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Managing Your Budget Personal Financial Advise

Preparing A Personal Budget is a Stepping Stone to Awareness

As I set down this twenty-sixth day of September and see the dawn of October on the cusp, I realize its time to start preparing a personal budget once again for the upcoming month. This is the basic stepping stone to awareness of our financial health and circumstances.

It’s Time to Budget for Next Month!

Most of the bills for this month are paid, at least by the minimum, to keep debt collectors from my door. A new month is about to begin. New bills are starting to come in for the next month, and my budget book is now before me It is important to set this time aside as a quiet and sufficient time to truly analyze everything and plan the next month in full awareness to your current situation.

Identify Your Promised Sources of Income

Let’s begin by noting at the top what income is expected next month. How much will you actually have going into the month to achieve all the tasks that need to be accomplished. As you see I began my with a known monthly income to work within of $2,575 for the month.

Encumber Your Debt Reserve

We selfishly feel we deserve and are entitled to certain things, so we pull out our credit card which has become the convenient method of purchase and pay for those things on credit. Now we owe at card back for its convenience, so we must pay at least the minimum, charges each month on our debt chart to stay in good standing and keep the collectors off our backs. My chart shows I must pay a minimum of $468.80 per month for this purpose. So I take this off the income expected at the top.

Establish Tithing – Key to Success

Being a faithful follower of God and his son, Jesus, I come to realize that I do better monthly when I next a lot a monthly tithing. When I set this aside each month I find my budget is never short, but sufficient at months end. I wish I could do more, but for me $100 a month is what I find comfortable at this time until my debt has been paid off.

Building A Strong Emergency Fund

Next I note I have had to take out more than I anticipated with less than $100 in this account, which should be at $1000-2000 as it ensures a sense of security as I work down the debt level. You can see to the side I have set a goal for 2020, to have this fund completely restored. In so doing, I have allocated roughly $205. From my income to cover this months portion.

Identify Fixed Essential Spending

Now, I am faced with identifying and allocating funds to pay my fixed essential spending. This spending includes funds to keep a roof over my head, food in my belly, transportation and heat, phone/Internet and electricity. This leaves a balance I need for all other non-essential spending items. It tells me how much of those expenses I either need to eliminate or raise funds to maintain. NoteI include my student loan payment in this category, rather than part of the debt list, as this is a payment that MUST be paid every month and is considered essential by federal government.

Review and Summarize the Potential Outcome

Now, when I filled my oil tank for the first time following summer this past week, I saw the bill would be $402, which is impossible to budget. So I called my oil company to set up an easy payment plan going forward this winter – it will be $150 a month until next June 2020. I can than look at other things and question my reason for continuing to pay for them, and possibly find it is time to cut those costs as well.

You can see here, I have little room for fun and good times. This is one reason I continue to maintain my part-time work into retirement. It is these funds that allow me to meet my monthly budgets.

How Can You Use this Stepping Stone to Awareness to Better Prepare Your Future Personal Budgets?

Following my examples here, and charts to see how my action plan in preparing a monthly budget is a stepping stone to awareness to guide us in the direction(s) we need to go to live a life we are accustomed to, with certain modifications.

As we pay down and eliminate debt slowly we can start putting those funds back into our emergency personal fund and begin to use it more wisely to better prepare your future personal budgets. We desperately need to get back to our forefathers ritual of bartering and saving ahead for those purchases we think we need rather than relying on the instant gratification the cards we hold present us. I feel I am setting an example for how we need to live more purposefully with credit and our finances, and return to our old-fashioned values.

If you have any questions or comments on my rationale here, or the process I follow, please leave a comment below. We can all learn from one another.

Categories
Homeownership Managing Your Budget

Time to Refuel Your Home for Winter – Lessening the Financial Shock

Time to refuel your oil or propane tanks! September is just about over, and we are getting ready to close down outside activities and move inside for the winter. Well, here in New England anyways unless you are a skier or enjoy cold weather outside.

OMG! Not on My Budget…

Well I called and had my oil tank checked and refueled for the first time after Summer last week, and nearly did backward flip when I opened the bill left in my door.- $402 for 136 gallons. Plugging the number into my budget I knew I would never get the numbers to work.

Need A Payment Plan…

I remembered seeing on my fuel dealers website they had easy payment plans, and I needed one now – so I called. The girl took my name and information. The lady told me that she would have the other girl get back to me.

A Few Days Later

As I was checking my mail, I saw an envelope from the oil dealer and opened it. It contained a contract for my signature, and easy payment stubs to be made by the fifteenth of the month through next June. She had calculated my last years payments and came up with a new payment of just $150 a month.

After the last payment in June they review the account to see if my actual consumption and bills stayed within the budget and either credit or debit for the difference. Being Summer, will be easy to catch up if needed then – I am hoping to stay inside that budget or lower.

It Pays to Ask…

As I plugged the $150 into next months budget I smiled again, and took a deep breath – never accept more than you can afford in a single sitting, there is always another way to make life a bit easier. It pays to ask, “Do you have an easy payment plan? Senior discount?” So now, I am ready to go back and continue putting together my budget for next month.

I thought I would share this with you, in case you just got hit with a HUGE first bill for the season, and show you how a simple conversation helped me with my October budget. You should never be without heat!

Categories
Finance & Budgeting

Homeownership For Low Income Persons Is Possible

Honestly, when you are struggling financially and living at home still with your parents owning your own home is just a dream you hope to attain but feel will never be reached. Budgeting helps you improve your score. It makes life a lot brighter and you begin to see that homeownership for low-income persons is possible, but takes some work to achieve. If you haven’t pulled your credit score and report yet, do so – pick one of the reporting bureaus to check and review. Only do one every three to four months. Be sure to get your score with the report.

First, Know your Credit Score

Your score must fall into one of the following levels:

  • 720 and higher = very good
  • 680 to 719 = good
  • 640 to 679 = fair
  • 580 to 639 = poor
  • 579 or lower = badIf you fall between 640 and lower, you have some work today – grab your credit report you just pulled up and copied and begin reviewing. Make sure you have a highlighter to mark anything on your report that looks suspicious or problematic. I pulled my Equifax report first, and the score was slightly below 640 – so I know I have some work to do scrutinizing the report very closely with marker and pen in hand.

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Second, Know the Home Loan Availability to Your FICO Score

Here is a list of loans available and the FICO score estimate attached for the best results. However, no guarantees – you must be pre-qualified to receive one of them:

  • FHA Loan – 580+ credit score (500-579 score is possible but unlikely)
  • VA Loan – 620+ credit score (some lenders require 580)
  • USDA Loan – 640+ credit score FHA 203K Loan – 620+ credit score
  • Conventional Loan – 620+ credit score

Then, Get Pre-Approved before Looking

Most all real estate agencies have a loan agent on staff or know of one, who you can use to get started. When you are pre-approved you know what your price range is and are aware of your limits. When I graduated from High School I had a goal in mind, if I had not married and had children by 40 I would get my first home. Well, I never anticipated the damage credit cards can do back then, so when I hit 40 I was a prisoner of debt. Sadly I had to accept the fact that I may never get my own place, but at least I had my mom there – her faith and love for her children was what kept me going.

After her untimely death in 2001 due to diabetic complications, I went into my third and thank God final (I hope) down turn. It was my stepdad that gave me the inspiration to find a way for ‘he always saw me ‘as one to achieve’ and now had I let him down? Well, I couldn’t let that happen and found a way, for which I am now trying to help others.

So, now that I have digressed here – make sure you get pre-approved and know what you can and cannot afford.

Finally, Yes! There is a Home Out there for you too!

Now almost 20 years later, I have that home of my own and all the worries that go with it. Loving it though! ;} My only regret is I wish I had done it sooner while mom was still alive – she would have had fun helping me fix it up. Today I own my first real home – a manufactured one but I love it, in the town of Kingston, Massachusetts. So, you see it is possible – but you always need a budget and hard work to keep things going. Oh yes, and have a close walk with God.

 

Now, Let’s Hear Your Story! Are You Still Struggling?

I hope this has given some hope and inspiration to never give up on your dreams. They are still possible, but like anything take a lot of work and endurance, as well as patience. Now maintaining the budget, well that ensures it will never be taken away. If you have any questions, please leave them with your comments below.

Categories
Product Review

How to Find the Hidden Money in Your Smartphone – Using the Ibotta App

IBOTTA | PRODUCT REVIEW

Did you know you can earn cash back on your in-store and mobile purchases with the FREE mobile app created by a Denver-based company, Ibotta.

How does Ibotta work?

There are three ways in which you can earn –

        •       · Your receipt
    •       · Link the Ibotta app to your loyalty card
    •         By way of In-App purchases

Now to best use these options to maximize the amount of money hidden in your smartphone, start by making a shopping list of what you intend to buy BEFORE you leave.

If you have not done so already, download the Ibotta app to your smartphone and create an account.  Once you have done that, find the stores that you shop at in the app and find the one that has the best deal.  Select the item and add it to your Ibotta shopping list.

Now that you have your list in the Ibotta app and know where to find the best deals. Go out and purchase your items and be sure to ask for the receipt, if not provided one automatically at close of the sale.

Once you are home with your purchases, scan the receipt into the Ibotta app matching up your actual purchases to the ones you previously selected in the app, and activate the rebate.

What if I am using a loyalty card?

I just bought a new toaster oven at Kohls, to add the rebate to your card to complete the process, you need to enter your account number, store account or phone number at the start of the rebate process prior to scanning your receipt.

But I Make Most Purchases at the Checkout Using My Phone
Simply opening the app, selecting the items you intend to purchase and making the purchase online in your phone is all you need to do in this  case, Ibotta will be notified of the purchase.

No More Remembering to Cut and Take My Coupons…

I was referred to Ibotta by my sister and love the fact that I do not have to worry about remembering to take my coupons with me.  Once the purchase is made, Ibotta verifies my purchases and a confirmation of payment will appear in the app within 48-hours.

Ibotta is an easy way to make cashback, but it won’t help you save money unless you use it wisely.  There are offers for things you wouldn’t actually buy, so check and pick only those offers you actually use – then go forth and collect cash back. Remember spending money on items you dont use isn’t a good way to manage your money.  Let us know how you make out by leaving a comment after you have signed up for this app on your phone.

Now It Your Turn – Make Real Money Back on Your Next Purchases

Sign up and see  how easy it is to get money back on all your purchases by clicking the link below at https://ibotta.onelink.me/iUfE/1005cd3f?friend_code=slgskwu

Categories
Budgeting in Tough Times

7 Smart Ways to Elevate Your Credit Score

Let’s look at a few of the smart ways to elevate your credit score. Like anything, it is not an overnight fix. It will take some time and hard work on your part. Get all your cards and put them in front of you on the desk that are still active. Next pull a copy of the last statement either from your files or from online. Take a picture before you begin.

Remember, if you have bank cards with the credit card logo attached to either a savings or checking account these do not count as credit cards; these are debit cards and are good. You hopefully have the funds in your account to back them.

Pay down the balances on your credit cards

Now get a large pad and list all your cards and loans down the left-hand side – cards first, followed by any loans. Put each section in order from the lowest balance to highest.

This is where your statements come in handy. You need to write the total owed minus your last payment since. I find it a good idea to go online and check the balance owed. To the right of that column, add the minimum you need to pay next to keep your account in good standing. Finally, go enter in the next column to the right of the date for which a payment is due by. One more thing, tally up the minimum due column, and write the total at the bottom. This is the minimum you must come up with EVERY month until they are paid off to stay current and keep the collection agencies off your back.

Now review your credit report again and check off each of these active accounts. Are there any remaining that you have not checked off? Check the active accounts against the chart you just created to make sure both agree. If they don’t, note the dispute for each that is different.

Do not miss any credit card or loan payments

Make sure you are current on all your credit and loan accounts – if not, the difference is your minimum on this chart. In the months to follow, you will plan to pay no less than the minimum withing 3-5 days of the due date. As the reporting bureaus see you paying this way, your credit score will go up.

Once a credit card or loan has been paid off in full, cut the card up and send it back with a letter telling the creditor you wish to close your account at this time so no further charges can be accrued. The temptation of a card with available credit can b e deadly to hold onto and have around. You will notice a drop in your rating however, but that will be temporary. Once all loans and cards have been paid off – make sure all are closed, but one. You must decide which of the cars you want to hold open. Make it one that you can easily pay off in a month or two.

Do not have too many credit inquiries

Another area that pulls your score down is having too many credit inquiries. These are removed automatically from your record after two years. If you authorized the inquiry, there is a good chance you will not be able to remove it early. Go over the inquiries listed in your report, if any were not authorized by you – highlight them and add them to your dispute list.

Dispute negative information

Any closed accounts on your credit report are not necessarily bad. Check for any closed accounts that have no late payment history on your report. These can stay on for as long as 10 years from the date closed. Don’t fret for as long as this positive information stays it serves to strengthen your credit history. Removing these early only risks hurting your credit scores.

However, any closed accounts showing late payments have a negative impact on your payment history, These will remain on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date of the account. Check also for any negative information, this info will remain beyond seven years add them to your list of disputable.

Contact creditors to delete collection accounts if you pay them

Are there any creditors listed on your report that indicate you are in the collection process? Give each creditor a call and arrange to pay them off or make payments, and ask them to delete the collection status they submitted to the credit bureau agency. If you paid them off, or are paying as agreed, this will show and improve your number over time.

Become An Authorized User

If you have a good friend or work with an employer who thinks quite highly of you, ask them to add you as an authorized user on the company credit card. This can be risky as you must only use the card for authorized purchases that the owner of the card is aware of and approves. He or she is responsible for making sure the card is paid in timely fashion so his or her good payment history gets passed onto you

If you make a legitimate company purchase with his/her approval, no problem. But if you need to use the card for a personal matter, make sure to ask first and plan how they will be reimbursed – perhaps through a reduction of pay until satisfied. If you fail to be responsible as a user on the card, you risk being removed as an authorized user and your trust level goes down.

Get a secured credit card

This is a card that is backed by funding through a checking or savings account in your name, into which you have an available source of cash. The limit is secured by the amount of cash you deposit to open it. So if you put a $500 deposit in, the limit you can spend is $500. If you have no credit or poor credit it is definitely the route to go.

Well…You are On Your Way to a Higher Number!

Okay, now finish looking over your profile on the credit report and other details to make sure they are accurate. Wait for 3-4 months and run another credit report on another bureau and repeat the process. In a year when you get back to this one, make sure all corrections made and entries are correct. You are on your way to improving your credit history and score. The perfect score is NO SCORE, which means your debt is paid off and you can save those debt payments and build healthy savings no matter what your age. Please leave a comment below – has this helped you, do you have any questions or suggestions?