balance a checkbook http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1414/all en-US 3 Invisible Savings Tips That Work http://www.wisebread.com/3-invisible-savings-tips-that-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-invisible-savings-tips-that-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3673567823_40e78d78d5_z.jpg" alt="bowl of money" title="bowl of money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With money tight these days for so many people, it's worthwhile considering some subtle &quot;invisible&quot; savings tips to ensure you're meeting your financial goals. When money was tight as a fresh college grad, I had devised a few different ways to set aside money without really noticing it. This both removed the temptation to spend it and the deterrent to give up when I was having a tight month, since these methods were virtually invisible! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-everyday-expenses" title="5 Ways to Save Money on Everyday Expenses">5 Ways to Save Money on Everyday Expenses</a>)</p> <h3>1. Checkbook Roundup&nbsp;</h3> <p>Before the advent of online banking, I was writing 15-20 checks per month. No matter what the payment amount was, I would always round up to the next full dollar amount and record that in my ledger. When something was $1.20, a $2 entry went in and so on. After a couple years, my checking account balance was several hundred dollars greater than what was showing in my checkbook ledger. This served two purposes: First, I'd be hard pressed to bounce a check with a buffer that large, even if I accidentally forgot to record a check or ATM withdrawal. Second, after a few years of this, it was a nice unplanned couple hundred dollars I could draw down to rebalance and start over again once I had accounted for all recent outstanding checks that hadn't been processed yet. These days, if you write very few checks, the system may not generate much in the way of invisible savings, but I still practice it to this day. I like the idea of the cash buffer in there. With interest rates close to zero, the opportunity cost on a few hundred dollars is inconsequential, and it's reassuring to know that if my wife or I forget to record an entry, it's covered.</p> <h3>2. Save Every $5 Bill</h3> <p>The neat thing about $5 bills is they are somewhat rare, yet not so painful to part with for an invisible saving method. I used to pay for almost everything in cash, and I tended to deal with 20s and singles quite a bit. On the occasions where I was handed a $5 bill for change, it went right in my invisible savings jar that night. See, the $5 bill is small enough and rare enough that I didn't really miss having it, yet after a year or so of a five per week, I'd saved around $250.</p> <h3>3. Never Use Change</h3> <p>Aside from the fact that watching the customer in front of me dig around and count out pennies to pay the cashier drives me batty, I've derived more pleasure from saving and investing my change than carrying it around and counting it out. I've always just dumped all my change in a can and then counted it out and savored the pleasant surprise. I used to do it the hard way with coin rolls, but now many banks have automatic change counters for free.</p> <p>Each of these methods might realistically only yield a few hundred dollars per year, but that's a few hundred dollars you probably wouldn't have saved otherwise. And it's practically invisible!</p> <h3>Important: Have a Strategy for Deployment of Your Invisible Savings</h3> <p>Saving this money is only half the battle.&nbsp; If it's holiday time, you've saved $700, and you go blow it on an impulse purchase, that probably wasn't your initial intent at the beginning of the year. What I used to do with these savings was to deposit the money every quarter or so, even if it was just $100, and write a check for an equivalent amount to a dividend reinvestment program (<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/slow-drip-into-investing">DRIP</a>). Essentially, these programs allow you to buy partial shares of common stock from publicly traded companies at any time, often for free or a very low fee. By forcing myself to divert these funds to a pre-determined objective, over several years, I was able to amass a nice portfolio of large blue-chip companies simply from invisible savings. Perhaps your objective might be a 529 plan contribution for the year (see <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rethinking-the-529-college-savings-plan-strategy">529 pre-paid vs. tuition strategies</a>), Christmas shopping money, next year's travel fund, or simply building up your emergency fund.</p> <p><em>Do you have other &quot;invisible&quot; savings methods to share?</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darwins-money">Darwins Money</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-invisible-savings-tips-that-work">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/forget-saving25-place-to-look-for-spare-change">Forget Saving...25 Places to Look for Spare Change</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/finding-money-11-ways-to-save-money-you-are-spending-without-sacrificing-anything">Finding Money: 11 Ways to Save Money you are Spending Without Sacrificing Anything</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/8-ways-college-students-can-save-money-before-class-starts">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</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/5-things-you-must-do-before-you-quit-your-job">5 Things You Must Do Before You Quit Your Job</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/6-sneaky-ways-you-cheat-on-your-budget">6 Sneaky Ways You Cheat on Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance balance a checkbook change money saving tips saving money Thu, 18 Nov 2010 13:00:06 +0000 Darwins Money 311138 at http://www.wisebread.com Mom and Dad, Your Financial Decisions Matter http://www.wisebread.com/mom-and-dad-your-financial-decisions-matter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mom-and-dad-your-financial-decisions-matter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/someone_s_parents.jpg" alt="old couple kissing" title="old couple parents" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="234" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With Mother&#39;s Day in the recent past and Father&#39;s Day two days ago, I wanted to give credit where credit is due and encourage all the parents out there who are trying to teach their kids about money. Those things you&#39;re doing at home? They&#39;re working. Your kids are hearing it! Read below for some more suggestions as to what you can do to teach your kids about money. They worked on me! </p> <p>I don&#39;t know why you care about money (though I&#39;d love to hear it in the comments), but I care about money because my parents cared about money.</p> <p>Really, it&#39;s that simple. When I was growing up, my parents both showed me and taught me that my money and how I chose to spend it was important. They gave me an allowance, but they both encouraged and reminded me to save some. They helped me choose toys that I wanted (and could eventually get) to save towards. When I was old enough, they got me a savings account so that I could get my bank statement in the mail each month and see my money making money (and so I could feel like a big person, and associate that &quot;grown up&quot; feeling with &quot;saving,&quot; I suppose). Later on, they co-signed so I could open a checking account and taught me how to write a check, use my ATM card, and balance my checkbook every month.</p> <p>Beyond all of these things, though, I saw my parents value their money. I saw my dad (and later my mom) go to work every morning so that we would be able to have the things we needed and wanted. I saw dad sit down with his checkbook every month and balance it. I saw him write checks to pay the bills and I saw the little stamped envelopes go out in the mail. I heard him on the phone with different financial planners over the years, sorting out investments and retirement funds. </p> <p>I saw my mom buy things that were a good deal and skip the things that weren&#39;t, even when she wanted them. I helped her fill produce bags and weigh them, and then I helped her calculate what she&#39;d pay. I sat down with her to learn how to write a check and I saw her resolve the discrepancies in my checkbook that I didn&#39;t understand.</p> <p>I also saw the fruits of their labors. I watched them buy a car with cash. I went on vacations that we couldn&#39;t have taken without their careful saving. I saw the things that they could buy for each other and for us that wouldn&#39;t have been an option if they didn&#39;t have a financial plan.</p> <p>So to Mom and Dad (and to all the moms and dads out there who care about money and who are trying to teach their children to do the same), thank you. Thank you for showing me not only that making wise decisions about my money was important, but how to make those and what the results could be.</p> <p>Now it&#39;s your turn. Why do you care about money? Did your parents do anything that helped or hindered your relationship with money later in life? Please share: I&#39;d love to hear!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mom-and-dad-your-financial-decisions-matter">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/balancing-act-the-perils-of-budgeting">Balancing Act: The Perils of Budgeting</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-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</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/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</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/6-ways-to-ease-your-parents-into-assisted-living">6 Ways to Ease Your Parents Into Assisted Living</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/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY balance a checkbook checkbook fruit of their labor mom and dad parenting parents Tue, 19 Jun 2007 17:09:40 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 757 at http://www.wisebread.com Budgeting for the rest of us, or How to follow a budget without breaking down in tears http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-the-rest-of-us-or-how-to-follow-a-budget-without-breaking-down-in-tears <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/mybudget.jpg" alt="My budget?" title="Budgeting!" width="350" height="160" /></p> <p>Budgeting can be difficult. For some people (like me!), it <a href="/balancing-act-the-perils-of-budgeting" title="Budgeting&#39;s perils">brings up things</a> that they may not want to see. For others, it&#39;s a necessary but frustrating tool to curtail spending, or a painful reminder of how much they overspent, yet again. But there are a few people who live well on a budget. These few manage to record their spending and yet aren&#39;t overwhelmed by that. They see where they spend too much and yet don&#39;t give up the budget. Month after month they take the time to collect their receipts, enter them, and evaluate based on the results. They aren&#39;t overwhelmed or discouraged, and they don&#39;t give up. Instead, they plug away at it until they get their spending under control, and then they often keep at it to have a record of their money goes. Slowly, slowly, I&#39;m becoming one of them, and here is what I&#39;ve learned along the way.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><strong>Give yourself some space</strong></p> <p>Your budget is not going to work perfectly from the beginning, unless you&#39;re a financial genius. It&#39;s just not. Gas will cost more than you expected, or your phone will get stolen and the company will charge you for the extra minutes, throwing off your careful planning. Things happen. Life happens. Particularly in the early stages of budgeting, you&#39;re working with unsure numbers. You&#39;ll get better at estimating as you go along. You&#39;ll also get better at knowing what you need. A friend might only need to spend $50 a month on gas, but your visits to Grandma Sue push that up to $100 for you. It&#39;s ok. Also, part of what a budget is intended to do is to track money <em>over time.</em> So if your cell bill is high one month, it might be lower the next. Maybe you&#39;ll change plans in 6 months and pay a lower monthly fee. Your budget will show you your average spending, which will both cancel out some extra costs you might pay along the way and help you make a better average next time.</p> <p><strong>Budget for yourself</strong></p> <p>You have needs and desires that others don&#39;t have. I, for instance, really want to take a pottery class next fall. So right now I&#39;m starting to budget for it. It shouldn&#39;t be too expensive, but I want to be sure those recreational costs are covered. These are costs that others won&#39;t have, but they&#39;re important to me and that&#39;s ok. Many budget programs come with a list of categories, and it&#39;s easy to feel like you need to fit your spending into those. Instead, wipe the memory clean of categories and start from the beginning. Make <em>your</em> budget reflect <em>your</em> life, or it won&#39;t help <em>you</em> save. It might help Joe Generic save, or the couple two doors down, but it won&#39;t help you.</p> <p><strong>It&#39;s ok to overspend sometimes</strong></p> <p>Money isn&#39;t the highest priority. When something else is more important than keeping to your budget or saving money, and you make the decision, it&#39;s ok to overspend. For Valentine&#39;s Day, Dave and I went out to dinner. It wasn&#39;t anything particularly fancy, but it cost us a little extra in our &quot;eating out&quot; category. For us, that was ok because we decided to overspend. We were intentional about it and evaluated it in light of the other categories in the budget. Since we didn&#39;t spend nearly our full amount in other categories, and we really needed a break, we decided to splurge a little. It&#39;s hard to see the numbers at the bottom of our column turn red (that means we overspent) and not feel like I&#39;m somehow a bad, irresponsible person, but I do know better. </p> <p><strong>Your money is only yours</strong></p> <p>You earned it so it&#39;s yours to spend. However you like. Whenever you like. Wherever you like. End of story. You can <a href="http://debtfreegirl.wordpress.com/2007/03/02/february-budget-results/" title="DebtFreeGirl">publish your budget to the internet</a> , but you don&#39;t have to. If others are going to be critical, keep them out. You&#39;re also the one trying to be responsible with your money here, which means that it&#39;s fine to ask for help if you want it. But don&#39;t ask from someone who isn&#39;t going to approve your categories, your amounts, or anything else about your budget. You make it, you keep it.</p> <p><strong>Work with a group</strong></p> <p>If you&#39;re trying to learn to budget, find some friends who are in the same boat, or who have been budgeting for a while. Agree to meet and talk about how your budget is going, whether you&#39;re keeping it up, etc. If you&#39;re worried that they might not approve of your choices or understand your categories, put in that agreement the statement that they can help you keep to what you budget, but can&#39;t set your categories or criticize the decisions you&#39;ve made unless you ask them for that kind of advice. </p> <p><strong>Give it at least six months before you give up</strong></p> <p>If you haven&#39;t done it before, budgeting is a new habit. It takes a while to feel natural, not cludgy, and not binding. Give it at least six months before you decide to throw in the towel. Stick with your decision to record your spending and you may just find that it fits you after all. It&#39;s like switching to shoes when you&#39;ve worn sandals for years--they feel tight, but they&#39;re really the right size. </p> <p>While budgeting is difficult, it&#39;s not impossible, and it does get better with time. Stick with it. Have courage. Face down the evil checkbook. Eventually, you can be triumphant. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-for-the-rest-of-us-or-how-to-follow-a-budget-without-breaking-down-in-tears">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/debt-repayment-is-not-an-expense">Debt repayment is not an expense</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/simplify-budgeting-with-personal-money">Simplify budgeting with personal money</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/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</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/too-broke-to-be-frugal">Too broke to be frugal?</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/balancing-act-the-perils-of-budgeting">Balancing Act: The Perils of Budgeting</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting balance a checkbook budget budgeting Mon, 05 Mar 2007 23:05:45 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 321 at http://www.wisebread.com Balancing Act: The Perils of Budgeting http://www.wisebread.com/balancing-act-the-perils-of-budgeting <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/balancing_rocks.jpg" alt="Balancing Rocks" title="Balancing rocks" width="240" height="320" /> </p> <p>For years, I&#39;ve not had a budget because I didn&#39;t think I needed one. I never spent more money than I made and I entered every transaction into my checkbook as soon as I made it (or, well, enough of them that it didn&#39;t much matter, anyway). I was sure to save some of my money (I even got a high-yield account from ING), and I even invested a little. I thought that budgets were for people who spent too much, and I simply didn&#39;t.</p> <p>When Dave and I were engaged, we sat down and had The Finances Talk. We shared how much we made, how much we liked to spend, what was important to each of us when it came to money, etc. In these conversations, we realized that, if we want to pay off our loans early AND put money into my 403b AND have savings for fun and emergencies, we would have to live on a tighter budget than either of us had ever experienced.</p> <p>This launched us into the land of budgets. When we set it up, we did so to limit our spending. We used <a href="http://pearbudget.com/" title="Budgeting our pears?">PearBudget</a> and it worked wonders (Seriously...I&#39;m not doing product reviews here, but check them out. It&#39;s even free!!). We set up categories, put our savings and school loan payments in first, and then moved the numbers around until they came to an approximation of what we make every month. It was that easy.</p> <p>Or so I thought!</p> <p>What I didn&#39;t realize about a budget, as opposed to just balancing your checkbook faithfully every month, is that a budget doesn&#39;t necessarily help you stop spending. What it really does is helps you allocate your money and analyze your spending. If you keep it up faithfully during the month, it helps you know when to stop buying things. It also shows you where your money is going, which can help you see what is and is not a financial priority.</p> <p>The problem? There are some of these things that I DIDN&#39;T WANT TO KNOW!</p> <p>I don&#39;t really want to know, for instance, that I spent almost $30 on my turtle this month. Now, it&#39;s just $30...but on the turtle!!??!? I love Cummings and all, but he&#39;s still just a turtle. I also didn&#39;t want to remember how many times Dave and I went to In &#39;N Out. It&#39;s not MacDonald&#39;s, but it&#39;s not where I want to drop my stash, either. I also didn&#39;t realize how much I like to spend on gifts and things for other people. What am I supposed to be--stingy?</p> <p>As it turns out, our budget has raised more questions than it has given answers. Because Dave and I both can be (and have been, in this situation) fairly disciplined people, the budget has helped us spend less than we might have without it. It has forced us, in some cases, to choose where we want our money to go (Valentine&#39;s dinner out, or several more In &#39;N Out runs?). But it has also forced us to question ourselves and our spending. It has forced us to see how much more we&#39;d be able to pay on the loans if we were cooking hamburgers at home. </p> <p>In the end I&#39;m glad, I guess, that we have the budget (though I kind-of feel like I have to say that. I am, after all, a PF blogger.) Even though some of them are small, the questions force us to do more than run on autopilot. They make us actually choose where we spend our money, and (sometimes!) explain to each other why we chose to spend it there. And that seems like a good thing. Many times we choose to make the same decision that we would have made on autopilot, but the fact that it is deliberate and definitive means that we are spending the money and aren&#39;t left wondering where it all went at the end of the month. </p> <p>Consider yourselves warned, though. Starting a budget is so easy, but keeping with it so it can actually help you is harder than it seems! </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/balancing-act-the-perils-of-budgeting">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/budgeting-for-the-rest-of-us-or-how-to-follow-a-budget-without-breaking-down-in-tears">Budgeting for the rest of us, or How to follow a budget without breaking down in tears</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/debt-repayment-is-not-an-expense">Debt repayment is not an expense</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/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide</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/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</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/simplify-budgeting-with-personal-money">Simplify budgeting with personal money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting balance a checkbook budget checkbook Thu, 22 Feb 2007 23:23:52 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 225 at http://www.wisebread.com