Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where does the Money Go?

One of the main things to do to get your finances under control is to figure out what you have coming in and going out. Many people under or over estimate these numbers. Check you pay stubs to make sure you realize how much you earn each month.

To find out how much you actually spend a month is to keep track what you spend each day (besides mortgage, rent, loan or credit card payments). Keep a daily log of every thing you spend money on. If you can't keep track at the time of the spending, keep track of your receipts and record them each evening. Once you have done this for a week, take a look what you are spending your money on and if anything can be cut out.

Also to help you figure out the reasons behing your spending pattersn, it's also helped to keep a spending diary, in which you can jot down your thoughts before or after you spend money or use your credit card. It you go for coffe every afternoon, for example, ask yourself: what would happen if I skipped the coffee today? Sometimes we do something mainly out of habit. Whe we were growing up, we lived on a farm, when we would go to town we got to pick out a candy bar. It was years after I left home that I realized when I was at the grocery store, etc, I was automatically buying a candy bar without really thinking about doing it.

Also, when considering buying something, ask yourself if you really need it. Also, I have heard some people set a limit of $100 or so. If something is over $100 think about it overnight to make sure you still want it and try curbing impulse purchases.

Just like some people eat when they are stressed or depressed, etc. Some people shop in these circumstances. So if you take a look at how you are feeling when you spend money you may be able to find out if you deal with these issues you can save money on purchases you may not have made.

If you are overspending and stressing about money that can make the situation worse. If you can get your spending under control other aspects of your life may get better too.

It doesn't mean you have to cut out all extra expenses but just consider what you are spending your money on.

Deals in Sunday's Forum

Following are some of the deals and coupons in today's Fargo Forum

There is a 40% off one item coupon on the page of the Hobby Lobby ad which is part of the newspaper. There is also a 40% coupon for Mill End Textiles in their ad. The Michael's flier has a 40% off one item coupon.

In the Target flier, buy 4 Kashi snacks at $2.50 each and get one free.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Read Free books on line

Daily Lit brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read. This works incredibly well not just on your computer but also on a Treo, Blackberry, Sidekick or whatever the PDA of your choice.

This service is free of charge. You can get installments daily or you can request the installments to be sent to you right away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Deals I got from other blogs

I don't go to Target very often, but I saw two deals on some other blogs. So I stopped after work today. This week they have Oil of Olay body wash on sale for $5.50 each. If you buy 3, you get a $5 gift card. Then there is a $15 rebate to send in on the purchase of 3 OO products. Then they had Special K cereal bars on sale for $2.50 and when you buy 5 you get $5 GC.

So I spent $29 and got $10 in GC and $15 rebate so over $30 worth for about $4.

I guess it was worth the trip

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thoughts on Vacation

Following is a post from Dave Ramsey about waiting until you can afford it to go on vacation. I can tell you from personal experience a vacation is more enjoyable when you don't have to worry about it when you are gone or worry about paying for it when you get home. Also, if you put the expenses on your credit card and pay if off over time, it will end up costing you considerably more than you first planned.

One of Dave's radio show listeners emailed to get some advice:

We have a few thousand saved up for a trip this summer as a way to reward ourselves for working so diligently on our debt snowball lately. We deserve a break! Should we go? Is now the best time?

What Did Dave Say?
Waaaahhhh! I didn’t go on vacation for two years while I was cleaning up my mess. Listen, your life has been a trip to the beach. Now it’s time to clean up your mess! I’m not saying that you should never go on a vacation. Just don’t go when you’re $20,000 in debt! Live like no one else now so later you can live like no one else. That’s what I did. Now I can go to the beach any time I want! You’ve got to break this cycle in your head that you deserve stuff. None of us deserve squat.

Traveling somewhere for a vacation is a luxury, not a necessity. We must remember that. So many people don’t understand the difference.

Whoever said you have to travel and spend lots of money on a vacation? Ever heard of a “staycation”? It’s a vacation from everyday life where you stay close to home—what a novel idea! You can be a hometown tourist, spend extra quality time with your family, and forget about work for a while. If you’re still working on your debt snowball, this is the way to go.

If you’re out of debt, have the money saved, and have planned your vacation, by all means, go! Go now while the sale light is on! You’ve sacrificed, and your hard work and dedication have literally paid off. Everything is still on sale big time! And if you pay with cash, you’re more likely to get even greater deals.

Don’t fall for the line that the economy will slump if you don’t do your part by traveling. That is completely absurd. The economy will continue to improve regardless of how you choose to spend a few days off. Once again, you have to be a mature adult and do what’s best for you.

Whether you’re going on a Mediterranean cruise or grilling out at the neighborhood park, you can have an absolute blast on vacation in the coming months! It’s all about your attitude and staying within your budget.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes you can splurge

I write on here alot about how to save money and making the most of it.

But if you watch how you spend your money, sometimes you can splurge on things you may not usually buy. Over the weekend I was showing my mom and sister in law a purse I had bought. When I told them I spent $50 on it they about fell over. But then I said I did save $15 on it and I had used a gift card that I got for Christmas from my employers. I did have second thoughts about spending the money on it but both handles on my other purse had broke and I was having to hold the whole purse. I figured I would end up spending almost as much some place else or if I spent less it wouldn't last as long.

I didn't think much about posting about it until my sister-in-law mentioned it the other day.

I also told a friend of mine about it awhile back and she was surprised to hear what I had spent on it. When I told her I had bought a new purse she was expecting to hear about some big deal I had gotten on it.

Also, I have been looking for a good deal on a chaise lounge or chair/ottoman. A couple weeks ago I ran across a good deal on a used stuffed chair/ottoman. I did think about it overnight, and figured if it was still there the next day it was meant to be. So I did end up buying it but paid a fraction of the new price and it looks almost new.

So if you watch how you spend your money on certain things you have the money for other things.

Monday, February 22, 2010

America Saves Week, Feb 21-28

America Saves Week

During America Saves Week, individuals will be encouraged and assisted to assess their savings progress and take action to advance this progress. This encouragement and assistance will be provided by organizations and professionals with an interest in improving the financial security of individuals and families.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You Can Learn to Be Good With Money

One of the many excuses I hear about people not dealing with their finances is that they have never been good with money or finances. One reason for this is that most people were not educated how to handle finances. This is why I feel it is very important to teach this in school.

Also, many times with married couples if one person is more inclined to dealing with the finances the other one will hand everything over to them. Even if decide to do it this way, it is also very important that the other person has

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Teaching Kids about Money websites

I have found two websites with information on teaching kids about money. The first one is Money Wizdom and the other is Money Saving Guide. Money Wizdom is just about kids and Money Saving Guide contains information on many different money saving topics.

There are many others websites on this but these are 2 that I recently found. I will keep posting when I find more information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning the Ropes of Twitter

I started a twitter account (@ntheblack) for my Money Coaching business last fall but didn't do much with it. Until recently I read the book, Crush It which talks about social media. So last week I started tweeting and following people.

Along with getting more traffic for my website, I have also discovered many other websites that are of interest to me and little tips and ideas in the tweets from other people.

Like everything else, it may seem intimidating at first but the more you play around with it the easier it will get.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wealth Watchers book

Last night I read Wealth Watchers which I saw when I stopped at the library yesterday. It was a quick read.

It was written by Alice Wood. The book uses similar concepts as Weight Watchers does for losing weight. Instead of counting points of what you eat, you keep track of how much money you spend. You figure compared to how much you have coming in each month, how much you can spend each day to keep in your budget.

She came up with the concept after suffering a brain injury and not being able to keep track of her financial life. While recovering she also became overweight and joined Weight Watchers. While going through Weight Watchers she came up with the idea of Wealth Watchers.

It has basic financial information but is a good resource if you need assistance keep track of your money. The 2nd half of the book consists of blank journal pages to keep track of your expenses.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Money Saving Balloon Bouquets

One way to save money on Mylar balloons is to check out the dollar stores. I got a balloon from my parents for my birthday and it lasted over a month.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saving at CVS

I have posted before about the great savings you can find at CVS and Walgreens.

At CVS you can sign up for a free Extra Care card for discounts on certain products. Also each week certain products you get Extra Care Bucks (coupons you can use on a future purchase). In many cases it is the amount of the item, so if you do use the ECB you end up getting the first item free.

This week I got almost $50 worth of merchandise for a final price of $20.

Pepsi products (12 packs) are on sale for 4/$11 (reg $5.29 each) But if you buy 4 you get $2 ECB making it 4/$9 or $2.25 each

Perfect 10 hair color was on sale for $10 (reg $12). if you bought at least $15 of certain products you got $10 ECB. Plus there was a $5 coupon for Perfect 10 in Sunday's paper. So regular price for 2 was $24, with $5 coupon and $5 ECB final price is $10 for both of them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Power of Focus

The following was taken from The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.

The Power of Focus
As you commit to becoming debt free and saving more, you'll encounter an almost miraculous force working in your life. As you change your focus from spending and consuming to enjoying the things you already have and putting money aside, you'll progress at an almost unexplainable rate.
Even if you don't believe you'll survive every month, once you commit to a debt-reduction and savings plan, you'll be surprised at your ability to manage and arrive at your goal faster than you had planned.
You may go through a profound transformation. You'll see your values and priorities change. Suddenly, you'll measure your success in terms of debts paid off rather than goods purchased. And as your investment portforlio grows, you'll begin to weigh all purchases against your goal to be financially secure and debt free.
Regardless of where you are in life - even if you're in what appears to be a hopeless situation - sta the course and allow this mirale to accelerate you to your goal.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ideas on Allowances

The Question of Allowance
Since I don’t have kids I haven’t had to deal with this. But I want to offer some other perspectives on how to handle allowance.

From “Money doesn’t grow on Trees” (A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children) by Neale S. Godfrey.
How to Determine the Amount of the Allowance
Once you’ve decided that an allowance is a useful teaching tool and that your child – even one as young as three-is ready to begin “earning and learning”, then you need to formulate a starting “salary”.
For her children she started them on an allowance whey they were three and six years old. Using an easy rule of thumb: their allowance was the same number of dollars as their age.
There are three basic areas of money management we will be working on in this book. The S.O.S. system, Briefly they are:
1. Savings. Some portion of the allowance needs to be allotted for both short-term savings, like a special toy or out, and long-term savings, such as for a bicycle or college fund.
2. Offerings. This is a small amount of money set aside for donations to charity or to the less fortunate. However small the sum, it is a valuable way for parent to teach personal values through money by showing the child how to share her good fortune.
3. Spending. Depending on the budge you develop with your child, part of her spending money may go to cover specific expenses. It can range for lunch money or bus fare for young ones, to total management of a year’s clothing budget for more sophisticated teenagers. At any age, however, there needs to be some money that is the child’s discretionary fund to spend as he wishes(with whatever limitations you set)
Think about your own financial priorities. What percentage of your budget goes to saving, to charity, and to spending? Would you want your child’s priorities to be similar to or different from yours? For example, would you like to see your offspring save more (percentagewise) than you are able to? If areas such as saving and charitable giving are important to you, then you may need to increase the amount of the allowance for the youngster to accomplish this.
Share with your children all ways money can work positively: it works to cover immediate expenses, like lunch money, it works to build for the future, like saving for college and it can be shared with others to help those truly in need.

The Four-Jar Budget System
This is how it works.
First, an allowance is “work for pay”. You’ll set up a series of chores (very simple ones for the youngest, more responsibility for older kids).
Second, allowance is paid once a week, at a specified time (ritual is important). Make sure that you have the money on hand, in small denominations.
Third, the money is divided among these four jars (or other type of container or envelop)
• Jar one is for Charity (family members get to pick their own)
• Jar two is Quick Cash. Your child can spend this any way he wants (subject to family rules).
• Jar three is Medium-Term Savings, which means anything that costs more than one week’s worth of Quick Cash.
• Jar four is Long-Term Savings. For a child, this generally means a college fund.
Now for a few details.
Charity comes first. It’s 10 percent off the top, so make sure your first allowance structure is set up in such a way that you can take 10 percent and divide the rest by three. Three dollars for a three-year old works perfectly for this. Thirty cents for charity leaves ninety cents for each of the other three jars.
Quick Cash can go for whatever the child wants to spend it on…within the limits of your family rules. If you don’t allow bubble gum or comic books, then the Quick Cash can’t be spent on those things.
Make a Medium-Term Savings plant with your child. Go window-shopping at your local toy store or dollar store or on the Internet. You’re teaching deferred gratification, but you’re also teaching gratification.
Long-Term Savings gives a child a sense of investment in his own future. As soon as you move Long-Term Savings from a jar into a bank savings account and eventually into investments, that becomes more than just an exercise-it’s real life.

Chores and Allowance
“Work for pay” is defined as chores that are over and above what is naturally expected of the child. Your child must know that we’re a family, we’re all citizens of this household, and some chores are “Citizen of the Household” chores. You’re expected to chip in and do them.
Work for Pay
“Work for pay” means exactly that. Your children are expected to do all of their chores, or else no allowance that week. And there’s no prorating, no negotiating, no “I did half my chores, can’t I get half my allowance?” You’ll find that once a kid misses her chores for one week and loses her allowance, it’s not likely to happen again – especially if you’re not buying a couple of “ I want, I wants” every time you go to the supermarket.

Dave Ramsey at prefers to call it commission instead of allowance. The concept of paying and saving are basically the same as the one above.

One product he sells is Financial Peace University which consists of an instruction manual, Commissions worksheet, envelope system, audio CD, etc.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Unexpected Opportunities

This week I became a costume designer because of my friend, Meghann. I am participating in a group where we work each day to achieve our goals and priorities in life. One of my priorities was to spend more time doing hobbies, crafts. Since I bought my house 6 years ago I haven't made much time for the craft projects I used to do.

The other day Meghann sent out a request for sewing help. I knew she is planning a fundraising event at her business next week, so I thought it might be hemming or simple sewing project. When I replied she said they wanted a costume (preferably 2) shaped like a puzzle piece. First I was going to decline but then I decided to try to do it.

So I started thinking about it and that night I taped a few pages of newspaper together and started drawing out a pattern. The past two nights I have been working on it and am almost done with both costumes.

Then yesterday she sent an email saying that she wanted to hire me to make a costume for her business. (a coffee cup)

This is something I never would have thought of but I am having a great time trying to figure out how to make these patterns.