Sunday, February 17, 2013

On a Budget Series – Part 7: Ways to Make Your Dollar Stretch Further

Hello! As part of my “On a Budget” Series, today we are discussing ways to make your dollar stretch further.
  • Couponing
    • Obviously this is a great way to get more for your money and help your money last longer.
    • Going to the store with a menu plan and ingredients list
    • This way you don’t find yourself throwing random products in your cart because you can’t decide what you want.
  • Shop a thrift stores or during big sales
    • There are obviously some items you cannot get at a thrift store but when given the choice you can save a lot of funds by shopping at thrift stores. Shopping local sales is also a great way to get more for your money. However, shopping at thrift stores and sales can become addicting when there are tons of good deals to be had, I definitely get a thrill when I calculate how much I saved. It’s important to make sure the items you are putting in your cart are items you need and will use.
  • Buy in bulk when possible
    • Warehouse clubs generally provide a great discount by selling items in bulk. Just make sure the items you are purchasing will not expire before you can use them and be sure to compare other store ads to make sure the per item price is less than buying in regular quantities.
  • Participate in Food Co-Op programs
    • If you are willing to try new vegetables and fruit and freeze meat, Food Co-Op programs can provide a great savings to your food expenses.
  • Save and eat leftovers
    • Some people are not a fan of eating leftovers but not only will you save time by only having to cook a few meals per week, but you will save money by not having to use as much resources to create multiple meals.
  • Shop through reward sites
    • If shopping online, begin and complete your shopping through sites, like, that reward you for shopping. You won’t get rich but at least you’ll earn a return on purchases you were already going to be making.

I hope you enjoyed my “On a Budget” Series. 

Be sure to check back at the conclusion of each month to see where my financial health re-vamp stands and what I have to share about my journey. I would also love to hear updates of how you are doing on your financial journey.

 Until next time!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On a Budget Series – Part 6: Ways to Earn Extra Income

Welcome back to my “On a Budget” Series. Today I’m discussing, more like brainstorming, various ways to earn extra income – legal ways of course!
  • Get a 2nd job
    • If you currently work M-F, think about the possibility of getting a part-time weekend job.
    • You can also look at work-at-home companies such as Close to My Heart to provide additional income with a less “corporate” structure.
    • If you are crafty or handing in a specific trade, offer your services through classified ads either in the newspaper or online. It never hurts to see if anyone needs your assistance.
  • Purge closets and cupboards to gather items for a garage sale.
    • Garage sales are a great way to earn you extra income and accomplish some spring cleaning. It’s also a great way to find stuff you forgot you had J.
    • If you find better than garage sale items, list them on eBay or Craigslist to gain a higher return on your item than a garage sale may bring.
  • Complete surveys and join focus groups
    • There are tons of sites that offer payment for survey and focus group involvement. You’ll have to verify that the company is legit before signing up but taking a few moments out of your day could provide additional income.

Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

Check back tomorrow for “On a Budget Series – Part 7: Ways to Make Your Dollar Stretch Further”

Until next time!

Friday, February 15, 2013

On a Budget Series – Part 5: Budget Workbooks

Hello. Today we are discussing Budget Workbooks as part of my “On a Budget” Series. 

There are tons of free files on the Web related to personal budgeting and finance, or you can simply create your own in MS Excel or another database or spreadsheet program. Although I am pretty efficient in MS® Excel, I see no point in reinventing the wheel so when I started envisioning my financial tracker I decided to look to the Web to see if there was a file already created that would give me a good start.

Today, I’m sharing the budget workbook that I am currently using to track and improve my financial health in its original form from the original creator.

My actual 2013 Personal Finance and Budget Workbook incorporates a variety of edits to provide a better tracking solution for my particular situation so don’t be afraid to use an already existing document as a starting point for your tracking needs. Over-time you can develop it into the perfect solution for you.

Feel free to join in if you’d like to share your budgeting tips and/or progress.

Check back tomorrow for “On a Budget Series – Part 6: Ways to Earn Extra Income”

Until next time!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On a Budget Series – Part 4: Steps to Success

As Part 4 of my “On a Budget” series, I’m here today to share with you some ideas for successfully improving your financial health. These are basic ideas that can be applied depending on your situation.
  • Consistent tracking/keep your checkbook balanced
  • Move in with family or get a roommate
  • Be conscious of your eating out frequency
  • Determine if you really need that item in your cart
  • Give your new spending plan time to show whether it is improving your situation or not

To go along with my recommended steps to success, below are more specific steps that can assist me and my current situation in improving my financial health along with the expected results.
    • My detailed 2013 Personal Finance & Budget Workbook provides a variety of tracking worksheets and reports that will help me achieve my goal of increasing my financial health and getting my expense percentages in line with Dave Ramsey’s recommendations.
  2. My boyfriend will be moving in soon which will help decrease my living expenses, thus lowering my expense to income range for housing.
    • Based on my January income, this would put me in the 48% range rather than 62%. It still isn’t 25%-35% but it’s a start in the right direction.
      • Since I am in a lease for another 3 months, having my boyfriend chip in is the only solution I have at the moment to reduce my income range for housing. I will be looking into alternative rental properties that will help decrease the chunk of change being gobbled-up each month for housing.
  3. Decrease the frequency of eating out. Eating out is so much easier than going to the kitchen and making something; however, the expense adds up – quickly.
    • I am going to try and limit the eating out to once/week during February which will help decrease the amount of my income that goes towards food.
  4. Deciding whether the items in my cart are really necessary and have an immediate purpose.
    • I will ask myself questions like:
      • What is this item’s purpose?
      • It is needed right now or can the project/purpose wait?
      • If I determine the item is needed then I’ll comparison shop via my smartphone to ensure I’m getting the best possible deal.
  5. I am committing to this tracking and spending plan for the entire 2013 year.
    • I will be tracking it on a weekly basis to see what changes may be needed throughout the year to increase my results and chances for success.

Feel free to join in if you’d like to share your budgeting tips and/or progress.

Check back tomorrow for “On a Budget Series – Part 5: Budget Workbooks”

I’ll be sharing the tracking sheet I found to be useful in my financial health improvement journey.

Until next time!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On a Budget Series – Part 3: Being Aware of Your Finances

If you’re following along with my “On a Budget” Series, today I’m covering how I’m going to accomplish my budget re-vamp and re-focus. I have created a 2013 Personal Finance & Budget Workbook that I am using to track all of my expected bills along with all other transactions throughout each month. 

I won’t bore you with my monthly bill specifics; instead, as stated yesterday, I’m going to focus on getting my expenses in line with the recommended percentages. You probably noticed yesterday that I am definitely guilty of living above my means and it’s time I changed that.

Yesterday I shared my percentage goals based on Dave Ramsey’s suggested percentages. Today I’m going to share with you where I ended up in January (note: this was my first month of tracking so prepare for some red flags)…

I use this prettified graph to display the currently ugly data of where my finances are going each month.

Here’s the data in its ugly form:

Actual %
Charitable Gifts
Personal/Daily Living

As you can see, my housing expense takes up a huge part of my finances and I am way above the recommended percentage of 25%-35%. I definitely have some areas to focus on. However, before I can work on the areas currently showing 0.0%, I need to free up some finances in the areas that exceed my goal %. I need to revamp my finances and fast.

Feel free to join in if you’d like to share your budgeting tips and/or progress.

Check back tomorrow for “On a Budget Series – Part 4: Steps to Success.”

Until next time!
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