Tag Archives: saving money

Top 8 Ideas To Stay On Top Of Personal Finances In 2017

The following was contributed by Amy Nickson:

Many people ignore their personal financial health because they know fixing the problem is not an easy task. However, many people don’t even know where to start. Most of them ignore the idea of staying top of their personal finances, but instead of ignoring, you must take care of your personal finances to see good results in the coming year.

If you’re not sure where to start, this article may help you. Read carefully:

1. Keep Your Household Budget in Order

Once you create a budget system according to your financial ability, you can manage emergencies, save money for the future, and make some additional expenditures. A budget also teaches you how to overcome bad financial habits as well. Once you start following a suitable budget, you’ll be able to know the amount you spend and the amount you save. Thus, you can seek to save more after meeting your daily necessities.

Be Sure to Balance Your Budget
Be sure to balance your budget

2. Take Advantage of Free Budgeting Tools and Apps to Create Your Budget

Budgeting is not as scary as many people think. Many budgeting tools and apps are available online. If budgeting sounds dull, then install a free budgeting app on your smartphone and start using it. Soon you can see the positive results in your personal financial health.

3. Save More Money Than the Previous Year

Saving money is the only way to stay top of your finances throughout the year. If you have saved 15% of your income as of now, then try to increase your savings percentage in this year. Set aside 20% of your monthly income to save more than before. Don’t use the savings account for day to day purchases. Allow the money to grow and keep saving for a longer time. Thus, you will be able to build up a solid financial cushion.

4. Manage Your Debts to Stay on Top of Your Personal Finances

If you are carrying high-interest credit card debts, then you can consider a balance transfer to a credit card that offers low-interest rates. Try to find out a credit card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee. Don’t miss any monthly payment to avoid charges.

You may not be able to pay off all of your personal debts (credit cards debts, student loan debts) within few months, but you should start making extra payments towards your debts to pay them off as early as you can. Save money every month to make some extra payments toward your highest-interest debts.

For example,

If you’re planning a splurge of $100 this weekend, then use the money to make extra debt payments instead of splurging on something you don’t need.

This way strategy will be more beneficial in the long run by allowing you to be a debt-free person.

5. Start Funding a Retirement Account

If you don’t have a retirement fund yet, then open an account and start funding. If your workplace has a 401 (k) plan or an IRA, then take advantage of them to get the tax benefit as well. Remember, there is no particular time or age to invest money for your retirement years. The earlier you think about your retirement, the sooner you secure your financial future. Try to put money into a retirement account as soon as possible to take advantage of compounding.

6. Ask for a Raise

If you’re working hard and performing well in your workplace, then this is the right time to ask for a raise. Approach to your employer to attempt to get paid according to your capability. You can also consider a side hustle to boost your income. Go online to get a sample of ideas.

7. Financial Trouble? Seek Professional Help

Knowing the exact solution for each personal financial problem is not possible for most people. To get proper guidance and solutions, seek professional help. A financial advisor can help suggest the right option that helps you make the right decision.

For example:

Consider professional help before investing money, making a will, and taking out a loan.

8. Utilize the Internet and Subscribe to Coupons

Couponing is one of the most effective ways to save money in your daily life. It helps to save money on groceries and other household expenses. If you have a smartphone and an Internet connection, then you can sign up with many manufacturers’ websites to find branded coupons. Many companies offer coupons on a regular basis on the Internet so you must keep eyes open to grab some great deals on regular purchases.

Finally, setting financial goals is important, but set realistic and achievable goals. Don’t imagine yourself as a multimillionaire at the beginning of your personal financial career. There is no such shortcut to becoming rich. You must earn money and save money with determination. Research well and read more to invest your money for the best return. Thus, you can ensure your personal financial health in future.

Author’s Bio: Amy Nickson is a web enthusiast. She works for Oak View Law Group, a leading consumer and bankruptcy law firm based in CA and operational across US. She loves social media, as it gives her endless opportunities to reach out to a larger audience in a more unbiased way.

Image Credit: stevepb via pixabay

Taking the Long View of Personal Finance

Do you want the bad news first, or would you rather have the good news? I’ll start with the bad news. Most people in the United States live for today. The average American is deep in debt, and this debt can really lead to many difficulties in life.  A person’s savings rate is the leading indicator for future wealth. This indicator reached an all-time high of 17 percent of income back in 1975, but by July 2005, the rate was at an all-time low of less than 2 percent. Today, the savings rate for the average American has reached 5.7 percent, which is three times what it was just a decade ago.  The good news is that there are some pretty easy steps to take to improve your personal savings rate and shore up your finances.

The reason for this increase is probably related to what happened between 2005 and today–the Great Recession.  People were shaken by the sudden crash of the economy. While a savings rate of between 5 and 10 percent might seem impressive given where it’s come from just a few years ago, it’s still not all that great. The popular site Mr. Money Mustache has a pretty amazing article on “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement” that looks at how the savings rate can determine how long a person has to work.  A person who saves 5 percent a year will have to work about 66 years to be able to retire comfortably. Fewer teenagers are working today, so this means that a 20-something who starts to work today will need to work until about age 90 before they can let someone else take over their job.

This math presupposes that there is no pension waiting on a worker and that the doomsday scenarios of Social Security that claim it will pay nothing at sometime in the not-too-distant future will come frighteningly to fruition.  This means that the savings rate of American workers is woefully short of what it needs to be. Even the record savings rate in the post-1959 world that was noted above will require quite a bit of work. A 17 percent savings rate means that a worker can retire right around the “traditional” retirement age after working approximately 40 years, again assuming that there is no pension or Social Security payment coming. Needless to say, this is not a terribly comforting situation.

These numbers are why it’s important to take a long view when it comes to personal finance.  Those who fail to plan actually plan to fail, so getting some goals together is a good idea. I don’t know about you, but having to work until 90 would mean that I’d probably be dead before I can afford to quit working on a full-time basis.  That does not seem like a terribly enjoyable path to take. The time to start planning for retirement was 10 years ago. However, if you didn’t put in the effort to plan 10 years ago, the second best time is now.

This is where earning money in pajamas proves to be a great idea. If your main gig barely pays the bills, there are exactly two ways to save money (outside of having a long, lost extremely rich uncle give you a massive inheritance or hitting the lottery, which is a losing proposition because the house always has to win). These first of these two realistic methods is cutting expenses. With the number of high-paying jobs not being what most Americans might wish, keeping expenses down is definitely an important step to take to ensure that you can build wealth over time.

The second option for saving more money involves finding other avenues to make money. With the advent of the Interwebs, the opportunities for making more money are quite extensive. Here are 11 such options that I’ve shared before for making extra moolah online .  Few jobs require employees to work every waking hour, so most workers will have several hours each week to earn more money. The best part about utilizing the Internet means of making money is that you don’t have to leave the house. You can literally sit around in your pajamas on a Saturday afternoon and make a bit of money while watching football. If you have a connection to the Internet, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t attempt to make more money. The link above has some great ways that I’ve been able to make money. I’ve used a few to make more than $1,000.

It’s important to take the long view of personal finance when thinking about making money online because it’s easy to get discouraged. A few hundred dollars a year might not seem like much, but your future self will appreciate that your current self decided to save some money for the future. I’ve noted before that saving just a dollar a day between the ages of 16 and the “normal” retirement age of 65 will yield an account of around $286,000 if an 8 percent return can be realized.  The power of a simple dollar can be quite amazing.  If you can raise this amount to $2 a day in additional income that you can save, you’ll have around half a million by retirement. Only $4 a day will lead to a cool million by 65 if you can start at 16. Discipline is important through all of this, and it’s important to stay in the market.

Those who are able to engage in both of the strategies listed above can super-charge their trek toward retirement. Cutting $4 in spending each day and then making just $4 extra per day and then saving the $8 would lead to nearly $3000 in savings after just a year and nearly $2 million over a 50-year period if you were able to earn an 8-percent return. Those who do not have 50 years to play with can still make some major progress with just a few small tweaks. Even if you’re only looking at 20 years until needing the money, you’ll still be way ahead of what you would have should you never have started to begin with. The time to start making some money in pajamas is now. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start saving and taking advantage of the compounding process.  Thinking of the long terms is the only way to make this happen, however, so be sure to get started today.

Disclaimer: I can receive compensation if you sign up for some of the programs that I’ve reviewed using one of my referral links. I definitely appreciate the support, but in the interest of full disclosure, you can still get the the same benefits without using my link. 

If you’ve appreciated or otherwise enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up to get updates when I post any new articles.

How to Save Money on Amusement Parks

Summer is the time of year when most kids are out of school and the weather is pretty warm throughout the country. Many families take vacations during the summer so as to avoid conflicts with school, and one of the more common stops on family vacations is the amusement park.

Growing up, I went to King’s Island near Cincinnati, Ohio, nearly on an annual basis. I first visited the park probably around 1978. I lived only about four hours away, so it was a visit that I could turn into a day trip as I got old enough to drive. I bet I’ve been to the park about 20 times in my life. I’ve been to other parks, but this is the park I’ve visited the most.

Replica of the Eiffel Tower at King's Island in Mason, OH
Replica of the Eiffel Tower and fireworks at King’s Island in Mason, OH–Photo by Author

While visiting with some friends in the area, I decided to take my family of four to King’s Island. I looked up the ticket prices. Buying a ticket at the gate was a whopping $64. I think I paid around $40 on my last trip about 12 years ago. This seemed pretty high for a non-Disney visit.

Buy Online

One of the easiest ways to save money on many park tickets is to buy this ticket online. Purchasing the tickets before your visit costs anywhere between $42.99 and $46.99 for an all-day ticket. That’s a pretty big discount over the $64 that you’d pay by driving up and buying admission at one of the park’s ticket booths. Multiply it by four (or whatever the number of people in your family is), and suddenly, we’re talking real money.  I was also able to purchase online tickets for Disneyland Paris at a discount earlier this year. These tickets today are starting at $53 for specific days.

Go On Off-peak Dates

I noted the $53 Disneyland Paris tickets in the paragraph above. These only work on specific days. Disney parks in the USA are also charging different prices based upon when a person wants to visit. Those going at peak times are going to have to pay for the privilege. Going back to King’s Island, I was able to get in at a big discount back in the early 2000s (if memory serves correct, the admission cost was $19.99). The catch was the fact that the visit came in late October, which was right around the time that the park was closing for the season.

Buy a Late Admission Ticket

I noted earlier that I found online tickets as low as $42.99 for my recent visit to King’s Island. This was not the lowest price available however. Those who are willing to wait until 4pm to visit and purchase their tickets online can get in for as little as $30.99. This is a cost savings of more than half. I remember that most of my trips to King’s Island saw me getting to the park around opening at 10am, and with the exception of exactly one trip with a couple of friends, I never closed the park down. Most of the time, I left around 5pm so that I could get a quick meal and drive home at a decent hour. That meant about 7, maybe 8 hours in the park. I decided it would be a good idea to wait until right at 4 to get to the park. Sure enough, I saw more people leaving than going in at this time. They got 6 hours of fun for anywhere between $43 and $64, while I got 6 hours of fun in a less-crowded park for $31. Who got the better deal?

Another example I have is from a visit to the Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. We visited this park three years ago, as the Twin Cities was the closest major city for us at the time. We had visited and let the kids ride a couple of the rides by buying tickets. We’d spend quite a bit for just a handful of rides, as we were more interested in shopping on previous visits. We then found that you could buy a ticket to ride all day for about $35. Wait until 5pm, and we found that you could ride as much as you can ride  until closing for only $19.99. While Nickelodeon Universe is far from the most impressive amusement park in the world, $19.99 is not a bad price for a few hours of fun.

SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at the Mall of America, via Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH at Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0de

Looking into these three tips can help you maximize your money when going to an amusement park. While this is not earning money in pajamas, it is a step that can help you make the dollars you make go a bit further, and who can be against that?

Saving Money in Pajamas with Haircuts

Building wealth requires making enough income to put a bit away each month. It’s usually a very long-term proposition that can literally take decades.  As I’ve already stated in another post, a dollar a day can really add up over time to be a substantial sum when compound interest and dividends come into play. I’ve pointed out that sites like SwagBucks and CashCrate can help you earn money on a regular basis. I’ve earned well above a dollar per day, much of it passive, from these two sources over the past three years.

Another source of building wealth is spending less than just about everyone else. A good way for men to save money is through haircuts. This advice might not work as well for women, as a standard set of clippers will not help them look all that great. Most guys have no problems cutting their hair really short. Of course, never cutting hair at all can also save money on haircuts.

I read an article on the Mr. Money Mustache site late last year about cutting your own hair and saving some serious bank. When I walked by a set of clippers with a number of different guards that allow you to manage different lengths for your hair and beard in WalMart while visiting family over Christmas break, I decided to pick it up. I’ve gone with a very short hair style in recent years (after going for over a year without a haircut back in 2010), so I figured I didn’t have much to lose. The cost for this clipper set from Wahl (which plasters that it’s made in the USA on its packaging) was a whopping $37. With tax, it came up to about $40.

I figured that I spend about $16 per haircut when a tip is figured in, and I only got one about every 3 months or so. Having my own set of clippers and a mirror could help me get my hair cut more frequently at a fraction of the cost. I would be ahead after just three haircuts, and I’m already at that point. Every time I cut my hair from this point on is just simply gravy, as the clippers amortize to a very small amount. For example, if I get 100 uses out of the clippers, I will pay about $0.40 per hair cut plus a few pennies for electricity. That’s way cheaper than $16 a pop that I would currently pay someone else to cut my hair, and that cost will probably go up with inflation in the next 10 years. I remember paying about $6 25 years ago. Those 100 hair cuts would have cost about $1,600 and many hours in a barbershop. Now, I’ve already spent the $40, and it only takes me around 10 to 15 minutes to crop my top.

Those $1,600 will probably add up to much more than that over time if invested in a mutual fund. Furthermore, I won’t have to sit in a barber shop or salon for many hours waiting around to get called to the chair. While I can’t really recommend this for women, most men could save quite a bit of money in this manner. A few smart moves like this to cut expenses can go a long way toward financial freedom. You could even use your earnings from CashCrate or Swagbucks to pay for your clippers, and that would compound the power of earning money in pajamas.