Budget Trimming: Making room for savings and debt reduction

Budget trimming is one of those activities than can be beneficial.  Finding money or places in your budget that can be trimmed to lower you expenses and allow you to make room in the budget for other items might seem daunting, but it shouldn’t.   Maybe you feel that you have already cut everything out of your budget that you can to survive. But you might be surprised to find additional areas to trim from your budget that may have simply been overlooked in the past.

First, think about the fact that fuel prices have dropped over the past several years. I would have never imagined that gas prices would fall below $2.00 per gallon but they have dropped under $1.45 in my part of the world. Well, did you stop to think about the money you used to spend on fuel? Have you been using the savings on fuel to payoff debt or build wealth? If you haven’t, make a conscious effort to try and save the difference in what you used to pay and what you are currently paying. What has probably happened is that you have just absorbed the savings into your budget without being intentional with it.

Next, consider the fact that some areas of the country have had an extremely mild winter. My family’s utility bills have been less this year than in the past few years. You may be in a similar situation. This would also equate to additional money in the budget that could be used for debt reduction or wealth building. It is possibly being lost in the budget because it has simply been overlooked.

Finally, take a close look at all of your expenses and I do mean all. Don’t overlook an amount just because you may think it is insignificant. Small costs add up, too, so don’t forget to add them into your budget calculations. Cost cutting can change a budget just like adding income. Either way you do it, it’s still saving money that can be used in other more beneficial areas.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to go over your budget again to make sure you are wisely using all the money coming in and are trying to find different ways to save every month. If you become complacent, you might miss opportunities to change your financial future.

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How to reach financial independence with these 7 habits

Financial independence is a goal that I have for myself. Does that only mean I am debt-free? Not at all. What it does mean is that you’re debt-free and your investments supply enough income for you to live on comfortably. My future goal is to work because I want to work, not because I have to work. Listed below are 7 habits that will help you gain financial independence found at www.money.com.

Habit #1: Stay away from consumer debt – Have you ever had an issue with credit card debt? If so, it is probably a credit card balance that you just can’t seem to pay down. We call this type of debt consumer debt. What may have started out as an innocent use of a credit card to make a purchase that you told yourself you would pay in full at the end of the month. Simply stay away from this type of debt! The credit card companies and banks are the ones benefiting from this type of debt.

Habit #2: Don’t keep up with the Joneses – It really shouldn’t matter to you what other people have that you don’t have. They may have the appearance of being rich while simply covering up for the immense amount of debt they have built up. Looks can and usually are deceiving.  Live your life, not the life of others.

Habit #3: Always pay yourself first – Make saving and investment a priority in your financial plan if at all possible. This can be simplified by having amounts automatically deducted from your payroll check and invested in savings, retirement, or other types of investment accounts.

Habit #4: Invest in assets that generate money, not those that cost money – Investments could be made in stocks, investment properties, etc. Stay away from assets that depreciate in value and look for assets that increase in value.

Habit #5: Continue investing – When you start investing, keep on investing if at all possible. Invest in the good times and the bad times no matter how the market is performing. Remember, you are investing for the long run. Building wealth does not happen overnight, it is a long-term strategy.

Habit #6: Be flexible – Understand that sometimes you have to be flexible with your investing and saving plan. There may be times when your investment plans have to change based on life events. Simply make the adjustments and continue with your plan when you can.

Financial independence is attainable. Make today the day you begin working your financial independence plan! Create a plan and FOCUS (Follow One Course Until Successful)! You’ll be thankful you did!

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2014/07/10/7-habits-to-help-you-reach-financial-independence

Psychological benefits of being debt-free!

If you have ever been overwhelmed with debt, you will understand how psychologically stressful it can be on a person. I remember being so burdened down with debt that it extremely depressing. Debt can leave you feeling less confident, can put a strain on relationships, and completely zap the life out of your ambitions. It is difficult to focus on your ambitions or much of anything for that matter when you are overcome with debt.

Did you realize there are psychological effects from spending? While spending money can be gratifying at the moment, the fact of dealing with the debt that may come along with it can quickly eliminate that gratifying feeling by causing stress. Some of the common effects of stress are fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, depression, angry outbursts, and social withdrawal (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987).

Remember, too, that debt issues may have bad memories associated with them. If medical bills, divorce, or reckless behavior caused your debt problems, then these are certainly not experiences you want to continue to dwell on.

I have good news, though. There are also benefits from becoming debt-free. Just consider a few of those benefits.

First, your self-esteem can be restored once you work your way through debt. Once you feel self-confident you will be more likely to set other goals for your life. I have experienced this type of self-confidence from paying off debt. Once you see that your goals can be achieved, you will soon realize that practically any reasonable goal can be reached if you have enough resolve and desire to do so.

Second, think of what happens when you feel good about yourself and have a less stressful life. Don’t you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally? Your relationships can also improve as a result of these psychological changes. Plus, you might even begin to pursue those dreams you once had or create new dreams you wish to achieve.

Finally, becoming debt-free can help you resolve to never get burdened with debt again. A disciplined life is an added benefit and can help you in your career and other areas of your life.

Remember, it’s never too late to start getting out of debt, no matter how deeply indebted you are. You have to start somewhere and sometime so why not start today? You can do this! It will benefit you and your family and will change your life forever! Take at least one step today towards living a debt-free life, no matter how small. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

Businesses you can start from home or a dorm room!

Entrepreneur magazine has many great articles for the entrepreneurial-minded person. I found an interesting one that I thought be applicable to someone wanted to start a small business or someone who needed extra income but didn’t have the type of schedule for a full-time job. These ideas could work for people who don’t want to commit 40 hours a week outside the home or who would rather be their own boss.

1) Website designer – Websites are a common item for companies and bloggers these days. A professionally designed website can be a valuable asset to anyone who is trying to drive traffic to their website. Customers will often base their purchasing decision on elements such as the ease of use and even the overall image of the website. When I am directed to a website for a purchase, if it doesn’t look professional, I am less likely to make a purchase.

2) Photography – Users of today’s social media use images on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc., to communicate. Just think about the images you have seen on social media. A great image will tell a story and businesses are finding ways to utilize these images in advertising. With today’s technology and a smart phone, you can create high quality images for clients.

3) Social media consultant – Individuals that are familiar with trends in social media and in a great position to consult companies on how to bring awareness to their company through the use of social media.

4) Event planning – Party and event planners can take stress off corporate and private clients by handling all the details of special events.   See the link below for more details on how to become an event planner:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37892

5) Information consulting (IT) or computer consultingYou might be amazed at the number of people that would pay to have someone help them learn a new computer skill or help with programming. Technology changes so quickly that are skills are quickly outdated so help is usually necessary.

6) Personal trainer – These days, we hear quite a bit of talk about getting in to shape and living a healthier lifestyle. A personal trainer can help people with designing workouts and training for all different ages. We should all try to take better care of ourselves and a personal trainer will be there to coach and encourage you along the way.

7) Graphic design – Graphic designers can assist businesses in the creation of logos, products, designs, etc. Their designs can help visually represent the company through advertising, brochures, reports, etc.

8) Lawn care and Landscaping If you have a lawnmower and a few other lawn care tools, you could start your own lawn care and landscaping company. Many young people in our town have their own lawn care businesses and have even begun to offer a few landscaping services. Often, residential communities will have requirements for lawn care so there could be a great opportunity waiting for you in your community.

9) Cleaning – Many businesses hire after hours cleaners to come in and clean office or stores. I would think you could contact local businesses to offer this service. The local Chamber of Commerce member listings might be a good place to find business contact information. Free advertising on social media could be used. A flyer could be created and emailed or posting around town on bulletin boards.

In addition to cleaning businesses, individual houses could be cleaned for extra income. This might be an option for the working family that has little available time to do household chores.

10) Freelance makeup artist – If you are talented with makeup, you could set up appointments for special events such as weddings, proms, pageants, parties, photo sessions, etc. You could create YouTube videos demonstrating how to apply makeup or give tips for makeup products and application.

These are just a few ideas that might be appealing to you and there are certainly other businesses that can be created to help you earn income.  Consider what you enjoy doing and determine whether or not you can create an entrepreneurial idea that will work for you!

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254664