Budget Busting Rationalizations to Stop Doing Immediately

Did you spend money you didn’t intend to this past holiday season? If you are regularly falling victim to money rationalization (talking yourself into a purchase you don’t really need or can’t afford), you are doing yourself and your budget no favors.

Have you told yourself any of the following lies recently? If so, make it your new year’s resolution to stop right now.

  1. It’s on sale! There’s a very good reason why retailers put things on sale, offer two for one deals and give discounts. By offering something on sale, it gives the consumer a sense of urgency about purchasing the item. You know that the sale or discount will not last forever, so you want to snatch up the item before you lose out on the great deal. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how good a bargain the price is if you don’t need that item, because it’s still too expensive. If you are tempted by an item that’s on sale, put it down and walk away. If you still want it the next day (or even the next week), go ahead and buy it. The sale will still be in effect, and you will know that this is a good purchase, and not just an exercise in retail psychology.
  2. Buy now and save later. Later is a great time to do things you don’t want to do, whether that’s budgeting or dieting. It’s very easy to promise yourself that you’ll pay for your splurge by saving money in the future. If you are trying to rationalize a purchase by thinking about what you can give up next week or next month to pay for it, then you simply can’t afford the purchase. If you haven’t learned how to budget (or diet, etc), you’re not going to magically wake up knowing how to do this in the future. Telling yourself no now will be the first step in being the savvy budgeter you hope to be tomorrow.
  3. I need a reward. After a stressful period at work or at the end of a major project, it can be easy to want to reward yourself with something nice. But looking at a new pair of shoes or an expensive car and thinking “I deserve this!” is not the right way to go about being financially secure. Giving in to impulse buys because of stress will not help you achieve your financial goals.
  4. I want to fit in. Sometimes the worst purchasing mistakes come from peer pressure. It’s much easier to spend money when everyone around you is doing the same. Even if your friends would never dream of putting pressure on you, just seeing them spend money can influence your decisions. If this is a problem for you, then shopping should no longer be an activity you do with friends. Find other ways to socialize with the people in your life. Your bank account will thank you.

The best weapon you have against spending rationalization is to know yourself. If you are aware of the things that deceive you into purchases, then it will be much easier to avoid them.

And if you haven’t created a budget for yourself – that might be part of the problem. Learn everything you need to know about budgeting with our quick budgeting guide.

Article Source: Emily Guy Birken for Moneyning.com

4 Financial Items to Review this Summer

Summer is the perfect time for vacations at the beach and weekends at the pool. It’s also a great time for assessing your financial health. Things are generally a bit slower in summer, so use your time wisely and take a minute to review these four important financial items.

Emergency Fund

Before you fork out significant dough for that condo on the beach, make sure you’re not dipping into your emergency reserves. It’s impossible to know what unexpected things may pop up in life, but having a financial cushion is crucial. A general rule of thumb is to maintain about four months’ living expenses in your emergency fund. If you don’t have that, don’t even think about taking a summer vacation.

Credit

How much do you actually know about your credit? Do you know your credit score? Summer is the perfect time before the holiday spending season to research where you stand financially. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion all offer free credit reports, so do your homework before opening up another credit card.

Retirement Savings

You may not pay much attention throughout the year to contributions to your retirement savings, but summer is a great time for a review. Are you satisfied with how much is being moved from your paychecks to your retirement fund? Is your company matching your contribution? Don’t wait until it’s too late to be in the know. If you are able, contribute as much as you can to your financial future.

General Budget

It can be hard during the busiest times of the year to truly evaluate our spending habits. We move from one workday to the next and do the best we can to budget. During the summer, sit down and give your finances a good look. Are there areas in your life where you can really cut back? If you can make adjustments during the summer months for the rest of the year, you can potentially be putting extra money back in your pocket.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

3 Tips When You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

If you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck, when payday hits you think you have all the money in the world. But then, after bills are paid and groceries are bought, there is probably very little money for anything extra. Keep in mind, that even though it may seem stressful, if you follow these tips and save, you can make it work!

Trim the fat.

Take a closer look at things you pay for that you don’t actually NEED. For example, maybe you have over 200 television channels in addition to Netflix. Why would you pay for an abundance of channels you do not actually ever watch? If you cut your package down to the bare minimum; keeping only the basic channels it may lower your monthly bill by close to $100.

Cut those coupons.

Unfortunately going grocery shopping is not what it used to be. It is next to impossible to leave the store without spending at least $100. Therefore, it is important you do everything you can to cut food costs. One way to do this is to use every coupon you can. You don’t have to be an extreme coupon-cutter to take advantage of the savings because every little bit helps. Think about it- if you find a coupon for 75 cents off a bar of soap and you don’t use it, isn’t that like throwing money away?

Come up with a game plan.

When you get paid, do you sit down and make an actual budget? This is something many people struggle with – but when you actually do it, it does make a difference. Give yourself an allowance for the “extras,” even if it’s $15-$20. It takes willpower, but it’s important to not get ahead of yourself if you’re short on cash. The feeling of having less of a financial burden and therefore less stress will be worth it in the end, even if you have to pass on the occasional happy-hour or dinner out with friends.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

4 Tips to Help 20-Somethings Manage Their Debt

Debt can be a heavy burden on anyone, no matter what their age, but increasingly, young adults are starting out deeper in the hole. A recent report from credit-score provider FICO shows that student loan debt has climbed dramatically for those ages 18 to 29, with average debt rising by almost $5,000 from 2007 to 2012.

The good news, though, is that young adults are taking steps to get their overall debt under control, reducing their balances on credit cards and their debt levels for mortgages, auto loans, and other types of debt. With 16% of 18 to 29-year-olds having no credit cards, young adults are getting the message that managing debt early on is essential to overall financial health.

With the goal of managing debt levels firmly in mind, let’s take a look at four things you should do to manage your debt prudently and successfully.

1. Get a Handle On What You Owe.

In managing debt, the first challenge is figuring out all of what you owe. By pulling a free copy of your credit report you’ll get a list of loans and credit card accounts that major credit bureaus think you have outstanding, along with contact information to track down any unexpected creditors that might appear on the list.

Once you know what you owe, you also have to know the terms of each loan. By making a list of amounts due, monthly or minimum payment obligations, rates, and other fees, you can prioritize your debt and get the most onerous loans paid down first. Usually, that’ll involve getting your credit card debt zeroed out, along with any high rate debt like private student loans before turning to lower rate debt like mortgages and government subsidized student loans. With your list in hand, you’ll know where to concentrate any extra cash that you can put toward paying down debt ahead of schedule.

Debt in Focus is the perfect anonymous online tool for those who need financial help but might not be open about their current financial situation or do not have the time to go to face-to-face counseling. In just minutes, users will receive a thorough analysis of their financial situation by answering a few questions, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help control debt, build a budget, and start living the way you would like to.

2. Look for Ways to Establish a Strong Credit History.

Having too much debt is always a mistake, but going too far in the other direction can also hurt you financially. If you don’t use debt at all, then you run the risk of never building up a credit history, and that can make it much more difficult for you to get loans when you finally do want to borrow money. The better course is to use credit sparingly and wisely, perhaps with a credit card that you pay off every month and use only often enough to establish a payment record and solid credit score.

First Financial hosts free budgeting, credit management, and debt reduction seminars throughout the year, so be sure to check our online event calendar or subscribe to receive upcoming seminar alerts on your mobile phone by texting FFSeminar to 69302.*

3. Build Up Some Emergency Savings.

Diverting money away from paying down long term loans in order to create a rainy day emergency fund might sound counterintuitive in trying to manage your overall debt. But especially if your outstanding debt is of the relatively good variety — such as a low rate mortgage or government subsidized student loan debt — having an emergency fund is very useful in avoiding the need to put a surprise expense on a credit card. Once you have your credit cards paid down, keeping them paid off every month is the best way to handle debt, and an emergency fund will make it a lot easier to handle even substantial unanticipated costs without backsliding on your progress on the credit card front.

4. Get On a Budget.

Regardless of whether you have debt or how much you have, establishing a smart budget is the best way to keep your finances under control. By balancing your income against your expenses, you’ll know whether you have the flexibility to handle changes in spending patterns or whether you need to keep a firm grip on your spending. Moreover, budgeting will often reveal wasteful spending that will show you the best places to cut back on expenses, freeing up more money to put toward paying down debt and minimizing interest charges along the way.

Click here to view the article source, from The Daily Finance.

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