Why is it Hard to Save Money?

There are those people who make it seem like saving should come naturally in every person, and here we go feeling guilty and asking ourselves why saving for us is like studying a second language. We couldn’t master it even if we’ve been trying for years. If you’ve just checked your account lately and are now wondering why you only have that amount at this point in your life, perhaps these are the same difficulties you’ve been experiencing just like the rest.

You feel like you don’t earn enough

This is the most common complaint of anyone who’s having difficulty saving money. However, in reality, the more income you earn, the more likely your spending will increase, so income is not always exactly the culprit. While getting another job can help you save more, it’s not always necessary, as you can just simple review your expenses and cut back where needed. But of course, every additional cent is welcome in your pocket.

You Think Saving Requires a Lot of Time

True that it might be hard to balance work and family alone, and creating a budget or hunting down bargain deals and coupons are not really welcome additions to your endless tasks. It’s true that you have to spare some time and effort in planning how to save money, but you don’t need to do it all at once. Start with baby steps and seek improvement over time. Perhaps you can even pass on this job to a money-savvy partner if you really have no time, but never go around living without a budget.

You Don’t Make Use of Your Free Time Wisely

Sure we are all entitled to relax and enjoy especially after a week of stressful work. But spending your whole weekend in front of the TV or internet may be too much of enjoyment right? Saving money calls for being productive, and those hobbies are remotely productive. It’s not saying that you should keep away from any screen altogether, but perhaps you should consider whether it’s worth the time, energy, and electricity spent on them.

You don’t always have to go around and wait tables whenever you have free time, but consider using this spare moment to further contribute to your saving goals. Perhaps you should sit and review your expenses in the past week, and make changes to the coming week’s plan. Or maybe you may want to list down items you have to buy at the grocery, and other errands you need to accomplish and schedule them on the same day to save up on gas. These things won’t strain you and it’s unlikely that you’ll get tired during your day off.

You Forget to Have Fun

Most who fail in the saving department often forget the element of fun and rather become stressed and worn-out. Cost-cutting may not be the most enjoyable hobby in the world, but just imagine how fruitful and happier you will be if you were able to save some money for the things that you enjoy.

Broke Budgeting 101

Being broke is one of the most frustrating situations in life. It can really be hard to force a smile when your bills pile up, your credit score has dropped, and you’re nearing eviction from your home. When you’re having difficulty making ends meet, you know it’s time to take some action.

Prioritize Your Bills

It could be very overwhelming to choose which one to pay first, but as much as you want to get rid of your credit card debts first and their skyrocketing interest rates, you may be concerned about getting kicked out of your apartment. If this is the case, you definitely have to address immediate concerns first. However, it doesn’t mean that you just have to forget your other dues. You should contact your other creditors and see if they can extend your due dates without penalties.

Forget About Your Savings Rules

While many financial experts can’t tolerate halt in spending, it might not be wise to have your savings and debt grow at the same time. As much as you want to turn your life around and begin to save, you might have to delay it until you’re back with a clean slate.

Review Your Budget

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and don’t have any idea why this is happening, you have to take a look at where your money goes. Identify how much your income is and compare it to your expenses. If you’ve seen your balance go to zero month after month, you have to explore where you can cut back on costs. While you can’t escape the groceries, gas, utilities, and rent, there may be other areas that you have been missing, such as Friday night get-togethers that should not be a staple in your monthly budget.

Differentiate Wants from Needs

This can be a little tricky, as each person has a different perception of wants vs. needs. While another can easily pass up on a pretty dress on sale, you might have difficulty differentiating your needs from something that you just really want. You need a place to live, and you might also need new furniture and decorations. You need to eat, and you might need to eat out. You need a cellular phone, and you might need a smartphone. You should be able to draw the line between them and make the right choices if you want to be broke no more.

Avoid Triggers

No one else can know you better than you know yourself. Perhaps you can’t resist buying any item that you don’t really need when you visit the mall. Or you can’t ignore that coffee aroma whenever you pass by the café. Take a second look at your recent expenditures and see where you mostly spend your money. Identify these weaknesses of yours and plan to avoid temptation.

Don’t be Too Harsh on Yourself

Getting back on your feet may take quite a while, especially if you’ve fallen behind on your payments for such a long time. You just have to be patient and make adjustments rather than punishing yourself if you failed on your first attempts.

How to Save Money While in College

Purchase Used Books

Buying new university books can be very costly, and unfortunately it’s hard to survive college without them. To save costs, hit used bookstores wherein you can find heavily discounted books. You may also want to check the internet for second hand books. In addition, you can check with some of your friends who may have taken the same subject and ask if you can borrow their books.

Explore Other Modes of Transportation

While driving with your own car can be very convenient, you might want to save money that you’d rather spend on gas, maintenance, and parking spaces. If it’s easy access enough, use the subway or bus. If your university provides free shuttle services for students, you can use that too. If it’s not convenient to use other systems, carpool with your friends. You may also walk or ride a bicycle if your school is near enough.

Select the Right Meal Plan

Students who live on-campus may be required to purchase meal plans. The price depends on what you eat, how much you eat, and how often. Decide if it’s worth it. Also consider prepping your meals and bringing some in school so you only need to purchase smaller meal portions.

Set Up a Student Checking Account

Typically, you can open student checking accounts which allow you to avoid withdrawals and fund transfer fees, and only require minimum account balance. In addition, it is ideal that you become financially responsible and track your saving and spending habits while still in college.

Explore Cheap Activities for Your Free Time

Though you want to spend money, it is your right to have fun while in college. While hitting the bars, cafés, going shopping or watching movies may all sound synonymous to fun, there are other worthwhile activities you can do for leisure. You may hit the library, ride a bike around town, have a picnic, play Frisbee, or step it up further and do volunteer work.

Work Part-Time

To save more money for the things that you want, consider getting a part-time gig. The workload doesn’t have to be very demanding. You can check with a college restaurant and see if you can wait tables. You may also want to work at your university library. Aside from the extra earnings, there’s peace and quiet and you can even study your lessons while working at the same time.

Obtain the Right Mobile Phone Plan

Nowadays, it’s hard to go by without a mobile phone, and besides, your parents probably won’t let you either. If you’ll consider a phone as a necessity rather than a luxury, you can be wise with your usage. Instead of getting a high-end phone contract, consider an inexpensive gadget with just the right amount of minutes and texts that you need. If you really want another unit, you might be better off saving up for it and buying it outright. Additionally, you can join your parents in a family plan for great discounts, and possibly with unlimited calls and texts.

Tying the Knot on a Budget

While one always wants their wedding to become unforgettable, it can either drain all of your savings or put you in debt. These tips can help you prepare a great wedding without having to break the bank. 

Trim Your Guest List

Perhaps this is the part where you can cut cost the most, since the number of your guests will dictate pretty much everything. Don’t feel obliged to invite all of your colleagues or the most distant relatives. Don’t be pressured to let your friends bring their dates or their children. Having 200 guests instead of just 100 can force you to spend more not just on catering, but on souvenirs, invitations, center pieces, etc. Besides the more guests you have, the bigger venue you should reserve, and the more hours to spend before finishing the ceremony, all of which can rack up the cost.

Cut Costs on Food

Shop around for caterers and be honest with your budget. They may be able to make adjustments on the menu and drinks. A brunch or luncheon buffet may also be cheaper than a seated dinner. You may also want to consider catering all or part of the reception, perhaps provide your own wine instead of a full bar.

Venue

By thinking outside the box, you can have a unique but low-cost or no-cost at all location for your wedding. Check on forest preserves, local and national parks, or even your own backyard and see what you can do to make the scenery unforgettable. If you don’t want to do the hard work though, inquire about all-inclusive packages with wedding, reception, and honeymoon included.

Get Married When it’s Off Season

Instead of marrying in June, consider marrying in other months when the deals are cheaper. Also set the date during weekdays or Sundays since there are less demands during these days.

Save on Attire

Instead of purchasing through a traditional bridal salon, consider buying attires from an outlet or online auctions. You may also rent a gown or purchase through a discount gown retailer or buy a once-worn gown. For an added sentimental value, you may ask for your mother or mother-in-law to pass their bridal gown on to you.

Save Money on Decorations

For Church weddings, consider getting married near a major holiday so that the Church will already be decorated. You may also want to get wed on a beautiful garden, home, or even an art museum. If you have a skill in decorating, perhaps you can buy flowers in bulk and arrange them yourself. Also consider a simple candlelit ceremony which is equally romantic but inexpensive.

Do-It-Yourself

For most savings, consider printing your invitations from your own computer rather than paying for engraving. Nowadays, you can find beautiful printed papers from stationery stores which are meant for wedding invitations. You may also find many tips online on how to create your own wedding favors. Just be patient and creative and you’ll be able to make these memorable and personal.

How to Avoid a Costly Loan?

Perform your own credit check. Your lender will pull off your credit report anyway, so why not do it beforehand? Knowing where you stand when it comes to your credit can give you the leverage that you need. Not all lenders will tell you how good your credit is and will not immediately offer the best possible deal for you, but if you know this in advance, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate.

Shop around. Just like shopping for commodities, loan rates differ from provider to provider as well. Although you may see same interest rates upfront, there are other factors you need to closely inspect and should not choose the lender based on gut feel. It pays to do an online research initially and visit the lender personally to inquire about other features of a certain loan.

Borrow only when you need it. Definitely one of the best ways to avoid spending too much on a loan is to borrow only when you need it most. It might not make sense to borrow and drag debt along just to pay for unnecessary purchases. Make sure your purpose is fruitful and worthwhile, such as buying a home or starting up a business.

Be on time with your payments. What many borrowers don’t see is how much money is wasted going to late fees. Putting off your payments does not only cost you these fees, but you will also have to make two installment payments on your next due. If you don’t meet this amount, the cycle just goes on, with your money going more to penalties and interests than the balance itself. In addition, you could lose a valuable property if your loan is secured against it and you constantly make late payments.

Consider a bigger down payment. If you’re borrowing to purchase a property, such as a car or a home, try to gather as much money as you can to put towards your down. By doing this, you might be able to negotiate to lower your interest rates. Not only that, but your monthly payments will be lower as well and you’ll be finished off with the loan repayments sooner.

Do not extend your loan duration. One of the many mistakes of borrowers is maximizing the time they are allowed to pay for the loan. While it’s nice to have low monthly payments, it could be more expensive in the long run. Besides, being tied to a loan for quite some time can be pretty stressful. Try to cut back on other expenses instead to free up more cash from your monthly budget.

Improve your credit. If having a bad credit limits your options and your ability to negotiate, consider postponing getting a loan for now. If you can wait for at least a year to significantly improve your credit by paying on time and settling other balances, you can obtain better rates in the future. The trick is to always be mindful of your credit, even if you’re not expecting a major loan anytime soon.

Ways for New Couples to Save Money

The art of saving is crucial to build wealth. However, when you have a partner, your spending and saving habits may either complement each other or clash with one another. These are some of the tricks for young and new couples to overcome the challenges of two different saving strategies. 

Acknowledge you and your partner’s spending weaknesses

Sometimes, having a partner can be of help to keep you away from your triggers. Perhaps you have this favorite boutique that you could never pass by without buying anything. You have to know these weaknesses of yours and your partner’s as well so you can help one another in avoiding unnecessary purchases. You’ll be surprised by how much your combined income and enhanced saving habits can work to your advantage.

Eat out sparingly

Most couples typically bond by eating out, and this is where most of their money goes. You don’t have to avoid dining at restaurants altogether, but you can at least reduce the number of times you have to go out. Cooking and eating at home could be equally fun and sweet, without the huge costs. If you want to have fun with friends, consider a potluck party and drink a bottle of wine at home rather than spending money on food and drinks in a bar.

Check your mobile service

Unless you ask, your current provider could have offers that you might be missing on. You should check with your mobile provider regularly and see if there are better packages for your needs, and also see if you are subscribed to the right kind of services that you need. If you’re nearing the end of your contract, it could also be the best time to negotiate for a cheaper deal, or compare with other providers and switch.

Also consider other ways to maintain communication with your partner without draining your funds. Perhaps you can use certain apps to make free calls and texts using only your internet connection.

Go easy on your credit cards

You have to be aware of your credit card habits as a couple, because both of you will sink together if one commits a crucial mistake. You have to make sure both of you are charging only what you can afford and what you can pay off in full by the time your bill is due. Instead of carrying a balance and paying for interests, you can rather save the interest money and use it on other things, such as your dream vacation for example. You can also take advantage of rewards or loyalty schemes by using your credit card wisely.

Plan your goals together

Time passes by so quickly, and before you know it, a child could be on the way or you’ll wake up one day nearing retirement. For a healthier and happier relationship, it is best to plan for long-term goals earlier. Talk about the life that both of you envision and make necessary adjustments to your finances so that you are prepared no matter how soon these life changes may occur.

Pay Down Debt Quickly

Debt can have many negative effects on one’s life. It can prevent you from buying the things you want or delay major life goals, such as buying a home, getting married, and even retirement. These are the steps to take to get rid of debt fast. 

List Down All of Your Debt

The initial step you need to take if you’re ready to tackle on debt is to review the type of debt you have. List down each one and include the details- the amount, the due dates, and to whom you owe them from. For better viewing, arrange them from smallest to the highest.

Choose Your Debt Repayment Method

The way to pay off debt is not the same for everyone, but it helps if you have a clear plan ahead about which method to use. There are basically three debt repayment styles.

Debt snowball- this method involves paying your debt starting from the smallest to the highest debt first, regardless of the interest rate. In this style, you pay only the minimum in your other debts and put majority of your cash towards repayment of the smallest debt. This makes it faster to achieve a small goal, and develop some sense of psychological encouragement.

Highest interest rate first- on the other hand, this method concentrates on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first. This one is seen as the most cost-effective method, because it helps avoid spending unnecessarily on interests.

Debt Tsunami- this method focuses on paying debt in the order of their emotional impact, which according to some can best create momentum on your repayments.

Live Within Your Means

It could really be challenging to move away from the lifestyle that you got accustomed to, but it’s up to you to decide if you want to continue accumulating debt for momentary luxuries and joy.

Living within the income that you earn may not be enough though if you’re paying off debt, because what you need is to bring down your expenses even further to get rid of debt completely. Not only can it help you save money from interests that you would have to pay, but it can ease your worries that much sooner.

Start Using Cash

It may be hard to give up the convenience of bringing plastic cards, but as of now, it could be the best way to avoid temptation, especially if you haven’t really mastered the skill to resist impulse purchases yet. Using cash alone may be counter-intuitive if you’re trying to repair your credit, but you also have to consider the further damage it can do to your credit if you begin making expensive and unnecessary charges again, which can slow the process of repaying your debt.

Consider Getting a Second Source of Income

If all else fails despite the saving measures that you’ve done, perhaps you need to take a second look at your income and expenses. If your income barely exceeds your expenditures and debt repayment needs, perhaps it’s time you get a second job. It can be temporary as you repay back your dues, or keep it permanent so you’d have more money to save for your future and your other wants instead of resorting to borrowing.

Saving Tips for Single Parents

For many single parents, saving money is not an option. It is actually a necessity. Balancing your time with your job and raising your kids alone is hard enough task. Learning how to save money can help prevent any additional burden and tension within the family.

Use generics

Most of the time, you won’t notice any difference with branded products compared to generics or store brands. For example, whenever shopping for toiletries or detergents, buy the cheapest product that is closest to the one you prefer to use.

Plan Your Meals Ahead

Planning is so powerful that it can save you both time and money, two things which you are likely short of as a single parent. Take a pen and paper and sit down to plan your meals everyday for at least two weeks or up to a month. Make sure that you create your menu based on the items you already have on hand, the items on sale, and the products on season, as they are the cheapest. By doing this, you can save a whole lot of time from thinking of what to cook the next day and you can also avoid frequent store visits, which can also save you fuel.

Cook and Freeze

Again, this can save you a lot of time and money. Schedule your cooking before those days when you’ll likely have no time so you can avoid ordering takeaways during busy nights. By cooking a lot and freezing the leftovers, you can avoid wastage and spoiling of unused ingredients.

Start an Allowance for the Kids

Rather than giving them money every day or every time that they ask for it, provide them allowance that should last within a certain period. Not only is this more convenient for you, but it can help them teach the value of money and how important it is to save, which they won’t exactly realize when they’re expecting to receive money every day.

Bag Your Snacks

Instead of shopping for individual snack-sized food for you and the kids, consider buying them in huge boxes, wherein you can possibly apply coupons and get significant discounts. Bag them in smaller zip loc containers so everyone can just grab them for snacks, even you.

Eliminate One Luxury

Most of us cannot live without our cell phone, internet, or cable TV, and it’s even harder to make sacrifices when your kids have become accustomed to them. If you can’t eliminate, at least downgrade one of your services. Consider disconnecting your cable especially when you and the kids aren’t home most of the time, or inquire about combined services to at least reduce the cost of subscription.

Find New Activities to Get Involved In

While it could be hard to bond with the kids without bringing up older memories, it doesn’t mean that you have to lock them up inside the house all day because you are emotionally and financially struggling. By being creative, you can discover a ton of fun activities, which are cheap or even free. Bring them to your relatives and especially to cousins within their age group, visit free town events, etc. The last thing that you want them to feel is that everything has changed.

Financial Planning in Your 50’s

Typically, people in their 50s have reached the peak of their salary, and most do not have kids at home any longer. It is the perfect time to pay off debt and build your wealth in preparation for retirement. While it could still be about 12 or more years before you retire, it is not wise to put off your retirement plans any longer. 

Concentrate on your retirement funds. Perhaps, you are one of those who still have other obligations, children or grandchildren under your wing. Despite the situation, you have to prioritize your retirement. Ideally, you should have already started stashing retirement funds during your 20’s, but if for some reason you had to put your retirement accounts on the back burner, it’s time to rebuild that nest egg.

Put more towards paying off debt. Debt can cause two things- either you have to delay retirement or suffer a retirement life with too much bills to pay. When you’re in your 50’s, it’s high time that you focus on reducing or eliminating all of your debt, even if you’re saving money for your retirement. You don’t want your retirement savings to go towards interests right? There’s nothing more rewarding than a debt-free retirement wherein there are no mortgage or credit card balances to settle.

Guide your kids to independence. Unless your children are disabled, you have to let them be on their own especially when they’re out of school already. By continually sustaining them, you are not only risking your future, but theirs as well. Teach them how to become financially independent instead of relying on your support.

Review your insurance policies. At this age, you should reconsider your insurance needs. If you still have dependents, make sure that your beneficiaries are named correctly and that you have the right coverage for them if you die prematurely. Meanwhile, if all your kids are independent, perhaps you no longer need a policy, except if you have a large estate. Also check on your health and disability insurances.

Review your investments. It could really give you adequate cushion if you have smartly diversified investments rather than relying on savings alone. While it’s wise to keep your savings intact, you should try to put some spare cash into a good mix of low-risk and high-risk investments, which can be very rewarding in the future. For example, if you’re looking forward to that dream vacation, you can use the money from investment returns instead of taking a huge chunk from your retirement savings.

Plan what to do when you retire. Retirement is not all fun and endless vacation. You need to sort out what kinds of activities or hobbies you are planning to pursue in order to determine how much money you would have to prepare. Perhaps you can include some cheap and worthwhile activities such as volunteer work on your to-do list. Also consider working part-time when you retire. With all the leisure time you have, you might get bored. Not only can a part-time job keep you occupied, but it can also prolong the life of your savings.

How to Save on Transportation Costs?

If you think buying a car is expensive, that’s not actually the only cost that you’ll have to worry about. Aside from your auto loan repayments, you’ll have to spend money on car insurance, repairs, and most especially gas. These are just some of the easy ways which when combined can help save you a lot on transportation expenses. 

Keep weight off your vehicle. Too much weight requires extra effort from your engine, and so thus consumes more fuel. Be sure to keep your car light by emptying your trunk, back seats, and remove all things that are not necessary. If possible, also keep your tank only partially full.

Compare gas prices. Don’t just have your tank refilled at the most convenient station. Gas prices vary between different stations within your place, so make sure to check prices if you want to see significant gas savings.

Do not stop and start rapidly. You should try to keep steady accelerations and decelerations, as stomping on the brakes too fast can waste momentum and stomping on the accelerator can waste gas.

Schedule your errands. One of the no-brainer ways to save up on fuel is to multitask on your trips. Do several tasks at once so you’ll burn less gas instead of spacing your travels.

Use maps before going to unfamiliar places. Not only does getting lost along the way can cost you time, but a lot of fuel as well.

Make adjustments to your work schedule if your job allows it. For example, if you work 40 hours per week, ask your employer if it’s allowed to work four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour working days. In addition, consider bringing your job at home and communicate via phone or email. Many jobs nowadays can be performed without actually going to the office so just ask your employer if it’s allowed.

Use gas cards. Using gas cards at your favorite station can help reduce the high cost of fuel over the long term through rebates. This can also help build up your credit score if you don’t have any credit cards yet.

Carpool as often as you can. This is one of the easiest ways to save huge cash on transportation. You can ask colleagues who live nearby or inquire about carpooling services in your city. Not only can you save money, but it can reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.

Keep your car for as long as you can. While driving a new car is one of your greatest goals, you should think twice before replacing your auto. Of course, you should consider repair expenses against the cost of a new vehicle. If you’ve been spending more on repairs and definitely need to replace your vehicle, consider buying a used one instead.

Consider public transportation. Using the bus or subway can help you save cost in a number of ways. By using public modes of transport, you can save money on gas, parking space, car maintenance, and possibly even reduce your insurance rates because you’ll be using the car less.