How the little things add up

little-things-stack-up

Ever look at your bank account and ask “Where in the world did my money go?”¬† I do that often. As a matter of fact, my wife and i were looking at our checking account balance the other night and asking that very same question. Fortunately for us, we budget and I track all of our expenses, so the answer was only a double click away by opening up You Need a Budget. Ours had gone to medical payments, as we still haven’t met our deductibles for the year yet. Unfortunately there were all unplanned expenses (son cut his hand, sick child, and a sports physical we didn’t plan on needing so soon) so we had to tap the emergency fund, but that’s what it’s there for.

Got change?

change

No, not change in the quarter, nickel, dime sense, but change in the lifestyle sense.

Can a person change? Do people change? Will you ever be able to change your finance habits? Many readers of this blog are like I was over three years ago – spending more than I was making and starting to pile up mounds of debt. Other readers have successfully put that stage of life behind them and are starting to build real wealth – the rest of us are somewhere in between.

What I Don’t Like About Mary Kay and other Multi Level Marketing (MLM) Companies

mary-kayAuthor: Mike.

Times are rough these days; if you have managed to keep your job so far, your neighbor, your friend or a family member probably lost their’s. You work pretty hard each and every day, no doubt you look at your budget periodically to make sure you are still on track. You navigate through a pleuthera of frugal ideas to help save a few bucks and ask God to watch over your family and possesions in hopes to avoid bad luck. You don’t really have any other choices yet this lifestyle can be stressful and tiring. Then, someone you know, a good friend, gives you a call and his voice appears as a ray of light over your head; he has found a solution, an easy way to make more money!

Inexpensive date night tips

date night

Mrs. Stew and I are the proud parents of three children ages six and under. We love our kids, but we still look forward to those times when it is just the two of us. Date night can get expensive, however. By the time you add up the cost of a babysitter, a movie, dinner and gas . . . well, I don’t want to think about it. Here are a few ideas that we use to keep the monetary cost of investment in our marriage low.

Friday Gathering: Away from home Edition

mountains

I am almost 600 miles away from home tonight, but I can still write this post and work on various tasks by virtue of the internet – especially the wireless kind. It is amazing how our lives have been changed by technology. Here are some personal finance articles that I found interesting over the past week:

Jim at Bargaineering wrote about four money lessons from nature. Interesting article – I think there are more money lessons to be found in nature. It is good to remember that money has representative value, not intrinsic value. As Dave Ramsey says, a dollar bill is simply a “certificate of appreciation”.

7 Quick Numbers To Fix Your Personal Financial Situation

toolbox

Author: Mike

When we talk about personal finance, there are several rules of thumb that can help you build a solid financial plan. Here are a few numbers to remember when you want to improve your personal financial situation.

Aim for a Credit Score of 750

A credit score may vary from 300 to 900 but most people have a score between 600 and 800. A great credit score will open the doors to get better rates on:

- credit cards,

- insurance (car, home, life, etc),

- personal loans including car loans,

Cash for Clunkers Redux: Cash for Appliances

appliances

I personally believe that Cash for Clunkers was a mistake . . . you might disagree¬† and you are welcome to your opinion – it’s a free country! (at the moment) If you do happen to believe that incentivizing consumer deficit spending through the use of government debt is a good idea, you will be happy to know that the next big thing is on the way this fall: Cash for Refrigerators. The government has set aside about $300 million for states to use to give out rebates to buyers of energy-efficient appliances like freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and central air conditioners.

You have an income crisis, not a spending problem

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I get many emails each month from people asking for financial help and advice. A very common theme in these emails is something along the lines of: “I am very frugal and spend little to nothing, but still don’t have enough money to make ends meet“. My reply? You don’t have a spending problem, you have an income crisis. At some point you can only reduce expenses so far. Once there you are faced with only one option: increasing your income. Surprisingly, that may not be as hard as you think.

What are your budget habits?

dollar

Do you save all your credit card reciepts and then enter them in a spreadsheet at the end of the month?

Do you enter the spending from a particular day every day?

Do you use You Need a Budget?

Are you a cash and envelope user? Once the envelope is empty, your spending stops.

Do you have a particular time set aside to update your budget?

Do you use an Excel spreadsheet to record your spending?

Are you careful to write down every penny?

Are you a Quicken user?

Friday Gathering: Favre is back! Edition

favre

I don’t even care that he is playing for the Vikings, I love watching that guy play.

Clever Dude had an interesting post about the high mark up of disposable razor cartridges. I have a couple of comments. First, companies will charge what the market will bear. If consumers quit purchasing a particular item because it is overpriced, the price will come down. They are under no obligation to reduce the price simply because their mark up is ridiculous. Second: I have used a straight razor on occasion, but I have found that the convenience of the electric razor is beyond compare. I have a reasonably thick beard that I shave every day. Why do men still even use straight razors?

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