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How To Master Your Budget Wise Budgeting

A Guide to An E-Z Zero-based Budget Process – Your Expenses

Before you can ever begin living under your monthly income, you need to be able to live within your income for any given month. I created this as a guide for an E-Z Zero-based budget process beginning with your expenses. Before you reach this level you need to brainstorm and list every bill or person you pay in a given year. Just grab a sheet of paper and start writing in no particular order or format

Start with a List of YOUR Expenses

Now that you have your list compiled, and know that it may not be in any way totally complete, as you open emails and look at your statements. Be sure you are reading each statement and putting any purchases you have made on your bank and credit card also on the list. Anything that is a one time expense put (1x) next to it. For the monthly expenses put an (M) next to it, and any expenses like car insurance – say your car insurance is $900 and you pay $100 for nine months, code that as (T100/9) which would stand for true expense paying $100 every month for 9 mos. Any credit or debt payments you make just put a (D) next to those.

Break List Down into Categories

Now, take your revised entries and break the list down into three categories – current, true, and debt. Be sure to cross them off the original list as you go. These are all listed put the amount you pay every month next to the current expenses. Take your true expense and list what you pay each month or need to set aside each month so you
have the funds when the bill comes due, and for any debt entries, list the minimum you need to pay next month with the due date next to it as well as the current balance you owe.

Add Any Debt You Currently Hold

Now the expense side of your budget for next month is starting to take shape, but you are a way from its finality Under the debt section, add your debts lowest to the highest balance. It may sound weird, but now I actually understand why I chose this method. As I work down the line paying one off at a time, it gives me the momentum and inspires me to just keep going onto the next one.

Be aware, it takes time to pay off debt and may seem frustrating. It has taken me to finally get down to 7 debt payments from about 20 since 2012, and I am not stressed now as I know where I am now, and where I am going. This is why I start you on the expense side first, you get to see just where you are spending and get to allocate your expenses accordingly.

Subtotal Current/True and Debt Lines

Now, once you have all your expenses categorized take and subtotal each section of expenses. Take a look and notice where all your expenses lie on the form. Take time to really study your expenses and see if you can find just ONE item that you feel you do not really need or are paying for and not using as much as you thought you would.

Contact that company and ask them to cancel their services to you, as you are trying to work out your budget right now and feel you don’t use them enough and just want to save money in this area for now. Not when the last time you used their services was, if you see you have not used them in 2-3 months, see if they will refund the last 3 months to help you with your new budget. You never know until you ASK!! What is the worst thing that can happen, they will say NO! But you don’t know, until you move forward and simply ASK them to do it.

 Complete Next Months Budget with Total Expenses

Now total all your subtotal lines, and enter it at the end of the worksheet, This is what you need to be bringing in to support your budget next month. In the next lesson, you will be addressing just what you have to work with now and what anticipating your inflows to next months budget that your tallied the expenses for.

Okay, great job!! Go treat yourself for getting this far – get a coffee and donuts and just CELEBRATE the moment!

 

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Master Your Budget

Your Starter Emergency Fund – First Step to Mastering Personal Finance

You may be experiencing every other phone call is another creditor seeking payment for something you just had to have. You saw that white mink in the window of Macy’s and knew it would make you look rich and desirous, even make your friends jealous thinking you could afford such an extravagance that they can’t. They don’t know you can’t afford it either.

It doesn’t have to be a mink either, it can be a new home with all the bells and whistles or even a luxury automobile. It is all DEBT unless you were able to pull out real cash and pay for the right of ownership in full. Debt is money owed with a promise to pay for those things with your future earnings. Yet, we hate to realize the reality that the future is uncertain.

No Emergency Fund Creates Feelings of Being Lost

As you continue to build debt to have the things you are putting off the right to full ownership, one experiences feelings of Feeling lostbeing lost in a deep forest with no way out. Every sound around you creeps you out until you cannot take it any longer. Then you realize you started out sprinkling breadcrumbs as you walked the path of life so if you strayed ever you could get back on track only to turn around and find the birds had eaten every single crumb.

Well, having no emergency fund creates feelings of being lost out of our frustration and fears that can seem impossible to ever get out of. Some even give up. However, it is important that we realize everything from the beginning of time to your existence now happens for a reason and it is our purpose to understand and find our way out without harming others by excepting our problems and taking them head-on to find our way back to the path of success.

As you research your own personal assets and list all your income and status; then list all your immediate monthly obligations. These obligations are things you must pay every month to maintain the four elements of life – (1) a roof over your head, (2) being able to stay warm (or cool) to live in your environment, (3) food in your table to feed your family and yourself and (4) staying current with your day to day needs and obligations (true expenses). When you take the total of your monthly expenses and subtract it from your funds available at any time – if your expenses are greater you live outside your means.

Baby Step 1 – Starting An Emergency Fund Lessens Stress

To get back on track you need to start by creating a budget that will enable you to start taking back control of your money instead of continuing to allow it to control YOU. In getting back on track you need to get back to the fundamentals and reach out to God for help – He does listen! Even before you start an emergency fund, make Tithing the top element of your knew expense budget followed by Baby Step 1 – Starting an emergency fund.

This first step in your budget gives you a feeling of renewed control over your life situation. As you continue this new process every month it will become second nature and suddenly you will start to see your stress level abating as you give to God each week or pay period and work on building a strong starting emergency fund.

Keep Shoveling in Funds – First Step to Mastering Personal Finance

Don’t worry about paying off your debt until this has been achieved and mastered. Continue budgeting all your immediate (current) obligations and true expenses for the month and with what left just pay the minimums on all your debt entries. Once you have at least $1000 in your emergency fund, you can then reallocate those funds towards your debt.

However, if you have had to tap into the emergency fund for any reason – you MUST repay that emergency fund FIRST to make sure it stays at $1,000. Then you can apply any excess to your debt starting with the lowest debt owed and working down to the highest over the months. This method is also known as the “snowball method”.

So keep shoveling in funds every month to your emergency account to maintain a healthy $1,000 balance. Once you have that you can move onto your debts and rolling the funds you were applying from your paycheck to the emergency fund over to the accounts that you still owe.

Learn to Recognize Real Emergency vs Nonessential Whims

As new situations arise in your life, and they will start analyzing them to determine if they are a real emergency or something that can be addressed in one of your regular budget lines. You may have to cut going out to dinner one month to reallocate those funds needed to another line to pay that situation that came up off.

As you do this you will gain a deeper appreciation for starting that emergency fund and keeping it no lower than $1000 going forward. You also will start to see a real pride of ownership as you gain control of your finances and make changes for the better – perhaps selling that big old house you grew up in and getting a smaller less costly apartment or manufactured home. Debt wreaks havoc in our lives and causes undue stress levels that need to be eliminated and replaced with true right of ownership. Remember, when you don’t use credit and pay for anything with cash – you own it outright! Your future dollars can be saved and used for future goals.

Your Starter Emergency Fund Is Fully-funded – Go Celebrate!!

YAY! Today you got paid and made your last payment – your starter emergency fund is full-funded at last! If you don’t need to touch in next month, you will have those dollars to start applying to the next area of your budget – YOUR DEBT. But first, before you go any further – today is a big deal and you conquered the first step.

Go celebrate this occasion! You could treat yourself to coffee with a friend or dining out at that new restaurant family has been raving about. The act of celebrating mastering the steps of anything brings positive reinforcement to your psyche – just don’t touch that emergency fund to do it!!

If you found this article helpful, please share with a friend and leave a comment below.  Have you started or completed your starter emergency fund yet?

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Create Vision Boards How To Never to Late for Success

Create Your Vision Board for 2020 – ShareYour Dreams

The power of a vision board is mystical to me. I did my first one in the fall of 2015 for the upcoming 2016 new year. This is the last one I did, but sadly did not do one for the current year. The one pictured here I did in the latter part of 2017 for 2018. I advise to hang your vision board somewhere you see it or pass by it every day.

 

I want to show you HOW to create your first vision board for the new year. So let’s begin by getting a few friends together, set a date, and make a few goodies to share for the occasion. Okay, with the date is set you need a few more things, like what media are you going to put your boards on. One year I provided 12″x 12″ cork boards, another just a piece of colored construction paper (let them pick their color).

What is a Vision Board?

A vision board is a collection of visual images or words that represent the life you want to live or dream about having. Literally, it is a tangible portrayal of the vision you have for yourself.

It is a representation of your dreams, goals, and things that make you happy. Creating a vision board helps one realize their goals and can serve as a means of motivation in working towards achieving your dreams.

It brings everything on it to life. First, think about what your goals are in the following areas: relationships, career and finances, home, travel, personal growth (including spirituality, social life, education) and health.

Start with a Blank Slate

This year I chose a square sheet of paper which I have hung behind me. For a gathering of friends, have a table or space with enough room for all to sit around and work on their individual boards for the upcoming year.

Gather A Few Tools (and friends)

Now go get all your old magazines and newspapers together and put them on one end of the table with scissors and tape, some glue and any other fun stuff to make your visions come alive. You can even use those stickers that come in the mail with funny sayings or words or pictures.

The most important thing is to have fun and share your dreams with others. Listen to their dreams. Add some crazy things you may think are ridiculous, but just add a touch of color to your life and thoughts – who knows what will appear from your board.

Have all these things available and out the day of your event for all to share, and ask them to bring their collections too.

 

The more variety your vision board has the better your vision for your future will be – from hopes and dreams to things you’d like or people you would like to meet, trips you’d like to take. You may also see these objects as things on your bucket list to do before your life ends.

Magazines and fliers, even your mail, is filled with ideas to include – even a simple word or phrase.

Gather Clippings of Images, Words & Phrases

You are ready to begin going through all the magazines and media, clipping items that strike you as something you would like to shoot for in the upcoming year ahead. Have fun, and don’t forget to gossip or share chitchat as you do.

As you find things, snip them out and place them on your sheet Just leave them loose until you feel you have everything you want and have covered all your interest and dream with things from the magazines and other tools provided. As you snip pictures that strike you, place them loosely on the sheet.

When you have enough then begin to organize and fasten them to the background with paste or tape. Include feelings you want, as well as just images and words. Make it fun, and exciting and focus with purpose in mind. Say you are in a wheelchair, and they say you will never walk again, you may find pictures of someone walking and a smile as one of your pictures – then post it on your fridge where you will see it every day, who knows but by end of the year you may report how you walked out of your wheelchair and got back to walking.

Don’t Forget to Add New Year on Top & Initial Lower Right Corner

Your vision board tells a story of where you would like your life to journey to in the new year. It gives you something to strive for and see new dreams come true. I had one cat dying from cancer, and when she passed early in the next year my sister encouraged me to get another, so I went to the shelter and found Pixel, who looks similar to the one in the vision board. I also did a lot of organizing my home and finances. Don’t ex[etc everything to happen, but just a few is enough to propel you into the next new year with a new vision.

Now, I would like to see your vision

Go gather a few friends and tools, then get together and put your vision on paper, or cork boards, or poster board, whatever. When done, take a photo of your vision board and please post it below to share in the comment section, then hang it where you will see it every day of the new year. Next year plan to get back together with your group of friends, see what on your board became reality and share with the group before you start your new Vision for the next year.

This makes a nice tradition to start and carry on, year after year, to see where you and your friends are in their journeys. In addition, you get the benefit of sharing your ideas with friends and creating a group of cheerleaders supporting you in reaching your goals – plus there’s wine. It is fun for people of all ages – men and women can equally benefit. It is equally fun to bring everyone back year after year to create a new vision board and share what has actually manifested itself into reality.

Now, I Want to Wish You All Very Merry Christmas,

and a Happy New Year!!

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How To Master Your Budget

A Look at How to Save Money on Coffee

If you are like me, you need that first cup of coffee in the morning. However, we tend to always be running and in doing so grab a coffee en route to work through one of the many drive-thrus. Until we have had that first cup, many of us do not even give a second thought about where it will come from.

Let us take a look at how to save money on coffee – here are the two ways and determine the best value for saving your hard-earned money while living on a budget.

Home Brewed at Home

The first option is home-brewed – you could get the pot all ready to go and even get one of those coffee makers with a timer that starts the coffee at a certain time so it is ready for when you get up. The aroma of the brewing will awaken your senses and help you get up and get ready for the day.

If you are a single home-owner, many of us now can purchase a Keurig very affordably and make a cup at a time – rather than making a pot and leaving it all day until you get home = then dumping and wasting most of it. This is my choice. The K-cups come in packages of 3, 12, and even 36, with no waste. The cost of the machine can be as low as $99. Up to $129. The K-cups are then your only expense once you get the machine. The average cost for a box of 12 is about $7.99 (a mere $.79 per cup). If you add cream and sugar to it, that cost could be as low as $.85 a cup at home.

On the Road Stop Options

However, many people roll over and try to grab a few moments of extra sleep before they have to get up. Then find themselves racing around and running out the door with no time to stop to make coffee at home. There are many one the road stop options on the way to work – MaryLou’s, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Gunther Tooties, and many more – and they choose the one with the least line and pull in.

Well, if you are in this group – you are looking at paying anywhere from $1.79 up to over $5.00 for that morning coffee. The cost of the coffee alone has doubled or even tripled depending on your choices. Oh, and then you see a lonesome donut calling out your name – at that to the cost of the coffee.

Don’t Forget to Cash-in with Coupons & Senior Discounts Available

Whether you brew your own at home or stop on the way to work, do take advantage of any cash-offers for coffee. And if you are over 55 or 60, ask if they offer senior discounts – and ask for it if they do. Remember, it’s your money and you have earned the rights to those discounts, but many times you MUST ask as we have been taught growing up it is not nice to inquire about someone’s age.

In my area, we have Cumberland Farms, and they offer free coffee on Fridays. If you find deals like that, by all means, treat yourself on Fridays as a reward for making your coffee all the rest of the week at home.

The Choice is Yours – Home or On the Road

Look at both methods closely and compare the costs – what saves you the most? Is your morning coffee shop run something you are willing to give up, or not – this is something you must decide for yourself. For me at the is time, it’s coffee from home with an occasional treat on the road.

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Grocery Shopping Master Your Budget

Wise Grocery Shopping – Take Time to Prepare

One of the essential items in life we must pay attention to is having enough food to satisfy us while still living on a budget. Depending on your family size and needs, this line various household to household. A good rule of thumb to consider would be $30-50 per family member per week. This means if your are a single member household, your should plan to budget about $120-200 a month.

Always Use A List

My Grocery List

If you just have a habit of going to the store and picking up things from memory that you need, you are doomed to overspend every time. Make it a point to keep a grocery notepad on your refrigerator with a pen to jot down things as they are used up or needed. Writing down things you need as they come up will help you stick to your grocery budget and if you do exceed, at least you will know what happened.

If you are more tech-savvy and prefer automation over old-fashion pen & ink lists, I use a program called Aisle-by-Aisle Grocery list and just pull it up on my phone when I get to the store. I can even note if I have a coupon to use. You must take a few minutes though to set it up on your home computer. I have one sister who enjoys this, and the other one prefers pen & ink lists. So, the choice is you – the important thing is – ALWAYS USE A LIST!!

Eat Before You Go

Another important thing about grocery shopping is your need to make sure your NEVER shop on an empty stomach, always eat first. When your are not hungry in the market, your are less apt to binge shop.

Know Your Budget Limit

Okay your have eaten something and grabbed the list from the refrigerator, how much do your want to spend? It is a good idea to check to see how much your can get the items for and go to where your can shop for less. Be sure to check for available coupons to help keep your spending down.

Only Carry Enough Cash for Your Intended Order

Now with a general idea of what your are going for and how much it will cost your, take only enough cash to cover the order. Add about 10% to the total your estimated to allow for differentiation. Don’t forget to grab any cash-offs (also known as coupons) to help defray your cost and get it as low as your can.

Lets Wrap-up…

Well this is basically the process of wise grocery shopping. Always be on the alert on how your can get it as low as your can each time your are out in the market. Happy shopping!

Interested to know if this helped your, and any other tips your would like to share. Thank your for this moment of your time!