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BUDGET: What does this mean to you?

financial freedom with budgets
The Money Nerve Budget

BUDGET: What does this mean

to you?

Budget: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Or “keeping within the household budget.” Many people cringe when they hear the word budget, and instantly assume it is a gloomy, painful process of giving up all the joy in their lives!

Since the word budget has such a bad rap, let’s make a change and call it “proactive money management” or a forecast. A forecast is a general vision of what’s to come; it allows us to make decisions for the next few days. We all know that the weatherman isn’t always exactly right, often changing the outlook as the clouds roll in faster or the sun bumps up the temperature.

When you forecast how you want to spend and save your money, you are pushing out your projection for the next week, month, 1-year plan and beyond. Just like a weather forecaster evaluates new information to share with viewers, you may have to adjust your financial timetable as “life” happens.

Be Honest and Accurate

To accurately predict the weather, you must set the destination. Knowing the temperature in Seattle has no meaning if you live in Miami. With your finances, you need to know where you are; how much you bring home and what your monthly expenses are. Creating an estimate of how you want to direct or point your extra money into different funnels establishes a roadmap for the plans or goals you set for the future.

If you are like 90% of Americans, you tend to inflate your salary and round down your bills. Try to flip that assessment around. By underestimating your take-home pay and then basing your monthly bills at the highest projected amount, you have now given yourself a cushion of cash reserves. That’s refreshing!

Inflow and Outflow

A budget doesn’t always mean cutting costs; it is merely a plan for how your money will flow into your life and then dispersed to others for the benefits you want. Most people apply their money to three main priorities: food, housing, and transportation. These are essential components for a higher quality of life, and once you have these taken care of, you can begin to set aside money for other important goals or dreams.

Write down every expense, good or bad. Don’t pretend that you always spend money wisely. We all have habits and plenty of opportunities to be wasteful with our dollars.

One of my colleagues Kelli, (aka the Freebie Finding Mom) has developed a handy budget sheet to track your cash easily. Take a moment to download this helpful resource HERE.

Finding Balance

If you discover there is not enough money for the three essentials of housing, food and transportation, then you must explore your options to find a reasonable balance. You could cut down on one of these components, (smaller apartment or using coupons for groceries) or you could ask for a raise, look for another job or add a second job on the weekends. Creating a forecast (or budget) of what bills need to be paid each month, along with one time expenses that come up each year –– gives you a good guesstimate of where your cash flows in and out. A lot of people arrange to get monthly insurance bills instead of one massive bill annually, and this makes it easier to stay on track and “In-Budget.”

Financial Freedom

Work your desires into your budget. Save for special events and big purchases. Once you have identified where your money comes in and how you want to spend it, you have the power to change your plans. You have opened a new door of opportunity with intentional, proactive choices. The benefits of forecasting your money flow include less financial stress, a new sense of understanding of what’s important and the freedom to choose how you spend your money!

Follow me @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ To receive our monthly newsletter with financial tips and tools, visit https://business.facebook.com/TheMoneyNerve/app/100265896690345/

 

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Teaching Yourself to Say NO to Debt

Today’s Guest Blogger is Matthew Woodley, creditexpertrepair.com.

Be sure to implement some of his insightful tips for dropping debt!

Teaching Yourself to Say No to Debt

If you are struggling with debt then you have to make a commitment to change the way you spend your money. There are many places you can turn for help, such as financial advisors, and there are many ways to help turn your finances around with programs involving debt management, refinancing, or even debt consolidation. Tapping into professional assistance and teaching yourself to say no to debt can pave a new path to financial freedom.

With that said, no matter what options you choose you need to commit to saying no to any more debt. No matter how tempting it may be to spend, if you want to get out debt you have to stop adding to it.

It is true that it can be hard not to take on new debt, especially if you are used to using your credit cards and are living pay-check to pay-check. To get started here are a few suggestions for teaching yourself to say NO to debt and changing your habits.

Avoid New Loans

When you are having trouble paying bills, it can be very tempting to seek out a new loan in order to cushion yourself and have a sense of security. However, you are much better off reducing your expenses in other ways and creating a monthly budget. This can show you how easy it can be to save money and allow you to learn how to live within your means.

Begin teaching yourself to say no to debt by using cash for all of your expenses. You will begin to realize just how much of a crutch your credit card and loans have been. If you have a lot of debt and cannot afford to buy something in full using cash, then you should not be allowing yourself to buy it.

Breaking Bad Habits

It is very important to allow yourself to put paying off debt before anything else. By avoiding loans and only spending the money that you have in your account you will be able to break away from your spending habits and stand up to your finances.

Another great way to learn new habits is to start paying yourself before you turn to other expenses. You can do this by setting up a deposit into your savings account on the first of the month. When you start to see this money disappearing each month you will begin to treat it like any other payment, and even forget that you are actually saving money. This is one of the best habits to get into and is a great way to save for an emergency or start to build up a nest egg.

Even if you set up a withdrawal that puts $50 a month into your savings – you will have at least $600 in an emergency fund at the end of the year. While that may not seem worth it right now, it can be the difference between bankruptcy and making it through any difficult times. Something as simple as avoiding buying a cup of coffee each day can allow you to pay yourself first, and is more than worth it in the long run.

Reducing Toxic Debt

Aside from putting away a bit of money, you should always do your best to target toxic debt with any extra money you have from your budget. Toxic debt refers to the high interest payments that you have in terms of credit card balances or pay advance loans. You should always being focusing on paying off this kind of debt first before upping your payments on things such as student loans or car payments. Tackle the worst debts first and then you will be in better shape to slowly pay off other debt such as your mortgage.

The fact is that most of us have more money than we think we do, we are just guilty of impulse buys and not having our priorities straight. By teaching yourself to spend in cash, avoid loans, pay yourself first, and attacking toxic debt, you can form all new habits and in many instances find out just how much extra cash you will eventually have lying around at the end of each month.

Be smart, stick to your guns, and that dream retirement or debt-free future could be closer than you think.

Matthew Woodley is the founder of CreditRepairExpert.org which provides users with free and unbiased information on how to repair and improve their credit score. Make sure to follow him on Twitter for the latest on credit repair and debt management.

For more info, please visit CreditRepairExpert.org

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Put the Cold Freeze On Shopaholic Spending

 

Put the cold freeze on shopaholic spending!

This is a challenge for all of us who battle overspending on the latest trends:

You May Say

I really want to own a home, not just an ordinary home – but a gorgeous one that I LOVE! But with a credit card in your wallet that has a growing balance, it won’t happen. Making small changes to your spending habits will free up more cash to invest in your bigger life goals. Owning a home is more important than having every color of the newest designer shoe or “tricking out” your 1969 Dodge Charger.

Fear Can Hold You Captive

If the only thing keeping you from cutting up your credit cards is fear that you might desperately need them in an emergency, this tip is for you. Using credit cards to manage your daily budget can quickly lead to high monthly bills – with little cash in the bank. Making minimum payments maintains your credit standing, but will never make a dent in the outstanding balance. This habit is one of the universal recipes for long-term debt.

Deep Freeze Technique

Here’s a simple solution! Fill a large container half full with water, and put it in the freezer. Wait twenty-four hours, put your credit cards in there, fill it up with water, and place it back in. The result? A giant ice cube with credit cards stuck in the middle. The benefit? You have set yourself up to be more intentional with your financial choices. And, you still have your cards in the event of an emergency. You have put the cold freeze on shopaholic spending!

Plastic vs. Cash

Many Americans are spending far too much of their “perceived money” with credit cards. When you use the cards for unnecessary purchases, your shopaholic spending habit places more value on “wants” rather than long term needs. Put your money to work for value-based decisions. You need to add a saving habit, and lower card balances to ensure that you can handle costly emergencies. That’s why this easy concept works. Instead of cutting up our “plastic,” you put the cold freeze on those cards.

By freezing credit cards, you still have a line of credit, but it’s harder to use.
The best part: It’s an ingenious and effective psychological trick to get yourself out of the plastic mentality.

Now, emotions aren’t driving your spending habits. You are making a conscious choice to manage your money.

Instant Willpower

Freezing several lines of credit gives you instant willpower, even when you are blindsided by emotional impulses. Now, if you feel the urge to use credit, you have to wait until the ice melts. Hopefully, during that time you may come to your senses and realize you don’t need one more “widget.”

Try it! Let me know how it goes.

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Raise Your Credit Score

Raise Your Credit Score

Raise your credit score for better interest rates and easy lending from banks and financial institutions.
If you have never checked on your credit score, it is now easier than ever to see how you rate when lenders are looking at your financial record. Your credit score is based on your financial history in your credit record with all activity, both good and bad, influencing your score.

Three easy tips for maintaining or raising your credit score:

Pay off debt

Okay, I understand! That sounds much easier to say, but you can do it! I advise my clients to look at all of their credit card balances and pick the smallest debt. Changing your habits with small steps and small wins will increase your confidence and give you a chance to pat yourself on the back for a successful step toward financial health. Pay off the smallest debt and then tackle the next lowest bill. It is so gratifying to know one account has been paid off and with each paycheck, you whittle down more debt without intense emotional pain.

Keep low balances on bank-issued credit cards and revolving credit cards

According to Nerd Wallet, in 2016, the average U.S. household had nearly $17,000 in credit card debt. You are not alone. But you can reduce that debt. Pick one of your accounts and be sure to pay more than the minimum balance each month. Get one card down to a reasonable amount and then lower the balance on another card.
Not able to pay more than the minimum? It might be time to put those credit cards on ice. Literally! Take all but one of your credit cards, throw them in a container, fill it up with water and DEEP FREEZE those plastic cards. Now you can make payments on the cards each month and get that balance down.

Don’t open an excessive number of credit cards you don’t really need, in an attempt to increase your available credit.

If you have recently established credit, opening up four or five new accounts within two-three years could hurt your credit score, because you don’t have enough of a “track record” for the loan companies to make an educated decision as to your ability to manage your finances. In comparison, when a person has a few credit cards for eleven to fifteen years and later opens several new accounts, it may not have an adverse effect. What is more important than a lot of credit cards is the ability to make payments on time and demonstrate self-discipline in spending activity.

Don’t close several unused credit cards at the same time attempting to raise your credit score.

Positive credit scores are enhanced by a long credit history, so even if your account is not active, keeping an old card in your credit history gives you longevity and counts for about 15% of a FICO score.
A closed account will fall off your credit report sooner than an open one. In most cases, negative credit information will remain on your credit files for seven years from the time the debt first became delinquent. Here’s the good news: Positive credit information can stay on record indefinitely; however, closed accounts in good standing often drop off the credit report within ten years.
You can check your three credit reports for free once a year. 

Here’s a timely bonus that will raise your credit score this year.

Beginning September 15, 2017, the three credit reporting companies will phase in a host of changes that will lower the number of “mixed files,” which often had a negative impact on credit reports of people with similar names, and will update procedural changes aimed at improving the accuracy of these reports.
Find more tips for investing in you!

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Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Money-Savvy Travel Hacks

Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then, and you don’t need to smash your piggy bank to have a good time. Refreshing visions of “getting away” are calling to you. Your vacation demands to be taken! Make the most of your R & R dollars using these money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation. In fact, getting away is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health! Check out the healthy benefits of traveling via PositiveHealthWellness.

Plan Ahead

Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt. Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!

Book fixed-cost trips

Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.

Spectacular Vistas and Memories

Another fabulous way to see America is to take advantage of the breathtaking national and state parks here in the USA. Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For even more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.

Lower Hotel Costs

Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. You will often enjoy more personal service and spend less. Tired of high-rise condos with slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at much lower prices and the opportunity to have more privacy.

Favorite Destinations

Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, you don’t mind driving an extra 20-30 minutes, when traveling to Niagara Falls, book a hotel room in Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border. You can cut your hotel budget in half. Now you have the best of both worlds: you saved saved a ton of money while seeing all of the sights!

Taking an escape from work can be a great stress reliever, provide memorable time with family and friends, and bring a sense of renewal to your life. Reward yourself! Keeping your focus on a healthy relationship with your money while at work or play allows you to make the most of your vacation while taking advantage of smart,  money-savvy travel hacks.  Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more travel tips and tools.

Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances to Make Life Easier

The Money Nerve

There is something refreshing about the advent of spring; it’s officially time for reviewing and renewing! This week, we take a look at spring cleaning your finances.

Ask, “WHY,” before spring cleaning your finances

Why do you budget, save, spend, insure, invest and plan the way that you do? Are you happy with how your finances are working for you? Write down some clear and definitive ideas to sweep away old habits and create a more satisfying result.

Review your budget

Balance all your bank accounts and take a second look your past six months of credit card charges to see if all adds up correctly and that there are no billing errors.

What??? You don’t have a budget. Today is a good day to write down your income and your expenses. With that knowledge, you can now plan and direct your dollars into more focused streams!

Set a few primary, short-term goals

For example, you could set a goal for paying off the credit card with the lowest balance. Set yourself up to hit your new objectives. As you achieve success with your smaller financial projects, you gain confidence to complete larger intentions! And that is a win-win for you and your wallet!

Clear Out the Clutter

Take a serious look at everything you own. Give deep thought to want you want to be most important in your life. Set up actions steps to turn that visual intention into reality. Too much stuff? Distill it down. It’s easier to take care of less. And you keep what is most valuable to you. Too many accounts to manage? Pare down to three accounts, now you have more money at each institution and have created more “klout” for yourself. Utilize direct deposit and automate a small percentage to savings each week.

Streamlining your efforts help to clear your mind, and allow you to focus on creating a proactive life. You will find that spring cleaning your finances, and stating goals result in intentional living.

Find more #moneynerve tips – Enjoy this new vodcast: Funny Money Talks!

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Destination: Celebrating a Successful Life!

prosperity-wealth

Being rich is not a destination. Fine-tune your success with targeted goals and conscious choices. Here is how to create and celebrate your life – the way you imagined it could be! 

SUCCESS consists of three things:
• Know what is available to you
• Know what you want
• Know what the next step is once you are successful

Being rich is not a destination. Each of us has our unique perspective and vision of what success means to us. What is your image of wealth and success? Can you visualize yourself in a prosperous place in life? Define what is most important to you for the next year. If you can “see” it, you stand a much better chance of creating it.

Some people value a good steady job as a sign of success; others may value more time with family, a big annual vacation, a new car for their spouse or saving to purchase a home. As you state what is important, you will be more aware of your daily activities and begin to focus your attention on actions that will make your goals materialize.

Pursuing a new path toward financial success can create unexpected reactions and results: you may get some pushback from friends, coworkers or family members. That is okay. You are not staying in the same comfortable path. You are evolving toward a new direction, and that can make others uneasy. Continue on your journey! Reap the benefits.

As you gain traction and reach your goals, be sure to stop and celebrate your life. Pause. Enjoy the moment. Don’t let negative emotions become roadblocks. Know that you can continue to move forward with intention and clarity. Cheers!

Here’s a quick video for you to reflect on. If you are looking for some new financial tools, be sure to check out these new online financial platforms and apps I have collected — as a resource for you.

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IT’s YOUR MONEY

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It’s Your Money!

This is a long-term relationship that goes on for the rest of your life.
Honor it.
Respect it.
Take it seriously.

Your money relationship never ends, it only changes form. This is one
relationship you can’t get out of. It’s your unique relationship, so how
you choose to respond to finances depends on you.
Will you actively participate or shut down?
Will you plan ahead?
Will you make mistakes? And when you do, how will you get back on track?

You control this financial relationship. It’s Your Money
Own that. Take responsibility. This is your life.
Keep your financial reality in your consciousness.
Talk about money issues with others to help bring them to consciousness, to help them heal.
Set goals and make budgets.
Teach financial responsibility to children for future generations.

Forgive yourself for your wants, needs, mistakes, ambition, shame, and
guilt. It’s only money!

Heal your Money Nerve.
Embrace your financial relationship—
for what it was …
what it is …
and what it will be.

You deserve a healthy relationship with money, after all, it’s your money.
You have earned it—literally.
Are you ready to receive and manage abundance?
It’s your choice!

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Burden of College Loan Debt

3x3 TMN CollegeLoanDebtToday’s millennial generation is striving to live the same American dream their parents achieved, but many graduates are drowning under the burden of college loan debt, saddled with a variety of loans that will take decades to pay off. Everyone agrees that higher education translates into better jobs and workforce, but at what price? Not all college graduates are reaping the perceived payoff.

What can be done to assist this emerging workforce with navigating the massive burden of debt successfully? What are some ideas for helping this generation grow their careers while building wealth instead of suffocating from enormous college loan debt?

A few companies like the El Paso-based JAR Construction, are investigating loan assistance as one of the perks of employment. The companies feel this benefit aids in decreasing stress, gives their new employees options to pay down the debt and may also assist in employee retention.

http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/article_1f4ff13e-4782-11e6-9279-3fece6cbb319.html

There are now several credit cards that allow its users to transfer reward points and cash-back dollars to be used for payment toward student loans. Gradifi, a Boston-based startup that helps people pay down student loans, announced its partnership with a small bank to offer the card, backed by a checking account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Cardholders will earn 1% rewards with the Gradifi MasterCard debit card on all signature-based purchases.
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/rewards-program-to-pay-off-student-loan.aspx#ixzz4E8KtreNn

Even if you are not a student and have multiple credit cards or have racked up more debt than you can handle, remember that small steps will win the bigger battle against debt. A good rule of thumb is to pay all minimum amounts due and concentrate on the lowest balance owed. Get that one account paid off, close out the account and then aim for the next one. A small success can give you the power to tackle more!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lule-demmissie/think-small-a-new-strateg_b_10772704.html

If you are looking for a way to destroy debt and find financial freedom in your life, be sure to explore “The Money Boom” workshop. My colleagues, David Auten and John Schneider (aka the DebtFreeGuys) and I will be hosting this one-day seminar on Saturday, August 6, in Denver, CO. You will be given proven techniques and tools to lay the foundation for living a life of abundance and security. Let us help you drop your debt!

Learn More Here:

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BUYING A HOME

3x3 Buying a HomeBuying a home is the biggest financial decision most people will make in their lives – and choosing a mortgage lender goes hand in hand with that choice. Because it’s a long-term commitment that has a daily impact, it’s crucial not to go in blindly. With the sheer amount of options available today, you will want to consider numerous options to simplify the process. Having the correct knowledge can save you thousands of dollars.

I often advise my clients to understand their emotional needs and create a new path to ease their “money nerve” before making critical financial decisions. It is essential to map out best choices to create your long-term strategy. If you are ready to buy a home this summer, I have some resources for you.

While spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate sales, this summer could prove to be the hottest time for buying a home, according to a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University. “From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a professor of finance and associate dean at FAU’s College of Business, who also has sold hundreds of homes as a real estate broker. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”

First Steps for Home Buying
Too many potential buyers find the house and only then worry about financials. That might be why they’re still potential buyers. Instead, first take an X-ray of your financial life, says Eric Tyson, co-author of “Home Buying for Dummies.”

Put exact numbers on the figures you’ve probably been estimating up to now:
— What do you make every month?
— How much do you spend every month?
— How much do you have in your down payment account?
— What are your assets and liabilities?
— How much are you carrying in debt — credit card and otherwise?
— What significant expenses or windfalls (a raise or bonus) do you expect in the next six months or year?
— What’s your ideal monthly house payment?

Selecting The Top-Rated Mortgage Companies
The team at Simple Dollar spent six weeks analyzing 181 mortgage companies and found five options that met their standards. The team personally tested the finalists, evaluated customer service and analyzed rates and fees. Need advice deciding between government-backed loans versus private loans, and adjustable rates versus fixed rates? If you are ready to take the next step of buying a home, this informative guide will assist you in the application process: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-mortgage-lenders/

Find a collection of budgeting tools, financial advice, numerous guides, and creative, frugal ideas via The Money Nerve HERE.

Additional Home Buying Info

Happy House Hunting!
Bob