Why I Like to Budget into the Future

Last week I completed our budget until first week of January 2015. Having our budget done at least five months into the future is the only way I like to budget truthfully. My husband created a spreadsheet a few years ago that is calculated so that as I change a number to reflect all through the spreadsheet, I love it! A huge reason I bought a new computer was that this spreadsheet (aka my lifeline) was in danger of getting lost. I honestly don’t know what I would do!

Though it takes some time to do this, there are so many benefits to budgeting into the future. For me the biggest benefit to budgeting multiple months at a time is that when changes or unaccounted things come up (and they always do) I can go to my spreadsheet, input the change (like the wedding gift in September I forgot to budget for) and see how it affects everything else. Sometimes I just need to make minor adjustments like skim a few dollars from other areas to make up the unaccounted for difference and other times I make note of months I may need to ask to pick up an extra shift sort of thing. The advantage to us budgeting on me working four day work weeks is that I can often easily pick up that fifth day to make up any shortcomings.

When I’m making my spreadsheet I also do it based on predicted income so when we actually do get paid and it’s more or less than my prediction I again, input the actual amounts and see how it affects things. Obviously getting paid less than expected is always a bummer but it doesn’t happen often and in my case usually not a detrimental amount, I’m usually good at predicting to about to about a $40 difference.

Both my husband and I are paid bi-weekly and though I have tried monthly budgeting it just doesn’t work as well for us as bi-weekly increments. I think it’s because our pay can vary, I like being able to adjust as we go. At the end of the day it doesn’t make a huge difference but there are two months of the year were we both have ”extra” pays. Because we budget in two-week increments, the entire ”extra” pay isn’t exactly ”free” per se but there are two months where there is a surplus. Budgeting  into the future allows me to see exactly where these surpluses are, how they affect everything else and how we will allocate the money. Our extra pay in the fall is used to pay my licensing fee and fund Christmas. This year it will also be allocated to some vehicle stuff as well like tire change, registration and new brakes. Because I know we have these months of extra pays, we use our surplus months in this manner rather than budgeting these items in every month as most people do. It works for us!

Do you budget one month at a time of months into the future like me? What do you like about it?



If You Have to Justify a Purchase, You Probably Didn’t Need It.

Do you ever find yourself buying something, telling someone about your purchase, and before they say anything, you start explaining why you needed it?

I know I have.

And 99% of the time, it was something I didn’t need.

Scenario One

ME: ”Hey Babe, I went to the store and bought some ingredients to make dinner tonight”; HIM: ”Sounds great, I can’t wait to try it!”

No explanation needed. Obviously if you need something there is no justification required. My husband wouldn’t retort with ”Why did you buy ingredients we needed for a meal we need to eat”. We need it, so that’s why bought it.

Scenario Two

ME: ”Hey Babe, I went to the store and bought some ingredients to make dinner tonight and I also bought a massive jar of Nutella, a five pound bag of apples and some nail polish…BUT before you say anything! I needed this stuff. I know I only went for the dinner ingredients but the Nutella was on sale, even though we have 6 apples in the fridge I’ll bake (something else we don’t need) with this bag and I haven’t bought new nail polish in f-o-r-e-v-e-r so really, I needed that too” HIM: ”eyeroll”.

I can’t even convince myself with scenario two as I type it out, yet I have done it a gazillion times. I go to the store with a list and convince myself that there are other items that I needed.

If you really have to justify a purchase to yourself or someone else, you probably don’t need it and your money will be better spent (or saved) somewhere else.

There is a difference between thinking about a purchase and justifying it. You need to make the distinction. Take my recent laptop purchase as an example. Initially I didn’t need a new laptop. I spent weeks convincing myself a million reasons why I did though. In the end my head won and for two years I didn’t buy one. When she finally did stop working I no longer had to justify it, rather think the decision though and decide how much  I would spend and where I would buy it from. Two years ago I would have had to justify to my husband why I needed it. After it stopped working, and needed to be replaced, no justification was needed.

I have so much honest regret about crap I’ve wasted money on in the past and 100% of the time I had to justify the purchase to myself or someone else. Though I have come a long way, the struggle between wants and needs is a real thing.

When making a purchase on a want (the new shoes, the video game, the nail polish, the gym membership…) think about how much justification it’s going to take and then decide if it is worth it.

Life is too short to not be enjoyed. I’m not suggesting you don’t enjoy your money. What I am suggesting is that you value your money and make sure it is appropriated in the best manner. If something makes you genuinely happy, that is justification enough but if three days later you’re convincing yourself you still need ”it”, return it and rid your conscious of guilt.

How To Face Your Debt For The First Time

This topic seems so silly on the surface but for people who are in debt and avoiding it, it can be a very real issue. They just don’t know how or where to start. Part of the reason the issue of debt is such a massive problem worldwide, is that it is simply easier to avoid it then deal with it. Like so many other things in life, avoiding it won’t make it go away and only compound the issue. Your mind can be very powerful and if you force yourself to forget about something, even for a temporary reprieve, you can. But as I already talked about last week, there are many reasons why ignoring your debt is a bad idea and you need to face it!

To start, prepare yourself mentally to face a challenge. You need to be in the right mind set and have time to dedicate to it. Don’t decide at 11pm on a weeknight that you’re finally going to come up with a plan. You need to make the commitment to change and get the debt paid off.

Sign up for online banking. It’s 2014, I don’t know of a single bank in the world that wouldn’t have online access but it may be something you have to register for. Before your ”debt date” make sure your online banking is established and working.

Pick a date. Set aside dedicated time for yourself (or you plus spouse) to sit down. If you have children, make sure they won’t be a distraction. You need full attention the first time you try to work through this problem. Be comfortable in general. If the day you have set aside ends up going to hell in a hand basket, reschedule but don’t give yourself too much time in between dates, urgency is key.

Gather Info. This includes locating all account numbers and contacts for each account. If you can’t access the information online, be prepared to call the loan issuer to get the relevant information. This also requires basics like having pens and paper around. When you’re getting the information make sure you find out original balance, balance owing, interest rate and minimum payment. With the first phone call just get basic information. Once a plan is in place you may be required to call them back with more precise questions but for now basics only, after all this is a baby-step process

Make the calculations. This can often be the toughest part but it needs to be done. Sit down and finally calculate what the final number is. There are a number of online calculators that can help you if you’re unsure about calculating stuff like interest rate but it’s not as difficult as you may think.

Come up with a plan. Once you know the final number you need to come up with a plan to get it paid off ASAP. This will include looking into your budget and seeing what needs to be done. You may not have to do much other than reallocate some money but more likely then not you’ll need to make changes, cut things out or make extra money and put any extra funds towards your debt.

Facing your debt for the first time can be daunting but a very necessary thing to do. Once you have a plan in place you will feel much better, trust me :)

Any other tips for someone preparing to deal with their debt for the first time?


Pssssst: My bloggy friend Pauline is having a pretty sweet giveaway…head on over to enter to win some serious cash and prizes!!

If I’m over 50 what should I do about Life Insurance?

The best time to purchase life insurance is when you are young and healthy; the premiums you pay will be lower as the insurance company’s risk in insuring you will be low.   But you may not be young when you need insurance.

As more people decide to start a family later in life so more people apply for life insurance at this point too. Many of the commercials you see on the television, which advertise life insurance for people over 50, make it seem as though this is a really advanced age. In reality it’s not uncommon for people in their 50s to have young children.

If I have a young family what should I do about Life Insurance?

Essentially there is no difference between someone who wants to provide for their partner and children when they are 50 and someone who wants to do the same when they are 30. The reason behind the decision to apply for life insurance is the same. You have a young family and you want to make sure that they are provided for should you die; costs such as school fees and mortgage payments don’t die with you.

When you are 30 the usual path to follow is to apply for term life insurance which will cover you for a number of years to allow time for your children to grow and make their own life. When this happens you will not have the same financial responsibility. In the majority of cases people can do this as they are young and relatively healthy. This means that they can get a term life insurance policy quite easily and with affordable premiums.

Although you may have similar circumstances when you are 50 the insurance situation changes because you are obviously closer to average life expectancy of 78 years. This does not mean you can’t purchase term life insurance but you will usually be subject to a medical and your premiums may be significantly higher than they would if you were younger.

What are my options aside from term life insurance?

Over 50s insurance policies are a specialized purchase and are for your whole life. You will pay premiums for the rest of your life and an amount will be paid to your dependents when you die. The good things about over 50s insurance are that it is a way of protecting those that you leave behind, in a financial manner, and that there is no medical involved.

If you apply for over 50s life insurance you will be accepted but you do have to pay high premiums to reflect this. Realistically, in the vast majority of cases, life insurance is cheaper when you are younger. This is not ideal if you are starting a family, and setting up home, later in life but you do still have options to get yourself insured; it just may cost you more money.

Why Ignoring Your Debt is a Bad Idea

For a few years we ignored our debt. Not totally ignored but made our minimum payments faithfully each month on our student debt and hoped to wake up one day and have them be gone, except it wasn’t happening that way. Each month we’d send in our bank checks and hope to wake up to a zero balance. You know those Visa commercials where the guy shakes his bill and the balance is magically zero? Yeah, tried it and doesn’t work.

I was so not interested in figuring out exactly what we had to do to get our debt paid off that I just ignored it all instead. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and realized we were now responsible for another person that I clued in that something more needs to happen and guess what? It wasn’t easy. It was ugly.

Taking charge of your finances, especially when debt is involved is hard but you need to do it. Ignoring your debt is never the answer. YOU need to control your own finances and I promise you your life will improve a million percent.

You’ll sleep better. I’m not an easily stressed person but I found myself not being able to sleep restfully at night because I was constantly thinking about money. How we were going to make it work, how we were going to get the debt paid off in a reasonable time and how we were going to afford the life we wanted for our child. We had good paying jobs but didn’t know they best way to make our money work for us. As soon as we sat down together and had an in-depth conversation about everything I slept better. Getting on the same page and coming up with a plan of attack was the first step to feeling better about the whole situation.

You will become a calmer, happier person. Because you’re not constantly thinking about money, your stress level will be decreased and less stress always makes for a happier person. Being a calmer person will lead to better overall decision-making which will have positive effects in all areas of your life.

You’ll gain confidence. Making a purchase and knowing you have the money set aside for said purchase is a great feeling. When you’re ignoring your debt and making uninformed purchases it only aggravates the situation.

If you continue to ignore your debt you’ll never reach your goals in life and what fun is that? We only have a finite amount of time on this earth so we need to make the most of it. Paying off debt is one of the first steps to reaching the goals you have set out to accomplish.

Being in debt sucks. I am a much happier person since coming up with a plan to get rid of our debt while still meeting other life goals (such as some vacations). I talk about money and no longer worry about finances. I have a pretty good idea about what our life is going to look like in five years and what we need to do to attain it. I’m not going to ever go back to ignoring debt and hoping it just gets figured out, because I know it never will.

Lowering Your Car Insurance Premiums by Increasing Your Credit Score

Did you know that you can save money on your car insurance by improving your credit score? While it may seem odd that your credit score and your auto insurance rates are connected, there is a correlation between the amount that you pay for coverage and your credit score. How does improving your credit lower your auto insurance rates?

People With High Credit Scores Are Seen as More Responsible

Those who have a high credit score have that score because they have been responsible with their money. Those who are considered to be responsible with their money are generally responsible with other aspects of their lives as well. This means that there is less of a chance that a driver will commit insurance fraud or file a frivolous claim to get money to pay for bills or to support an addictive lifestyle.

Drivers With Higher Credit Scores Are Older

Drivers who are over the age of 25 tend to be the people who have the higher credit scores. People who are over the age of 25 also tend to be married, have children and have steady jobs. These are things that younger people with lower credit scores may not generally have due to inexperience, maturity or other factors.

Drivers With Good Credit Drive Cars With Safety Features

A driver who has good credit can generally get a loan amount and an interest rate that enables him or her to drive a newer car with safety features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. Features such as these reduce the odds that a car is going to be involved in an accident. Modern features such as back-up cameras and lane assist make it even less likely that a car will be involved in an accident because of the driver being unable to see or being drowsy.

Those who are seeking the lowest Winston-Salem car insurance quote should look into improving their credit score. Doing so makes it possible to save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year in premiums. This money can then be put into a savings account where it can grow even more.

The Great Laptop Steal!

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgThis day has been coming for quite some time. The day has finally arrived that I can write a post out on a computer of my own. Since I started blogging I have been using my husbands laptop. His work provides him with a computer and I was relying on either his current computer (ideal since it is new and actually works) or his six-year-old laptop that was on its last legs. With increase in freelance work and my husband having his own deadlines to meet professionally and for his own blog, I was using the old computer more and more….and it just wasn’t working.

I have been delaying buying my own computer for some time, I was just too cheap but when the ”P” and ”Ctrl” button on the old laptop stopped working…and it may or may not have started smoking from overheating…I did what I could for two weeks before finding a sale decent enough to drop some cash down and I am more than happy with what I was able to get.

Honestly I don’t need any bells and whistles and I would never use an Apple product to its potential. All I wanted was internet connection, something I could run Microsoft office on since there’s no way I could live without my excel and, in a perfect world, a numeric keypad since I use it quite frequently.

This past Saturday a local drugstore chain (of all places) had a good sale on a cheap, very basic computer for $350 also offering 20x in store collectors points. Not only did I end up getting a new laptop for a steal but I now have almost $200 in points to use at this store which sells everything from high-end makeup to bacon. It’s basically a small department store which I will have no problem spending money in. I’m excited to ‘shop for free’ at this store but for now I will hold onto my points until we figure out how we’re going to use them but I’m thinking we’ll likely use some at Christmas time.

My hope is that I will not only have a little more time to blog but it will be more efficiently used not wasted trying to get the buttons to work or even to turn on. I honestly don’t know what took me so long but I’m glad the day has finally come!

What was the last great sale item you scored??

Could You Live Without Your Smartphone?

As I type the title of this post out I don’t know if I should feel sad for humanity or happy that we have created such and ingenious device?

Mike and I, like billions of others, love our smartphones. They’re like our third arm. If for some reason I forget my phone at home while out, my heart quite literally skips a beat. Though I sometimes kill more time than I’d like to admit on my ”phone”, I really do appreciate just how much this silly device has given me. As a busy full-time working professional, blogger, wife and mom to one, I need as much simplicity in my life as I can get, and for me it’s my phone. There is very little I cannot accomplish on my smartphone.

Phone calls

This sounds ridiculous but on a very rare occasion I actually use my phone, as a phone. Though I may have to search through the damn thing to figure out how to work the phone part, it is actually the thing that gives me the most peace of mind. When I was in high school I was in a car accident with no phone and literally had to wait for someone to stop so I could get help and call my mom. Thank God it was on a busy street and I didn’t have to wait long, but since then I literally won’t even walk to the end of the street without bringing it with me, especially if I have my daughter with me.

Social Media and Email

I logged into Twitter via my computer the other day and my initial reaction was ‘wtf is this?” I almost exclusively use my phone for social media and email, which for a blogger is a huge part of what I do on a daily basis.

There’s an App for that!

It’s really unfathomable just how many apps are out there. I’ve personally used apps to help me lose weight, create lists, play games, collect points and pay bills. You name it and there’s likely an app that may surprisingly be very helpful to you.

Mobile Payments

Though this is a relatively new concept I am super excited for it to take off. Mobile payments essentially eliminate the need to use debit or credit for smaller purchases. I’ve recently installed my first mobile payment app on my phone and am more excited than I should be about using it. I love the idea of not needing to carry small change around for a coffee or bite to eat if you’re out and about and forgot your wallet (and yes, forgetting my wallet and ID happens more than I’d like).

I love my smartphone. It really does make my life easier, especially since I have little to no computer access (but often near WiFi), it allows me to ”take care of business” from afar. Could I live without my smartphone, obviously. Do I want to even think of such a torturous life? Nope ;) How about you?


When Do You Know It’s Time For a Change?

I’m a creature of routine. Though you may not know it by walking into mu house on any Thursday afternoon, I thrive on organization and routine. I say Thursday because it’s the second full day of me working and when I’m working full-time, stuff from Monday evening until Friday evening starts to pile up. It’s ok though because I know between Friday and Saturday Mike and I will have everything back in place.

I like my four-day work week and hours worked. For the most part, I like the routine we have with me getting two and from work and how we manage our home time. Though nothing has changed in our lives or routines in the last few months, I have noticed I am increasingly unhappy with how certain things are and I am feeling like I, we, as a family, need a change.

As long as I’ve been at my current job I haven’t had much in terms of complaints. I still recognize that the pros outweigh the cons with my job but I’m noticing that lately I have a lot more complaints. Not only am I complaining about my job more, I find myself justifying why I need to be there. There are a lot of really great things about this position but I’ve come to the realization I don’t see myself there forever. I deal with certain things now that, longterm will wear me down. After five years here, I’m at the point that for the first time am contemplating leaving.

Maybe I’m just so tired my frustrations about my job, most of which have always been there, are just annoyance lately. I can’t decide if I’m just in a job funk or if I really so need a change.

This makes me a little sad for a lot of different reasons but things within the work environment have slowly been changing and although don’t directly affect my job, are wearing me out just being in the same atmosphere. I just don’t know if I’m ready to change my routine and if I do, by how much.

I have written about not considering an otherwise ideal job because of the hours. Just this week I was discussing with my husband about how we could make that same job work for our family when deep down in my heart I knew it would have repercussions. I’ve already written a post about the reasons why it wouldn’t work but I’m so torn up inside about my current job it actually has me creating delusions about making a job I know couldn’t work for our family a reality. I think this is my tell-tale sign that something has to change.

When you’re in a stressful situation you can start making irrational decisions or at the very least thought process. I’m so scared of making decisions full of regret but, again, can’t decide at what point change is necessary.

How do you decide when something has to permanently change or you just need a break from how things are?

How Many Online Payday Loans Can Someone Receive?

It is rather simple to obtain a payday loan, even online. A variety of lenders are available to assist with your needs for emergency cash. There are some restrictions in place regarding how many loans a single person can take out and the repayment terms very for each lender. Some lenders require one single payment and others break the loan down into multiple payments, based upon the amount lent.  You can read more about restrictions here.

Loan Number is State Dependent

States have the ability to restrict the number of loans that a single person can obtain at once or per year. It is best to discuss these regulations with the lender in your specific state. Lenders must follow these guidelines in order to maintain their licensing as a payday loan lender.

In some cases, an installment loan might be offered rather than a payday loan. Keep this in mind as it is an opportunity to obtain more funds and have more time to pay the loan back. Title loans are another option with some lenders that provides funds based upon the value of your vehicle that is owned outright. Title loans offer installment payments for repayment of the amount borrowed plus fees.

One per Lender at a Time

A lender cannot provide a second payday loan to a borrower that already has a loan out with them. A new payday loan cannot be issued until the existing loan is paid in full. Some lenders also require that a full 24-hours passes before a new loan is requested. This is also to protect you from not being able to repay the loan and risk having to go to court or have a negative balance in your bank account.

Loan Amount Based Upon Income

Payday loans are based upon your income, not your credit. This is why there are restrictions on how many loans you can have out at once. In most cases, it is one at a time per lender but you can have more than one outstanding loan with alternating companies on different weeks. While this often causes financial distress due to the high fees, most people that use these loans obtain one to pay another off and so on. It is a cycle that repeats itself while still providing consumers with the cash that they need right away due to an emergency.

Online payday loans are helpful to thousands of consumers every day. Emergencies occur and the cash flow isn’t always there to handle those emergencies. Make sure that you only request an amount that you can comfortably pay back and not have to obtain another loan to replace those funds. Do your best to work with only one lender. Bouncing from lender to lender causes financial confusion.