Secrets To Keeping Your Spending In Check - Secret #3: Use a Budget!

Secrets To Keeping Your Spending In Check - Secret #3: Use a Budget!

One of the reasons we overspend is because we don't set reasonable limits on spending. Most of us just keep spending and find there is more month than money. A budget can save you from this problem.

First of all, "budget" is not a swear word, and we should not cower when we hear it. Get comfortable with it and your budget will be one of your greatest friends!

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Budget Friendly Weddings

Budget Friendly Weddings

Marriage, debt and moving your home are ranked among the top most stressful life events. A wedding often combines all three into a well-planned panic attack. Budget trends for weddings have been steadily going up, despite the economic downturn. In fact, the average wedding in the US can cost up to $27,000. There is no short supply of suggestions to make a wedding more budget-friendly, and rightfully so! Imagine what other things can be done with $27,000 to support your new married life. Since disagreements over money is still the number one reason for divorce, a couple approaching matrimony would do well to consider using a lot of that money for their life after the wedding day.

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Having the Courage to Succeed

Having the Courage to Succeed

Knowing which path to take in achieving your Financial Freedom can seem quite scary at times. Imagine going on a road trip with your family. You set the destination, you map out where you want to go, you pack everything you need....and you're off! Half way into the trip you find that there is major construction going on and you see a sign that says "DETOUR AHEAD". You accidentally take the wrong turn and by the time you figure out where you are, you're over an hour away just to get back on route to your destination.

Achieving your Financial Freedom can seem a lot like this. At times things can come up in your life that you weren't expecting, and in the process of trying to do the best that you can, you wind up taking a wrong turn. It can be frustrating, scary, and even nauseous at times. However, having the Courage to Succeed you can be confident in knowing that you will reach your destination.

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Having All the Money You Need

Having All the Money You Need

It wasn't long ago that I remember striving to make ends meet. I was using what Jim Rohn calls the "Cross-Finger Theory", which never worked. It seemed no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I could never seem to have enough money to pay the bills, or go out to dinner with friends, or be able to buy gifts for family and friends on their birthday's, or during the Holidays.

Then one day, I walked into a vintage book store and came across a book called "Having all the Money You Need". It was an old, yet simple read. It was a christian-based book that looked like it had been read many times over. It was written in the 1970's and I was so shocked how relevant its teachings were still to this day. In this book, laid foundational principles that has changed my life forever.

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March Break Fun Affordable Ideas

March Break Fun Affordable Ideas

If you're deciding to have a stay-cation or even want to find some fun ideas to do during down time on your trip you might like the following:

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Definition of Poverty

Definition of Poverty

The definition of poverty has been refined over the past number of years and the new definition is gaining support:

Old Definition: Lack of basic necessities
New Definition: Inability to provide oneself with basic necessities.

Its the old adage - "you can keep giving a man fish time and time again, or you can teach him to fish once". This new focus on capability allows a more comprehensive focus on addressing poverty and working towards eliminating it in the world. With this new definition, the values of self-esteem and freedom are part-in-parcel with sustenance, making discussions on poverty more complete.

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When You Should Buy a New Car

When You Should Buy a New Car

First of all - the rule of thumb is NEVER buy a new car unless you have money to burn. Vehicles devalue so quickly, the financing usually leaves you paying for something that is not even worth the remaining balance you owe. In fact, as soon as you drive the car off the dealers lot you can take a few $1000 off the price you just paid. 0% financing may make is look more tempting, but its still a bad deal.

Now, having said that, I just bought a new car :) But I did so with my eyes wide open. You may recall from a previous blog that my van died. We decided at the time to try living without owning a vehicle. We tried the experiment for 3 weeks. The money savings were great, but here's what we found. We were spending up to 1 hour/day trying to arrange for borrowing a vehicle to get our family (7 of us) to the places we needed to be at. That time (and to a less degree, the stress of feeling like a burden to those we were constantly asking) was something we didn't fully consider.

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To drive or not to drive, THAT is the question

To drive or not to drive, THAT is the question

Last week, our van died. It was a cruel, fast death. The head gasket blew, engine light was flashing and the van produced a noxious smell with fumes and smoke. Not pretty. Luckily a friend was able to help me get where I needed to go. Once the dust settled, we got the van towed to a repair shop for an estimate. They estimated $2050. My goodness! Having looked up the selling price of the van, I knew that this repair would cost more than the entire value of the van.

We had some options to weigh:

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Tune Up That Computer Instead of Buying New

Tune Up That Computer Instead of Buying New

A lot of people I know get frustrated with their computers complaining they are slow, and its cumbersome to use the internet, multitask, and do "simple things". A little PC-tuning can go a long way to correcting this situation and save you big bucks if you think the best solution is a new machine. (On top of that, if you don't learn how to solve the problems... your new machine will shortly become in the same state as your older one).

Here are some tips to keeping your (Windows-based) computer humming:

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Can I Deposit Time into My Savings Account?

Can I Deposit Time into My Savings Account?

People, especially women, are increasingly buying time at significant cost. We are hiring people to do housework, care for our children, have personal chefs cook for our families, maintain our cars, furnaces, etc... Wherever there is a need, there is likely to be someone willing to perform that task for you in exchange for your money.

Some discussion points include:

  • affect on our basic skill set if we don't perform these tasks ourself. What happens in an emergency or if we can no longer afford these services? Will we feel confident enough to act in these capacities if we need to?
  • are we getting better net results from these tasks as we have people who specialize in these particular areas do them for us?
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Reducing your Entertainment Expenses

Reducing your Entertainment Expenses

Most people who track their spending accurately (see CalendarBudget) will notice that their expenditures on entertainment add up to more than they expect. I know for me and all of my friends this is true. Of course, this makes sense. What else are we going to do with our disposable income? Given that, here are a few ideas for less-expensive entertainment alternatives so you can take your extra money and pay down that debt or invest for your future... and you'll find some of these ideas are great fun!

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Tax Return Funds Redirect to What?

Tax Return Funds Redirect to What?

It's so thrilling to see the assessment of how much of your hard earned money you're going to get back from the government on your Tax Return. The question is what to do with the money?

Well I know what I want to do (a big shopping spree for house renovations, new computer, vacation, plus some other items on the wish list), but then I know that's not really what I should do.

Here's a list of suggestions (you can do one/some/all):

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What Does Zero Down End Up Costing You?

What Does Zero Down End Up Costing You?

There are many opportunities to put ZERO down on different purchases these days. Zero down mortgage. Zero down event with zero payments for a year at your local furniture store. Zero down event with zero payments for a year at your local auto dealership. This is great if you are still planning and saving for your purchase along the way and paying more than minimum payments when you begin payment.

Having a zero down mortgage leaves more for you to pay off in the long run and therefore a greater amount for you to collect interest on. So when there's a greater amount of interest collected that means you will pay an even greater amount for the house in the long run. So, for example, if you purchase a $200,000 house, put zero down and thus get a mortgage for $200,000, a 25 year term, with a 5.0 interest rate, you will end up paying $350,754 in total at the end of the 25 years. 

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Can You Laugh In the Face of a "Money Pit"?

Can You Laugh In the Face of a "Money Pit"?

I'm happy to be back writing to you from almost a full week silent in bed sick.

I found this funny clip of a classic movie "The Money Pit".

Tom Hanks had a great attitude to just laugh at the list of mishaps that could have otherwise put him in a fit of rage. He could have been more aware from the beginning and avoided the stress/hard long work hours/money pit (seemingly endless expenses).

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Ads Getting You Hook, Line, and Sinker?

Ads Getting You Hook, Line, and Sinker?

Ads on television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc, even the internet, are so cleverly designed to lure us in to buy almost anything. It's often a product unrelated to the lure that is being sold.

This was cleverly put in Money magazine's February issue. They had a seducing image of supermodel,Petra Nemcova, and next to it was the question, "Does she make you want to buy junk bonds?" The source for the section was "Are People More Risk-Taking in the presence of the Opposite Sex?" by Patrick McAlvanah. He had done a study finding that pictures of the opposite sex (attractive/unattractive) increased a person's risk tolerance level.

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First Comes the Work then Comes the Fun

First Comes the Work then Comes the Fun

My Dad is a man who loves quotes. "First comes the work, then comes the fun." was one I heard often.

The work involved with getting money is not only the making of it through your employment, but other work is involved too.

Here is some other work we have done to "make money":

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Keeping Up With the Joneses

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Today's technology brings so many luxuries for us. We have become so accustomed to all the gadgets that we have come to feel we can't live without them. But having all of these luxuries adds up to a large ticket price.

Before you purchase these luxuries, consider how it will affect your budget or savings/debt level. Some of my wife's favorite simple luxuries are the quick pre-made meals that give her more time, but she avoids them most of the time (if not equal or cheaper in value to the home-made version) to save on our grocery purchases.

Follow these steps to spend your money wisely:

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If I Only Had More Money, Then My Problems Would Be Fewer

If I Only Had More Money, Then My Problems Would Be Fewer

Alas, if only that were true. Most people believe that the answer to all of their financial problems is simply to have more money.

The reality is that as people earn more money they manage to dig themselves further into debt, which ironically makes them poorer!

Its my own theory, but I believe life, in many ways, works like a SINE wave.

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Bartering in a High-Tech World

Bartering in a High-Tech World

We live in a much more efficient society than our parents. While things are easier and more convenient, at the same time if something goes wrong, it goes really wrong. How many of us know how to fix these tightly put together vehicle engines, or how to identify and fix what's wrong with the beastly computer again, or repair the winding wiring/plumbing in your house. So many of us don't know the first thing about doing these things, so we have to resort to hiring the expert in that area. But there is an alternative to the high expenses that come with these experts... the barter system.

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More on Less-expensive Alternatives

More on Less-expensive Alternatives

The excitement of owning NEW big ticket purchases (like a new house or new car) wears off quickly when the bills start coming in. We start to reconsider if the purchase is worth the long haul to pay it off. Was there something else we could have done from the start?

At different times in our life we just need a change in our environment and sometimes think one way to change that is to buy a new house. The alternative they gave was to renovate your current home. Some new wallpaper/ paint or some throw pillows on your couch instead of a whole new set of furniture. We recently went through our things we've collected and passed on things we had too much of or our family had outgrown. This gave us more space to feel not as crowded. We also painted one color throughout the house to make it easier to match things in the house. The house felt so much cleaner after that. Next on our list is getting the carpets cleaned to give us another feeling of bettering our environment. It is an ongoing process.

Occasionally we find items that we can purchase at a fraction of the cost by purchasing from such places as a dollar store instead of from a specialty store. In some cases its a great buy, but in other cases it would be better to go to the specialty store. Quality is sometimes compromised to provide a product at cheaper cost and so, in the long run, we would end up spending more because of having to replace the item every time it broke down.

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