and program manager for a senior living facility, I met face-to-face with with people everyday,” says Cassella, now a licensed real estate salesperson for the brokerage firm Compass. “Sometimes you have to have some difficult conversations,” she continues. “It’s the same in real estate. But for the most part, you are helping peopleâwhich is what I enjoy and a strong connection between both careers.”
Sasha Korobov, a career and success strategist, agrees that a tip for preparing for a career change is to use your current skills as a foundation for a new career. Having undergone a career change herself, she advises people to âreally think about what you want to do next, and see if you can start getting those skills and experience in the job you’re already in.”
Once you understand your motives and capabilities, you’ll have the groundwork for what needs to come next: smart ways to financially support yourself through the transition.
Prepare yourself financially for making the switch
One of the best things you can do when figuring out how to make a career change is to have a financial plan. Depending on how you approach your career change, the steps that you take to move to a new industry could impact your finances in various ways.
For example, when you start out in a new industry, you might be taking a lower level position than what you had in your previous career. This may come with a dip in income, for which you will need to adjust your budget as you progress in your new career.
If you plan to take any time off before you make the switch, you may experience a gap in income. “You have to think about how many months of income you need to save to get over that hump,” Cassella says. Cassella planned in advance so that she had at least six months of income in the bank before she made the switch to her new career.
Another consideration when you prepare for a career change is whether there is a cost investment required in moving to the new career you have chosen. For example, you might need to spend money on additional education, training, certifications and other measures before you can move into your new role. Your financial plan will have to consider dips in income that could occur if you need to reduce your hours or quit working in order to get the training and education your new career requires, Korobov says. Cassella had to get licensed before moving into real estate sales. She quit her job and took a two-week course, then immediately took the state test.
If your career change means starting your own business venture, you may have to prepare for all of the financial scenarios mentioned above. Your income might decrease as you establish your own business and gain traction, for instance. You might also have to pay for things that were once provided to you by an employer, such as supplies, computer equipment, software and health insurance.
Because of these potential challenges, having a savings plan is key when considering tips to prepare for a career change.
Fine-tune your savings to prepare for a career change
No matter which path you choose, preparing for a career change may present you with some financial risk. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have savings set aside to manage the transition. With just a few small lifestyle changes that will save you money, you can build the financial safety cushion you need to prepare for a career change, says finance blogger Kline.
Here are Kline’s tips to prepare for a career change and the areas he focused on most when he prepared for his professional move:
Reduce unnecessary expenses. As you work on how to make a career change, consider cutting back on discretionary spending such as eating out, entertainment and vacations, and set that money aside for your career change. Don’t already have a budget to track your expenses? Now is the perfect time to start one.
Pick the right type of savings account. You’ll want to put the money you save from reducing your expenses into the best type of account to support your career transition. A high-yield savings account, such as the Discover Online Savings Account, will help you grow your savings. For a long-term savings strategy, a Discover Certificate of Deposit might be a great fit.
You earned it. Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
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Start an emergency fund. Similar to establishing a budget and picking a savings account, if you haven’t already started an emergency fund, now is the time to create one (or add to it if you already have some momentum with your rainy day savings). An emergency fund can help you prepare for unexpected expenses and the financial risks involved in changing careers. Experts suggest that you keep at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.
Pay down debt. If you are able to pay down debt, such as student loan and credit card debt, it will free up cash to save toward your career transition. Pay more than the monthly minimum to reduce or eliminate the debt altogether as you prepare for a career change.
With just a few small lifestyle changes that will save you money, you can build the financial safety cushion you need to prepare for a career change.
Approach your new career at a gradual pace
For some, a slower transition, with moonlighting or side hustling until they are ready to go full time, has proven effective. When Jeff Neal started his online retail site selling bait and live feeders, he was still a full-time project manager in e-commerce, but not passionate about his day-to-day. He was able to use his skills from this position to build his own online ventures.
Neal says he started his online business as a side hustle, with the intention of always having a full-time job keeping his household afloat. He has now been able to transition into being a full-time internet entrepreneur.
Korobov, the career and success strategist, also started to prepare for her career change with a part-time entrepreneurial venture that grew out of corporate coaching. “I wanted to go into business for myself as a career strategist for women, and I knew that having corporate coaching experience would fast-track my credibility with a lot of potential clients,” she says.
“I began offering workshops and brown-bag lunches at my office,” Korobov continues. This experience was a valuable lesson for Korobov in how to make a career change, helping her boost her confidence and allowing her to tweak her workshops as she got more experience.
One of Korobov’s biggest tips to prepare for a career change that she learned firsthand: “Your entrepreneurial ventures, even if done part-time, can make the transition into your career smoother, while giving you extra income to help with your financial preparation process.”
Ensure your path to career-change success
Making a career change can seem like a huge risk, since you don’t really know if it will work out in your favor. But with research and readiness, you can confidently prepare for a career change. Dyson, of The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, can’t emphasize enough that âpreparation in every formâfrom updating job skills to financial planning and really taking time to think about what you desire in a fulfilling careerâwill be a huge factor in your career-change success.”
Understanding your goals and expectationsâand trusting your gutâbefore you begin is a big step in the right direction. Says Cassella of her move into real estate: “It just made a lot of sense for me and my family. My expectations are that once I really get going, there is no limit to what I can make.”
The post Taking the Leap: How to Make a Career Change and Land on Your Feet appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Financial Eduation is important for everybody regardless of their demographic, and yet it is frequently overlooked by both the young and those who are just trying to get get by.
Tiffany Aliche is passionate about financial planning, and shares that passion, as well as a lifetime of information and practice, on her blog,Â The Budgetnista.
Tiffany took a moment to tell us about The Budgetnista, how anyone can benefit from sound financial education, and how that education can enrich your life.
Can you briefly describe The Budgetnista for people who aren’t familiar with the site? How did you get started? What differentiates you from the other financial blogs out there?
The Budgetnista is an award-winning financial education firm established in 2008. We specialize in the delivery of financial literacy through seminars, workshops, curricula and trainings. The Budgetnista has been a brand ambassador and spokesperson for a number of organizations, and has served as the personal finance education expert for City National Bank.
I’m happy to say that I’m quickly becoming America’s favorite financial educator. I authored the #1 Amazon bestseller,Â The One Week BudgetÂ and created theÂ LIVE RICHER Challenge.
My love for financial education began at at home. I grew up in a financially-literate household, receiving weekly financial lessons from my CFO father. These lessons paired with my fun personality helped me create a fun, financial blog that resonates with thousands of women.
Who is your regular audience? What are some specific challenges they face, and how do they inform the things that you write about?
The Budgetnista’s audience is women aged 25-45. Their biggest financial issues are debt management, credit, and budgeting. When writing my blog, I focus on offering step-by-step guidance for these specific financial issues. In addition to women needing assistance, they also need encouragement. I try to not only be a source of information, but a source of inspiration as well.
What are some of the financial services The Budgetnista offers? Who is likely to utilize your services?
The financial services offered by The Budgetnista are keynotes, workshops and seminars on the following personal finance topics: money mindset, budgeting, savings, debt and credit. Many colleges, non-profits, and corporate entities utilize these services.
Each year, The Budgetnista also offers the LIVE RICHER Challenge; a FREE, online financial challenge created by The Budgetnista to help 10,000 women achieve seven specific financial goals in 36 days.
Your motto is “Live richer. To create a measurable lifestyle shift, through financial education.” First of all, can you briefly define financial education, and relate why it is so important? Secondly, how much of a noticeable shift has there been in your own lifestyle since you implemented this education?
Financial education through The Budgetnista provides participants with the tools they need to make sound financial decisions. It is essential because it grants people the power of choice, not just with their finances, but in other aspects of their lives as well.
In my own life, I’ve seen the power of financial education first hand. After a devastating job loss during the recession, I was able to create a business (The Budgetnista) and design the life I always dreamed of.
InÂ the long version of your bio, you’ve written, “By beginning to educate yourself, you’ve taken the first step towards financial empowerment.” How does that information translate into daily life? If this is the first step, what’s the next?
Education is the first step on your financial journey. The next step is to take action. Once you know how to manage your money – budget, save, reduce debt, and fix credit – you can use these skills to navigate your daily life.
One of the goals of The Budgetnista is to give someone a clearer understanding of how to more skillfully manage their money. What are a few basic tips people can use to get started?
Here are The Budgetnista’s top 3 tips to get started on managing your money.
3) Open a Bills Account: This is a FREE checking account (if possible), where you allocate your bill money each month. Separating your funds will help you to avoid “accidentally” spending money designated for bills.
2) Give and get an allowance: I bet you never thought you’d get one again. After creating your budget, decide which items you can pay for with cash each month and add the amounts up; then divide the total by four. That’s how much your new weekly allowance is. If you take weekly cash allowances, it will help to curb your spending. Also, give yourself a CASH allowance when shopping and leave the cards at home. This way when the cash is done, so are you.
1) Automate: By taking out the “flawed” human element (aka you), you’re more likely to stick to your budget. I’ve automated EVERYTHING; payments, bills, saving, investing, even giving to charity.
You recently wrote a blog post about how toÂ start planning for retirement now. First of all, why is this important? Secondly, does it seem like this is something that young adults are neglecting?
Retirement is critical for anyone who wants to maintain their lifestyle after they stop working. Many young adults neglect this because there is a disconnect between their present self and their future self.
You also recently wrote aboutÂ a budget trip to JamaicaÂ you get to take. What are some fun things that you’ve gotten to do simply by getting your finances in order?
My favorite thing to do, as a result of getting my finances in order, is travel. In the past few years, I’ve been to 16 different countries. Learning to master my money has given me the freedom to actively design and live my life.
You’ve talked aboutÂ how to make a budget for people who don’t have a regular paycheck. What were some of the basics of that article, and do you feel this is a reflection of the changing economy we’re living in, and if so, how?
Budgeting on an irregular income can be difficult. Here are some tricks to help you.
Calculate your Financial Baseline: Your financial baseline is how much your life costs you each month without the bells and whistles.
Be Like the Squirrel: Squirrels are super-smart savers. When acorns are plentiful, they work their hardest and gather as many as possible. Squirrel away your money when times are good, and live off of your stash when things aren’t.
Pay Yourself: Once you identify how much you spend each month, pay it to yourself from your business/savings account. Your clients/income provider should “pay” your savings account, then you pay yourself a regular income from the money that sits in that account.
Live by Percentages: Those that receive a regular paycheck can live by exact amounts; but for those of us with irregular incomes, we have to live by percentages. Allocate a percentage of your income to different categories: bills, savings, investing, spending, etc.
Separate to See: The best way to gauge how close you are to achieving your financial goals is to house your money in different bank accounts.
Systemize: Automate everything: transfers, bills, saving, giving and investing.
You’ve also offered some travel tips forÂ traveling on a budget. What are some ways people can save while they’re traveling? How possible is it to have fun on the cheap?
My top 3 Budgetnista travel tips are:
Be flexible: Sometimes travel deals spring up on sites. The more flexible you are about your travel destination and timeframe, the more likely you’ll be able to take advantage of those deals.
The right sites: My favorite deal sites are:Â theflightdeal.com,Â jetradar.com,Â europeandestinations.comÂ andÂ airfarwatchdog.com
When to book: The best day to book a domestic flight is Tuesday at 3pm (this is when the sales hit). The cheapest day to fly domestically is Wednesday.
Financial education is not a one-off event; it is an ongoing process that requires practice to perfect. For more education and inspiration, like The Budgetnista onÂ FacebookÂ , connect onÂ LinkedIn, follow her onÂ Twitter, and subscribe toÂ The Budgetnista YouTube Channel.
The post Expert Interview with Tiffany Aliche of The Budgetnista on Financial Planning appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Summer camp is a rite of passage. A place where traditions begin and memories are made. A unique venue with a structured opportunity for kids to grow and learn new skills. As enriching as it may seem, embarking on the process each year can be intense: How do I choose a camp? Should it have a philosophy? How do I know my child will have fun? But often the question at the top of the list is, “How do I budget for summer camp?”
Whether you’re scrambling for camp arrangements for this year or getting a jump-start on next summer, you’re in need of a working budget for summer camp. “As a parent who sent several kids to summer camp for many years, I know how expensive it can be,” says Leslie H. Tayne, author and founder of debt solutions law firm Tayne Law Group.
Read on for expert budgeting tips for summer camp and how to save money on summer camp so you can make the best decisions concerning your wallet and your child’s wish list:
1. Get a handle on camp tuition
According to the American Camp Association, sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition isn’t too far behind, ranging from $199 to more than $800 per week.
One of the best ways to budget for summer camp and prepare for tuition costs is to understand your needs for the summer as well as your child’s interests. This will help you determine ‘how much’ and ‘what type’ of camp you want: Is day-camp coverage important all summer because of work? Does your child want to experience sleep-away camp for a portion of the time? Is a camp with a specific focus (say a sport or hobby) on the list?
Depending on your circumstances and child’s expectations, it’s not unusual to be looking at a combination of campsâand tuition costsâin one season. If you have multiple kids at different ages, with different interests, creating a budget for summer camp and understanding how much you’ll need to dish out in tuition becomes especially important.
Once your camp plan is in place, assess how much you’ll need to pay in tuition for the summer months with school out of session. The sooner you’ve arrived at this figure, the easier it will be to work the expense into your household budget, says Heather Schisler, money-saving expert and founder of deal site Passion for Savings. “It’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time,” Schisler says.
Sleep-away camp tuition can range from $630 to more than $2,000 per camper per week. Day camp tuition ranges from $199 to more than $800 per week.
2. Plan for expenses beyond tuition
One of the biggest budgeting tips for summer camp is planning for the many costs outside of tuition. Tayne points out that sleep-away camp usually comes with a longer supply list than day campâsuch as specific clothing or gear and toiletries to cover the length of stay. If your child is heading to a sleep-away camp far from home, your budget for summer camp may also need to factor in the cost of transportation or the cost to ship luggage. Day camps can also have fees for extended hours or transportation if your child rides a camp bus each day.
Once you’ve selected a campâday camp or sleep-awayâcheck its website for camper packing lists and guidelines. Most camps offer checklists that you can print out, which can be good for tracking supplies and costs as you go. After you enroll, your camp may provide access to an online portal that can help you manage tuition and track additional expenses, like canteen money, which is cash your child can use for snacks and additional supplies while away.
3. Create a year-round savings strategy
By calculating the necessary expenses ahead of time for the camps you and your campers have chosen, you’ll be able to determine an overall budget for summer camp. A budgeting tip for summer camp is to save money monthly throughout the year. To determine a monthly savings goal, divide your total summer camp costs by the amount of months you have until camp starts. If camp is quickly approaching and you’re feeling the budget crunch, you may want to start saving for next year’s costs once it’s back-to-school time so you can spread out your costs over a longer period of time.
Once you start saving, you’ll need a place to put it, right? When it comes to budgeting tips for summer camp, consider placing your cash in a dedicated account, which will keep it separate from your regular expenses and help you avoid tapping it for other reasons. “Then you can have your bank set up an auto draft [for the summer camp money] so it automatically goes into your account each month and you will have the money you need when summer rolls around,” Schisler says. If you use a Discover Online Savings Account for this purpose, you’ll also earn interest that can be put toward camp expenses.
âIt’s much easier to set aside $30 a month than it is to come up with $300 to $400 at one time.â
4. Find ways to fund your summer camp account
To boost cash in your summer camp savings account, consider asking relatives and family friends to gift your children cash for camp in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts, says Tracie Fobes of budget blog Penny Pinchin’ Mom. “If your child has his or her heart set on sleep-away camp, they may be willing to forgo a gift or two,” Fobes says.
Another budgeting tip for summer camp is to put your cashback rewards toward your budget for summer camp. For example, if you open a checking account with Discoverâcalled Cashback Debitâyou’ll earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1 You can enroll to have that cashback bonus automatically deposited into your Discover Online Savings Account so it remains designated for camp costs (and can grow with interest).
Say hello to cash back on debit card purchases.
No monthly fees. No balance requirements. No, really.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Lastly, if you don’t have your tax refund earmarked for another financial goal, you could use the windfall to kick-start your summer camp savings fund. Depending on the refund amount and your total camp costs, it could reduce your monthly summer camp savings goal significantly.
5. Reduce camp-related costs
Despite having your budget for summer camp in full view and planning in advance, camp can still be expensive. Here are some ways to save money on summer camp by cutting down on camp costs:
Ask about scholarships and grants: “Some camps offer scholarships or discounts for children and families,” Fobes says. Research your camp to see if they have anything similar to help offsetâor even pay forâthe cost of tuition.
Use a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA): A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account is a pre-tax benefit account that can be used to pay for eligible dependent care services. You can use this type of account to “cover dependent care [costs], and camp may qualify,” Fobes says.
Negotiate price: “Many people don’t think about negotiating the cost of summer camp, but it is possible,” Tayne says, and more and more camps are open to it.
See if there’s an “honor system”: Some camps have what’s known as an honor system, where the camp offers a range of costs, or tiered pricing, and parents can pay what they can comfortably afford. Every child enjoys the same camp experience, regardless of which price point, and billing is kept private.
Take advantage of discounts: Attention early birds and web surfers: “There are sometimes discounts offered when you sign up early or register online,” Fobes says.
Volunteer: If your summer schedule allows, “offer to work at the camp,” Fobes says. If you lend your servicesâperhaps for the camp blog or cleaning the camp house before the season startsâyour child may be able to attend camp for free or a reduced rate.
Don’t let summer camp costs become a family budget-buster. Plan ahead and look for money-saving opportunities and work your budget for summer camp into your annual financial plan.
To save money on summer camp, remember that you only need to focus on camp necessities. “Don’t spend a lot of extra money on new clothing, bedding, trunks or suitcases,” Schisler says. “Remember, summer camp is all about the experience, not the things.”
1 ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
The post Your Guide to Budgeting for Summer Camp appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Having an emergency fund is important; you know that. But itâs easy to deprioritize it when things are going fine. And as 2020 showed us, you can lose your job at the drop of a hat, meaning a full emergency fund can be what keeps your lights on.
1. Make A Realistic Budget And Stick To It
You can make up to an hour, according to data from Intuit, the creator of QuickBooks, and you have no commute. Itâs a great opportunity for parents who want a part-time job, recent college grads or anyone who wants to bring in real money working from home.
Robinson shares what it takes to be a virtual bookkeeper, plus tips for making this career work for you in his free class at Bookkeepers.com. If you stick with the classes, you could be running your own business in just a few months.
We recommend the 50/30/20 method. Itâs simple, yet effective, and has a bit of a cult following, too! Hereâs how it shakes out:
If youâre under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
2. Look For A Better Job: Make up to $69/Hour
But what if you could create that higher-paying and more rewarding job? Thereâs an ideaâ¦
Did your credit score take a dive this year? Or is still stuck at a âfairâ grade? Then monitoring any changes on your credit reporting and working to improve your score should be one of your financial resolutions for this year, too.
When it comes to your credit score, itâs important to stay organized and keep tabs on it. After all, itâll play an essential role in any big purchase you want to make â whether thatâs a home or a car.
It means you can avoid late fees on your utilities, which can really add up and destroy your budget. You can pay off your credit card debt without mounting interest charges. And you can prevent any hiccups that would dock your credit score a few points.
Rates start at just a month. The peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of is priceless. Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
Youâre probably thinking: I donât have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes â and you could leave your family up to million with a company called Bestow.
Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a CPA and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers through online courses called Bookkeepers.com.
3. Pay Off Credit Card Debt: Wipe Out All Your Debt by Tomorrow
Itâs easy to get swept up in the joy that is payday and immediately start buying things you donât need. But as the final financial resolution on this list, paying your bills right away can help keep the rest of your goals on track. Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for âthis is totally safe.â
You donât have to be an accountant or even really good at math to be successful in this business. In fact, all you need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems. The ability to stay moderately organized is helpful, too.
Itâs easy to slip away from our good financial habits as the year goes on, so itâs particularly important to find a budgeting system that works for your lifestyle and wonât be hard to maintain.
This one sounds familiar, right? Oft-regarded as Old Faithful when it comes to New Yearsâ resolutions, it holds that title for good reason. Having a budget you can actually stick to will set you up for financial success, no matter what your goals are.
Can you open an excel spreadsheet? Does earning an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?
4. Monitor Your Credit Report
But thereâs still work to be done, which is why paying off credit card debt is one of the top financial resolutions this year.Â Because if you still have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear youâre never going to escapeâ¦
The most surefire way to achieve your financial resolutions and stay within that budget you made is to earn more money.
Whatever your financial goals are this year, we know you can achieve them! Hereâs to making 2021 your best financial year yet.
If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
2020 made that really hard for most people. Which is why finding a better job, that you actually enjoy â and will pay you more â is a top resolution for 2021.
Want to check for yourself? Itâs free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
5. Get Insured In Case Of A Catastrophe. You Could Give Your Family up to $1 Million
2020 was actually a good year for paying down credit card debt â Americans did more of it this year than they ever have. ***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Within two minutes, youâll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. Youâll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
Not too shabby!
6. Add A Month To Your Emergency Fund
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
And the truth is, your credit card company doesnât really care. Itâs just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
50% of your take-home income every month covers your fixed expenses â rent, utilities, groceries, minimum debt payments, etc. 30% goes towards the things you can live without, but donât want to (like food delivery, a Netflix subscription and travel). Finally, the last 20% of your monthly income is dedicated to your financial goals. Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
So prioritize your emergency fund this year. If you donât have one yet, start by opening an account that will help you grow your money.
7. Pay Bills Right After Payday
Talk about a scary year. If a global pandemic didnât have you thinking about your own mortality, what else could? With that thought in mind, people are adding âbuy life insuranceâ to their list of 2021 to-dos.
AmOne wonât make you stand in line or call your bank, either. And if youâre worried you wonât qualify, itâs free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could help you pay off your debt years faster.
One way to do that is with a company called Aspiration. It lets you earn up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** âThey showed me the ins and outs â how to dot the Iâs and cross the Tâs,â he said.
Have you made your resolutions yet? It can feel a little daunting trying to figure out what you need to focus on, so we made it easy: These are the resolutions everyone else is taking on in 2021, according to a survey by Wallethub, and you should, too. Plus â how to accomplish them.
The benefit? Youâll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), youâll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income if something happened to you? How theyâll pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Nowâs a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy. So if youâre looking to get your credit score back on track â or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up â try using a free website called Credit Sesame.