Do Whatever it Takes

29 03 2011

Looking back at our first year of marriage, I wonder “where did our money go?” 

It was until my husband and I moved into a tiny apartment that we paid closer attention to our money.  Why?  Because we knew what the future held for us.  We wanted to purchase a house rather than pay a landlord rent.  After being sick and tired with living in such a state of monetary confusion, we had our first family “money” talk.  Yes, the dreaded money talk.

What did we speak about?  Future financial goals of having a nice chunk of savings by year-end and we wanted to eliminate excess spending while adding to our retirement accounts.

From then on, we did whatever it took to move ahead financially.  Nothing seemed too big of a challenge and with every small step, the picture of our future widened — our money grew!

Do Whatever it Takes:

  • Pay Yourself First.  Forget how much money is left after the bills are paid.  If you are serious about saving money, see what expenses you can cut out of your life.  With those expenses gone, you have more money to put away into a savings or retirement account.   
  • Make Savings Automatic.  In order to grow your savings money must be saved.  Saving money should be automatic.  Loose change should go into a change jar.  A portion of your paycheck should remain in savings. 
  • Live with Less.  The more you consume the more you want to consume.  Try living with minimal non-necessity shopping for one month.  You will come to discover that you really don’t need the items you are purchasing each month.  Financial security will take the place of tangible items!
  • Cook at Home.  Dining out can be very costly.  If you are dining out every week you can easily spend at least $100 per month.  Instead cook at home for a month or two.  You will find spending $100 per month will provide you and your family with more food than would eating out at a restaurant a few times per month.
  • Frozen Pizza.  Friday night’s pizza delivery sounds great especially after a long work week.  I remember spending close to $20 on a pie every Friday night.  That’s almost $80 per month on 4 pizza pies!  Instead I chose to buy frozen pizza at the grocery store for $2.50 or $10 per month versus $80.  The $70 difference went into an Emergency Fund!  Remember, do whatever it takes!
  • Envision your Future.  In order for change to happen you must know where you are going.  Envision your future.  Explore the lifestyle you want to have and then accomplish it!  For those that want to be homeowners, stick to a budget.  Eliminate unnecessary expenses!
  • Ignore Others.  Not everyone will understand your need for speed regarding fixing your finances.  What matters is staying on course and finishing your quest towards reaching financial freedom.  When others tease or make fun of your new savings strategies, use their comments to motivate you even further!
  • Stay Focused.  Life events can lead you off your path but remain focused.  Stay strong to your beliefs and soon enough victory will be yours! 
  • Change Your Behavior.  Whatever feelings you had towards money in the past should be changed.  If they were working for you, you wouldn’t be in the situation you are now.  Behavior is key to winning with money.  If you know money should go into an emergency fund, don’t spend it on a new lawnmower.  Change your behavior to include responsible financial decisions.

Here we are four years later.  What was once a “careless spending” lifestyle, changed into a “needless spending” lifestyle.  Spending less has caused us to have more – more financial security, money in retirement and money to purchase our first home.  Everyone can change their less than perfect financial past into a secure financial future!  Do whatever it takes!

You Gotta Know When to Hold ‘Em

25 03 2011

At some point we’ve all heard Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler”.  There are many rules with poker and if you’re going to play, you must know the rules.  You “gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em and know when to walk away”.  I find the title fitting because when we spend money we don’t have, we are gambling on our financial well-being. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society surrounded by instant gratification.  With the quick swipe of a credit card we can purchase anything our heart desires (up to a specific amount – otherwise known as your credit limit).  But I say forego instant gratification!  Channel Rogers’ song and be aware of when you need to hold your money and know when to walk away from a purchase.

A great experiment would be: 

  • Leave the credit cards at home.  When the credit is gone, it’s gone.  You cannot shop with credit you do not have.
  • Window Shop.  Browse items you would like to buy.  See how long it would take you to purchase them with cash.  You might end up deciding the item is not worth the wait, leaving you with money in the bank.
  • Imagine the Other Possibilities.  What would life be like if you didn’t buy that new living room set?  Would you have chosen to invest the money in an IRA?  Maybe that living room set would turn into a weekend getaway with your spouse?
  • Practice Discipline.  What better way to improve your self-esteem and finances than to know when to hold ’em, especially if you have failed at budgeting prior.  Know when to walk away from a purchase and feel good about your decision.
  • Lead by Example.  Our children take note of all we do.  This would be a great time to turn your finances around and teach your children how to save for something rather than use credit and pay for it over time (with interest).

Walking away from making a purchase can truly change your life financially.  Compound the frequency of not purchasing and you would be amazed at your accumulation of wealth!  So the next time you’re debating whether to purchase something, sing Kenny’s song.  Your decision to not buy might just surprise you!

Stop Future Spending

24 03 2011

Rolist Financial Group believes organization and planning are key elements towards reaching your financial goals.  Planning for future purchases involves organization because you want to research the best prices and find those stores that carry the best deals.  And while we believe you should get the best price for any item or service, there are times when pre-purchasing items too far in advance can have a downside.

Purchasing things too far in advance may hurt your finances.  Often times events get cancelled leaving you stuck with the gift (if you purchased that item too far in advance, your time frame to return the item might have lapsed). 

Another downside to pre-purchasing is the lack of funds in your account for current spending.  If you spent money on items you didn’t need at the moment, it does not leave for extra wiggle room in your budget for expenses that might have just popped up.  Another way to think of it is – trends change, people move away and sizes change.

Also, decide whether keeping that money in your savings or investment account is a wise choice for your situation.  Remember, that money will accumulate interest or capital gains during the time it was not spent!

A good rule to follow would be to purchase gifts during the month they are due.  This way if a party event is cancelled you will have enough time to return the item. 

While there are times that pre-purchasing pays off, you should weigh the pros and cons that relate to your lifestyle.  Decide whether the money is better off in savings to accumulate interest or whether the savings are greater by purchasing the items.

Research Prices Before You Buy

23 03 2011

Look and buy – that seems to be the theme of today as more Americans are falling into the pitfalls of debt.  I see it all too often – people purchasing items without researching prices.  Often times I find myself thinking “why would you pay full price?” 

One rule to smart shopping is knowing what the going-price is for any specific item.  You can research prices online or by calling a store.  Ask friends or family how much they paid for an item.  Heck, your friends or family might be willing to sell you their outdated item because they want to upgrade.

Let’s look at the research process.  For example, if your goal is to create a vegetable garden this year, comparison shop between stores before you spend money on your materials.  Check out the home improvement stores because often times they have garden clubs that offer discounts on plants and seeds.  Our neighborhood library is hosting a seed swap in honor of Earth Day – a great way to start your plant additions.  Walk around your neighborhood and take notes on the gardens that peak your interest (notice the layout, types of vegetables, size).  Taking it a step further, ask those with vegetables gardens what the price of maintaining such a garden for the season.

Know your prices before you start any project or before making any major purchases. 

  • Research prices online and in-store
  • Search for rebates online
  • Ask the store if they’ll price match competitors prices
  • Ask store associates when the items are expected to be on sale
  • Seek out stores with the best prices
  • Seek out stores with return policies that fit your needs
  • Ask family and friends for prices on their items purchased

Becoming a smart shopper takes work.  You work hard for your money and your money should work for you.  Refuse to let impulse shopping into your life.  Research prices before you buy to ensure you are getting the fairest price. 

Facebook Week in Review: 03/21/11

21 03 2011

March 30

Research before you buy – Seek out stores with the best price and return policy that fit your needs. Ask sales associates when they expect the item to be on sale. Search for rebates and coupons. After your purchase, ask the store for a price adjustment if the item you bought for $25 went on sale for $10.

March 29

Do what it takes to win with money! Change your behavior, remain focused, stick to the budget, envision your financial future, try to live with less, make savings automatic, pay yourself first, ignore negative comments, work hard. Do what it takes and financial victory will be yours! You can do it, financial success will be achieved!

You already cut expenses but still want to explore more ways to save $. Look into your state and insurance co.’s defensive driving course. The test is administered in person or online (see your state’s requirements). After successful completion, you can shed 10% off your insurance premium for 3 years. 10% may not sound like much but every little bit helps!

March 28

Another monumental day here at Military Saves! Our Facebook page has over 2,800 likes! Keep up the great input and continue to save Military Savers!

It’s Spring. Save money in the garden with: (1) seed packs – costing under $1 this slow growing route will save you money; (2) low drought plants require less water intake; (3) shop stores that guarantee the plant’s life. Save receipts for an exchange or refund; (4) rain barrels- they save precious money by collecting rain water to serve as your garden watering system.

March 25

TGIF Savers! Food shopping this weekend? We all know (too well) the pain of throwing out spoiled food because we didn’t cook or use it up in time. It equates to money flushed down the drain. How do you keep food from spoiling? Do you freeze certain things? (and are deep freezers worth the investment?) Do you buy frozen vegetables vs. fresh? Any other food saving strategies?

“It’s more paperwork to keep track of.” Sometimes the idea of investing can overwhelm even the strongest. Refuse to give in. Think of what’s lost by giving in to fears of filing paper, time spent opening an account or gathering bank needed info. You lose accumulation of wealth. Deploying-think SDP. Just enlisted-think TSP. New job-think 401k/employer match. Stay strong, build wealth.

March 24

The 411 on Checks – A Blank Endorsement contains only the payee’s signature, meaning anyone can attempt to cash it. Avoid making blank endorsements prior to depositing. Restrictive Endorsements contain “for deposit only”, this authorizes deposits. Including account numbers increases restriction. Special Endorsements say “pay to the order of”, along with your signature. This allows you to transfer check ownership.

The FINRA Foundation is making FICO scores available for free to active duty servicemembers and their spouses. Also provided is the FICO® Score Simulator that analyzes the effect of specific behaviors, such as the impact of paying off a credit card, opening a new account, reaching credit card limits, obtaining a car loan or missing a payment.

March 23

Is 2011 your year to pay down debt? Unsure of where to find the extra money? Start by jotting on paper your daily expenses for a week. See if there are areas you can cut down (reducing coffee runs and take-out dinner, etc.). For those whom are debt free, what words of encouragement do you have for our fellow Military Savers?

March 21

In need of a new cellphone? How do you save money when that time comes knocking on your door? Do you hold out until the free upgrade? Spend the money but cut back on your monthly expenses in an effort to balance the budget? Buy used from a friend that was upgrading?

The Consumer Price Index Increase for 2011

18 03 2011

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food increased 0.8 percent in 2010 and is forecast to increase 3 to 4 percent in 2011.  A somewhat large increase since 2010 and it will probably continue to rise as the years pass.

What can we do, as consumers, to somewhat shelter our money from the rising food prices?  One might suggest to shop in bulk.  Others might say shop during the sales.  Both are great options but if our money is going to compete with inflation our salaries should increase concurrently with inflation.  However, that is not always the case.  As evidenced in the most recent economic slowdown, employees were laid off, denied raises and bonuses and many have experienced pay cuts.  During tough economic times, it is up to the consumer to manage their finances so they will not spend more than they earn.  We will need to shelter our current income stream.

How does one shelter their income stream to keep up with inflation when their salary has not?  Here are suggestions for preparing yourself during the recent Consumer Price Index hike.

  • Save More, Spend Less.  It is important to realize how much money leaves your pocket every month.  The less you spend the more your savings are retained.  Withhold from major purchases if you find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck.
  • Freeze Food.  Freezing perishables such as vegetables and meats will prevent them from spoiling when they weren’t cooked in time.  Extend the life of your food and save money doing so.
  • Shop Sales.  Grocery shopping around sales is a smart move to make.  Why pay full price for an item when there are always weekly sales?  Plan meals around those sale.
  • Use Coupons.  Compound coupons with sales and you have double savings!  Also, you don’t have to purchase the Sunday paper to find coupons.  Some cities deliver them to your door for free(!) along with manufacturer circulars.  Don’t be shy, ask your friends for coupons if they aren’t clipping them.  Host a coupon swap meet at the beginning of every week or month.
  • Be a Smart Shopper.  Research where to find the best deals.  Often times we shop at certain stores because of the convenience factor.  While that may not be such a bad thing, there are times when you have to shy away from that because of the negative money flow.  The extra 10 minute drive can possibly save you $20 or more on grocery purchases.  Review store circulars, ask about their coupon doubling policy.
  • Find a Part-Time Job.  If you find yourself unable to keep up with the rising prices of food and other items in general, see if you can find a part-time job during the nights or weekends.  The extra income can supplement the rising prices until the economy levels out. 

While the prices of food continue to rise just as the sun does each morning, we can find ways to beat the impact it has on our wallets.  With careful planning and smart shopping we too can manage the effects of the rising Consumer Price Index.

Play Spent

15 03 2011

I came across an interesting internet game.  The theme and ideas behind the game are all too real.  Many people are struggling managing their money – whether that be from a job loss, lack of health insurance or identity theft. 

I suggest playing this game to get an idea of what it would be like to live paycheck to paycheck.  It may put things in perspective if you feel you are straying away from sticking to a budget or feel you are spending money just to spend it.

Play Spent

%d bloggers like this: