As I log in today for the first time in months, I was disappointed to find everything I worked hard on “needing work”. We tend to get complacent and go back to old ways letting life itself get in our way of dreams and ideas we try to build. When I saw the stars today for this site, Try Wise Budgeting with Donna, I was heartbroken and felt I have disappointed for those following me. It won’t be easy, but know I am still here for you.
I Am Back!
It is true I am back to work, almost full time since the outbreak of Covid, but I am still committed to my passion here as well. I know very well how you feel in your struggles with balancing your finances to make ends meet. Yet, disappointed that I seem to have let you down the past few months. Seeing the words that my office space, this website, “needs work” made me feel I have let YOU down, and I don’t like that – I don’t want you to feel that way either.
So let me share my plan – for the month of April and those months to follow I am committing to just TWO bi-weekly articles a month and asking for your support. I hope you will be inclined to share your experiences and questions with each new post to help me get back on track. I am also going to post a five-minute weekly podcast.
I feel starting with small and very doable steps like this right now will help me re-connect to YOU, and help me to get back on track where my life got in my way, but I am back and want to reconnect with you.
I will be adding the new “Wise Budgeting with Donna” newsletter in May as a seasonal, quarterly issue. It will come straight to your in-box as a PDF as I now some people are more visual and need something they can print out and keep handing to refer back to. Please share your ideas! Let me now in the comments some things you would like to see included in this newsletter.
Still, More to Come…
Well, that is enough for now to work on, especially where I am back to work in the restaurant full time since last July. There is another biggie I want to take on towards the end of this year – but for now, I will hold you in suspense. You will hear more in the months that follow – but right now I feel that best way to get back on track helping people like you budget wisely is slow and steady.
Now It’s YOUR Turn…
Show your support by signing up to receive my newsletter, once it is out – I have a new link to keep all my fans together and to show my appreciation I will share how to get started understanding just where your money is going. You will be surprised.
If only I knew back in my earlier years what I know now, it doesn’t matter how much money we make or have to spend that counts – it is more simply that you need to budget your way to a prosperous future. Hopefully by the end of this article you will have a better turning point that will get you there. Right now you may be feeling stressed stuck at home, no work and collecting unemployment – you are wondering, how are we going to make it? Well, dear, don’t blame the current situation and get stressed. Use your time to reorganize and reshape your family’s pocketbook.
Let’s outline four steps that will definitely help you take back control of your finances and help you breathe easier:
Take A Good Look At Your Household Finances
You have heard you should never put all your eggs in one basket. Same for your budget – you need to see it from different perspectives. I have come to rely on YNAB (short for, You Need A Budget) for my general monthly budgeting and management. It has helped me to take back control and see where my money has been wandering off too. I have tried other programs and keep coming back. One thing bothered me however, my current expenses are being paid and minimum debt. Retired now, this scares me seeing debt and realizing I may never see -0- debt until I am well past eighty.
Don’t Let Frustration Get the Best of You!
So now I had to come up with a plan for the debt portion. My goal to eliminate as quickly and painlessly as possible. One thing the pandemic did was give me time on some debt by taking a forbearance on my student loans. Some days I ponder if that was the right move, but when I tried to work out a deal with Home Depot I was met with much resistance, It was when they hit me with a walloping interest in the middle of this crisis I decided I had to find another way,
Before You File Bankruptcy – STOP AND TAKE A BREATH!
Being Never one to go forward with a bankruptcy mark on my head, I decided to look at my debt and come up with a plan. I saw an ad for Freedom Debt Relief and decided to call. I instantly felt a calm come over me as the lady told me that they could take 6-7 cards off my plate, and still leave me with four to manage on my own. I held my breath a moment as she got ready to tell me what I would have to pay and when she asked me how $278 a month sounded I let out a big sigh. I could afford that, and the best was yet to come – she told me to pay that every month and I will graduate from the program in four years – DEBT FREE! Yet, I would still have four cards available to help rebuild my credit on the right foot,
If you are struggling with debt, call Freedom Debt Relief at 800-655-6303 and speak with an agent. Follow the plan they set up for you, and focus on that celebration at the end of the program when you are debt free and in control.
Reach out to the Albert Geniuses to Help You Save More
Well I got to thinking further and one night I was checking the apps on my phone, and realized I was not using one to what seemed like its full advantage. I had downloaded this in the Spring of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. I have come to trust the staff that is behind the scenes there to give advice to its members with the Albert App, Now, not only am I current with my monthly bills – but getting rid of 6-7 cards, AND realized that Albert is helping me SAVE an extra $200 a month in an Albert savings account.
Relax Now! Your are on the road to Financial Freedom!
I am delighted to think that due to the pandemic something good is coming out of it – I will have $1,000 saved with Albert in an emergency fund that only took six months, and that I know will be possible to double that in a years time. It is possible I will have not only my debts under control – but also, I am hoping to have saved $10,000 with Albert. I am delighted I have finally learned how to budget, pay my bills and save – now I have one more hurdle to master, and it scares me.
As the New Year dawns on 2021, I am making a resolution to utilize the investing option on Albert and learn how to be a smart investor without losing all I am working hard to aspire, I am learning what young people need to realize before they get too old; but also realizing that we are never too old to learn and change the patterns of our life to better ourselves, .
I’m closing in on my financial goals with help from the geniuses at Albert. Now try it for yourself! Sign up with my link and you’ll get free cash. https://app.albrt.co/P1MfQ0yTZab
Let’s take a look at your expenses – one important expense you need to factor in is food for you and your family. Food is one of the major factors of life. We are entering a period of hardship I am afraid to think about or even admit, but that is the reality. We must start to take a second look at what we have and ration it out to determine how long it will last us.
1. Check Your Grocery & Household Budget
In looking at mine, I know I have been too loose with dining out and buying food and staple. I need to focus on cutting back that line to function over a period of 2-3 weeks and be maintained for a longer period. As a single person, my grocery & household budget has been about $300 a month – that is a lot I know. So I am going to start by cutting that line in half to $150.00 per month (or $37.50 per week).
2. Look at Your Dining (or Take-out) Budget
This is a big problem with today’s society as we have it is too convenient with both spouses working and come home tired and not excited about cooking meal at home for their family. Even singles, like myself, have grown to enjoy going out and having someone wait on me. This must change for a time. My dining (or take-out) budget is around $150-200 a month.
We can figure about $30 for two people per dining out is about average. Okay, I enjoy eating out so I am going to just cut the budget down to once a week with a friend or family member. One week you can treat, the next they can. This means you are allocating $30 every other week to this line to $60-75 per week.
3. Inventory What You Have on Hand
In my Free_PantryInventoryListing download here, it itemizes what you have in each area of the kitchen (or storage pantry) listing how much available and how much is used per week, from their it calculates how much I need to maintain for a long haul. Once you have this inventory and know what you have and how much, you are ready to start the next phase.
4. Meal Planning for the Week (or Month)
Get a monthly desk calendar to figure how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you need to prepare for next month. Knowing what you are doing, and having it written down, makes it easy to know what meals you need to plan for. If I plan on the days I am working at the restaurant, I can have dinner there for half price out of tips. Nothing is cast in stone, so you can make changes along the way, the calendar just serves as a handy guide. Here I am working on my April 2020 grocery and dining out budget planning for four times out (equivalent to $60) and $150 for preparing meals at home the rest of the time ($37.50 per week).
You can make a pot of soup and divide it into batches and freeze them. Be sure you mark and date each batch so you can use the oldest first. To save space, batch them in freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer. Here you will see I batched some corn chowder and dated it, so I can tell what soups are older and eat those first.
I enjoy a small glass of orange juice throughout the day, instead of filling the glass to the top – fill it half-way and top it with water to stretch your purchase of 1/2gal a week to a gallon. You can do this for just about all your beverages, even milk.
Meal Planning Can Be Fun (and Yes, You Can Plan to Eat Out Too)
Using your inventory of what you have, plan out your meals for the next couple of weeks. Have fun trying new recipes and creating your own with just what you have on hand. The meals you enjoy repeat next month and use that as a guide to replenishing what you have used.
By all means don’t cut out your entire dining out budget, plan for a meal out once a week – whether a breakfast, lunch or dinner – and enjoy! Please comment on how you are planning to cut your grocery budget to share with others here. If you would like to receive my weekly meal planning newsletter in which I will share what I am making and how I am cutting back, just send your request with your name & email address to firstname.lastname@example.org Use it as a guide to planning your meals, and creating some different and budget conscious meals for yourself and/or your family.
You wake up like any other morning, shower, and get ready for work. Heading off you may hold an important call with a client
by cell on your way in, stop for coffee, and your off to a meeting with your staff. You have been too busy to pay attention to the news, as you eat and head off to bed when you get home. You walk into the meeting and sit down as the President of your company gets up to speak, and you hear – “As many of you may know, there is a situation of severity brewing, a silent stalker-killer virus, social distancing has been ordered. So in order to protect you and the values you possess for this company we are shutting down for 30-days effective immediately. You can still do your work, but you must only do what you can from home. Be Safe!!”
Suddenly Your World is Turned Upside Down
What has been in the background for a while, has come front and center in your life. Suddenly your world is turned upside down. You are riddled with anxiety and questions. Your mind is racing as what to do next. And then on your way to your car you stop and….
Faced with No Work Sends Message – No Money What Now?
Suddenly you feel fear – how will I feed my kids, maintain my lifestyle, or simply continue on as more and more are faced with no work that sends a message of no money coming in. Without money our minds play havoc in our lives and relationships. You may feel helpless if you are the breadwinner, and worry about how you can take care of your family now or even yourself.
WAIT A MINUTE! Answer this one question….
Do you budget your money, life and everything that goes into them? If no, NOW is the time. Without a budget in place in case of such emergency’s means you are in a way at the mercy of society, you need to understand where you are financially at all times of your life – in the good as well as bad times. Understanding and knowing where you are at all times, is the key to being stress free and secure when such a disaster occurs.
Where Do You Begin Now?
This is what I did in 2012, when credit card debt tried to pull the rug out from under me – put two pieces of paper in front of you. At the top of one write “INCOME SOURCE” and the other “EXPENSES”. List everything you have coming in every month to help pay the bills and give you those nice vacations with your family on one sheet; then on the other list ALL your expenses. That is all for now, find all your records to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Stay Tuned – For More “Tips on How A Budget Can Reduce Stress”
Now stay tuned as I lead you through a process of understanding and refining your income and expenses to make it become a welcomed habit rather than a dreaded, daily chore. Now while you are waiting for my next session on this, take a look closely at those two lists and put a dollar value next to each item. Then tally each list up just for shouts and giggles. Although I doubt you will be giggling. Stay focused and please come back for my next post – you will start to see things better in your life with less stress and will be ready to help others.
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?