What Is Helping Your Family Budget and What Is Hurting It?

Having a family budget is one of the best financial management steps that can make you financially successful. Nonetheless, you must understand how to go about the budgeting process and identify what is good and bad for it. This information can be pretty overwhelming, but this article will paint a clear image of handling your family’s budget in the best way possible. That starts by understanding what is good for your pocket and what hurts it.

Understanding Your Home’s Expenses

It is critical to understand how much you spend and what you spend it on. Careful spending is one of the best practices you should embrace to ensure your finances last to cater to all your needs. Some people think that failing to spend money on essential matters helps them financially, but that is not true.

There are some expenses, such as home renovations, that you should never ignore. Windows are among the critical parts of a house, especially regarding energy saving. Fortunately, replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows can save you up to $465 annually.

Consider Getting Insured

There is a reason why, as a homeowner, you are advised to get appropriate insurance and ensure it is valid. Home insurance will cover the cost of damages in fire accidents, floods, and other disasters. Motor insurance will help you maintain your vehicle’s condition, handle the necessary repairs, and replace it if damaged beyond repair in an accident.

Lack of such insurance may only lead you to spend more. If your car is not insured, you may spend between $200 and $300 to replace its windshield. Over time, a couple hundred dollars here and there add up tremendously.

Budget Together

One of the best ways to have a clear and viable budget is to go through the process with your spouse and family. Such collaboration will help you know how much you can both contribute to your financial needs. Consider splitting your residential financial requirements. For example, you could be the one to cover the cost of groceries while your partner handles your kid’s school fees.

Focus on the Most Important Necessities

Starting with what matters most is a critical consideration. Some people focus on saving that they forget some of the necessities they should prioritize. Your budget should first cover the four crucial basic needs. Your top priorities should be shelter, food, utilities, and transportation. Once you’ve satisfied these, you can assess how much disposable income you have left to save or invest.

Consider a ‘Staycation’

Going for family trips and vacations is critical and has many benefits, but such journeys can adversely affect your budget if you are not careful. Financial experts recommend sourcing for local vacation spots instead of spending thousands of dollars traveling to distant places. Plane tickets to foreign countries alone can cost several thousand dollars.

Besides covering the transportation expenses, you will be required to pay for accommodation, which can sometimes be costly, depending on where you choose to spend your vacation. Timeshares have gained popularity today, but you should know that spending one week on a timeshare can cost $21,455. That is a substantial amount you can put to better use by foregoing such an expensive vacation. Instead, you could invest it and watch it grow, help eliminate student debt, and more.

What Can Hurt Your Budget?

Lack of Savings

Sometimes it can be challenging to save money, especially when you are on a tight budget. That said, it is recommended to embrace a saving habit regardless of how tight your budget is. Savings are the best ways to prepare for the future.

Many Debts

Debts, majorly high-interest ones, will negatively affect your family’s financial health. Acquire loans only when it is inevitable and ensure you work with a lender with lenient terms, including their loans’ interest rates.

Lack of Emergency Funds

You are not immune to things going wrong, such as your vehicle breaking down, getting sick, or your HVAC system becoming non-functional. These events will need money to get things back to normal. You should ensure cash in your emergency savings accounts to handle such situations.

Having a budget is a wise idea, but you should also know its dos and don’ts, as explained above. The critical thing to help you create a reliable budget is avoiding unnecessary expenses. Some homeowners assume that they can replace their furniture just because they have money, even if the current ones are still in good condition. That is a careless expenditure that can significantly hurt your financial health. If you can resist the impulse to gild the lily and spend unnecessarily, you can literally set yourself up for a long life.

Essential Budgeting Tips That Everyone Should Know

Every guide to keeping your finances in order will tell you how important it is to budget, but they usually don’t tell you exactly how to do so. It isn’t always as simple as recording your incomings and outgoings, and there is plenty of discipline involved in sticking to it. To help you budget more efficiently, and leave you some money left over at the end of each month, we have four essential budgeting tips that everyone should know.

Don’t Spend More Than You Make

This is a very obvious statement to make when talking about budgeting. However, the number of people who do not keep within their means is surprising. If you overspend, you won’t have money towards the end of the month, which means you will have to find cash from somewhere. This could be from your own savings or, most likely, you will have to borrow the money from somewhere, which means debt. Make an accurate list of what comes in and what goes out so that you are aware of how much money you have.

Use Software or An App

Apps and software make the whole process of budgeting easier. No one is saying that it is an exciting thing to do and, if anything, it can make you more aware of how little money you have to play with. However, by using an app, most of the boring part is taken out of your hands because each purchase will be recorded as and when you spend your money. This is an easy and convenient way to keep track of your finances so make sure you take advantage of it.

Have a Goal in Mind

Having a budgeting goal in mind will make it easier to stick to. Maybe you want to purchase something, or you want to have money available for monthly bills and repayments. If you’ve been struggling to do so before, once you start budgeting effectively and you meet these needs, you will gain a sense of achievement. Student loan repayments are an example where you can budget so that you meet your monthly commitment and still have money left for yourself. Think about refinancing your loan with a private lender if you’re struggling to make the repayments. They may be able to give you better terms, which will lower your monthly expenses and improve your budgeting.

Budget For Fun

Budgeting is rarely fun, but you can make it easier though by setting goals for yourself and seeing it as a game. Use all the available tools to make sure you stick to your budget and think about trying to save a bit more than you have initially budgeted for. Ideas like a four bank system might excite you in terms or variety and strategy with your money. You will find that this will incentivize you to try and find bargains, not make those unnecessary and expensive extra purchases, and give a sense of purpose to your budgeting. Set yourself a certain amount of money that you want to make last as long as possible and see how far you can make it stretch.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

10 Things You Shouldn't Pay For

We are all guilty of spending money on things we don’t need. Although sometimes it is worthwhile to pay for the convenience, there are some things you shouldn’t pay for. Here are ten items that are costing you extra money.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For

1. Water

Bottled water is one of the biggest wastes of money people have bought into. Each year Americans spend an estimated $100 billion on bottled water. Not only does it produce tons of waste and pollute the environment, but several quality tests show that it is just as safe as the tap water from your sink. America has some of the cleanest potable water in the world. So, save yourself a ton of cash and use a refillable water bottle instead.

2. Books

Books are another item you shouldn’t pay for. New books cost anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on whether you get the paperback or hard cover copy. Instead of buying new ones, I browse these free online resources or visit my library when I’m looking for new reading material. Some of my favorite novels have come to me from book exchanges with friends as well. There are endless ways to access free books. So, unless it’s a must-have in your library, you don’t need to spend extra money to find good books.

3. Mobile Apps

At one time or another, most of us have paid for downloadable apps. Most of my paid apps only cost a few bucks a month. However, once I found the free alternatives, I canceled this unnecessary expense. By avoiding these microtransactions, particularly in-game purchases, I saved money every month. It can be hard to resist spending a dollar or two here and there. But, simply remove your credit card information to also remove the temptation.

4. Cable TV

Cable TV is no longer considered a necessary expense. In fact, many would say it is becoming more obsolete as we get more online streaming options. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and YouTube have largely replaced cable TV. With bundled services and customized packages, you only pay for the shows you want to watch. So, you shouldn’t pay extra when you have better and cheaper options available.

5. Late Fees

Late fees are another expense you can completely avoid. With the ability to automate payments and set reminders, there is no reason you should incur late fees if you have the funds. You can schedule and manage alerts from your credit card, bank accounts, and monthly bills right from your phone. However, if you do overlook a payment and receive a late fee, most companies will waive the fee as a courtesy if it is only a one-time mistake. However, if you have a history of late payments or cannot pay the full amount, call the company and arrange a payment plan to avoid additional fees in the future.

6. Banking Fees

You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money. Therefore, banking fees are among the things you shouldn’t pay for. If your bank charges high ATM, maintenance, or overdraft fees, you may want to consider changing banks. However, you can easily avoid these pesky fees by using your bank’s ATMs and setting alerts on your accounts to notify you when balances are low. Mobile apps like Mint can also help keep track of your finances and offer free ways to help you better manage your money.

7. Credit Reports

Although you likely have seen several advertisements for paid services, you should never pay for your credit report. Simply go online and request your free ones at creditreport.com or ask your bank for your FICO score. There is no need to spend money on something that the law entitles you to. Every citizen can receive a free copy of their credit report from all three reporting bureaus every year. I prefer to stagger my requests to receive one every four months to better monitor my personal finances. Regular checks ensure that my information is safe and that there is no fraudulent activity with my accounts.

8. Newspapers and Magazines

With news available through TV, radio, satellite, and online, there is no need to spend money on newspapers or magazines. You’re also more likely to receive up-to-the-minute information through these sources since print media can’t keep up with breaking news. However, if you still want to find copies of your favorite periodicals, visit your local library or digital copies online.

9. Extended Warranties

Whenever you make a large purchase, the salesman will always offer to sell you an extended warranty from the manufacturer. Although you might be tempted to buy in, remember these companies only exist to generate profit. They exist to bring in more than they pay out. Furthermore, the extended warranty usually provides poor coverage that reduces payouts through the fine print. And, you will still have to pay deductibles as well. Unless there are higher probabilities of your purchases needing repairs, extended warranties are usually just another waste of money.

10. Car Leases

If you want to drive a new vehicle but can’t afford the price tag, car leases can be very attractive. It may seem like a good deal if they offer low monthly payments, but it will actually cost you more in the long run. Unless you decide to buy it once the lease is up, you must return the car with no benefits of ownership. Moreover, dealerships limit your annual mileage and ability to customize your car. However, you will still be on the hook for any damage and repairs to the vehicle. Leasing a car gives you all the responsibility of owning a vehicle with none of the benefits.

Tracking your finances is crucial to your long-term goals. So, it is important to review your spending on a regular basis and adjust your budget. So, if you are looking for ways to save money, cutting out these unnecessary expenses could save you significant chunk of change each month.

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Advantages And Limits Of Budgeting

Budgeting is a great way to managing your finances. It takes a significant amount of discipline and time to use a budget  effectively.  Budgeting has several benefits, including limiting the amount of times that you overspend on goods and services. Continue reading

Side Hustle: A Guide To Becoming An Uber/Lyft Driver

For those of us looking to earn a little extra cash on the side, driving for an app-powered taxi service like Uber or Lyft holds a certain appeal. If you have the ability to drive, after all, then why not make the most from it? But is this particular side-hustle worthwhile? Let’s find out!

What should I know before becoming a driver?

As a driver, you will be dependent on good reviews from your clientele. That means you’ll need to have emotional intelligence. This needn’t mean being extroverted; some clients will appreciate a driver who knows when to keep quiet. But it will mean that you need to be professional and courteous.

We should also consider the flexibility (or lack of it) inherent in jobs of this sort. While it’s possible to earn money while still adhering to your own schedule, certain times of day yield the highest prices. These are rush hours in the week, and social hours at the weekends. If you’re in 9-5 and you’d like to maintain a social life, then perhaps this isn’t the hustle for you.

Moreover, for all the advantages of being a driver, you’re never going to get the independence that comes with really being your own boss. The companies are hiring you as an independent contractor, which means that they set the prices and the terms.

What should my budget be?

Your budget will need to take into account several expenses, some of which might not be immediately obvious. You’ll need to pay for cleaning supplies to keep the interior looking fresh. That means if someone dirties up the back seat, you’ll need to clean it up (though they will still be charged). Wear and tear on the exterior will also be more strenuous than if you’d just used the vehicle for personal purposes, which means more frequent washes and waxes, more frequent tyre replacements, and more expensive repairs.

Your insurance premiums will rise if you use your car for this purpose. Moreover, the money you earn will be taxed – which might make life unduly complicated if you’re only earning a little bit from your side-hustle.

What about Uber X or UberXL?

Uber’s higher-capacity services are attractive to drivers, as they allow for higher fares – provided that there is enough demand for a high-capacity vehicle. For large events with many big groups attending, a more capacious vehicle, like a Mercedes Benz M8 from Cab Direct, can pay for itself. The only problems occur when clients order a smaller vehicle and then attempt to cram more into it than is legally allowed. This isn’t such an issue for UberXL drivers, who can simply have the ride upgraded afterwards without getting into an argument.

3 Budget Friendly Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Adults

3 Budget Friendly Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Adults

Now that Easter has passed, it is time for us to move on to the next holiday. That holiday is Mother’s Day. Each year, people spend over $20 billion on Mother’s Day. Whether it is flowers, a visit, a warm meal, or something else. Here are a few ideas to keep Mother’s Day from becoming overwhelmingly expensive.

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Bachelor Party on a Budget

Bachelor Party on a Budget

Weddings have consistently become more expensive in recent years. With flowers, invitations, food, and many other things being a necessity nowadays, costs for a once in a lifetime event have skyrocketed.

With all that being said, the parties that take place before the wedding have also jumped in value. I’m talking about bachelor and bachelorette parties. I recently just got finished planning a bachelor party for a wedding I’m in. I will share a few cost saving tips on how to plan a bachelor party on a budget.

Bachelor Party on a Budget: Tip #1

Drive instead of fly. Flying can be very expensive depending on the location of the trip. Pick a closer location and carpool instead. The bachelor party we planned was just over seven hours away from where three of us were located. We could have each flown, but that would have come with a $300 price tag per person. By driving and splitting gas, we will spend about $200 total.

Bachelor Party on a Budget: Tip #2

Purchase supplies ahead of time. A good plan is often times the key to saving money. By purchasing supplies before the trip, you can plan out your purchases and get everyone on board to split the costs.

For example, buying food at a grocery store before you get into town means you don’t have to scramble at the last minute for food. The same goes for purchasing party favors and alcohol. We purchased our alcohol and breakfast food ahead of time. I estimate we saved about $20 per person by doing so.

Bachelor Party on a Budget: Tip #3

Find fun activities that don’t cost a lot. Although bachelor and bachelorette parties tend to be a destination trip, the activities you do at the destination don’t have to be expensive.

For the recent bachelor party I planned, we spent a night grilling out instead of going out to eat. We had a good time, and we spent a lot less than if we had decided to go to a restaurant.

When it comes to a city all are visiting on a trip, there are bound to be a number of museums, mountains to hike or other free activities you partake in. Not every event has to cost money.

Conclusion:

Bachelor and bachelorette parties are meant to be one last celebration of an individual’s friends. It’s easy to get caught up in expecting something lavish or expensive, but most times all that friend wants is to spend quality time with the people in their life they cherish most.

If reading this blog post makes you want to try your hand at blogging, we have good news for you; you can do exactly that on Saving Advice. Just click here to get started.

Tips for Having a Budget-Friendly Vacation

Budget-Friendly Vacation

You do not have to let cost stop you and your family from enjoying a vacation. It is possible to have a great family vacation on a budget. There are several ways that you can cut your travel expenses without cutting back on fun and adventure. Here’s how:

Rent an RV

If you and your family travel frequently, then renting an RV can potentially help you save thousands of dollars per year. Your RV is your home on wheels, so you will not have to get a hotel room. For less than the cost of comparable accommodation, you can opt for a stay at an RV resort in San Diego or other in-demand destination cities. This lets you and your loved ones enjoy the perks of a standard hotel resort without the high cost. Furthermore, an RV also comes with a kitchen, so you can cook meals instead of eating out. Traveling in your rented RV is also likely to cost less than getting plane tickets for everyone going on the trip.

Look for Free Things to Do

The entertainment is one of the main things that can make a vacation expensive. One of the keys to having a budget-friendly family vacation is to look for free things to do. Public parks and beaches are examples of places that you can go for free. Most museums are free at certain times. It is a good idea to find out about the free things to do in the area before you go to your destination.

Travel During the Off-Season

Summer is the most popular time of the year for families to travel. The children are out of school, and parents are able to get time off from work. However, this is also the most expensive time of the year to travel. If you can travel during the offseason – fall, winter, or early spring – then you will be able to save a lot of money.

Collect Things Instead of Buying Them

Everyone wants to have souvenirs from their trip. However, you do not have to spend money on souvenirs. You can collect things instead of buying them. For example, you can collect seashells at the beach. You can also collect maps from the tourist offices.

Use Coupons

Many restaurants and attractions have discounts at various times of the year. You can take advantage of these discounts by using coupons. Groupon is a place where you can find coupon deals. You can also find coupons by directly visiting a company’s website.

Select a Nearby Destination

You do not need to go far to have a good time. There are likely a lot of fun places within a short drive from you. If you choose a close destination, then you can save money on gas. You will also be able to save money on the activities that you do with your family.

Use a Gas Finder App

The amount that you pay for gas will depend on the gas station that you buy it from. Even if you are only able to save a few cents, this can add up. You can use a gas finder app to find the cheapest gas station in your area.

It is possible to travel with your family on a tight budget. You can cut your travel costs by renting an RV. You can also travel during the off-season and select a nearby destination. Looking for free things to do and collecting free items are other ways that you can save money. Additionally, you can use a gas finder app. There are many ways to pull off a budget-friendly vacation, it’s just a question of which ones to choose.