tracking spending http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12437/all en-US The "I Knew It!" Benefit of Expense Tracking http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bridge.jpg" alt="Bridge" title="Bridge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's worth tracking your spending because it's the only way to learn where your money is going. But it's worth doing for another reason as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">Track Your Spending. Or Not.</a>)</p> <p>Unless you're tracking your spending, you don't really know where your money is going. Not even if you know to the penny how much goes for your mortgage or rent payment, your car or student loan payment, your tuition payment, and all the other big bills in your life. That's because, as anyone who has ever tracked their spending can tell you, there's a lot of money in the small payments.</p> <p>If you're not tracking your spending, you have no idea how much money is just leaking away in dribs and drabs, going for coffee shop coffees, fast food lunches, drinks with the boys, no-special-occasion gifts for that special someone, new gadgets, overages on data plans, pet food, lawn care products, vending machine snacks...</p> <p>Getting a handle on that spending is the big reason to track it. But there's another reason &mdash; <em>it's deeply affirming to confirm your sense that those big payments really are as big as they seem.</em></p> <p>When I first started tracking my spending, I was only a little surprised to see that my biggest <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refactor-your-budget-categories">spending category</a> was taxes. (And that was just federal income taxes, state income taxes, and FICA. I never drilled down to the level of breaking out sales tax, which would have added several percent to the tax category.)</p> <p>My response, the first time I saw the pie chart with the biggest wedge being the one marked <em>Taxes</em> was, &quot;I knew it!&quot;</p> <p>If you're one of the many readers working hard to pay off debt, seeing a big wedge of spending going toward debt repayment can be rewarding as well &mdash; all your effort and discipline reflected in a brightly-colored wedge. (This is true even though <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debt-repayment-is-not-an-expense">debt payment isn't really an expense</a>.)</p> <p>Those big wedges show what you're paying toward your most critical needs and most cherished wants. (Taxes being a special case &mdash; but surely staying out of prison is high on the list of needs and wants.)</p> <p>Your spending should reflect your values. The big win of tracking your spending is that you can see whether it does or not. When you find a mismatch, you can adjust your spending to reflect what you really want.</p> <p>That's a big win. But it may be an even bigger win when you find that there <em>isn't</em> a mismatch. It's great when you look at the top ten categories of spending and can say, &quot;Yeah, I knew that. That's not only what I expected, it's just the way I think it ought to be.&quot;</p> <p>There's real comfort in that.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances">6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/charitable-giving-give-in-order-to-receive">Charitable Giving: Give in Order to Receive</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/be-in-charge-of-your-finances">Be In Charge of Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise">Create Your Own Raise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-to-charity-is-great-but-how-do-you-pick-one">Giving to Charity is Great. But How Do You Pick One?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance charitable giving tracking debt tracking spending Tue, 11 Dec 2012 10:36:49 +0000 Philip Brewer 955797 at http://www.wisebread.com Create Your Own Raise http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/create-your-own-raise" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-waits-for-the-train-wide.jpg" alt="Piggy Bank Waits for the Train" title="Piggy Bank Waits for the Train" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're one of the many who hasn't gotten a raise since 2007, perhaps you need to create your own raise. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/replacing-a-crappy-job">Replacing a Crappy Job</a>)</p> <p>It's a simple concept &mdash; cutting your expenses by a few percent is effectively the same as boosting your income by a few percent. In fact, it's better, because you'd have to pay taxes on any extra income, while reducing your spending is tax-free. (In fact, reducing your spending often means you pay <em>less</em> tax &mdash; less sales and excise taxes.)</p> <p>Of course most people have already thought of this and have already cut their spending as much as they figure they can without cutting their standard of living. Most people are wrong.</p> <p>You can verify that with this simple two-step process.</p> <h2>1. Track Your Spending</h2> <p>Unless you've been tracking your spending, you almost certainly have no idea where a big chunk of your spending is going. I can just about guarantee that if you go through the exercise of tracking your spending, you'll discover that 3%, 5%, 7% of your money is leaking away. Maybe it's going for fancy coffee drinks or your bar tab or workday lunches or the office vending machines or groceries that spoil before they get eaten. I don't know &mdash; but unless you're tracking your spending, <em>you don't know either</em>.</p> <p>I've got a post that's on topic &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">Track Your Spending. Or Not.</a></p> <h2>2. Identify Some Economizations</h2> <p>If you were trying to completely remake your finances, you'd have to look at the top of your spending &mdash; at the big items such as mortgage or rent, car payment, stuff like that. But let's put those aside for a bit. You're just looking to create a raise &mdash; a raise that would likely have been only 3% or 4%, if you'd gotten one.</p> <p>When all you need to find is 3% or 4%, there's a lot of room at the bottom &mdash; in the small expenses and especially among your little luxuries</p> <p>If your income has been stagnant for a few years, you probably don't feel like you've got many luxuries any more &mdash; because you haven't added any new ones in a while, and you got used to the old ones long ago.</p> <p>To that end, I'd like to suggest a little mental trick for identifying your luxuries &mdash; pretend you're going through <em>someone else's budget</em>.</p> <p>Imagine an acquaintance has come to you for help making a budget. Imagine that they've been living a bit beyond their means. Imagine that, even though you're pretty sure that they don't make any more money than you, you've noticed that they've been buying stuff that <em>you</em> can't afford. Imagine that the whole thing has caught up with them, and they desperately need to economize.</p> <p>Then look at your notes on where your money's been going and tell your &quot;acquaintance&quot; where they might economize.</p> <p>Of course, they're no doubt strongly wedded to their luxuries, just like you are to yours, but so what? They need to economize, and you're there to help.</p> <p>I made a similar suggestion in this post &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-and-defending-your-luxuries">On Choosing and Defending Your Luxuries</a>.</p> <p>Here are a few thoughts on where to look:</p> <ul> <li>What little expenses do you pay cash for (or casually swipe a debit card for)? If you could cut just a dollar or two per day, you're instantly saving hundreds of dollars a year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>What expenses are just old habits? I once got into the habit of having dinner out once a week, because I had a class that kept me from going home at dinnertime. But I continued even after the class ended, because I enjoyed it. I only cut it when I did the math and realized what the expense added up to.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Especially look at your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-with-recurring-monthly-expenses">recurring expenses</a>. Could you raise a deductible on your insurance? Go to a cheaper plan for your cell phone or internet service? Find a less expensive fitness center? Cut your utility bill by adjusting your thermostat and switching off things you're not using?</li> </ul> <p>Unless you've gone through this exercise already this year, I have no doubt you can cobble together a few little cuts that will add up to a 3%, 4%, or even 5% raise.</p> <h2>Next Year's Raise</h2> <p>Hopefully the economy will be better next year, and you'll get a real raise. But we've been hoping that for a while now. Just in case it doesn't work out that way, take a step now toward creating next year's raise.</p> <p>Specifically, go back to those big things that I suggested you postpone taking a look at.</p> <p>The reason I had you start with the small things is that saving money on the big things (things like housing and transportation) usually requires a long lead time &mdash; but that's okay; we've already taken care of this year. Now you're looking ahead to next year. You <em>have</em> the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-cheaply-for-the-long-term">necessary long lead time</a>.</p> <p>By looking for economizations among the big things, I'm sure you can create your next year's raise.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-with-recurring-monthly-expenses">Start with recurring monthly expenses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-of-the-coolest-sayings-about-saving">10 of the Coolest Sayings About Saving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-sneaky-ways-you-cheat-on-your-budget">6 Sneaky Ways You Cheat on Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-savings-changes-you-can-make-today">37 Savings Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting getting a raise reducing expenses tracking spending Tue, 05 Jun 2012 10:00:12 +0000 Philip Brewer 932971 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_woman_open_business_000034516460.jpg" alt="Young business owner holding open sign" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Business cards are intended for small businesses, sole proprietors, or any consumer who wishes to divide his or her company's spending with a separate card. For example, when I was a business traveler, I used a business card to charge my reimbursable expenses. I still had to apply for the card using my own credit, and I alone was responsible for payment. Using a business card allowed me to segregate my personal expenses from those my company was reimbursing me for. Today, I hold a variety of business and personal cards to maximize the features of each. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners?ref=seealso">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a>)</p> <h2>The Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</h2> <p>Like personal cards, the market for business cards has been characterized by ever-increasing rewards and perks. Therefore, the selection criteria for the top business cards have been weighted heavily towards the rewards offered. These are my favorites.</p> <h3>Chase Ink Plus&reg; Business Credit Card</h3> <p><a target='_blank' href='http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=22293791&fot=1028&foc=2&foc2=598545&amp;fobs=' rel='nofollow' alt='Ink Plus&#174; Business Credit Card' title='Ink Plus&#174; Business Credit Card'><img border="0" class="img-exempt" style="float:right;margin:0 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/SharedImages/Products/219186/598545.png" /></a>Chase offers a dedicated line of business products called Ink. Their top-of-the-line product is the <a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=22293791&fot=1028&foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow">Ink Plus&reg; Business Card</a>. While it is not a simple knock off of a consumer card, it bears a close resemblance to Chase's excellent <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-review-500-signup-bonus?ref=internal">Sapphire Preferred</a> product.</p> <p>Cardholders receive 50,000 bonus points as a sign up bonus after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from opening the account, which is worth $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn five points per dollar spent (up to $50,000 combined purchases each account anniversary year) at office supply stores, cellular phone, landline, internet and cable services. Two points per dollar are earned (up to $50,000 combined purchases each account anniversary year) at gas stations and hotel rooms purchased directly with the hotel, with unlimited one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Cardholders can also transfer points to the programs of many airline and hotel partners. Finally, always get 20% off travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=22293791&fot=1028&foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow"><strong>Click here to apply for the Chase Ink Plus&reg; Business Credit Card today!</strong></a></p> <h3>The Business Gold Rewards Card From American Express OPEN</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050775&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=2&amp;foc2=599431&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow" alt="The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN" title="The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN"><img border="0" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/SharedImages/Products/162212/599431.png" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" alt="" /></a>American Express offers a line of business credit and charge cards, but their latest addition, the <a rel="nofollow" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050775&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=1&amp;fobs=" target="_blank">Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN</a> offers business owners truly flexible rewards. Choose one of 5 categories to earn 3x points on. Earn 2x points on the other 4 categories. Earn 1x points on other purchases. Note that this is a charge card. You must pay in full every month.</p> <p><strong>Sign up offer</strong>: Get 25,000 Membership Rewards&reg; points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. The annual fee of $175 is waived for the first year. Terms and limitations apply.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050775&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow"><strong>Click here to apply for the Business Gold Rewards Card today!</strong></a></p> <h3>SimplyCash&reg; Business Card From American Express</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050779&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=2&amp;foc2=600477&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow" alt="SimplyCash&reg; Business Card from American Express" title="SimplyCash&reg; Business Card from American Express"><img border="0" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/SharedImages/Products/162725/600477.png" alt="" /></a>If you want the quality and service of an American Express card for your business but don't want to commit to a charge card, try the <a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050779&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow">SimplyCash&reg; Business Card from American Express</a>. Get 5% cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories and 1% cash back on other purchases. There's currently a limited time offer where you can get a one-time $250 statement credit after you spend $5,000 or more in qualifying purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. (Your application must be received by September 21, 2015 to be eligible for this offer.) You also get a 0% APR on purchases for the first 9 months (then 12.24%-19.24 variable). The best thing about this card? The annual membership fee is $0! Terms and limitations apply.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=3050779&amp;fot=1028&amp;foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow"><strong>Click here to sign up for the SimplyCash&reg; Business Card from American Express today!</strong></a></p> <h3>Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Miles for Business</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-spark-miles-for-business?ref=904214" target="_blank"><img width="154" height="98" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/SharedImages/Products/164408/604877.png" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" alt="credit card" /></a></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-spark-miles-for-business?ref=904214" target="_blank">Spark&reg; Miles for Business</a> offers 2x miles per dollar spent on every purchase, every day. There is a bonus offer right now to get a one-time 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 within the first 3 months. This card is also versatile in rewards redemptions. If you don't want to spend your miles on travel, you can redeem them for merchandise, gift cards, and even cash. There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year.</p> <p><strong>Note:</strong> There is a no fee version of this card (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-spark-miles-select-for-business?ref=904214" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Spark&reg; Miles Select for Business</a>) that offers 1.5x miles per dollar spent on every purchase and a 20,000 miles bonus offer.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-spark-miles-for-business?" target="_blank">Click here to apply for the Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Miles for Business today!</a></strong></p> <h3>Chase Ink Cash&reg; Business Credit Card</h3> <p><a target='_blank' href='http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=16530367&fot=1028&foc=2&foc2=598220&amp;fobs=' rel='nofollow' alt='Ink Cash&#174; Business Credit Card' title='Ink Cash&#174; Business Credit Card'><img border="0" class="img-exempt" style="float:right;margin:0 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/SharedImages/Products/209475/598220.png" /></a>The <a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=16530367&fot=1028&foc=1foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow">Chase Ink Cash&reg; Business Card</a> is another part of Chase's dedicated business line of Ink credit cards. But instead of earning points like on the Ink Plus&reg;, the Ink Cash&reg; card lets its cardholders earn cash back on the purchases they make. Cardholders receive $200 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases in their first 3 months after account opening. There's also a special 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (then it becomes 13.24% variable APR). Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office and supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year. They can also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Cardholders will earn 1% cash back on all other purchases they make on the card. <strong>There is no annual fee</strong>.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://track.linkoffers.net/a.aspx?foid=16530367&fot=1028&foc=1foc=1&amp;fobs=" rel="nofollow"><strong>Click here to apply for the Chase Ink Cash&reg; Business Credit Card today!</strong></a></p> <p>By carefully considering the best business cards on the market, you can choose the product that best meets your needs.</p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-all-successful-freelancers-do">10 Things All Successful Freelancers Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Entrepreneurship best credit cards small business tracking spending Fri, 24 Feb 2012 11:36:32 +0000 Jason Steele 904214 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003937207Small.jpg" alt="Man with too much paperwork" title="Man with too much paperwork" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever find it hard to juggle your personal finances? I do. I keep having this awful feeling that I&rsquo;ve forgotten to pay a bill or something. Those thoughts are a clear reminder that I need to do a better job organizing my finances. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">Financial IQ Test: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a>)</p> <p>In case there are others in need of financial organization, I&rsquo;ve included these tips.</p> <h3>1. Reduce Your Total Number of Financial Accounts</h3> <p>Most people could only dream about a situation where there they have one bank account, one credit card, and one brokerage.&nbsp;We&rsquo;ve developed a complicated financial system where there&rsquo;s a credit card for online, one for the gas station, and one for overseas. Then there&rsquo;s the bank that gives high interest, the bank that gives cash back, and the bank that has minimal fees.</p> <p>All this juggling and shuffling accounts gets too complicated. Get online and reduce your total number of accounts.</p> <h3>2. Amalgamate Financial Accounts into One Institution</h3> <p>Do you have a bank account at one place, a credit card through another company, and investments with a different brokerage?</p> <p>Is there a bank or financial institution that will provide all those services in one convenient location? When you&rsquo;re dealing with a single entity, the process of maintaining your finances is simplified.</p> <h3>3. Find an Effective Financial Tracking System</h3> <p>No matter how much you amalgamate and reduce your accounts, there is still the issue of tracking everything. Finding simple-but-effective personal finance software will allow you to easily track all of your accounts in one place. For over a year I&rsquo;ve used Moneydance, and I&rsquo;ve found it helpful to see an overview of my finances in one click.</p> <h3>4. Establish a Good Filing System</h3> <p>One of the biggest costs associated with financial disorganization comes in the form of missed payments. Just this week I found a bill on the fridge that was hiding under another piece of paper.</p> <p>You can add a file for unpaid bills in your filing cabinet. However, if most of your bills are electronic, you can create a folder on your computer for unpaid bills.</p> <p>One concern is that these bills might be buried, so you need to have a system for regularly checking both the physical and computer folders. You might consider setting up a computer reminder to be sure you are regularly checking the folders. So, for example, on the 10th and 20th of every month, you would open those folders and pay all those bills.</p> <p>You could also consider setting up automatic payments, but there is also the danger that you might <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">overdraw your account</a> if you don&rsquo;t properly monitor all your payments.</p> <h3>5. Keep a Regular Schedule</h3> <p>This one has been killing me lately. My wife and I used to sit down for 15-30 minutes once a week. At that time we would enter receipts into our budget, pay bills if necessary, and talk about any financial changes we need.</p> <p>However, lately we&rsquo;ve been out of that rut, and after a couple of weeks the pile gets so big, it&rsquo;s intimidating.</p> <p>Small, regular tasks are much easier that big jobs done infrequently.</p> <h3>6. Always Have a Notebook Handy</h3> <p>I have one in my car and one by my office desk. When I buy gas, I can record the information. When I think of a financial task that needs to be done, I can just jot it down to take care of at the next scheduled time to process payments.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for more tips, here are 28 tips for organizing your finances, <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/02/19/how-to-organize-your-finances-in-four-easy-steps/">how to organize your finances in four easy steps</a>, and ten ways to organize and simplify your finances.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/be-in-charge-of-your-finances">Be In Charge of Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise">Create Your Own Raise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pets-old-cars-and-3-other-common-money-pits">Pets, Old Cars, and 3 Other Common Money Pits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-experts-people-in-their-40s-should-follow">5 Financial Experts People in Their 40s Should Follow</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance filing organizing finances tracking spending Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:36:14 +0000 Craig Ford 490553 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Save Money in the New Year http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-in-the-new-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-save-money-in-the-new-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/scott_change_jar_new_year.jpg" alt="Change jar" title="Change jar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="160" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What better way to start 2011 than with an action plan on how to save money? Here are five easy ways you can save money without changing your lifestyle.</p> <h3>1. Use Your Smartphone for Deals</h3> <p>Do you have a smartphone? If so, be sure to download apps that will search for mobile coupons. For the iPhone, download <a href="http://www.getyowza.com/">Yowza!!</a>, <a href="http://www.mobiqpons.com/">MobiQpons</a>, and <a href="http://www.savebenjis.com">Save Benjis</a>. With these apps, a barcode appears on the screen of the iPhone, and the cashier will scan the barcode and give you the discount. No need to print the coupons! For the Andriod, download the <a href="http://www.google.com/mobile/shopper/">Google Shopper</a> app, which allows users to scan the barcode of any item in the store and the app will compare prices among different retailers. And for the BlackBerry, visit <a href="http://8coupons.com">8coupons.com</a> and <a href="http://couponwinner.com">CouponWinner.com</a> (if you have Internet on your BlackBerry).</p> <h3>2. Improve Your Credit Cards</h3> <p>Call up your credit card companies and ask them to lower the interest rates on your credit cards &mdash; ask to speak to a supervisor if necessary. By making this phone call, your rates should be lowered by 3-5%.</p> <p>Also, if you have <a href="http://helpsavemydollars.com/2010/05/how-to-pay-off-credit-card-debt-2/">credit card debt</a>, try to pay more than the minimum payment on your credit card bill, even if it's only a few dollars. This will get you out of debt sooner and you'll save money on interest payments.</p> <h3>3. Track Your Expenses</h3> <p>Do you know how much money you spend each month? In order to begin to save money, you need to know exactly, to the penny, how much money you spend. This will allow you to determine where you are wasting your money. For example: Are you spending $150 month on coffee each month? Are you spending $200 each week by eating out at restaurants? To help you figure out how much money you spend, use this free <a href="http://helpsavemydollars.com/2010/11/expense-calculator/">Expense Calculator</a>. Also, if you have an iPhone, for $4.99 you can download the <a href="http://www.ixpenseit.com/">iXpenseIt</a> app, which enables users to take a picture of their receipts after they make a purchase. The app stores the receipt's data, allowing users to easily track their spending.</p> <h3>4. Shop with Cash Only</h3> <p>When shopping, leave your credit cards at home and use cash instead. At some point, you're going to run out of cash, which will force you to stop shopping, whereas with credit cards, there are no boundaries and you can easily rack up thousands of dollars without even realizing it. Plus with cash, you don't have to worry about interest rates, late fees, or <a href="http://helpsavemydollars.com/2010/05/credit-scores/">damage to your credit score</a> by accumulating debt or by not paying the bill on time.</p> <h3>5. Set Goals</h3> <p>You probably have a few New Year's resolutions. If it isn't already, make one of your resolutions for 2011 to save money and be conscious of your spending. Challenge yourself! For example, promise that you're going to use cash only for the next three months. After completing that challenge, chances are you'll stick to cash and never go back to credit cards, which is a huge financial success.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/scott-gamm">Scott Gamm</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-in-the-new-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smartphone-apps-to-help-you-save-big">6 Smartphone Apps to Help you Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-one-favorite-frugal-living-tip">My One Favorite Frugal Living Tip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/windows-phone-7-giveaway">Windows Phone 7 &amp; XBox Live Gold Membership Giveaway From Wise Bread</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pets-old-cars-and-3-other-common-money-pits">Pets, Old Cars, and 3 Other Common Money Pits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living credit card interest rates goal setting smartphone apps tracking spending Fri, 14 Jan 2011 15:00:12 +0000 Scott Gamm 431207 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Tips for Improving or Starting a Budget http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3707431457_f871cfca86_z.jpg" alt="monocle calculator" title="monocole calculator" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Budgeting is boring and takes precious time out of our busy schedules. But let me tell you something &mdash; having a solid budget works incredibly well for your finances. When done properly, budgeting can help you save, keep you motivated, and increase the chances that your finances are headed in the right direction so eventually, you have time to do what you want to do. And who wouldn't want that? If the whole budgeting process is just not cooperating, check out these eight pointers that will make your budget work for you. (See also: <a title="If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong" href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong</a>)</p> <h3>1. Be Realistic with Your Budget</h3> <p>Some people like to setup their dream budget instead of one for their current situation. Remember that a budget needs to be tracking what you are actually spending so you can make changes.</p> <h3>2. There's No &quot;Fun&quot; Fund</h3> <p>This again goes back to being realistic. Can you actually live without having fun for years and years? Allocate a portion of your monthly budget so you can spend it however you want. After all, the whole point of saving money is to use it.</p> <h3>3. Adjust It Regularly</h3> <p>In order to grow, you need to continuously improve on your system. This includes changing limits on your budget and adding/subtracting categories of expenses as you see fit to make life easier for yourself. You don't have to start off with the perfect budget, but the goal should be to always try to make it a little better.</p> <h3>4. You Need to Allow for Budget Busters</h3> <p>How would you handle the months when you have no choice but to go over the allotted limits you set on your expenses? You have to plan for that so it doesn't throw your finances upside down. You need to have an <a title="Emergency Plan: Better Than an Emergency Fund" href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-plan-better-than-an-emergency-fund">emergency fund</a> set up, and another way is to actually have the exceeded amount &quot;spill over&quot;&nbsp;to future months, so you don't forget about it. For example, if you spent $500 over your budgeted amount on entertainment, the $500 would be added to the following month, which reminds you to spend less in the future to make up for it.</p> <h3>5. Focus on the Process Instead of the Tool</h3> <p>There is no perfect tool. There, I said it. The key is you &mdash; the data you put in, and your commitment to follow what you have set up. Some people use a plain spreadsheet while others buy software like Quicken. Do whatever works for you, but don't obsess over which way is best.</p> <h3>6. Keep It Simple</h3> <p>Unless you love tracking your budget and can spend hours every week on this task alone, please don't have too many categories, and try to simplify the process of logging your expenses. The simpler you can make your budget, the better! The key is to really think about your categories and whether separating them makes sense for you. Some people may consistently buy skin care products, so it makes sense for them to separate them into their own category so they can monitor how much they are spending on those products. Others may find that it makes little sense to have a category even for beauty products because they almost never spend anything in that area. Make it personal, but keep it simple!</p> <h3>7. Give the Budget a Chance and Some Time to Thrive</h3> <p>Very rarely do you see people executing their budgeting process to perfection right out of the gate, so those who expect everything to work out perfectly are setting themselves up for failure. As with anything, it takes constant monitoring to improve, and eventually, it will work well for you.</p> <h3>8. Make Progress</h3> <p>Whether it's lowering your spending or increasing your income, make progress! Having better finances will be the number one motivator to keep doing your budget. Always think how you can do things better, and you will be financially free in no time. Let me repeat &mdash; budgeting is boring, but it's an easy way to improve your finances. Here are seven more reasons why you need to start budget tracking.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-improving-or-starting-a-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-psychological-traps-preventing-you-from-saving-and-how-to-fix-them">4 Psychological Traps Preventing You From Saving — And How to Fix Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-financial-habits-just-bad">Are Your Financial Habits Just Bad?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-you-spend-on-a-new-car">How Much Should You Spend on a New Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dark-side-motivations-to-get-you-out-of-debt">10 Dark-Side Motivations to Get You Out of Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-go-on-a-financial-detox">How to Go on a Financial Detox</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management emergency fund financial tools tracking spending Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:00:11 +0000 David Ning 402437 at http://www.wisebread.com Be In Charge of Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/be-in-charge-of-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/be-in-charge-of-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/no-swimming.jpg" alt="No swimming" title="No Swimming" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="186" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you ever come to the end of the money before you run out of month? It's easy to conclude that the problem is that you don't earn enough money (or that you spend too much). In fact, the real problem is almost always that your finances are out of control.</p> <p>I don't want this post to turn into a comedy routine with a list of items like, &quot;Your finances might be out of control if you ever use a credit card to pay off another credit card.&quot; Frankly, if your finances are out of control, you already know it (although you may be in denial). Still, here's a short check list:</p> <ul> <li>You don't have an emergency fund.</li> <li>You don't pay off your credit cards every month.</li> <li>You don't know how you'll satisfy your big, high-priority wants (like college for the kids).</li> <li>You worry about the bills (or about money in general).</li> </ul> <p>Taking control of your finances is straightforward. I've written articles about most of the steps, but it occurred to me that I've never really put the whole thing together. So, for those of you who have problems that look like a lack of money (or excess spending), here's how take charge of your finances.</p> <h3>Take control by buying what you want</h3> <p>I've carefully buried a certain word in this sentence, because I'm afraid that the word budget will turn off a lot of readers, and I'd like to ease them past it. There are two reasons that people hesitate to make or follow a budget.</p> <p>The first is that they come to budgets with a sense of guilt. That's crazy. If you'd rather spend money in some other way than what your budget says, don't feel guilty about it: Just change your budget. Your budget is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-budget-is-not-a-constraint">not a constraint, it's a tool</a> for helping you get what you most want.</p> <p>With that in mind, here are four posts on budgeting:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong</a> is all about creating a budget that lets you buy what you want. It's about figuring out what you really want and making sure you're budgeting for those items. Like I said: If you want other stuff more than the stuff that's in your budget, change your budget.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</a> is a short piece on how to organize the categories in your budget. If you have a budget that's working for you, you can skip it. But if you're creating a budget from scratch (or if you're not satisfied with the budget you've been using), it has some useful ideas.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-better-way-to-create-a-budget">A Better Way to Create a Budget</a> advises against the usual budgeting advice of filling in each budget item with what you spent last month (or last year). Instead, I suggest, start each line item at zero, then figure out what you really need to spend to satisfy your wants and needs in that category.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-budget-envelopes-or-a-plan">Your Budget: Envelopes or a Plan?</a> looks at the two main styles of budgeting. I used to follow the envelope model, where I set aside money from each paycheck to cover each expense category, but some years back I quit thinking of my budget as a set of envelopes and started thinking of it as a plan.</p> <h3>Take control by knowing what you're buying</h3> <p>The second common reason that people resist budgeting is that they feel like they're &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-the-sort-of-person-who">not the sort of person</a>&quot; who needs to pays attention to every penny. That's not quite as crazy as feeling guilty when they don't follow a budget. It is possible to manage your finances intuitively, and lots of people do. But it's not a sign of moral superiority.</p> <p>The way to get your finances under control is to create a budget and then track your spending so that you know whether you're following it or not. Neither step has nothing to do with what kind of person you are.</p> <p>I wrote one post on tracking your spending:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">Track Your Spending. Or not.</a> It's on whether the time and effort of tracking is worth the payoff. (And, more important, what the payoff is.)</p> <p>As I say, it is possible to manage your finances without a budget and without tracking to see if you're keeping to your budget. In fact, most people do just that. If your wants and needs are modest relative to your income, that can work fine. But the less daylight there is between what you earn and what you spend, the more you need to be in control of your finances.</p> <p>Who's in charge of your finances? You? Or no one in particular?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/be-in-charge-of-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-quick-tips-for-organizing-your-finances">6 Quick Tips for Organizing Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/it-takes-a-frugal-spouse-to-make-a-frugal-home">It takes a frugal spouse to make a frugal home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/create-your-own-raise">Create Your Own Raise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/too-broke-to-be-frugal">Too broke to be frugal?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance control take control tracking spending Fri, 03 Sep 2010 12:00:05 +0000 Philip Brewer 226975 at http://www.wisebread.com