Time to Get Your Finances In Order

I’ll admit, I am not the one to give financial advice because I still struggle with staying on budget as well as paying down debt.  As hubby says “You will never be a Rockefeller” which is why I was a perfect fit for social work and non-profits.I am always looking for tips on how to get better at this because:

Managing your money is the key to success!

So, if you’re looking to try and get your finances in order, stop spending, and start saving, here are some top tips are for you to try….

 

1. Create a Spreadsheet 

Do you know how much you owe?  If you have debt, do you now how much your interest rate is on each one? To easily organize your finances, a spreadsheet is a great way to see your income and your expenses.  You can create one in Google Drive so you can stay on top of it.   I have a list including interest charges so when there is extra money, I can pay down on the highest interest rate first.

2. Set Up Savings 

I know this sounds crazy if you have debt BUT you need to start saving for an emergency.  It can be as little as $10 a paycheck or $25 a month.  Check with your bank too for some of those instant kind of saving programs.  Bank of America takes the change from your ATM transactions, rounds up and the money is put in your savings account.  Those pennies add up quickly.  It all helps!

3. Organize Direct Debits 

I used to advocate direct debits but when my income varies, it is better for me to have repeated reminders set up. I have reminders set up on each of my credit cards when payments are due – 14 days out and 1 week out.  This ensures I avoid any late payment fees and any (further) damage to your credit score.

4. Refrain From Impulse Purchases 

Yup, we are all guilty of it.  Sometimes it is easier said than done.  Be sure to have some room in your budget for treats – large or small so you can occasionally splurge!

5. Make A List – Stick To It How many times have you gone to the store and your list is home?  The end result, you buy more than what you need and usually forget what you originally went to the store for.  I have started putting my grocer list on my phone.  When was the last time you left home without your phone?  Whether shopping for Christmas, clothing or groceries – always stick to the list!

6. Set Budgets for Events 

Everyone’s salary is different so why not set a budget for Birthdays so you don’t feel pressured to match what everyone else is spending.

7. Emergency Fund 

This goes back to #2 when we set up a savings account.  What happens why you have a surprise expense – car repair, etc?  Tempted to pull out the credit card. DON’T!!!  Use your savings account or emergency account.  By saving a little each money, you are ready for those unexpected events.

8. Don’t Be Drawn In By Offers 

Sales.  How often are you drawn in by the offers non things you may not really need.  If you need it, great.  If you don’t, why buy it.  I mean do you really need the  half price Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?

9. Make a Packed Lunch 

Taking lunch to work is so much cheaper than a daily visit to the local sandwich shop.  Think of the money and time you will save.  Have an hour for lunch?  Imagine being able to enjoy a full hour of leisurely eating your lunch and catching up with friends instead of waiting to order food and then gulping it down.  Bringing your lunch to work is better all around as well as far healthier for you.

10. Cut the Coffee 

Yes, I went there.  When I was commuting to work, I would do a WAWA stop on the way to and from work.  That came to at least $5 or more a day or $25 per week or over $1,300 per year.  I’m now hooked on Starbucks unsweet green tea and thankfully, I don’t commute or it would be about $1,000 a year on ice tea.  What could you use a $1000 on?

 11. Use Your Legs 

If you live in the city or your commute is to an area where there is good public transportation, this is a great way to save money.  Growing up in NJ, there really is not a very good public transportation system unless you are headed to NY to work. In addition to saving money, you can also burn some extra calories by walking to and from the stops.

12. Seek Out Deals 

Yes, I have gotten lazy when it comes to looking for the best deals.  Whether it is car insurance, phone service or our cable bill – I haven’t shopped around for the best deal in ages.  When I did call Comcast to re-negotiate our bill, I was able to save about $50 per month which is $600 to apply to paying down credit card debt.

13. Sell And Buy Online

I used to do this all of the time – selling on eBay was a regular thing.  It has gone by the wayside but it may be time to revive this old habit.  When it comes to shopping online, I am always looking for the best deal using apps like Ebates and others.

What is YOUR best tips for getting your finances under control?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is it Possible to Budget on an Irregular Income?

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Budgeting – I cringe when I hear those words.  I used to say “don’t know how to budget” so guess what, budgets never worked.  The funny thing is as a grant writer, it was one of the things our funders loved about me.  I was always on budget or under budget.  Now, I am learning to apply it to my personal life……..

As a full-time direct seller, my income can be irregular.  There are months when sales are AMAZING and there are months when sales are less than desired.  I have always used the fact my income was irregular as an excuse not to stick to a budget.  I mean the key to getting and staying out of debt is a budget, right?  So I went on the hunt for some tips to help me (any maybe you) manage your money better when you don’t get a regular paycheck.

Budgets are easy on a fixed income but are a challenge when you aren’t 100% sure how much money you’ll bring in every month.  Honestly, the budget challenge is the fear factor which kept me from working my business full-time.  Not having faith in myself or in God to provide for my needs.  I have monthly bills to pay – old credit card debt and school loans along with the monthly cell phone, cable bill and our grocery bill.  Sounds basic enough, right?  I mean how tough can it be?  Here are some tips I found…

STEP 1: SET YOUR MINIMUM MONTHLY BUDGET

Your monthly bills stay the same, no matter what your income.  The first step is to figure out what your income and expenses were on an average for the last three months. You have to know there the money goes every month to build a budget.

List the bills you pay every month like rent or mortgage; car, house, or medical insurance; groceries, gas, and utilities.  Figure out the minimum number it would take to balance your bills.

STEP 2: SET EXCESS MONEY IN A SEPARATE ACCOUNT

Now you know the bare minimum amount you need to stay afloat each month.  On pay day, pay the necessary bills first, pull out cash for groceries and gas to last the month, and put the rest into a separate account.  Sounds easy right?  The cash system (or envelope system) by Dave Ramsey is a great way to get started.12141871_626490764164659_208335335_nBuilding up a reserve of cash from your “feast” months, you’ll have funds to rely on during the “famine” months.  I have set up separate savings accounts for my business and personal to “save” for those famine months.  Transferring money “excess” amounts over or even a minimal amount every month allows me to save for those tough seasons.

STEP 3: DON’T GO CRAZY ON PAY DAY

It is going to be tough to not go crazy when you get a large paycheck, especially after a famine month. Resist the urge to spend.  You won’t have money to set aside in your separate account for famine months if you spend excessively on unnecessary things. I’m not saying don’t enjoy a night out, just don’t make it a habit so your account drops to zero.

STEP 4: TRY TO LIVE WITH LESS

There are lots of ways to strip down spending to reduce your budget. We reduced our cell-phone bill, and cut got our cable bill.  I negotiated a lower payment rate on outstanding school loans which reduced the monthly bill.  I found when I went into saving mode, I wasn’t tempted to spend money on things I don’t need.  Now, I am not putting out to the Universe “I can’t afford this” because negative thoughts bring negative actions. BUT what I am saying is “I have plenty of money in my accounts” to bring more positive into my Universe.  When you save, you widen the gap between your minimum monthly budget and how much you have to use during your lean months.

STEP 5: BRING IN MORE INCOME

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, right?  If no matter what your try, you are still having trouble paying the bills in your famine months, it’s time to bring in more income.  Now for those of us in direct sales, it may be working our business a little harder or helping our team reach their goals.

Want something a little bit more concrete?  You can pick up a side job to bring in extra income and pad your bank account for when you need to rely on your savings. Find a way to monetize your skills, gifts and talents to earn some extra income.  Maybe it is being a freelance writer, or if you love graphic design, market your services to websites and bloggers. Maybe you are great at organization and secretarial skills, so become a part time virtual assistant for businesses and websites.  Extra income will help during the famine months and it will help to make them go away faster.

Do you live on a feast or famine income? What is your advice to people struggling to make a budget?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

5 Habits to Improve Your Quality of Life 

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Yes, it is Wednesday and it is time to focus on YOU!

If you are like me, you are bombarded with “stuff” from the time you start your day.   From e-mail, television, interruptions or requests, something is constantly vying for your attention. What’s the result? The best laid plans for the day are tossed by the wayside and by the end the day, I am left wondering where the time went.  I get it – it’s life, some days are better than others.

The problem is that when it becomes the norm, it can leave you frustrated, scattered and ineffective. I don’t know about you but when I am feeling that way all of the time – there is  chronic stress and a lack of fulfillment, a low level of happiness and my physical health is a mess.  An unhappy momma (or wife) does not make for a happy household, right?

Did you know that what you do FIRST makes all the difference in the world to your day? Do you want to be more productive? Do you want to increase your energy level when your plate is full?

It’s all about what you choose to do first.  What you do the first 30 minutes you’re awake, the first 30 minutes at work, and with the first portion of your income ensures that no matter how overloaded you are, your most important priorities will not be lost in a sea of distractions. When you do the things that are most important to you first, you free up energy for everything else on your list. Be intentional. Make it easy to accomplish “first things first.” Make them automatic.

Here are five simple things you can do “first” to improve your quality of life right now:

1. Tackle the looming project.

Maybe it is a report you need to finish, a meeting you need to have, or a project waiting for your attention – get started early in the day.  Block out the time – whether it’s 15 minutes or four hours – and DO IT!  Believe it or not, once that is done, you’ll have more energy because that burden is lifted.

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2. Connect with loved ones.

Start the day with a kiss, a hug, or a phone call to someone who matters to you. These are the things that tend to get lost when our schedules get busy.  Instead of letting these loving gestures diminish. we need to increase them! Staying connected to others is one of the most important ingredients for well-being.  I have even found that when I take a break and spend at least 30 minutes with hubby (no distractions) before he goes to work, I am way more productive.

3. Drink a bottle of water

First thing in the morning, before you even put your feet on the ground, drink a bottle of water. Sit it by your bed before you go to sleep. Drinking water first thing in the morning gets your system moving and your metabolism kicking.

4. Meditate on what you are grateful for.

While drinking that bottle of water, why not think about all of the things that are good in your life. “Whatever things are good, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, think on these things,” the apostle Paul wrote.  Research shows that expressing gratitude has health benefits and meditation actually changes your brain chemistry for the better. So first thing in the morning, pray a prayer of gratitude.  This will also keep start the Law of Attraction for the day.

5. Save some money and give some away.

For some you are already letting the negative inner gremlins rear their heads, right?  This is a tough one for many.  The truth is that if we don’t give or save money when it first comes in, you’ll rarely have much left over to do. But somehow, when you give first and save first, your spending becomes aligned with your goals. That’s because you’ve made your goal – saving and giving – your top priority. Set up automatic debits from your paycheck or checking account so you don’t even have to think about it!  This was a tough one for me too!  The truth is that when I set up the auto debits from my checking account, it happens and then I don’t think about the money in the savings account.  Start with $5 once a month but start.

I challenge you to put first things first. See what a difference it makes for you and then share it with us.  What priority is not first on your list of actions today?  I can’t wait to hear from you…

Have a ThirtyOne-deful day!

 

 

Celebrating Money!

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No, I have NOT won the lottery!  No, I have NOT lost my mind (I’m sure there are some that would debate that).   🙂

I have often talked about the Law of Attraction…. BUT I had some doubts.  I mean could that one little inner gremlin who shouts for an hour really play havoc on all of the blessings that the Universe is waiting to share with me.  So, over the last week or so, I have been repeating some money mantras:

  • I feel Rich
  • I love money. Money loves me.
  • I attract money now
  • I am very happy & grateful that money comes to me from many sources on a continuous basis
  • I am receiving money now
  • I have more than enough money
  • I am willing, ready and able to receive money
  • I see abundance everywhere
  • I am a money magnet
  • I am grateful for what I already have and for all that I receive now.

I have not let any inner gremlins even squeak!  The result is some really exciting things are happening- personally and in my business.

Still feeling a little skeptical, why not try some of these tips to get your finances in order:

Refrain From Impulse Purchases 

I know that it is Spring and you want to shop for some new clothes BUT trust me, make room in your budget for treats before you splurge!  I have even avoided the mall so that I am not tempted.

Make A List – Stick To It 

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Lists are AWESOME, especially when it comes to shopping.  No matter what the occasion or if it is simply grocery shopping – always stick to a list! Check out this article on motivational lists to see just how important they are!

Don’t Be Drawn In By Offers 

Admit it!  We all LOVE a sale…ANYTHING that is buy one get one free, or half price on Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy treats? STOP. Don’t be drawn in by offers on things you don’t actually need.

Set Up Savings 

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I can hear the groans…. but there is a definite need for a separate savings account.  It doesn’t matter how small the direct debit is from your everyday account to your savings, it all helps!  I started with $5 a pay period and now it is up to $25 PLUS I put aside a portion of my bonus every month.  Remember baby steps.

The Law of Attraction WORKS!  There is a multitude of  people who will tell you how it worked for them.  Still a non-believer?  I challenge you for 30 days to say (with conviction) one, two or all of the money mantras.  Then come back and share the results.

I am not saying you will win the lottery.  I am not guaranteeing that you will be debt-free.  I WILL guarantee that you will have a healthier approach to money and that with a more positive attitude, more positive things will happen!

Are you up for the challenge?  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Budgeting Works

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For many of us, this was one of our New Year’s Resolutions.  The holiday bills have started to roll in.  Maybe bad weather caused you to miss some hours at work.  Maybe you lost your job.  Maybe hours have been cut due to lack of business.  Whatever the reason – this is probably the last thing on your list right now.  Great intentions when we start the new year but like most resolutions by the 3rd week, they are starting to lose their luster.

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Setting up a budget is tough.  Monitoring your spending is tough.  Believe it or not, when you have control of your money it is empowering.  You can also reach your financial goals one step at a time – even if they are baby steps.

The basic idea of a budget it simple – spend less than you make.  I know the kids need XYZ.  I know you will put it on the card and pay it when you get paid. I have heard (and used) all of these reasons as to why I can’t save or stay on a budget.

The truth is that once I figured out what I was actually spending money on, what I wanted to spend money on, and how to automatically save – life got so much easier.

Do you really know where you money goes?  I mean most of us will say we do but if we had to track every penny spent in a given week, could we?  How can you create a budget, if you don’t know where your money is going.  I have to admit this is the toughest part.

If you use a programs on your computer like Quicken or Quick Books, that is a great place to start.  Look at your spending from the past three months.  Now it may not count the Starbucks coffees or lunches if you use cash.  If you are like me and use your debit card for EVERYTHING, this will be very easy.  The key is to put ALL spending into a category.

Here are some categories:

  1. Needs: rent, utilities, basic groceries, car payment, paying off debt, etc.
  2. Wants: eating out, shopping, vacations, etc.
  3. Savings: retirement, emergency fund, savings for future purchases (such as a house down payment)

So, how does your monthly spending look? Are you spending more on wants than needs?  Are those needs being put off?  Believe me, I cringed when I saw that most of my budget fell into the needs category due to debt.   It was time to make some changes.

I started to prioritize my want spending so that I could save and pay off that debt.  I looked at my wants and decided which was the most important to me.  Then I started cutting some things out.  WaWa stops when I worked to pick up food when I could make and take it from home.  I stopped getting my nails done every 2 weeks and  made it a monthly treat.

Then I set up an auto transfer to start saving.  Okay, so it may not be the recommended 20% but it is a start. On payday, I automatically pay myself first.  I will admit that on months when I am short due to a smaller paycheck, I may borrow BUT I always do the transfer.  Start with $5 a paycheck and put it in a savings account.  It will slowly grow.  I actually do $25 a month then if I get a bonus or any extra money, I split it between debt reduction and savings.

Budgeting does work.  I stomped out my inner gremlins around budgeting and money management a few months ago.  It made a HUGE difference in how I look at my checkbook.  I have money saved plus bills are paid.  I am using the snowball method to pay down debt.  Honestly, it wasn’t easy but give it a try because it was so worth it.  Start somewhere even if it is figuring out where your money ACTUALLY goes instead of just guessing.

I would love to hear your best tips for budgeting.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

 

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