10 Simple Money Saving Tips

bigstock-Saving-money-jarSome of the more frequently talked about personal finance tips can come across as unreasonable, too difficult, too time consuming, or irrelevant. Yet, the search continues across all income brackets for how to comfortably spend less and save more.

Below are 10 simple money saving tips that you may not have thought about – each with some serious financial benefits. Saving money does not have to be a chore, it’s an accumulation of habits and adjusted perspectives, none of which are detrimental to your daily routine.

The goal of these 10 tips is to not overhaul your life, but to make manageable, tiny tweaks that carry a big bang at the end of the year.

1. Use Cash. After setting a budget, take out cash for your entertainment spending pocket. It’ll ensure that you do not spend above the designated amount. Since a coffee here and burger there, really adds up and quickly – making sure that those erroneous expenses are always paid in cash will help you stay on top of that expense area (an area frequently a victim of the swipe and forget plague).

2. Adjust That Thermostat. Turn your heat down ten degrees and the a/c up two degrees. Utility companies have reported that even just a consistent two degree shift can save you money without leaving you miserable. The same principle can apply for pre-setting programmable thermostats to change throughout the day, adjusting for when you are away from home or asleep; with a more drastic change while you are away (10 to 15 degrees for eight hours). Your savings could be as great as 15 percent a year, says Energy.gov.

3. Help Santa Save. Consider early prep for holiday shopping. Either look throughout the year and really benefit from sales, or consider the benefits of buying a gift card monthly and setting it aside for yourself. Come December, with just $25 gift cards each month, you will have set aside $275 specifically for holiday spending.

4. Drink More Water. By replacing just one soda, coffee or beer each day, you not only invest in your health, but you could save some serious change. If you eliminate one $5 coffee just three days a week, that’s an additional $780 dollars at the end of a year’s time. Or, if you have that fancy coffee addiction, consider getting a coffee machine and buy your favorite grounds in bulk. Bulk buying can save money as well.

5. Eat In. Avoid the frequent trap of not wanting to cook and resorting to dragging the whole family out to eat despite your pantries being full. If inspiration is the missing link, try setting a weekly menu for the household, alternate cooking responsibilities or even involve the whole family in meal prep every night. And, instead of letting the “I have to cook or we will end up eating out” mentality get you in trouble, keep a few home cooked meals prepped and frozen for those moments of dinner despair.

6. Shop Smarter For Groceries. Clipping coupons isn’t for everyone. It can be time consuming and require more organization to truly be effective than some people’s attention spans and patience can handle. Shop smarter, even if you don’t use on coupons. Look for sale items and weekly promotional deals. Shop what’s in season for your fresh produce. Try store brands; many canned products and dried products have the same ingredients as name brand products.

7. Find A Penny, Pick It Up. Save loose change. If you were to save an average of fifty cents a day, you would have almost $200 set aside at the end of the year. Keep an old water jug set up so that you can watch it fill up throughout the year.

8. Stop Before You Swipe. Sometimes it’s all about perspective. When looking at a frivolous purchase, consider the cost against your income. If you earn $15 an hour and are holding up a $300 suit, ask yourself if you are willing to work 20 hours with only the suit to show for your labor at the end. The same can be done for smaller purchases as well. Is that 32 ounce, blended chai tea latte with soy worth the first thirty minutes of your workday? This method is not a way to talk yourself out of making purchases, but simply to put the expense in a framework.

9. Keep The Car In Check. Stay on top of regular, necessary car maintenance. Doing so can save a pretty penny in gas costs alone, not to mention the costs you can avoid from a side of the road breakdown or preventable tire blow out.

10. Use Your Phone. Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing what is going in with your finances. Awareness brings control; so go ahead and download a personal finance app. There are plenty available that have been professionally reviewed and approved. Additionally, many of the highest rated are free. Remember though, the key is to not only have the app, but to use it. The icon or widget is only as useful as you make it.

Article source courtesy of Joe Young of NASDAQ.

My Kid’s Drowning in Credit Card Debt! What Do I Do?

consumerismIf you trusted your son or daughter to keep track of their finances, and they slipped up, what in the world are you supposed to do?

Let’s say they’ve racked up a big, nasty credit card debt — to the tune of thousands of dollars. Should you pay off their debts to help keep their credit score above water? Or is it better to let them learn from their mistakes and suffer the consequences? Though each individual situation is different, here are your options, what’s at stake, and a few pointers to help you plot your course of action.

A Personal Loan, With a Contract

If you have the means, think about whether or not you want to loan your child the money. Sometimes the debt is manageable enough that you can pay it off in the form of a personal loan to your child. You can even decide to charge them interest as well, so they learn just how much a high APR can cost them.

But you have to examine the situation from a lender’s perspective, rather than simply write a check and expect your child will make payments. What is the child’s employment situation? Will he or she be able to make payments to you without the security blanket of your relationship making them complacent? Has your child typically been a responsible spender in the past, or does he or she impulsively purchase on a grand scale regularly? If you do decide to help protect their credit history, it’s a smart idea to sign a contract with your child to make your agreement more official and binding.

If You Co-Signed, You’re on the Hook

If you co-signed on your child’s account, you’re responsible for their debt. Because of regulations passed in the CARD Act of 2009, it’s more difficult for young adults to qualify for credit cards, so more and more parents are co-signing on accounts and acting as guarantors for their children. If you’ve already taken that step, you should hopefully have realized that your child’s purchases will affect your credit, regardless of your involvement.

In this case, it may be more prudent to pay off the debt if you can, cancel the account, and work together to come up with a payment plan to rectify the situation and make sure it never happens again. If you haven’t co-signed yet, sit down for a serious conversation with your child on your values and financial responsibility.

Lessons to Be Learned?

Bad credit now will impact their financial future later, but so will bad habits. If your child doesn’t learn from his or her mistakes now, there could be bigger and more damaging mistakes ahead. Will bailing your child out of their financial mess with creditors make them realize the gravity of their mistake? Or will you just end up fostering their sense of dependence on you? You won’t always be there, wallet in hand to save them, so if they can manage to take the credit hit, perhaps it’s best to let them learn the lesson this time, and give them some tough love.

Communication Is Key

Loaning money to someone you love is always, always messy. While your child should intellectually know that your love is unconditional (which is why your help comes so willingly), it’s emotionally very difficult to face your parents when you owe them money. Plenty of relationships have been ruined by debts of personal loans, both from neglected payments and feelings of shame. Be sure that if you choose to help your child, you commit to maintaining an open dialogue and doing your best to keep business and family separate.

Ultimately, each family and financial situation is different. But before you make a plan to tackle your son or daughter’s debt, you need to examine the situation from all angles. There are many factors in play, but above all, your relationship and your child’s sense of responsibility from this learning experience should be at the forefront of your mind.

Click here to view the article source, from DailyFinance.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.

*Text message and data rates may apply.

Important Money Talks to Have with Your Spouse

Two piggy banks fall in loveWhen you say “yes” to tying the knot, you’re doing more than joining hearts and lives, you’re also joining finances. Gulp. For better or worse, if you don’t communicate openly about money matters and work as a team, your marriage can end up in hot water.

Whether you’re married or about to walk down the aisle, here are five money conversations you should have with your spouse:

1. Create your personal financial blueprint: Few newlyweds are fortunate enough to have significant assets to invest and plan for. But with a relatively blank financial slate, two people can chart their vision; make concrete goals, and together gain knowledge to create financial security going forward.

Initiate the discussion by throwing an acquaintance or neighbor under the proverbial bus: “Mark and Pam sure have beautiful cars/clothes/jewelry, etc. Kind of makes me think that they will be forced to work forever to keep up with the interest payments alone!” Newlyweds should seek to educate themselves on financial matters by attending area adult education courses (preferably free ones) and reading financial books (borrowed from the library). Saving and investing that first $10,000 will provide a calm far greater than any 10-day cruise ever could.

2. Before the stork arrives, create a will: A will is needed to name a guardian of your minor child. It is often this difficult decision that causes people to put off creating a will. Without a will, the court will have the final say as to who raises your child in the event of your death.

Initiate the discussion by asking your spouse for their opinion on choosing a guardian. Try not to react negatively if you disagree with his response: “Your mother? That is a lovely thought – she certainly did a fine job with you (psst…go for bonus points). Do you think though, that it might not be an imposition on her because of her health issues, etc.” If you hit an impasse, you can also suggest co-guardians.

3. How should we grow our savings?: Ideally, this endeavor becomes a hobby for you as well as a goal-oriented pursuit. Investigate the retirement planning options that your employer may offer. Don’t have that option? Sit with a knowledgeable financial professional who will discuss various investment class options with you.

The Investment and Retirement Center located at First Financial can do just that! If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your retirement and investment goals, contact them at 732.312.1500.*

Initiate the discussion by saying something like, “We work hard for our money and I’d like to brainstorm with you and a financial advisor as to how we can make the most of it.”

4Long term care planning: A slower than expected economic recovery coupled with increased life expectancies and ever-increasing costs of medical care has made relying on government funded long term care resources unrealistic.

Initiate the discussion by encouraging your spouse to sit down with a long term care insurance professional. What you are looking for here is a maximum daily benefit that coincides with the cost of care in your area. Don’t be seduced by the 5 percent inflation protection, because the actual cost of care increases approximately 12 percent per year.

5. Insure your estate planning: You’ve done your will, powers of attorney, and health care advance directives, but how can you be sure that your surviving spouse won’t remarry and potentially lose those assets in a subsequent divorce?

Initiate this conversation by pointing to a real life example, if possible: “Isn’t it tragic that Marvin (widower friend) disinherited his adult children in favor of his home care companion? Yes, dear, I know that you would never do this, but what if either one of us developed a dementia-related illness down the road? All bets are off at that point.  Let’s at least sit down with an attorney and see what the options are (i.e. post-nuptial agreement or trust) before we make any decisions.”  

Working together to discuss and come up with a plan for these important money related topics that is right for both of you, will be the key to a happy “financially communicative” marriage.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members.

Article Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/03/21/money-talks-to-have-with-your-spouse/.