Learn how you can beat this economy by mastering your finances. Get tools and tips to easily set up your savings and invest for your future.
It’s not impossible to handle your finances in this economy.Getting your finances under control is completely doable if you take it step by step.
Get a Snapshot of Your Finances
You have to be able to answer these questions with specific numbers, not estimates.
How much am I (or are we) in debt?
How much income do I/we take home each month?
How much are the monthly expenses?
How much do I (or we) have in savings?
Am I behind or delinquent on any bills?
How much is in my retirement account?
What’s my (or our) net worth?
One of my favorite tools to pull that data quickly and easily is Personal Capital. We use to track our numbers.
It’s free to sign up and they have a ton of tools to grow your wealth.
Once you have a clear picture of where you are, you can see what you need to improve on.
If you’re behind on bills, your priority is to catch up. See if you can work a payment plan or have a yard sale to raise money.
Keep your expenses lower than you income.Drastically cut expenses until you have at least a month or two of expenses saved. See if you can receive rewards/discounts with from your bank or memberships. Cut down on transportation expenses. Use a free spreadsheet to budget to get a snapshot of your current situation and build a plan.
Pay down high interest debt as fast as you can. If you end up on unemployment, lower monthly expenses will make the check go further.
Set aside some money, even $100/paycheck, to grow your savings. Start small and automate your money to put into savings. You’ll become use to the slightly small paycheck as you start savings. You want a cushion in case something happens. Even if the economy gets better quicker than anticipated, you should have something set aside for emergencies.
Be Too Valuable to Fire
You have to try and keep your employment as stable as you can. If you have already done so, start using the following tips to stay on board.
Become a spokesperson for your company. Even if you’re not in sales try to see if you get another account for your firm. Search for idea that could being in money or cut expenses.
Be sure the boss knows your value. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that your manager and boss knows your accomplishments. Keep a record of your achievements and tactfully include them when reviews come up.
Be a team player and occasionally lead. Pitch in when it’s crunch time and help the team to meet goal. Try to keep a positive attitude and avoid known complainers who sap morale. Without irritating your co-workers too much or your manager, take the lead on some projects.
Even if your job downsizes, you’ve been up a rack of wins and recommendations you can take with you on your next job.
It’ll also give you leverage in getting better pay when you negotiate.
Build up the emergency fund to the point that if you lose your job, you’re not immediately having a meltdown.
Tax returns, inheritance money, unexpected gifts…..when you receive “extra” income, deposit it straight into savings.
How to Build a Budget Quickly
Track what you spend in two weeks. It’s hard to cut back if you don’t what your weak points are, so grab a little notepad and write everything you spend for 2 weeks.
Withdraw from your bank’s ATM once a week. Take out money you need to eat, tolls, etc. If you run out of money, then make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or bring leftovers for lunch. Do not go back until the next week!
Use your cash, not credit cards. Don’t defeat the previous step by switching over to your credit card. This will help you to stop acquiring new debt, which in turn can drain your savings. National average for standard, variable cards is around 14%, so eliminating new debt will help you.
Base a tentative budget based on what you learned the past two weeks. This will help you avoid a rigid or unrealistic budget, which will only frustrate and discourage you.
Repeat. Keep working at this. You’ll probably work on it a few times until you get it right for your circumstances.
Automate your finances as much as you can.
Set up free online bill pay with your bank. Most banks and credit unions offer money and time saving feature. Spend an hour setting this up with your bills, account numbers, due dates, and amounts, and you’ll only need a few minutes a month to keep it up.
Take advantage of your company’s 401k program. Try to at least set aside enough money to receive the company match as it’s basically free money in your pocket. Look for low cost index funds to put your money in.
Have a small portion of your paycheck transferred into an IRA account.Once your build up your emergency fund, eliminated your credit card debt, and have increased your income; funnel some money into an IRA. You want to still look for low cost index funds to put your money in.
Your Take on Mastering Your Finances
What tips do you have on keeping your finances in check?
Stockpiles can be very important for your household and are there to assist in saving you hundreds of dollars.
From toilet paper and body wash to canned foods and condiments, you can stock just about anything.
Optimizing Your Stockpile
Finding great deals is key and with the rising costs of household items and groceries, you want to snatch any bargain out there to build that right up.
But have you thought of some of the items that you should not stock up on, unless you take extra measures?
You wouldn’t think that there was such a thing, but there is.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are an obvious no-stock item.
Because they spoil quickly! So with that in mind, buy only the ones you plan on using in the near future.
If you find a great deal, chop up or dry the fruits and vegetables, place them in a zip-locked bag and store them in the freezer. They will last longer that way.
Improperly Stored Dry Goods
Don’t stock up on dry foods or ingredients such as pasta, rice, sugar or flour unless you store it in a sealed container.
Pesky bugs can often make their way into our homes and are drawn to food, so they can easily make it into your opened boxes of food.
Air-tight containers are the best. It has been told that flour can in fact go bad after a month, so be sure to rotate your old flour for new flour to get the most out of it.
Dampness is also one of the worst food spoilers. It will ruin whatever stocked non-perishable food item you have, so in that aspect, a sealed container helps out tremendously.
Temperature and humidity affects food, whether it is good or bad. When temperatures retain a certain degree, that’s when bacteria starts to grow and you have to toss out the food. That’s like pitching dollar bills in the trash. No one would ever purposely do that.
Bacteria is also a culprit (as shown above), causing food spoilage and even poisoning (also known as E Coli and Salmonella).
This is why certain foods should not be stocked up on, such as dairy products, meat and poultry.
Fish can easily spoil in one day. While your best bet is to freeze them, even using frozen products short term is best to avoid freezer burned food for dinner. Or if you want to find any alternatives, find shelf-stable milk and powdered eggs in the case of emergencies.
Medicine should be considered a non-stocked item. The expiration date is there for a reason. It ensures potency and safety.
There’s no point in wasting shelf space, when it could be replaced with something that can be stocked up on. Use it while you can and then toss it out.
Medicine itself is not cheap, so you will be saving yourself lots of money by buying it for a short-term use.
Cooking oils can hit your wallet hard, so when you run into a great money-saving position at the store, you can get quite excited and buy them off the shelves.
Oils do expire, but thankfully they can last a long time unopened. However, once they are opened they can go bad within a month or two.
If you use oil often, then it shouldn’t hurt to buy the bigger bottles. If you don’t, your best bet would be to buy the smaller ones to avoid wasting money.
And speaking of oils, nuts contain doses of it and will become rotten if left on your shelf for a few weeks.
If you use nuts often, put them into a container and place them in the freezer. That will help them keep fresh and ready for their next use.
Do not stock up on left overs in your fridge, because they have a very short life span. That food in your fridge would last about 3-5 days.
Use your imagination with them, such as applying left over mixed vegetables in your next day’s stew or adding deli meat with your salad to make sandwiches for a simple meal.
Attempt to not waste any food so you can save money.
Check Your Cans
Avoid dented, busted, bulging or frozen non-perishable canned foods, especially ones at the seams.They should not be part of your food storage or stockpile.
Those flawed cans have the potential of allowing bacteria to grow and can cause health risks to those who ingest them.
Thoughts on Stockpiling
Whether you have a small or a large family, this can benefit your household. You can educate yourself about food storage, the benefits and the issues of spoilage.
These money-saving tips are important in keeping your stockpile well managed while taking additional precautions properly.
Make sure you are purchasing items that you use regularly and rotating your food often to get the most out your money and evading rancid odors.
Pay specific attention to the expiration dates!
Kristin Willis is the founder of the blog, Coupon Friendly and a stay at home wife and mom of 4 children from Springfield, Missouri.
She’s also a regular contributor to the CareOne blog, a community that provides debt consolidation and money-saving advice.