Many people who budget wonder why they are still not attaining financial security and are struggling to make ends meet. Often the reason for this is bad budgeting.
One of my favourite quotes by a former US politician goes something along the lines of ‘It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it’ and if that’s what a budget is to you, then it’s obvious where the problem lies. If you have bad budgeting habits now is the time to break them by using these strategies:
1. Be realistic not opportunistic: A realistic budget is an accurate one and if you are 100% honest about your spending habits and debt you will enjoy greater financial freedom. Avoid opportunistic budgeting by only working with your fixed income and never add additional money such as jackpot winnings from your favorite www.iphonecasino.com.au games to your earnings. By budgeting with a set amount of revenue each month you can achieve a far more realistic idea of your financial situation.
2. Set fixed targets not estimates: A budget is designed to help you control your money and to curb your spending in areas where you are prone to debt. Set a fixed target rather than an estimated amount when paying off a debt or saving to ensure that you know how quickly you can accumulate funds.
3. Do more than think about emergency savings: A major factor of successful budgeting is to expect the unexpected and to be prepared. Being aware of needing emergency funds but not actually saving for the unknown is a common budgeting mistake. Include an emergency fund in your budget and deposit the funds into a separate account if need be.
4. Keep track, not trails: There are so many free online budgeting apps and programs that can help you keep track of your spending and expenses. Rather than having to sit down with a paper trail a mile long, use technology to help you keep on top of your budget and manage your money more effectively.
5. Keep it simple: A complicated system or unrealistic budget will see you abandoning your goal very quickly. A straightforward and concise plan will help you stay on target and protect you from hurting your financial freedom.
Have you overcome bad budgeting? Or are you still making costly mistakes that can easily be avoided?
I’ve received emails from readers about getting out of credit card debt so I wanted to share some ways you can spend around 15 minutes of your time and save yourself thousands of dollars.
Negotiating Lower Interest Rates
Before you call your credit card company, you need to be aware of your credit report and score. If you’re looking for a free option on checking your credit reports, you can use Annual Credit Report. You’re entitled to review all 3 of your reports for free. This is a completely free site – no trial and no membership sign-up. I want to mention, though, while you can get your credit reports through Annual Credit Report, you can not get your credit score.
You can use free option like Credit Sesame to get a credit score using data from Experian updated monthly. The free membership (no credit card required) allows you to see your credit score and you can also get suggestions on ways you can save money on your finances, like mortgages or credit cards. I wrote a review on Credit Sesame if you’re interested in how it works.
- Confirm your current interest rate and balance. It doesn’t hurt to make sure your end and their ends match with your account.
- Mention other offers. You want to make sure that you tell them you have received offers to switch to other cards with much lower rates.
- Don’t take no for an answer. It can be crushing to hear the customer service representative say no, but some companies encourage their call center employees to push just a bit back.
- Be willing to make the jump. If they are still being stubborn and won’t lower your interest rate one bit, then switching credit cards and transferring your balance may be the way to go.
Getting Out of Credit Card Debt
Now that you have managed to lower your credit card’s interest rate, take advantage and automate your debt payments. This has been a HUGE help for me. You can bypass a lot of mistakes and relapses if you automate your credit card payments with online bill pay. Most banks and credit unions offer this feature for free.
Try to pay the minimum on all but one of your debts. Put the rest of your debt reduction money into either your debt with the highest interest rate or the lowest balance. Which one is right for you? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Highest interest rate method is the financially sound decision will get you out of debt faster in theory and lowest debt is the psychologically empowering decision which seems to have motivated many to stay on their debt free goal.
Photo Credit: Robert Scoble
I mentioned last month that we’ve started a homebrewing as a couple, both for fun and to see if we can save a bit of money. Like many of our friends, we enjoy trying out craft beer at both locally and when we pick up groceries at the store. Now that we’re homebrewing we having fun trying out different recipes and kits, finding styles that we love and discovering ones we’re not so fond of.
As of this week, here is a list of what we brewed so far.
- Chestnut Brown Ale
- Everyday IPA
- American Amber Ale
- Chocolate Maple Porter
- Gluten Free Orange Spiced Belgian Ale
- Traditional Dry Stout
- Smoked Wheat
- Summer Saison
While we’ve had some fun using recipe kits, we’ve started to look at modifying recipes and at some point this summer make our own brew from scratch. One tool that I’ve purchased to help us with our next stage is the beer software BeerSmith.
Why Use Beer Brewing Software
You may wonder why we paid money for software. Can we just grab a free app or program to convert recipes into different batch sizes or even do it by hand? The short answer is that we’re looking to do more than just play around with conversions. The long answer boils down to:
- Stay organized and consistent: My husband is using a spreadsheet to track all of our brews, but he’s mainly focused on the process part of it as we’ve been mainly used recipe kits which has documentation for the ingredients. With creating our own recipe I want to document the effects of tweaking the ingredients and process. BeerSmith allows me to keep track of both.
- Makes shopping easier: The software allows me to create a shopping list for our trips to the brew shop by pulling the data from the recipes we want to try out. Ins addition, if the brew shop wants to it can create files of their inventory, allowing you to get an estimate of your costs ahead of time.
- Design better beer: It sucks to brew a batch of beer and not have it come out the way you want. While some mistakes are due to your process, you can minimize mistakes with ingredients, by getting an idea of how the brew could possibly come out based on your ingredients. If you’re looking for a balanced I.P.A. you can tweak your malts and hops until you find something you like without spending money on several batches.
When I was looking at options, I discovered BeerSmith and tried them out. I loved it as it provided exactly what I needed and then some. It’s easy for me to document recipes, tweak them, pick up some new ones from the community and when I’m ready, share our brews online with others. It’s only $25 (there are discounts at some brew shops, so ask your local store).
They have a 3 week trial, so if you’re looking for a robust program, try out BeerSmith.