When you decide that buying a car is right for you, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a new or used vehicle. It’s an important decision because, let’s face it, other than buying a home, a car is probably one of the bigger purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. And it’s something that, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be doing many times over the years. So making the right choice for your situation and your budget can be crucial to your financial health.
If you’ve ever stopped to think about it, we plan and eat about 1,095 meals every year. That’s a lot of decisions! But what if you could narrow that down to 52? When meals aren’t planned, chances are high that we’ll eat something more expensive and less healthy. Weekly meal planning is a great way to get organized, eat healthier, avoid wasting food, and save money. While it takes a few minutes of planning each week, the results are worth it. By creating a master menu to choose from and seeing what inexpensive ingredients are on hand, it’s easy to plan your way to savings.
When you’re young, single and healthy, your mortality (and therefore life insurance) is something you rarely think about. After finishing school, you usually focus on your employment and career, perhaps marriage and family, rather than what may be a basic cornerstone of your financial plan. However, life insurance is something you should review, even at an early age. It can be more affordable, provide protection for loved ones and against debt, as well as provide a safety net as you grow older and have serious needs for your own spouse and children.
In a culture where we learn to keep our finances private, money and relationships can be a difficult subject. While money is one of the topics a couple is most likely to fight about, 42% of couples in a recent survey by Country Financial did not discuss their finances before marriage. When you begin a relationship, you get to know someone and slowly (or perhaps immediately) decide that what you have together will lead to a shared future. Part of getting to know each other should be your goals and dreams, and by extension, how you plan to get there, that is, your financial personality. Here’s more on the who, when, what, where, how and why of discussing money in a relationship:
Let’s face it: the winter holidays are closing in on us at a furious pace, with holiday shopping starting in stores before we even reach Halloween. But it’s the end of October and we have about 8 weeks to plan, execute and deliver our 2014 festivities if we haven’t started yet…and many of us haven’t!
With finances always at the front of our minds, we sometimes forget that traditions, thoughts and memories are what the holidays are all about. The gifts, while always appreciated, should only be a part of the events, not the whole thing. That’s why I’ve come up with a few suggestions that can ease the pain on your finances and still mean a fulfilling family time for your holidays this year. Continue reading
Lots of people are looking for an easy way to make home-cooked meals that are healthier and save time and money…and slow cooker meals (aka crockpot meals) are a great answer. My wife and I have used our slow cooker for years, both at home and when bringing a dish to a party. Some of our tastiest meals came from the slow cooker, and we’re always trying new recipes.
A big part of savings that I write about each week, whether it’s in your supermarket savings or elsewhere, all contributes and shapes your financial destiny, and a budget is an important part of that.
If you wonder why I harp on budgeting, savings, and proper planning to insure you always have the ability to meet your expenses, I will admit there was a time when I didn’t plan well and save properly. I thought, “No problem, I always earn more each year, I’m young and healthy, and I have really good credit.” While that was true then, it’s not quite the same now. Today I have learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that earning potential is much more challenging. Age and health sneak up on you and planning your expenses and discretionary spending variables in detail (and yes, updating them) is truly essential.
Having been a store manager myself, and from talking to other store managers, I’ve learned what those experts view as the best “unkept” secrets to shop and save. When you save money on groceries, each savings may not be a significant amount, but they add up to money you could better spend elsewhere in your budget. Stores know your needs and have added on bonuses, earnings and rewards in an attempt to beat out their competition and keep you loyal. Their attempts can enable you to spend less on your groceries if you just “seek and save”.
Credit, in the form of credit cards, is something most of us want, need, and use almost every week of our adult lives. Learning how to use a credit card wisely helps us to save money in the long run and avoid the trap of ongoing debt. Many of us use credit cards for convenience, so that we can avoid carrying cash in our pockets for purchases like groceries, gas, and household items. This makes sense when done with responsibility, thought, and keeping your budget foremost in your mind. Many advisors say to pay cash for everything and avoid credit cards entirely. I disagree. Credit is important to have and protect, and to learn to use wisely.
It’s so important to check receipts every time you check out. Why? It’s shopping day and you’ve diligently planned your meals, scanned the weekly ads, carefully checked prices, crafted your shopping list, clipped and printed coupons, and checked your budget. You arrive at the store (not hungry, of course), efficiently navigate the aisles, avoid impulse buys, and check out. But when you get home and unpack, you look over the receipt and wham! all your diligence is undone by an error on your receipt. It’s so aggravating. Who wants to bother wasting the gas and time to go back to the store?