Sticking to one’s budget is important all year long, but doing so during the holiday season can be especially tricky, when expenses run high and festive cheer makes it difficult to put the brakes on over-spending.
To get a better handle on your spending this season, consider the following tools and tips.
Decide exactly what your plans are this season. Will you be traveling? Will you be hosting a dinner party? What does your holiday shopping list look like? Add budget line items for all the associated expenses and put a price cap on each one.
Add it Up
Seek out tools that help make the logistics of staying within budget simple, such as desktop and printing calculators like Casio’s HR-100TMPlus, a 12-digit printing calculator with a large, easy-to-read display. It is especially well-suited for organized budget planning, as it offers special keys for tax calculations and has two-color printing, enabling shoppers to color code positive entries as black and deductions or purchases as red. For additional information on Casio’s portfolio of calculators, visit Casio.com.
Take Steps to Save
Make more space in your budget during the holiday season with smart strategies. Use free apps to help you score deep discounts on favorite retailers. If you’re crafty or handy, consider DIY-ing certain gift items and greeting cards. Suggest a day of volunteer service at your workplace in lieu of a gift exchange.
Don’t Get Impulsive
When you’re in the store aisles, it’s easy to make impulse purchases, particularly during the holidays when every display is designed to make you spend. Make a shopping list and then adhere to it.
To start 2018 on the right foot, spend no more than what you intended to using tech tools and smart strategies.
There’s shopping for pleasure, then there’s shopping for purpose. The latter is never quite as fun, but taking a practical approach to buying household necessities can help save money so there’s more to spend on the shopping you enjoy most.
Tackle your household shopping with these cost-conscious tips from the experts at Scott Brand:
Keep a list. Knowing which groceries and supplies you have on-hand before heading to the store makes it easier to avoid overspending. Try an app on your smartphone to maintain a running shopping list. Look for one that includes sharing features so others in the household can let you know when they use the last of something that needs replaced.
Pull in price-cutting resources. Start by looking at store ads before heading out to shop so you know where to find the best deals. Plan your week’s meals around sale items for an extra bang. Be sure to clip coupons from the local paper and print more coupons online. Also remember to do price comparisons at online shopping sites, especially those with subscription services that deliver items on a regular schedule with a steep discount.
Shop for value. Instead of simply purchasing the cheapest product, do your research to know which product offers the best value. Look for household items like Scott 1000 toilet paper, America’s longest-lasting toilet paper, which comes with 1,000 sheets in every roll to help your family keep on going. Determining which products will meet your family’s needs in terms of performance and long-lasting value at the lowest price can help you save in the long run.
Know when bulk spending is better. While it will likely make a larger dent on your wallet at the store, buying in bulk can provide long-term financial gain. Because you’re buying in quantity, you’ll likely be purchasing products that will last longer to help delay a return trip to the store. One way to minimize the “ouch” of the upfront expense: stagger your bulk buying so you’re restocking items over time, rather than all at once.
Avoid impulses. Especially when you’re shopping with family members, it’s easy to watch the shopping cart grow full with each “bargain” item at the end of the aisle. Unfortunately, these impulse buys can add up quickly. Instead, invite the whole family to help build a reasonable list and then help keep each other accountable to it. If you make it all the way to the register, reward yourselves with a small snack or treat from the check-out aisle.
Find more information and ways to save on household necessities at ScottBrand.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (adults shopping)Sources: Family Features and Scott Brand
5 Smart Ways to Manage Your Money
Even for families with a moderate household income, keeping expenses down and managing a budget can feel like a job all on its own. Ensuring monthly obligations are met, creating an emergency fund or planning for a major purchase can make the task even harder.
Set a budget. It may seem like an over-simplification, but taking time to sit down and map out your income and expenses can be an eye-opening experience. If you’ve been keeping track of everything in your mind, writing it all down may help uncover areas where you’re over-extending resources. Creating a budget is also a good way to establish a plan for paying down debts and making regular contributions to a savings account.
Get grocery smart. For most families, food accounts for a substantial share of the monthly bills. In fact, although they’re spread out over time and it may not be as apparent, groceries can cost as much or more than the average family’s mortgage payment. Fortunately, there are several ways to cut grocery costs, starting with clipping coupons and shopping store ads. Also take time to compare prices at local stores to ensure you’re getting the best prices, and don’t be afraid to explore discount stores, especially for the basics. Another smart grocery tip: plan your meals and make a list so you can avoid over-buying and wasting food.
Add incremental income. If your schedule allows, taking on a side job can make a big difference. Income from a part-time job can offset numerous smaller bills, or it could provide some extra money for family activities and entertainment. Before committing, be sure you understand the expectations of the job and how it will fit with your current family and work demands. An independent business may be just the solution to provide extra money with plenty of flexibility.
Invest in quality. Though it may seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to save, spending a little more up front can pay off in the long run. For example, buying a cheap couch to save a few bucks now may end up costing twice as much in a year or two when it needs to be replaced. Choosing the less expensive route isn’t always a bad idea, but failing to factor in considerations like quality can be a pricey mistake.
Trim the fat. It’s no secret that fat adds flavor, but it also adds a lot of unnecessary calories. Chances are good that there are many things you spend on that fit in the same category, running up your monthly expenses. Entertainment and eating out are common culprits, but the solutions can be quite simple. Treat those activities as a line item in your budget, and when that money is gone so are the extras for the month. You can also look to save on entertainment by making minor changes, such as hosting a movie night at home instead of going to the theater or looking for restaurants that offer free kids’ nights.
Find more tips for your budget-conscious lifestyle at eLivingToday.com.
Finding ways to curb your monthly spending may leave you feeling like you’re living to work, not the other way around. When you’ve trimmed the excess from your monthly budget and still need to cut back more, it may take some creative thinking to get those dollars and cents to start adding up.
For most people, the first step toward saving on bills is getting rid of all the extra spending. However, that’s not always enough, and it’s not always practical or realistic to cut down to bare bones. Before you stress about where to cut next, take a look at these tips for little changes that can add up to big savings:
Small changes in your daily habits can have a surprisingly big impact, especially over a period of time. Explore more budget-friendly options to fit your lifestyle at nuumobile.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
SOURCE: Family Features | NUU Mobile
(Family Features) Whether you’re trying to pay off bills, save for a dream vacation or create a nest egg for retirement, having a sound budget is often the first step toward bringing your financial goals to fruition. While budgeting is often associated with finding places to curb your spending, creating and sticking to a budget can be a fairly painless process with the right plan in place.
These guidelines can help you build, manage and maintain a realistic budget that will set you on the path toward reaching your financial aspirations.
Write It Down
Stick to It
Make Necessary Adjustments
Find more tips for reaching your financial goals at eLivingToday.com.
Better money management today can lead to brighter financial future
Two in five young parents rate their financial health as unsatisfactory and 40 percent said financial stress is putting a strain on their relationship, according to a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education and Parents Magazine. More than half of millennial parents concede they would surrender a year of their life to have more financial security.
"Being a parent takes patience, forgiveness and a lot of silent counts to 10, but it also takes a lot of money," said Paul Golden, director of Smart About Money, a nonprofit foundation inspiring educated financial decision-making for individuals and families through every stage of life. "Many young adults start off with significant student loan debt. When you add housing, groceries, utilities, transportation expenses and health care costs, the strain increases, and oftentimes the math in the household budget doesn't add up."
The price tag of raising a child is more than $304,000 based on the projected inflation-adjusted cost of rearing a child until age 18, not counting college. Managing that financial pressure begins with planning for the future and truly understanding the costs associated with adding a baby to the family or buying a new home, Golden added.
"Regularly paying attention to your money and practicing major life transitions before they happen is an important step toward achieving financial health," he said.
As a parent, you have many financial responsibilities to balance, but planning for the future can help prevent unforeseen expenses from tipping your scales.
Debt reduction. Make a plan to pay off excessive debt, particularly credit cards. Tackle your lowest balance first to gain momentum then take on the next smallest. Additionally, pay attention to higher interest rates that are costing you a lot of money.
Use a budget. Get a budget and spending plan in place to keep track of your expenses. Try an envelope system with monthly allowances for groceries, entertainment, utilities, etc.
Start saving. Build an emergency fund. Aim for a small, achievable goal as low as $500 then set the bar higher. Participate in your employer-sponsored savings program to boost retirement savings, especially if there is a match. Make it an automatic payroll deduction and increase it when your paycheck goes up. As far as your child's college savings, save what you can, when you can. Every little bit will help when education bills come due.
Child care. Consider establishing a flexible spending account if one is offered by your employer. Parents can use pretax dollars to pay up to $5,000 in child care expenses in most states.
Review insurance and important paperwork. Create a will either by using an online program or hiring a professional to name your child's guardian, and designate at what age any payouts, savings or investments will be distributed. With health insurance, notify your employer within 30 days of the birth to ensure that the child is eligible for any dependent benefits. Purchase appropriate health care coverage to protect your family. Review your employer's life insurance plan and determine if it is adequate for your needs. If not, consider purchasing additional life insurance.
Save for the future. Put money for short-term expenses (1-5 years) in safe investments, such as savings accounts and certificates of deposit. These low-interest-rate investments will not grow dramatically, but they will not lose money, either. Money you will need beyond five years should have the opportunity to grow at a risk level you are comfortable with. Use a combination of steady-earning savings accounts and more volatile stock and bond mutual funds to help protect you against long-term losses.
Get started with these tips and learn more through self-directed courses at SmartAboutMoney.org.
How Much Does Having a Baby Cost?Along with preparing for the costs of clothes, furniture and baby items, take time to review your health care and employer benefits and policies relating to time off work.
Spread the costs.
Know what's covered.
Account for time off work.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
National Endowment for Financial Education
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