Budgeting Secrets for Newbies- First Things First

Budgeting Secrets

Most people want nothing more than to be able to effectively manage their finances. After all, Joe Public works hard for the money and hates to see his money going towards things that don’t further his financial objectives or build his future. This is the reason Joe needs to budget but he also needs to teach his family about the necessity of budgeting as well.

If the Publics execute budgeting strategies effectively, this should help them to see where their money is going. They will begin to get more bang out of each buck that comes into their home and their savings and future family goals and dreams will start to take form.

5 Essential Steps to budgeting secrests for newbies:

  1. The first smart thing to do in budgeting is to set a goal. You have to determine what you want to achieve? Is your desire to be able to pay your monthly bills on time? Do you want to buy that hot new plasma or do you need a new car? Goals help to shape your budget and budgets help to best serve your interests.
  2. Jot down daily spending in a pocket notebook. Write down what you spend your money on. This will help you know without a shadow of a doubt where your money is going. This notebook should include every little expenditure that we likely never track like, snack purchases, trips to the local ice cream shop, the Friday night video rental and so forth. Don’t forget to track these forgotten miscellaneous purchases religiously. This is the only way you will be able to stop, cut and drop little purchases that add up to big money drains at the end of each month.
  3. Identify your regular expenditures. Take into consideration what you need to do in order to cut waste out of your budget all together. Your daily caffeine fix and your daily paper may be costing you an estimated $3500 per year. Over a ten year period that is $35,000. Now you may love coffee but if you are going to invest in it that much, it should be paying you some sort of interest shouldn’t it?
  4. Jot down the amount you earn and compare it what you are spending. Create a system that works for you and will help you keep track of your monthly budgeting progress. You can make use of computer cash management programs, or download a money management spreadsheet for these purposes by visiting www.financialbasics101.com/forms.html.
  5. Forget about the Jones’. The Jones have it all because they can really afford to buy it. As their neighbor we sometimes find ourselves trying to do what they do because of image of success and happiness they seem to project. This behavior causes us to reach or qualify for monthly payments that help us to feel good about our new plasma tv or car but when the payments start to weigh in on our budget, we find it hard to cope sometimes.

In order to be effective in budgeting secrets for newbies, we have to remember the long term objectives and forget about the short term payoff. Spending a chunk of our money on things that depreciate in value and don’t progress our current financial standing is just financially immature.

Establishing a Home Budget

Establishing a Home Budget

A household budget is the financial blueprint for your home’s savings and expenses. An efficient budget should take care of the bills in a timely manner and add to savings, with hopefully leaving some monthly money as disposable income. First off, we must identify what and how much we are spending monthly on bills. Once we have this number, it is time to decide whether we would like to keep it the same, reduce it, or add to it. Most of us would like to cut our bills so we look for any ways we can reduce our monthly spending. You may want to use a software program such as Microsoft Money or Office to help create your budget. This definitely makes things easier. Once current spending patterns have been identified, we can move on.

Set up plans for future financial plans and goals. How much more would you like to save? Do you have any major purchases in the near future? How does employment and salary situations look? These are all questions that have to be taken into consideration. Make sure to begin tracking all your expenses so you have snapshots at given points in time to see exactly where the money goes. Do not spend beyond your limits! This is certain death to your budget. When tracking your budget make sure to recognize the four major categories of your financial picture. They are Income, Mandatory Expenses, Recreational Expenses, and Savings. Contributing more to the final category is the main objective. The future is uncertain. The more you can save, the better off you will be.

Once all allowances are settled upon, it is important that everyone in the family knows their spending limits. This is important even for the children in the family. This gives kids an early financial education that they can carry through life. Give your child chores and let them work for their money. This will help them appreciate the value of a dollar.

There are free budget worksheets that you can get off the net also. Kiplinger has a good one.This is a very inexpensive way to set up your home budget. Whatever your budget plans, if you find yourself in debt a good amount of the time then a planned budget is definitely for you. It can make the difference between a secure future or a debt laden one.

If things are really tight financially, you may want to consider a part time job or a side business on the internet. The extra income can make things a lot more comfortable. Extra income can always help ease the restraints on the budget. Good luck and Good savings.

Artist Grant

Artist Grant

Many organizations in addition to government agencies offer artist grant for those artists who are aspiring and professional and need additional finances for the accomplishment of their projects. These grants are sufficient to help these artists cover their professional and personal expenses. These programs can give up to $50,000 to the artists if found eligible at any level of their career and for any form of art. The main thing is to search for the right grant and then apply for it successfully.

If you are an artist and looking forward to getting finances for your upcoming projects, you can seek help from the government and look for details on its website. Find out the particular grant and collect information regarding eligibility requirements and the right application procedures for that exacting grant category. Find the funding that is available for you and then submit the duly filled application form to the right agency. Just as it is important to apply for the right grant following the right procedure, it is important that you submit your application to the assigned agency.

You can apply for artist grant no matter what category of artist you are. Each grant has different eligibility requirement and you will have to qualify in order to get the grant money. Once you have been awarded the money, you can use it for the fulfillment of the need you mentioned in the application form. You might need to submit some of your samples of work or provide references for that. The category is vast and there are grant for almost every kind of artist. So the main thing is to find the right grant to apply.

After the submission of your grant application, it will be reviewed by the assigned agency. There is no limitation for applying and so you can apply for more than one grant also. If your application gets approved, you will be notified and the check will be sent to your address and this you never have to pay back. Finding and applying for artist grant will take only some time and if you are awarded the money, it will help you get your dream come true.

Student Loans and Grants

Student Loans and Grants

It is really a big responsibility for the parents to provided finances for their kids and fulfill their education needs properly. Today even the school cost has gone high and many of them find it difficult to cope with it and so student loans and grants are in great demand today. There are different types of financial assistance programs available for students and it is always better to opt for the loans and grants available through the government. On one hand these grants are free money and they do not have to be repaid and on the other the loans that are available through the government are either at low interest rate or no rate of interest.

The increasing fees and expenses associated with school and college education has forced many students to either leave their studies in the middle or take high interest student loans that are available easily in the market. These loans are easily available but when the student gets his job the repayment goes along for 10 – 15 years depending on the loan amount and the type. The whole amount that the student pays is much more than the actual loan amount because of the high rate of interest accumulated on it.

But with student loans and grants the whole scenario is different. You do not have to repay the grant money and for the loans, if you find it difficult repaying even after you get a job or you have a family and the expenses have increased, the government will buy back the loan. In this way you might be able to get rid of this repayment option also.

However, do not forget that there is no free meal and the government’s intention behind providing you the financial assistance must be some or the other. Well, frankly speaking the main aim of the government behind all this is simply that it provides you with the facility so that you get good jobs and they get their revenue generated through income tax money. As a student, if you apply and get one of the student loans and grants, you are in a win-win position.

Getting Tough with Finances

Getting Tough with Finances

When the economy gets tough, it is time for consumers to get tough. That also means that you, or whoever handles the finances in your family, also need to get tough.

If, like many consumers, you are finding it hard to make ends meet, then simply put, you have only a few options. You can continue to spend more than you make. You can decrease spending (ideally so that spending is less than income). You can increase income (so that it exceeds your spending). Or you can both increase income and decrease spending. This article gives an overview of these concepts. Look for other articles in the “Family Economist” series that will cover these, and other consumer-oriented financial topics.

Continue to spend more than you make

If you continue to spend more than you make, you will eventually exhaust any savings you might have. Continuing to spend more than you make after savings are exhausted then creates an ever-increasing mountain of debt. While there may be circumstances that cause this situation to arise for short periods (such as being between jobs for a few weeks, or even a month or two), it is important to not allow this situation to continue any longer than necessary, as well as to minimize the disparity between income and expenses. While it can be tempting to ignore the problem, do not ignore it. I personally know of one woman who ignored the problem until she finally obtained a lawyer and filed bankruptcy, which was denied. The woman’s home was foreclosed on for less than the existing debts, her credit was ruined, and she ended up in a small one-bedroom apartment in a run-down neighborhood.

Decrease spending so that income exceeds spending

There are usually a number of ways to decrease spending, although some may seem painful. Start by creating a tracking budget, as it is almost impossible to find ways to cut spending if you do not have a record of where you are spending money in the first place. Keep in mind that everything adds up. When you track your spending, everything counts, and keep details. For instance, if you normally give yourself $45 a week for lunches and coffees while at work, do not just write down “lunch and coffee expense, $45”. Instead, write down each time you buy coffee or lunch. If you are carrying balances on your credit cards and have not been late, call and ask for a lower interest rate, so that more of the payment goes to paying down the balance.

Increase income so that it exceeds spending

Whether you work full-time, part-time, or not at all, there may be ways to pick up some money as income. Writing for an open content network such as Associated Content is one way. Consider taking a part-time job; even if you only work one evening a week, that is still more income coming in. Some businesses will still give employee discounts for their merchandise, so it may pay to look at working part time for something you like. I know of one person who loved golf, so he worked part-time at a golf course to get free tee times. Another liked books, and found work at a bookstore with a significant employee discount. Hold one or more garage sales; you can pick up some money and de-clutter, all at once. If you have spare time during the day and like pets, consider offering a pet-sitting or dog-walking service in your area.

Increase income and decrease spending

Ideally, when your income is not sufficient to meet your spending, you can work on the problem from both ends – increase your income and decrease your spending. Doing so often helps to make the changes feel somewhat less painful, because you are occupying some of your previous “free time” with an income-producing activity.

Get everyone in the household on board

If you are the only person in your household, then the entire burden is on you to learn how to trim expenses and increase income. However, if you have others in your household, it is critical to get everyone on board for the plan to work. Otherwise, you might find your plan sabotaged by an unhappy family member. I know of one case where a teen was very angry that the mother had cut everyone’s discretionary spending allotment. The teen managed to get the mother’s credit card information, and went on a spending spree, ordering clothing for friends and herself through the telephone. To hide her activities, she had all the purchases delivered to friends homes. The mother did not find out about this spending spree until the credit card bill arrived; the teen had ordered nearly four thousand dollars in merchandise, far exceeding the extra money the mother had received from working part-time in a bookstore. Even after returning as much as could be returned, the mother was forced to choose between having 13-year-old arrested for credit card fraud, or accepting responsibility for thousands of dollars in charges.

In summary, if you are finding it tough to make ends meet, you need to find ways to increase income and/or decrease spending. It is critical to track your expenses in detail, and to have everyone understand what you are doing, and why. If the concepts of tracking expenses, making and keeping a budget, and looking for areas to trim expenses are difficult concepts for you, then look for the articles in this series to help you through these steps.

Tips for Paying Your In-Home Business Bills on Time

Home Business Bills on Time

One important aspect of your home business is to keep close watch of your finances. Keeping close tracks of your home business bills is a very important part of successfully running your business. Your business credit is very important to get the items you need and keep your business afloat. EEspecially when you hit those difficult times. If you are unable to get loans when you need them you will find it a lot more difficult to keep your head about water when it comes to your business.

One way that you can go about tracking your bills, is to take the item and organize them properly. Have some type of mail bin will work nicely to ensure everything is paid on time. You can find these types of mail bins at your local office supply store. Label each slot of the bin for different types of bills. Since this is a home business it is important to keep your household bills and your business bills separate. This will really help when it comes to tax time. I have also found that create a spreadsheet on your computer which will allow you to track your bills as you come in certainly comes in handy. As soon as you receive your bill you can check it off on the computer program. Be sure to have a section where you can enter the date, the bill was received.

Once you have paid the bills you can easily check it off as paid. In my experience I have also found that setting up your bank account to automatically pay some of your monthly bills makes things easier. For example your electric bill, and other household bills can automatically be paid straight from your bank account each month. This way all you have to do is confirm that the payment has been sent out, and check it off. When it comes to the business if you have office supplies delivered to your home, you can set these up as a recurring payment. At the end of each month it is a good idea to balance your check book to make sure that you know where each, and every dollar went. It is also a good idea to keep your business accounts and your personal accounts separate. I have found that this really helps to manage the business better. If you want your business to stay afloat and really grow, keeping proper track of your money is one of the most important steps.

Why Do You Need to Make a Budget?

Make a Budget

You will say that you know where and how you spend your money and you do not have to write down every thing to keep track of it. But you are wrong, allow me to throw you a challenge. Just keep account of every cent you spend for a month.

You’ll be stunned at how big the small expenses become when you add them up. Take the sum of an amount you exhausted on just one unessential thing for the month, multiply it by 12 to get the total of the money you spent in a year and now multiply this total by 5 to get the amount you spent on this unnecessary item in 5 years .

That is the amount of money you could have saved and deposited in a bank and earned interest on it in just five years. That is why it is very important to have a budget.

If we aim at getting control of the little expenses that in reality do not effect us in general and we can live without them, we can succeed in achieving financial freedom.

The small affairs actually do matter. Bringing down your expenses on lunch from ten dollars per day to seven dollars per day on every working day for the five days that you work in a week saves $15 a week… $60 a month… $720 a year… $3600 in five year and if you add interest gained on it, it comes out to be substantial amount.

You can clearly figure out how important is to cut down on your expenses. It truly is the small thing and you still eating the lunch each day and that was just one thing to spare money in your day-to-day living without doing one thing you actually require. There are numerous things you can target and control to cut down expenses if you really look for them.

Make a particular long term plan as well as some short term goals. There is nothing wrong in planing your life and setting goals. If something is important to you, then it is important, that’s it.

If you would like to be capable of making a deposit on a house, save money for your children to put them in a reputed college, buy a new car, go on a holiday and anything else, then that’s your ultimate goal and an important reason to manage your finances and that is why you need a budget.

 

Bailout: The US Could Rebound in One Year

The US Could Rebound in One Year

According to Dr. Robert E. Pritchard, professor of finance (Rohrer School of Business at Rowan University), the US could rebound in one year (12-18 months), if things are handled properly today.

Dr. Pritchard believes that the current economic crisis in the US can be traced to 1977 when the Federal Community Reinvestment Act was enacted. This, and Carter and Clinton administration’s advocacy for encouraging home ownership are the causes of today’s mortgage and the economy debacle.

According to this professor, the US government allowed people who did not meet adequate financial requirements to get mortgages so they could achieve the American Dream of owning a home. This was done by lending to subprime applicants in the subprime lending market. However, institutions who had these subprime mortgages immediately sold them to investors on a worldwide basis. This practice, known as “Mortgage packaging” became a very popular and efficient business.

Subprime lending has been an increasingly profitable business since September 911 when lending with zero down payments and adjustable rates became the norm. This practice led to more buying and selling of homes, more construction activity, and more people borrowing without having the ability to repay.

However, when market forces started to pull down property prices the real estate “bubble” just burst. Stock and commodities prices decreased significantly and people were left without being able to repay they highly leveraged lending position. Many banks and investment firms went down badly because of the credit crunch.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke have worked out a bailout package that will save the US from meltdown. So they think. But many just see it as a “live saver” for wall street. Professor Pritchard believes is the right step in the right direction.

He sees a big rebound of the US economy in 12-16 months if things are done properly right now. The legislation would allow US government to purchase mortgages injecting liquidity to the market. Also, the government can rapidly renegotiate mortgages so homeowners can pay and keep their home. Many families that would otherwise lose their homes could stay there. Then, a stronger and better-regulated investment and commercial banking system will emerge. The real estate market’s value will bottom and start to rebound latter.

Do you think that the $700 billion price tag is worth? You be the judge.

 

The Stock Market and Alternative Energy

The Stock Market

This is a critical time for financing alternative energy. We can keep gasoline prices affordable by investing in solar energy. An electric car, good enough for local commuters, can be plugged into house current or a solar panel. Solar panels can be protected by motion detector technologies. Most telecommuters need no more than an electric vehicle for commuting. We need to keep the Dow Jones industrial at a reasonable level in order for investors to be able to afford to purchase the solar panels, windmills, and other niceties to help make the home office truly independent.

Maybe I fell asleep at my Brother laptop computer sometime in 1998, during Clintonomics and the economic “high”. The stock market in 2008 is an iffy roller coaster ride here in the United States. We who and woke up asleep or something, need to wake up and look at where technology is going to go. We need to make our destiny before destiny makes us. The world of technology has reached a denouement right now, and someone out there has to do something to help us change it, technology is financed by the stock market, in many ways, so we need to invest in alternative energies, and invest now. A few brave individuals are now breaking even or gaining credits with their electric company by way of utilizing solar technologies. We have a lot of desert, and a lot of people who have been looking to implement silicon-based solar cells since the 1960’s or 1970’s, who could stand to benefit from the export of solar cells to other nations.

We are reaching the end of the Bush administration, during which most of us have not been planting trees as Americorps or local volunteers. This is a fun and slightly lucrative way of financing your education, should you suddenly decide to go back to school, while doing something for your community and your environment. You can even volunteer to teach inner city children about the stock market, there are teaching positions available nationwide. Right now, I do not see that much of a difference between Obama or McCain becoming the next President of the United States. Neither candidate is going to do anything about alternative energy unless a market demand from franchised Americans is noted by media pundits, and industry lobbyists; who are financed in part by the stock market, as well as by the consumer spending index.

Looking at the conventional bank failures, the banks who did not choose to invest in solar-powered paint, or solar cells, or windmills, or hydroelectric dams, or geothermal energy projects, or hydrogen fuel cells, is one thing. Looking towards getting the United States market ready for the upgrading of technologies and increased demands of oil by nations such as China and India, who are becoming consumers of energy, is what we need to do. We could feasibly begin exporting oil, rather than importing oil, if we begin concentrating on improving our energy outlook, and support alternative energy, on the stock market, as well as by our consumer purchases.

Finding the publicly held companies that manufacture solar cells and windmills has not been easy, in fact, I’m still looking. However, I have found a few companies that are ethical choices for investors. Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica (GCTAF) manufactures windmills, and Denso (DNZOF) manufactures hybrid car parts, Stantec (STN) cleans up industrial land. Zep, Incorporated (ZEP), manufactures environmentally friendly residential and industrial cleaning products, and Photovoltaic Solar Cells Incorporated (PVSO) manufactures solar cells. Geothermal energy companies such as US Geothermal (HTM) and Nevada Geothermal Power Incorporated (NGLPF) are also sensible and responsible stock market purchases.

The Schoenwalds, of New Alternatives, in Melville, New York, specialize in investment funds that have individuals investing in the environment as well as the stock market. An advertisment for this firm provided information critical to the development of this article. We need to lead the world into responsible technologies, such as wind power, solar power, and by way of financing these companies during this shake-up, we are making a statement that we are going to support technological evolution, and continue to keep the United States of America as a leader in the world economy.