Report Card: Our Annual Expenses Year to Year

I have been pretty impressed over the past few years by the many people that post their financial information and performance against their budgets as a way for all of us to see exactly how their goals and budget plans are doing. It’s always challenging, but it’s a great way to learn by comparing how you are doing versus others. Since I have always been a very private person, when it comes to my own income and expenses, I haven’t made my numbers very public despite the questions I get asked each month about my own spending habits and results of my budgeting.  Today I’m breaking that silence to give you my annual expenses for the past 5 years, so alert the media!!

I think everyone's a little curious about how others manage their expenses. Here is our report card: how we spent our money for the past 5 years.

Where the Money Goes

Seriously, I have been tracking my numbers and budgeting very carefully for over 10 years now, long before I began to write this blog. If you have followed me a little bit you probably know that the biggest part of our expenses every year has been for medical care and insurance coverage. That’s because both my wife Suzanne and I are unfortunately ill and have some chronic conditions that make those expenses around 25-30% of our annual expenditures every year. The latest numbers on healthcare spending for the average American is about 8% of their total budget, and that’s up from the 6%, the number just 2 years ago.Continue reading“Report Card: Our Annual Expenses Year to Year”

Couple Money Management: When a Saver Loves a Spender

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Managing money together as a couple can be one of the most stressful parts of a relationship. Everyone has their own ideas of how much to save and how much to spend, not to mention different priorities and different habits. So imagine how much more difficult it becomes when one partner is a classic “saver” and the other is a classic “spender”. How do you cope and manage your money together as a couple?

To excel at couple money management, you need to compromise, even if one of you is a saver and the other is a spender. Here's how to do it without fighting.I consider myself fortunate to have found a partner who generally feels the same way I do about money, saving, and spending. And yet, my wife likes to spend a bit more money than I do, sometimes putting her in the spender role and me in the saver role. We always manage to work out any monetary disagreements with a quick conversation and a bit of time to think. One of the key things we’ve realized though is that it isn’t so much that she’s the spender and I’m the saver, but that we spend on different things.Continue reading“Couple Money Management: When a Saver Loves a Spender”

Track Your Financial Health with These 6 Vital Signs

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When you go to the doctor, they check your vital signs like blood pressure and temperature to make sure you’re healthy. But what about the vital signs for your financial health? These numbers tell you if you’re financially healthy (or not!) and can give you goals to shoot for.

Just like your doctor measures your vital signs to check your physical health, you need to track these 6 vital signs to monitor your financial health.Over time I’ve learned the hard way that I have to go to the doctor and get checked out or else my health suffers. It’s the same with your money. If you don’t pay attention to your financial vital signs, you’ll be headed for disaster.Continue reading“Track Your Financial Health with These 6 Vital Signs”

Making Money at the Flea Market

Earning extra money can help just about anyone deal with the pressures of trying to make ends meet these days. If you have a job, even a good job, getting a pay raise has been tough over the past few years. It’s been so tough that side hustles, a way of earning extra cash, have become pretty common. It may be a cure for a specific financial problem (like getting out of debt), or it may be the way to get ahead long term. And even better, it can be fun and fulfilling too!

Making money at the flea market can supplement a full-time income and help you balance your budget. Here are some tips on making the most of your sales.

 

My own experience comes from something I did for several years…making money at the flea market. Continue reading“Making Money at the Flea Market”

Saving is Hard, Spending is Easy: How to Save More Money

In the first quarter of 2016, American consumers paid down over $27 billion in consumer credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board. That may sound really impressive to you, but it’s not. $71 billion was spent in the first quarter on credit cards. The payment of $27 billion was the lowest one quarter payment on credit card debt in any quarter since 2008. Americans currently have on the books over $3.6 trillion in credit card debt and that number is rising. Consumer debt in total today is at an all-time high.

Saving is hard, but you can learn how to save more money. Here are 4 reasons why we spend more than we save and what you can do to change it.

So why has it become so much harder to save money and control your consumer debt? And how can you stop your consumer debt and learn how to save more money?Continue reading“Saving is Hard, Spending is Easy: How to Save More Money”

The Stock Market: Should You Invest in It?

I’m not going to claim that I’m an expert on the stock market despite the fact that I spent years advising people and helping them invest their money while I worked for several large banks. In fact, I don’t think there is anyone that can really claim to be one. Yes, I know that there are some people who claim to be experts. They advertise that and even have some monetary results offered as proof that they are. But in my humble, non-expert opinion, advising and successfully picking stocks in the market is very difficult. It’s a high risk maneuver at best, and I’ve actually compared it to gambling in my past writings.

If you're wondering, "should I invest in the stock market?", then read on for some considerations before you decide to invest.

Having said that, I will have to admit that some people who gamble actually can win big. While the stock market isn’t exactly spinning a wheel and hoping it lands on “jackpot”, it is a guessing game where you can educate yourself and then make a “smarter guess” than the wheel spin might offer. So you may be asking yourself, “should I invest in the stock market?”. Here are some facts to consider.Continue reading“The Stock Market: Should You Invest in It?”

13 Principles of Negotiation That Save You Money

I believe in the rule that just about anything and everything can be negotiated. When you think about it, you’ll find that it’s really true. The trouble is that so many of us never take all the opportunities we have to negotiate and that happens for a myriad of reasons. You may think of negotiating in some areas as common and welcomed but you also may think of other areas as places where it is just not appropriate. You may be nervous about it or feel you don’t have the skills to do it. And that’s the problem. If you don’t try to negotiate for what you really want and need, you won’t ever feel assured that you’ve done the very best you can do for yourself.

13 Principles of Negotiation That Save You Money

I didn’t know anything about how to negotiate when I was young, but as fate would have it, when I was just age 23, I got a job as an assistant buyer for R.H. Macy Corporation. I was thrown right into the position of negotiating purchase prices, terms, advertising, and all the rest for my department, all of which affected the bottom line profit. I can tell you this, you either learn to become a good negotiator or you are out of a job pretty quickly in a situation like that one. So, I started learning from some of the very best negotiators around the company and what I learned all those years ago became part of my skills forever. Those skills carried over from the buying office to my everyday life and they have served me well for almost 50 years.Continue reading“13 Principles of Negotiation That Save You Money”

Scary Medicare Costs In 2017 Will Affect Millions

We are closing in on the time of year when Medicare and Social Security will be making changes to the benefit amounts and the costs to the over 50 million recipients of the programs, which include both retirees and the disabled. Right now, there’s potential for a real financial heartache and what will scare you is what is currently being considered for 2017. The official announcements for the Social Security Board of Trustees (SSBOT) and the Medicare Board of Trustees (MBOT) will come in just a few weeks in October 2016. In fact, the MBOT just met this month to gauge the need to increase Medicare costs to its covered users.

Scary Medicare Costs in 2017 Will Affect Millions

Any adjustment in the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) or Medicare premiums will be announced in October by the SSBOT. I’m sure it will be debated and discussed as it has been done over the years, since two of the past three years have seen no increase to benefits as they made the decision that inflation was at zero. These decisions have been highly controversial because many recipients feel that there is significant inflation in many basics like food, healthcare, and prescription medicines while SSBOT uses a “basket of items” to make their decision. The significant fall of the price of gasoline has had a big impact on cost of living, despite the fact that it isn’t the big influence on seniors and disabled people that it is on younger, healthier active ones who work, commute, and even travel more often that SS recipients.Continue reading“Scary Medicare Costs In 2017 Will Affect Millions”