planning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1646/all en-US 6 Unexpected Benefits of Solo Travel http://www.wisebread.com/6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/female_tourist_london_495763126.jpg" alt="Woman learning benefits of solo travel" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many people are apprehensive about traveling alone, yet it can be an exhilarating experience. You get to set your own agenda, save or splurge whenever you feel the need, and you're likely to meet new people from different parts of the world. Instead of dreading that next solo trip, here are a few reasons you should look forward to it.</p> <h2>1. Enjoy total flexibility</h2> <p>Deciding where to go and what to do on your trip is harder when you have to take into account more than one person's opinion. Unless your travel companions all share exactly the same interests as you, you'll end up negotiating priorities and compromising.</p> <p>When you're traveling alone, you can make completely autonomous decisions about your agenda, and you can often change them quickly. Don't like your accommodations? You can move more easily on your own. Hear about an interesting excursion you're dying to try last-minute? You won't have to worry about spoiling someone else's plans. You're flexible to be as spontaneous as you want.</p> <p>Also, if you're traveling by plane, you won't have to agonize over finding a flight that fits into everyone's schedule, or worry about whether you'll get to sit with your group. No more paying extra for seat reservations!</p> <p>This added flexibility has the extra benefit of potentially saving you a lot of money on airfare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-flight-booking-hacks-to-save-you-hundreds?ref=seealso">10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds</a>)</p> <h2>2. Personalize your budget</h2> <p>Budgeting can be one of the most difficult parts of a trip, and it's even harder when you have to accommodate someone else's priorities. Traveling solo means you get to decide whether you'd like to set cash aside for some ritzy dining, or eat simply and go for nicer accommodations.</p> <p>And if you want to go completely budget, you don't have to take into account how anyone else will feel about it. Sometimes traveling alone can actually be less expensive than with a partner or group because there's no social pressure to spend on something you don't want.</p> <p>While you're planning your finances for the trip, keep in mind that having <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal">the right travel credit card</a> is an important part of the process. You can earn points toward free travel, and if you get a card that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation?ref=internal">doesn't charge foreign transaction fees</a>, you'll save money. Plus, a good card comes with lots of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-perks-you-didnt-know-your-credit-card-had?ref=internal">travel perks</a> such as free checked bags and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-types-of-travel-insurance-credit-cards-include-that-you-didnt-know-about?ref=internal">travel insurance</a>.</p> <p>Don't forget to bring along a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road">fee-free debit card</a> as well, for easy money withdrawals from anywhere. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling</a>)</p> <h2>3. Connect with locals</h2> <p>Undoubtedly one of the greatest benefits of solo travel is that by removing yourself from your normal social circle, you'll be more apt to strike up conversations with locals. In some cases, this can lead to a more immersive experience.</p> <p>You can use online resources like Facebook groups to help connect with locals who are interested in showing people around their area. Don't forget that the old-fashioned way of meeting people &mdash; face-to-face &mdash; still works well, too (especially if you stay off your smartphone when in public). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-like-a-local-how-to-tap-into-the-local-scene-while-traveling?ref=seealso">How to Tap Into the Local Scene While Traveling</a>)</p> <h2>4. Optimize language learning</h2> <p>If one of the goals of your trip is to learn a foreign language, there's no better way to approach it than by traveling alone. When traveling with friends or family from home, you're much more likely to slip back into communicating in your native tongue. But when you're by yourself, you don't have the option. You'll be surprised how much you can pick up in a relatively short amount of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-surprising-skill-that-can-save-you-money-when-you-travel?ref=seealso">How Learning the Local Language Will Save You Money When You Travel</a>)</p> <h2>5. Increase your confidence</h2> <p>Often pushing yourself to do something that feels a little uncomfortable at first can lead to a surprising amount of growth. Once you've traveled alone, you'll have a greater sense of independence and the confidence to know you don't have to be joined at the hip with someone you know all the time. You will never again have to fear eating at a restaurant alone.</p> <h2>6. Indulge in some &quot;you&quot; time</h2> <p>Taking a step back from your normal routines and social habits can be the perfect way to reconnect with yourself. For many, traveling alone provides a much-needed recharge. By exploring on your own, you're giving yourself a valuable opportunity to think, meditate, and just enjoy some quiet time when you need it.</p> <p>Solo travel can be the perfect way to escape from a routine of constant negotiations, whether it's in the workplace or at home. It's a unique and often very memorable experience that everyone should try at least once in their life.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Unexpected%2520Benefits%2520of%2520Solo%2520Travel.jpg&amp;description=6%20Unexpected%20Benefits%20of%20Solo%20Travel"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Unexpected%20Benefits%20of%20Solo%20Travel.jpg" alt="6 Unexpected Benefits of Solo Travel" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel">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/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young">6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young</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-fun-affordable-train-trips">5 Fun, Affordable Train Trips</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/5-amazing-travel-destinations-you-thought-were-unaffordable">5 Amazing Travel Destinations You Thought Were Unaffordable</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-travel-destinations-that-are-cheaper-due-to-a-strong-us-dollar">5 Travel Destinations That Are Cheaper Due to a Strong U.S. Dollar</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/the-6-best-vacation-deal-websites">The 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel budgeting flexibility foreign languages learning meeting locals planning solo travel tourism trips vacation Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1923012 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Things Financial Advisers Wish You Knew About Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/men_tablet_work_579235928.jpg" alt="Men learning what financial advisers wish they knew about retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Wish you had a crystal ball for retirement planning? Most of us do, and for good reason. Even if you're sure you'll have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-money-will-you-need-to-retire?ref=internal">enough money to retire</a>, there are no guarantees until you get there. If your nest egg runs short, it will be far too late for a do-over.</p> <p>This is where a financial adviser can help. A financial adviser will know if you're heavy on risk, not diversified enough, failing to maximize tax advantages, or simply not saving enough. They will also make sure to take into account your lifestyle and preferences to ensure you're on the right path to your ideal retirement, and not just following a cookie cutter plan that's not going to be the right fit.</p> <p>We asked financial advisers for some of the most important ideas they wish their clients understood when it comes to money, retirement, and the future.</p> <h2>1. Social Security will be around in some form</h2> <p>]Andrew McFadden, a financial adviser for physicians, says many clients refuse to accept that Social Security will still be around when they retire. This is especially true if they are part of Gen X or Gen Y, he says, since they are decades away from receiving benefits.</p> <p>However short on funds we may be, the Social Security Administration projects the ability to pay around 75 percent of current benefits after the fund is depleted in 2034. This is a key detail, notes McFadden, since many people hear Social Security is going bankrupt and refuse to acknowledge any benefits in their own retirement planning.</p> <p>&quot;It's not all roses, but that's still a far cry from those bankruptcy rumors,&quot; says McFadden. &quot;So lower your expectations, but don't get rid of them altogether.&quot;</p> <h2>2. It's ok to &quot;live a little&quot; while you save for retirement</h2> <p>Russ Thornton, founder of Wealthcare for Women, says too many future retirees sacrifice living now for their &quot;pie in the sky&quot; dream of retirement. Unfortunately, tomorrow isn't promised, and many people never get to live out the dreams they plan all along.</p> <p>&quot;So many people assume they can't really live until they're retired and not working full-time,&quot; says Thornton. &quot;Nothing could be further from the truth. Find ways to experience aspects of your dream life now, whether you're in your 30s, 40s, or 50s.&quot;</p> <p>With a solid savings and retirement plan, you should be able to do both &mdash; save and invest adequately, and try some new experiences that make life adventurous and satisfying now.</p> <p>&quot;Don't accept the deferred life plan,&quot; he says. That future you dream about and plan for may never come.</p> <h2>3. The 4 percent rule isn't perfect for everybody</h2> <p>Born in the 90s, the 4 percent rule stated retirees could stretch their funds by withdrawing 4 percent per year. The catch was, a good portion of those investments had to remain in equities to make this work.</p> <p>The 4 percent rule lost traction between 2000 and 2010 when the market closed lower than where it started 10 years before, says Bellevue, WA financial adviser Josh Brein. As many retirement accounts suffered during this time, it was shown that the 4 percent rule doesn't always work for everybody.</p> <p>It doesn't mean the rule should be thrown out completely though, nor should it still be followed like gospel. In fact, in 2015, two-third of retirees following the 4 percent rule had double the amount of their starting principal after a 30-year stretch. These retirees could have benefited from taking out more than the limited 4 percent, which could have meant an extra vacation each year, or another luxury that they were indeed able to afford.</p> <p>There's absolutely no denying the importance of making your retirement dollars last. But, after a lifetime of working and saving, you also deserve to enjoy those dollars to their full capability.</p> <p>Bottom line, take time to re-evaluate your drawdown strategy every few years and make adjustments as necessary. While you don't want to go broke in retirement &mdash; you also don't want to miss out on all the incredible things this time in your life has to offer.</p> <h2>4. Retirement looks different for everyone</h2> <p>Minnesota financial adviser Jamie Pomeroy says he wishes people would abandon their preconceived notions on what retirement should look like. He blames the financial industry in part for perpetuating the idea that certain retirement planning accounts and products work for everyone. &quot;They don't,&quot; he says.</p> <p>&quot;Some enjoy retiring to the beach, some take mini-retirements before reaching a retirement age, some work part-time in retirement, and some just want to spend time with their grandkids,&quot; he says. &quot;The concept of retirement is dynamic, ever-changing, and defined very differently by lots of different people.&quot;</p> <p>To find the right retirement path and plan for your own life, you should sit down and decide what you really, truly want. Once you know what you want, you can craft a realistic plan to get there.</p> <h2>5. Investment returns aren't as important as you think</h2> <p>According to North Dakota financial adviser Benjamin Brandt, too many people focus too much energy on their investment returns &mdash; mostly because they are an immediate and tangible way to gauge the success or failure of our financial plans.</p> <p>Investment returns should only be judged in the proper scope of a long-term financial plan, and &quot;over decades,&quot; he says.</p> <p>In the meantime, our behavior can make a huge impact when it comes to reaching your retirement goals. By <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-quirky-ways-to-spend-less-and-kick-start-saving?ref=internal">spending less and saving more</a>, for example, we can avoid debt and potentially invest more money over the long haul. Those moves can help us retire earlier whether the market performs the way we hope or not.</p> <h2>6. Small changes add up</h2> <p>When it comes to retirement planning, many people feel overwhelmed right away. For example, some people may realize they need $1 million or more to retire and give up before they start.</p> <p>Financial adviser Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents says this could change if everyone realized how small changes &mdash; and small amounts of savings &mdash; add up drastically over time.</p> <p>&quot;Someone who invests just $200 per month for 30 years and earns 7 percent would have more than $218,000 in the end,&quot; says Rose. &quot;Now imagine both spouses are saving, or that they boost their investments incrementally over the years.&quot;</p> <p>As Rose points out, a couple who invests $500 per month combined and earns 7 percent would have more than $566,000 after 30 years.</p> <p>Looking for ways to save money and invest more will obviously make this number surge. If you boost your contributions each time you get a raise, for example, you'll have considerably more for retirement. Remember even the smallest contributions can greatly add up over the years.</p> <h2>7. Don't forget about long-term care</h2> <p>Joseph Carbone, founder and wealth adviser of Focus Planning Group, says many future retirees are missing one key piece of the puzzle, and that piece could cost them dearly.</p> <p>&quot;I wish many of my clients understood the biggest hurdle from passing wealth on to their heirs is long-term care costs,&quot; says Carbone. &quot;Whether it is home health care, assisted living, or the dreaded nursing home. It is real and it is scary.&quot;</p> <p>According to Carbone, most people have no idea how much long-term care costs and fail to plan as a result. &quot;Even though the average stay is only 2.7 years in a nursing home, the total cost for those 2.7 years could be well over $400,000,&quot; he says</p> <p>To help in this respect, Carbone and his associates suggest working with an attorney who specializes in elder law. With a few smart money moves, families can prepare for the real possibility of using a nursing home at some point. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-long-term-care-insurance-worth-it?ref=seealso">Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?</a>)</p> <h2>One more thing advisers wish you knew</h2> <p>While financial advisers don't know everything, their years of experience make them painfully aware of what lies ahead for those of us who fail to plan. And, if there's one thing financial planners can agree on, it's this: The sooner we all start planning, the better off we'll be.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-financial-advisers-wish-you-knew-about-retirement">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/8-questions-financial-advisers-hear-most-often">8 Questions Financial Advisers Hear Most Often</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/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired">9 Expensive Mistakes of the Newly Retired</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/if-youre-lucky-enough-to-receive-a-pension-here-are-6-things-you-need-to-do">If You&#039;re Lucky Enough to Receive a Pension, Here Are 6 Things You Need to Do</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/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning">How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning</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-enjoy-retirement-if-you-havent-saved-enough">How to Enjoy Retirement If You Haven&#039;t Saved Enough</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 4 percent rule advice contributions financial advisers investments long term care planning social security Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Holly Johnson 1921765 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Deal When You're Way Behind at Work http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-deal-when-youre-way-behind-at-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-deal-when-youre-way-behind-at-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_stressed_work_488912550.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to deal when she&#039;s behind at work" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Being overwhelmed and falling behind at work may be a universal phenomenon, but it is possible to get back to a solid footing. If you are drowning in incomplete TPS reports, here are six ways you can improve the situation and get your head back above water.</p> <h2>1. Take 20 Minutes Every Morning to Review and Plan</h2> <p>Truly productive people start their mornings by taking 20 minutes to review their calendars and create their to-do lists for the day. This allows them to be prepared for whatever the day ahead has to offer.</p> <p>This is the sort of habit that often goes out the window as soon as a major work deadline looms large. When you are overwhelmed at work, it can be tempting to jump right in as soon as you get to the office. There are fires to put out and meetings to attend, so you don't have the time to plan out your day.</p> <p>But skipping the 20-minute morning review means you are surprised by plans, meetings, or interim due dates that slip your mind while you're focused on the big project. Make sure your morning starts with a plan so that you can prevent today's small deadline from becoming a major problem tomorrow.</p> <h2>2. Say No to More Work</h2> <p>When it comes to optional work projects, the way to say no is simple, but not easy. It's a matter of getting in the habit of saying &quot;My plate is full right now.&quot;</p> <p>However, the harder issue is when your boss is trying to assign you more work on top of what you are already doing. Pushing back against such an assignment is not simple, and it can feel very uncomfortable.</p> <p>The best way to handle such an addition to your workload is to ask for and provide open communication. Set a meeting with your boss to agree on what your priorities, goals, and objectives are for all of your projects, so it's clear what can and cannot reasonably get done. Request regular progress review meetings so everyone will be clear on what is happening and when. It's important for you and your supervisor to recognize your abilities and limitations and not try to squeeze blood from a turnip.</p> <h2>3. End the Procrastination Cycle</h2> <p>Scientists have found that procrastination has less to do with time than emotion. Chronic procrastinators are often choosing not to start their work because it gives them momentary emotional relief &mdash; but the level of guilt they feel over procrastinating means they are not really improving their emotional state by avoiding the dreaded task.</p> <p>Even the best of us fall victim to procrastination, but chronic procrastinators can find themselves spiraling into an endless procrastination cycle: Putting off a dreaded task makes them feel guilty and ashamed, which causes them to have less cognitive and emotional energy available to be productive, which makes them even less likely to start the task.</p> <p>So how do you end the procrastination cycle?</p> <p>There are two proven methods for interrupting this loop. The first is an <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1467-9280.00441" target="_blank">external deadline</a>. Knowing that you are beholden to another individual is often enough to force you to just get started in order to meet the deadline. If you can't ask your supervisor for hard deadlines, creating self-imposed deadlines is not as effective, but still better than nothing.</p> <p>The second method of interrupting the procrastination loop is to regard your mood as a fixed state. According to a 2001 study by Dianne Tice, students didn't procrastinate when they were primed to believe <a href="https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/why-wait-the-science-behind-procrastination#.WH-4qRsrJPY" target="_blank">their mood was fixed</a> &mdash; but when they thought their mood could change (especially if they thought it could improve), they procrastinated. It can be tough to start your work if you are in a bad mood, but if you just accept that your bad mood is here to stay, you're more likely to roll up your sleeves and get to it.</p> <h2>4. Procrastinate Productively</h2> <p>If you truly feel like you emotionally need to avoid a task that you should be working on, there are far better ways to dodge it than by surfing Facebook. Instead, you should work on another task that may not be as time-sensitive, but still needs to get done.</p> <p>This used to be my favorite way to get homework done in college. When I had a major project due, the days leading up to the due date would often find me working on homework for other classes. This allowed me to feel the emotional relief of procrastination without allowing me to fall into the shame associated with a procrastination cycle.</p> <p>You can also take this habit one step further by creating a <a href="http://ayearofproductivity.com/procrastinate-more-productively/" target="_blank">procrastination list</a>. This idea comes from Chris Bailey, the blogger behind A Year of Productivity. Your procrastination list will include any items you're allowed to work on when you find yourself procrastinating. This will help you to still use your time productively if you procrastinate. Alternatively, if you find that nothing on your procrastination list is appealing, then you are more likely to just get started on the task you'd otherwise avoid.</p> <h2>5. Nip Complaining in the Bud</h2> <p>When you are overwhelmed, it can feel great to complain about your heavy workload to your coworkers, friends, family, and glassy-eyed cashiers who really don't care about your TPS reports. But complaining only offers you momentary relief. If you keep talking about how rough it is, you're likely to make yourself feel even worse about the situation.</p> <p>So if you are tempted to complain about your bozo boss and his unrelenting workload, stop yourself and think about what could be a more constructive use of your conversations. Perhaps you could ask a coworker to help you with a task, or request that your spouse take over school drop-off for the week so you can get to work a few minutes earlier to plan your day. Use your conversations as an opportunity to reduce your sense of being overwhelmed, rather than magnify it by complaining.</p> <h2>6. Get Some Rest</h2> <p>Sleep seems like an easy place to cut back when there are more tasks than hours in the day. But staying up late to finish a project isn't just bad for your health, it's actually counterproductive if you want to get your work done. Not only does lack of sleep make you <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21075236" target="_blank">more easily distracted</a>, which means it will take you longer to get your work done, but fatigue can also hurt your job performance.</p> <p>One of the best things you can do to chip away at your seemingly endless to-do list is protect your sleep time. Don't let work encroach on your rest, or you'll find that both your rest and your work are worse off.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-deal-when-youre-way-behind-at-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/the-7-best-free-tools-to-improve-your-work-performance">The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance</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/9-career-tips-your-younger-self-would-give-you">9 Career Tips Your Younger Self Would Give You</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/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline">Don&#039;t Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</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-never-to-bring-up-in-a-job-interview">5 Things Never to Bring Up in a Job Interview</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-times-you-should-demand-a-raise">5 Times You Should Demand a Raise</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Productivity behind schedule boredom deadlines falling behind planning procrastinating sleep to-do lists work Fri, 27 Jan 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1881551 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Things Football Teaches Us About Money http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-football-teaches-us-about-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-things-football-teaches-us-about-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/football_player_92992279.jpg" alt="Learning things that football teaches us about money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's the time of year when Saturday and Sunday afternoons are spent rooting for your favorites on the gridiron. American football is King in the fall, and it's common for us to channel the game into life lessons about grit, determination, and teamwork. But football can also teach us a thing or two about handling our money.</p> <p>What can football teach us about personal finance? Here are some key takeaways.</p> <h2>1. Have a Game Plan</h2> <p>A football coach doesn't just show up on Sunday and wing it. He's spent the season devising a system that will give his team the best chance of success. He's scouted his opponent, studied his own players' strengths and weaknesses, and mapped out an approach to victory. This can be applied to any sort of money matter, from tackling a massive pile of debt, to saving for a new home, to investing for retirement. Develop a plan first, then you'll give yourself a greater chance of success.</p> <h2>2. Mix Things Up</h2> <p>A successful football team isn't going to run the ball on every play. It can't pass the ball every time, either. The best teams have a diversified plan of attack, and don't rely too heavily on any one weapon. Your investment philosophy should be similar in nature. Don't rely too heavily on one stock or industry. Because when you rely on one thing, even if it's shown to be successful in the past, you'll eventually get burned. Diversify your portfolio, just like a coach diversifies his playbook.</p> <h2>3. Be Smartly Aggressive</h2> <p>In football, you need to do what it takes to get into the end zone. This means throwing the long pass downfield once in awhile, or even going for it on fourth down. You don't want to be reckless, but it's hard to win a football game if you don't take some risks. Your investment philosophy should reflect this approach. A young person looking to accumulate wealth for retirement should invest largely in stocks, not conservative bonds or cash. Yes, there's some risk involved, but also a lot of evidence to show that you'll come out ahead in the end. Because playing it safe will only get you so far.</p> <h2>4. Be More Conservative Near the Finish</h2> <p>A football team with a big lead can afford to be more cautious as the end of the game approaches. You'll see teams draw up more running plays to eat up the clock and decrease the chances of mistakes. With the clock winding down, it's all about protecting the lead you have rather than taking risks that might blow the game. When investing, think of retirement as the fourth quarter. Once you have a big nest egg saved, shift your investments to more conservative things like bonds or cash. This way, you'll be less likely to lose the wealth you've created for yourself.</p> <h2>5. Field Goals Are Okay</h2> <p>Football games aren't always won with a flurry of touchdowns. Often, it's the field goal kicker that wins the game. We all would like our teams to get seven points on every possession. But that's not realistic. Settling for three points is better than nothing, and can still put you in a position to win. In investing, it's wise to think of your stock portfolio as a field goal kicker, steadily putting points up on the board. Sure, you're going to want some touchdowns mixed in, but it's often the smaller, but more frequent scores that move you to where you want to be.</p> <h2>6. Limit Your Mistakes</h2> <p>It's impossible for a football team to play a perfect game, and it's common to overcome a fumble or interception and still win. But too many blunders will cost you the game. This is true when it comes to finances as well. Did you buy a bad stock that cost you some money? That's okay, just don't make the same mistake again. Did you accumulate some debt? Don't worry, you can get out of the hole if you make the right choices from here on out. Keep your bad decisions to a minimum, and you'll be alright.</p> <h2>7. Sometimes You Will Take a Beating</h2> <p>Finances, just like football, can be brutal. There will be days when your team gets trounced, and your stock portfolio may get pounded in similar fashion. It happens. The key is to get up and keep trying. Resilience and patience are big drivers of success in football, and this can easily be applied to investing, saving, and debt reduction.</p> <h2>8. You Can't Win in One Day</h2> <p>As much as pundits like to refer to certain football games as &quot;must-wins,&quot; the reality is that the NFL plays a 16-game season. Sure there are some games that are more important than others, but it normally doesn't make much sense to dwell on the results of any single game during the season. Likewise, it's silly to panic over one bad day in the stock market, or one bad piece of personal finance news. The only thing that matters is how you finish. If you take the long view and are generally making positive progress, then you'll end up okay, just like in football.</p> <h2>9. Nothing Is for Certain</h2> <p>Pro football is one of the few sports where player salaries are not guaranteed. Any player can be cut and out of a job at any time. A perennial Pro Bowler can lose his starting job to a rookie. This lack of certainty often rears its ugly head in matters of money, also. You may think you have enough money to cover an emergency, but you don't. You assume you'll get a 9% return on a stock, but you lose money instead. This is why it's crucial to live conservatively, plan well, and invest with a long time horizon in mind. Because just when you think you have things all figured out, life happens.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-football-teaches-us-about-money">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/9-ways-siri-can-be-your-personal-finance-assistant">9 Ways Siri Can Be Your Personal Finance Assistant</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/8-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-a-promotion">8 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Get a Promotion</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-10-biggest-lies-we-tell-ourselves-about-money">The 10 Biggest Lies We Tell Ourselves About Money</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/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</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/7-biggest-ways-procrastination-hurts-your-finances">7 Biggest Ways Procrastination Hurts Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living football investing lessons pigskin planning saving sports strategies Thu, 17 Nov 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1834560 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/debt_piggy_bank_71881857.jpg" alt="Finding ways to stop student loans from ruining your life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Student loans have become a huge problem. According to an analysis of government data from Edvisors, some 70% of recent college grads have education debt, and the total amount borrowed works out to an average of more than $37,000 per borrower. So burdensome is this debt that more than 40% of borrowers are behind on their payments or have stopped making them altogether, according to the U.S. Education Department.</p> <p>What can you do to avoid that fate? Here are four ideas &mdash; two geared toward families of high school students who haven't taken out student loans yet, and two aimed at college students who <em>have</em> borrowed.</p> <h2>Before You Borrow</h2> <p>Of course, the best way to keep student loans from ruining your life is to avoid borrowing in the first place. Here are two steps that can help.</p> <h3>1. Get Clear About What You're Going to Study</h3> <p>One reason why college costs so much for so many students is that so few graduate in four years. According to &quot;Four-Year Myth,&quot; a report from Complete College America, the four-year graduation rate at public universities ranges from 19% to 36%. Some who fail to graduate in four years drop out, others flunk out, but many others end up with extended stays on campus because they change majors.</p> <p>College is a very expensive place to &quot;find yourself.&quot; It's far better to enter school with as much clarity as possible about what you want to study.</p> <p>For high school juniors and seniors, there are numerous online assessments designed to help connect their skills, interests, and temperament to a number of possible careers. Some to consider include:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.youscience.com/">YouScience</a>;</li> <li><a href="https://careerdirect-ge.org/">Career Direct;</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.mymajors.com/">MyMajors.</a></li> </ul> <p>Knowing what you want to study can help you avoid the five or six-year college plan and its associated costs.</p> <h3>2. Take a Gap Year</h3> <p>Taking a year off in between high school and college has been a popular practice in Europe for many years and is rapidly growing in popularity in the U.S. So much so that there is now a <a href="http://www.americangap.org/index.php">gap year association</a> as well as <a href="http://www.interimprograms.com/">consulting organizations</a> that help families (for a fee) determine whether a gap year makes sense for their children, and if so, how to best structure the gap year. Some schools will accept students and then allow them to defer enrollment for a year. The University of North Carolina even offers a <a href="http://admissions.unc.edu/explore/enrich-your-education/global-gap-year-fellowship/">global gap year fellowship</a>.</p> <p>A gap year can be used to earn money for college or explore career interests. Either way, it can help lessen the need for loans. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year?ref=seealso">8 Money Moves Students Should Make During a Gap Year</a>)</p> <h2>After You Borrow</h2> <p>If you have already taken out loans to pay for college, here are two practical steps for minimizing the burden of such borrowing.</p> <h3>3. Create a Post-College Budget</h3> <p>Numerous surveys have found that students with education loans have little idea what they've gotten themselves into.</p> <p>A recent survey by Lendedu, a company that helps students refinance their education loans, found less than 10% of student borrowers understood how long it would take to pay off their loans or what interest rate they were being charged. Less than 30% understood that if they fail to repay on time, the government could garnish their wages or withhold their tax refunds.</p> <p>A couple of years ago, a study by the Brookings Institute found that among first-year students who had students loans, 17% said they didn't realize they even <em>had</em> loans.</p> <p>If you're going to borrow, you need to know <em>that </em>you owe, <em>what</em> you owe, and what it's going to take to repay. One of the best reality checks is to calculate the monthly cost of your loan payment while you're still in school. Then create a detailed post-college budget using a monthly <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/resources/">Cash Flow Plan</a> form.</p> <p>Creating a budget that includes student loan payments may motivate you to avoid taking on more debt. At very least, it'll help you understand how much you can afford for housing and other expenses after you graduate and may persuade you to avoid taking on other debts, such as a car loan.</p> <h3>4. Prioritize Accelerated Repayment</h3> <p>Under a standard loan contract, a student loan is to be paid off in 10 years. But you don't have to take that long, and the sooner you can be done with debt, the better. Especially since there are no penalties for paying off a student loan early, commit now putting your debt on an accelerated payoff schedule.</p> <p>The monthly cost calculator mentioned above enables you to run some what-if scenarios based on adding different amounts on top of your required payments. Seeing how much more quickly you could be out of debt may motivate you to live well beneath your means after graduating in order to prioritize accelerated debt repayment.</p> <p>Today, the burden of student loans is causing many young people to delay getting married, put off starting a family, and give up on buying a home. But it doesn't have to be that way for you.</p> <p>Whether you're a high-school student who's just thinking about college financing options or a college student who has already taken on debt, these simple steps should help you keep student loans from taking over your life.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">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/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</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/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans">3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save You Money on Your Student Loans</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-trumps-presidency-might-change-student-loans">How Trump&#039;s Presidency Might Change Student Loans</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-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan 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/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">12 Easy Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training bills borrowing budgeting college degree gap year loan repayment planning school student loans Tue, 11 Oct 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Matt Bell 1810486 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_happy_diploma_94435335.jpg" alt="Woman making the most of her student loan grace period" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Graduating from college with your degree in hand is exciting. But the thought of paying back your students loans? Not so much. But, depending on the type of student loans you took, you're probably eligible for a grace period, or a set number of months after graduation in which you don't have to start repaying your loans.</p> <p>During this time, you can take financial steps to prepare yourself not only for your looming monthly loan payments, but also for your entire financial future. Take advantage of this grace period to begin building your savings, building a solid credit score, and building a budget.</p> <p>Don't skimp on these steps. After all, that grace period doesn't last forever.</p> <h2>How Grace Periods Work</h2> <p>The federal government doesn't always expect you to begin repaying your student loans as soon as you leave college. Instead, most federal student loans come with a grace period. The goal is to give recent graduates a chance to start earning money and settle their finances before they have to start making monthly student loan payments.</p> <p>The grace period varies depending on the type of federal loans you are repaying. Direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans come with a grace period of six months during which you won't have to make payments. Federal Perkins loans come with a grace period of nine months. Depending on when you took them out, the interest on some loans might continue to grow even during the grace period.</p> <h2>1. Select a Repayment Plan</h2> <p>It's during your grace period that you'll need to select a repayment plan for your student loans. For federal student loans, you'll automatically be entered into the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan gives you at least 10 years to repay your student loan debt, and is usually the most affordable choice. Under this plan, you'll pay the least amount of interest.</p> <p>There are exceptions, though. If you haven't been able to find a job or if your job pays you little, an income-driven plan might make more sense. These plans come with lower monthly payments that are designed to be affordable to you. However, you will end up paying more interest over the long run.</p> <p>As your grace period ticks away, make sure to stay in contact with the servicer that is handling your loan repayments. Your servicer can answer any questions you have and help you find the best repayment option. You can find the servicer of your loan at <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/?login=true">My Federal Student Aid</a>.</p> <h2>2. Create a Budget</h2> <p>Once you enter the workforce, it's essential to create a budget. Simply list all of the money that you earn during the month. Then list all of your expenses, including estimated costs for items such as groceries, dinners out, and entertainment. Now you'll know how much extra money you should have every month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso">Build a Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <p>Make sure to factor in your estimated monthly student loan payments in this budget. This will help you determine whether you can repay your loans under the Standard Repayment Plan or if you'll need to consider an income-based option for tackling your monthly loan payments.</p> <h2>3. Start Building Your Savings</h2> <p>It's tempting when you get your first paychecks to spend everything you've earned. Resist. Instead, start building your savings. It's important to have an emergency fund that you can tap into whenever a financial emergency pops up. And these emergencies will happen. Your car might suddenly need expensive repairs. If you've built up an emergency fund, you won't have to rely on your high interest rate credit cards to cover these unexpected financial hits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Transfer Balances to These Low Interest Rate Cards</a>)</p> <p>It might sound good, but your grace period is a great time to start saving for retirement. The sooner you start putting money away for your eventual retirement, the better off you'll be once you leave the workforce. Retirement might seem like it's ages away. But if your employer offers a 401K plan, enroll in it and start saving at least some of each paycheck for retirement. If your employer doesn't offer a 401K plan, consider opening an IRA on your own.</p> <p>Of course, this assumes that you'll have enough money to save and meet your monthly financial obligations, including your upcoming student loan payment. If you can't, put retirement savings on hold.</p> <h2>4. Build Your Credit</h2> <p>You need a strong credit score today. Lenders rely on this score when determining who qualifies for auto and mortgage loans and at what interest rates. Fortunately, you can start building a good credit score as soon as you graduate (or before, really). Pay all your bills on time. When you use credit cards, only charge what you can afford to pay off in full when your payment is due. If you take out a car loan, make your payments on time every month.</p> <p>Taking these simple steps will help you build a solid credit score. And when it's time to start making your student-loan payments? Every time you make one of these payments on time, you'll be taking a small step to building your score, too.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">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-8"> <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/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans</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/how-to-stop-student-loans-from-ruining-your-life">How to Stop Student Loans From Ruining Your Life</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/what-every-parent-should-know-about-the-new-college-financial-aid-rules">What Every Parent Should Know About the New College Financial Aid Rules</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-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</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/7-unique-ways-millennials-are-dealing-with-student-loan-debt">7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training budgeting college federal loans grace periods loans planning repayment plans savings stafford loans student loans Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:00:05 +0000 Dan Rafter 1805246 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master http://www.wisebread.com/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/97559139.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Budgeting. In some of our lives, it's known as &quot;the b-word.&quot;</p> <p>If you've never budgeted before, it can seem like a gargantuan task that only produces something that will make you miserable. And if you consider yourself bad with money or find that you have a difficult time living within your means, budgeting can feel like one more way to fail financially.</p> <p>But budgeting doesn't have to be any of these things. It doesn't have to take a lot of time and energy, and it can free you so that you can save for the things that you really want. It can also help you understand why you spend the way you do, and help you get a handle on it.</p> <p>The key to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0" target="_blank">making your budget</a> into a friend and not a foe is having the right set of skills to make it happen. Here are a few of those.</p> <h2>1. See Money as a Tool</h2> <p>We tend to think of money in a lot of different ways. Money can be freedom, it can be despair, it can mean power or significance, or any one of a number of things. The point is, to be good at budgeting, develop the mindset that money is a tool. It helps you do the things that you want and need to do. No matter how much or how little you have, your money can help you achieve your goals.</p> <h2>2. Record Your Transactions</h2> <p>On a practical level, you will need a record of your transactions to start a budget, and you will need to keep recording them to continue budgeting. You can do this by hand, via an app, or once a week on a spreadsheet. Do it however works for you, but learn to record your transactions and you will be well on your way to budgeting.</p> <h2>3. Assess Your Spending</h2> <p>Recording your transactions won't help if you never think about them. Learn to categorize your transactions in whatever way is meaningful for you, so you can see how much you're spending in different areas. This can help you decide where to spend more, where to spend less, and what cutting back might look like in your everyday life.</p> <h2>4. Make a Budget</h2> <p>This might be the most obvious skill in this list, but it's also one of the most important. There are spreadsheets you can download, programs like <a href="http://www.youneedabudget.com">YNAB</a> and <a href="http://www.mint.com">Mint</a> that help you see your spending in different ways, and more. Some things to think about before you choose a method involve deciding whether you want to go old school or online, and whether you want to store it on your personal computer or in the cloud.</p> <h2>5. Write It Out</h2> <p>Throughout the budgeting and recording process, it will help if you actually write things out. This can be on a computer, though there is something about the act of writing something and then seeing it there in your own handwriting that helps you remember. Whatever you do, don't keep your budget in your head. It's easy for numbers to become fuzzy and for you to forget about your budget entirely. Instead, put your budget where you can see it often, so that it feels real and you remember your goals.</p> <h2>6. Plan Ahead</h2> <p>When you make your budget, don't just think about what you need right now, or even your monthly expenses. Think, too, about expenses that only come around every so often. Car insurance, life insurance, and property taxes are a few line items that can fall into these categories. Then, save a little bit of money every month toward these items, so you can pay them without worry when that bill shows up.</p> <h2>7. Include Spending Money</h2> <p>If you don't have spending money, you will feel like your budget is a cage you need to break out of, rather than a structure supporting you and your goals. Even if all you can afford is $5, give yourself something. This can go against the grain, especially if you have a lot of debt or very little income. However, you are important. And you will be happier keeping your budget if you know you have a little money you can spend however you want.</p> <h2>8. Make a System That Works for You</h2> <p>It's easy to get sucked into a system that doesn't work for you. For instance, you may not be able to track your spending every day. If that's you, then don't buy into a budgeting system that requires this. There are plenty of systems where you can record once a week, or so. If the system doesn't work for you, you won't do it, and there won't be any value to budgeting. Keep trying things until you find something you like.</p> <h2>9. Live With Discipline</h2> <p>This is a huge skill and one that won't happen overnight. Living a disciplined life, though, will go far toward helping you make and keep your budget. Pay attention to your budget. Update it. And when you don't have any money left for something, stop spending! It can help to breathe through your desires, to remind yourself of your bigger goals, and to give yourself a waiting period before you buy things.</p> <h2>10. Know When to Splurge</h2> <p>This is a tricky skill, especially in light of the one above. However, there are times in every life when it's right to splurge. This doesn't have to be a huge spending binge &mdash; it can be something as small as a coffee with a friend. A lot of times, this comes into play when you choose to buy something of a higher quality even though it costs more. It's up to you to decide when to splurge, but make sure there's some room for it in your financial life.</p> <h2>11. Ask Yourself Hard Questions</h2> <p>When you're budgeting alone or you are the one in charge of the budget, it can be easy to let things slide. Get into the habit of asking yourself hard questions, like, &quot;Why do I always spend too much on entertainment?&quot; and &quot;Am I realistically able to take that vacation this year?&quot; You may not like the answers you find, but being honest with yourself will ultimately help you become more aware of who you are and how things work inside of you &mdash; which will help you meet your goals, financial and otherwise.</p> <p><em>Are there any other budgeting skills that are important to you? Which ones are they?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F11%2520Budgeting%2520Skills%2520Everyone%2520Should%2520Master.jpg&amp;description=11%20Budgeting%20Skills%20Everyone%20Should%20Master"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/11%20Budgeting%20Skills%20Everyone%20Should%20Master.jpg" alt="11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master" width="250" height="374" /></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/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">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/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget">10 Sites and Apps to Help You Track Your Spending and Stick to Your Budget</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/stop-making-these-7-basic-budget-mistakes">Stop Making These 7 Basic Budget Mistakes</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/this-simple-journal-may-be-the-fix-for-your-finances">This Simple Journal May be the Fix for 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/how-to-manage-your-money-no-budgeting-required">How to Manage Your Money — No Budgeting Required</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-build-your-best-travel-budget">How to Build Your Best Travel Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting expenses organization planning record keeping saving money skills spending Splurging Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1759923 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Signs You're Committing Financial Infidelity http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-committing-financial-infidelity <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-signs-youre-committing-financial-infidelity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_sad_face_90980753.jpg" alt="Man committing financial infidelity and how to stop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's often said that honesty is the key to a good relationship. But are you totally honest with your spouse or partner when it comes to money?</p> <p>Lies about finances can be some of the most damaging in any relationship, but they are surprisingly common. Two out of every five Americans have admitted to committing financial infidelity in the past, according to a February survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education. That's up from one-third just a couple of years ago, even though 75% of survey respondents admitted the dishonesty had a negative impact on their relationship.</p> <p>Here are some clear ways you are being dishonest about your finances with your partners &mdash; and tips on how to get back on the right track.</p> <h2>1. You Have Secret Bank Accounts/Credit Cards</h2> <p>There are different trains of thought about whether couples should combine their finances or keep separate accounts. But one thing that's definitely not okay is having bank accounts or credit cards that your partner isn't aware of. Depending on where you live, your spouse could be held liable for debts you incur during your marriage, even if they are only in your name.</p> <p>It's best to be honest about the accounts and credit cards that you have. Literally lay them out on the table for your partner to see. Come up with a plan to pay off those with the highest interest rates. Then, together, decide on which credit cards you plan to use.</p> <h2>2. You're Using Cash and Not Recording the Purchases</h2> <p>I will admit to being guilty of this. Cash has its advantages, but when you use cash to pay for things, there's no easy way to track your spending. Your partner may know you withdrew cash from an ATM, but is probably not going to interrogate you on how you plan to spend the cash. So you're more or less free to buy lunch, drinks, or any other sundry items you wish.</p> <p>To break this habit, use a debit card or credit card for most purchases, so it's easy for you and your partner to track your spending, budget appropriately, and keep each other in line. As long as you're honest about what is being spent, it's even okay to give each other a small amount of &quot;fun money&quot; on a monthly basis that you can spend on anything you want.</p> <h2>3. You Have a Gambling Problem</h2> <p>It may have started with a couple of horse races, or a fantasy baseball league or two. Then it expanded to big bucks bets on games, with money in offshore accounts and bookies calling your cell phone. Soon, checks are bouncing and your spouse can't figure out why.</p> <p>Time to 'fess up. Your partner will want to know about your gambling problem, but more importantly, they'll want to know that you have a plan to stop. Gamblers Anonymous is one major resource that's been proven to help people stop. It may also be worth talking to a mental health professional to learn how to deal with compulsive behavior.</p> <h2>4. You're Investing Without Talking It Over With Your Partner</h2> <p>Your partner may be vaguely aware that you have an investment account, but do they know what you are invested in? If you are buying and selling stocks frequently, is it part of an overall strategy that you discussed together? If not, this is a form of financial infidelity. While it may be common for one spouse to be more investment-savvy than the other, it's not wise to place money in the markets without discussing your goals.</p> <p>Are you saving for retirement, or for something in the nearer future? Are you placing money in a college savings account? Do you have the same tolerance for risk? All of these questions should be answered and discussed with your partner before you invest.</p> <h2>5. You're Hiding a Job Loss</h2> <p>It's understandable. You're hurt, maybe even humiliated, that you've found yourself unemployed. But continuing to act as if you still have a job is not going to make things better. For one thing, your partner will eventually wonder where all of your income went. And they'll be furious when they learn that you've lied.</p> <p>If you find yourself jobless, remember that even the best of people lose their jobs for reasons beyond their control. And any respectful partner will understand this, and will want to play a role in ensuring your family remains financially stable while you look for a new job.</p> <p>To keep this situation from occurring, establish a pattern of talking to your partner about your career. If your company is in trouble, or if you are at risk of being downsized, that's information you should share. This communication will make it less of a shock when the hammer drops.</p> <h2>6. You've Kept Outstanding Debt a Secret</h2> <p>This can really be a relationship killer. Imagine entering a relationship believing that your finances are in good order, only to find that your partner has thousands of dollars in debt you didn't know about. This could impact everything from your ability to pay for a mortgage, get a decent rate on an auto loan, and invest and save for the future.</p> <p>If you're guilty of this, it's time to 'fess up. It's also time to recognize that your partner can play a supportive role, both financially and emotionally, in helping you pay off the debt. Having debt doesn't make you a bad person, so there's no reason to hide it.</p> <h2>7. You're Not Being Honest When You Rationalize Purchases</h2> <p>You say you bought tickets to the basketball game to &quot;entertain clients&quot; when that client is really just an old buddy of yours. You convince your partner that your smartphone desperately needs to be replaced, when it fact it's working perfectly fine and you just felt like buying the newest version. Even if you aren't hiding purchases from the ones you love, you're committing financial infidelity if you're making up reasons to buy things you don't need.</p> <p>To remedy this problem, start being more honest with yourself when you have the urge to buy things. Before any purchase, ask yourself: Do I need this item? More often than not, the answer will be no.</p> <h2>8. Your Partner Has No Idea What You Earn</h2> <p>You may like the idea of having separate accounts, but when one person in a household doesn't know what the other is earning, it makes budgeting impossible. What if your spouse assumes you earn more than you do and then makes a big purchase? If you are planning for things like buying a home or cars, financing children's education or your own retirement, it's imperative that both partners know what the net household income is.</p> <p>The easiest way to avoid this problem is to operate using joint accounts. But if you decide to keep money separate, at least share account statements, paystubs, and tax information.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been victimized by these &mdash; or other &mdash; acts of financial infidelity?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-committing-financial-infidelity">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-reasons-average-people-should-consider-a-prenup">6 Reasons Average People Should Consider a Prenup</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/3-simple-ways-to-split-bills-with-your-spouse">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</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-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</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/plan-for-your-wants">Plan for your wants</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-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgeting infidelity lying marriage planning shared finances spouses Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 1738701 at http://www.wisebread.com Everything You Need to Know About Switching to the Cash Only Lifestyle http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_cash_000009192860.jpg" alt="Woman learning everything she needs to know about cash only" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you considered using the cash system to get your budget under control? You're not alone. But what are the best practices? I'm going to share a few tips and tricks that work for my family. If you're totally new to this method, these tips should help you become a cash-carrying ninja in no time at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-6-reasons-why-using-cash-only-rocks?ref=seealso">Top 6 Reasons Why Using Cash-Only Rocks</a>)</p> <h2>1. Plan Ahead</h2> <p>Carrying money around can be horribly inconvenient and even intimidating without a good plan in place. When I started out with cash, I was always worried I wouldn't have enough to cover what I was buying. Worse, I didn't have a clear understanding of exactly how much I spent in each of my budget categories.</p> <p>Now? I use cash for all our variable expenses. These core areas for my family include groceries, clothing, entertainment, household items, allowances, and other activities. At the start of each month, we get out half of the budgeted amounts in cash and divide them up into the categories. We get the second half out at the next pay period during the month.</p> <h2>2. Get Organized</h2> <p>A lot of people use an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">envelope system</a> to organize their cash. And it makes good sense. Once you have planned ahead and budgeted out your amounts, you simply label envelopes, distribute your money into them, and get to sensible spending.</p> <p>I personally like to use one of those <a href="http://amzn.to/1Rhrlv1">mini expanding files</a> to keep everything together and clearly labeled. I also have a paper register where I track how much cash I've taken out of each category. It's a little old school, but it's a system that works well for me. You may want to use an Excel spreadsheet or budget app to manage your paper money.</p> <h2>3. Keep Track</h2> <p>At the end of each month, I try to make some mental notes about how everything went. Our needs as a family change and evolve over time. For example, we haven't bought many clothes lately, so we've been able to reallocate some of those funds into our grocery budget that seems to have ballooned since our daughter transitioned from toddler to preschooler.</p> <p>I also track any extra money we have leftover at the end of each month by category. As I observe the trends, I customize our budget accordingly. The thing I like about cash is that it's so physical. There's no ignoring it. It's either there or it isn't. So, it's a nice, in-your-face reminder of how we're doing with our variable expenses each month. The extra time it takes to pay attention is well worth it.</p> <h2>4. Mind Leftovers</h2> <p>Usually we use the surplus to do something fun as a family &mdash; go out to dinner, enjoy a movie, etc. Though lately we've considered adding it to our savings since we're expecting baby number two in the summer. The cool thing about leftover money is that it's, well, leftover. You can do whatever you want or need to do with it, depending on your current lifestyle and financial situation.</p> <p>We keep our excess funds in a big jar. This method, if you can call it that, might not work for everyone, but our budget is tight enough that it isn't overflowing. Still, it's a good place to grab cash as needed for incidentals, like random ice cream dates. If you're more into getting ahead or saving, you could consider pitching the money forward and taking out less for the next month. Or when you visit the bank for next month's withdrawal, put the leftovers straight into your savings account.</p> <h2>5. Think Safety</h2> <p>Above all, if you're carrying a load of cash around, you want to be safe about it. I try not to carry more than I need for any given shopping trip. So, if I'm going grocery shopping, I won't bring any of the other envelopes unless I need to. (If I'm getting household products in addition to food, for example.)</p> <p>I also don't bring the entire month's worth of funds with me when I go shopping. Instead, I calculate how much I might spend beforehand and bring only that much (or just slightly over what I expect to spend). It can be tricky, but with a little practice, you will get the hang of it. The worst that can happen is you have to leave something at the store.</p> <p>With regard to safekeeping at home, there are definitely good and bad ways to store your cash. Our jar is well hidden in the kitchen cupboards (though, I should probably go move it after telling you that). Also: We don't keep more than a set amount at home. If you plan to keep lots, make sure you add that amount to your home or rental insurance in case of emergencies. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-places-to-stash-cash-in-your-home?ref=seealso">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash at Home</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you handle keeping cash at home?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Feverything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FEverything%2520You%2520Need%2520to%2520Know%2520About%2520Switching%2520to%2520the%2520Cash%2520Only%2520Lifestyle.jpg&amp;description=14%20Behaviors%20and%20Attitudes%20That%20Can%20Drive%20Workplace%20Success"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Everything%20You%20Need%20to%20Know%20About%20Switching%20to%20the%20Cash%20Only%20Lifestyle.jpg" alt="Everything You Need to Know About Switching to the Cash Only Lifestyle" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle">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/11-budgeting-skills-everyone-should-master">11 Budgeting Skills Everyone Should Master</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/is-an-all-cash-diet-right-for-you">Is an All-Cash Diet Right for You?</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/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</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-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet">The 7 Things Every Frugal Person Should Have In Their Wallet</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/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cash Envelope system expenses money organizing planning Mon, 28 Mar 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1678001 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Time-Management Skills That Will Help Your Kid Win at School http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/little_girl_ideas_000040220958_0.jpg" alt="Girl with time-management skills winning at school" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want your kids to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-back-to-school-shopping-tips-for-the-busy-parent">succeed at school</a> without spending every waking hour with their noses buried in books? Teach them how to manage their time most efficiently with these 11 tips on perfecting that September-to-May juggling act.</p> <h2>1. &quot;Mind Map&quot; Before a Writing Project</h2> <p>You may not have heard of &quot;mind mapping,&quot; but the concept isn't new at all. It's really just a fancy 21st &nbsp;century name for brainstorming, which we were taught as kids. Before your kid embarks on a project &mdash; particularly a written assignment &mdash; have them brainstorm their ideas, outline the steps of the project, and start organizing their thoughts into full-fledged ideas. That way, when it's time to get to the nitty-gritty of it all, the process will flow more seamlessly since all the moving parts will be in place.</p> <p>&quot;The best time-saving tip we know of is when a child has to write something &mdash; a book report, research paper, speech/presentation &mdash; is to use mind mapping,&quot; says Bryan Mattimore, chief idea guy at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.growth-engine.com/">The Growth Engine Co.</a>, an innovation agency. &quot;We have kids (and corporate innovation teams) create a mind map of what they might want to write first. It makes it a great deal easier for young and old alike to first get everything out in the mind map, so that they can write an outline and then more effectively and quickly write the piece.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Use a Calendar</h2> <p>I've used a monthly calendar to roughly plan out 30 days of advance assignments since I started my own business six years ago. I'm able to see what I've completed and what's coming up at a glance, and I can easily make room for additional assignments by moving other items around if need be. I've found this method of organization extremely helpful not only in terms of productivity, but also psychologically as the completed projects I cross off help ward off feelings of anxiety that I'm falling behind.</p> <p>Author Patty Wood suggests taking a similar approach with your child.</p> <p>&quot;Post a big school calendar above the child's desk or workstation so they have a visual of time and their assignments,&quot; she says. &quot;Have them put color stickers for tests and assignments on the due dates. When they look at any assignment, they can figure out how much work and time it will take to prepare and go on the calendar and assign time on days leading up to it. For example, if they have a speech on September 26, they can put an hour on, say, five days in the two weeks prior to the speech to get ready for it.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Prepare for the Next Day (or Week) in Advance</h2> <p>In addition to my monthly calendar, I also plan ahead on a more immediate level, like preparing my weekly meals all on one Sunday afternoon, as well as choosing and ironing that week's outfits. With all of those tasks out of the way for the week, I'm able to sleep in a few more minutes in the mornings and start my days with much less stress.</p> <p>Let your kids choose the clothes they'd like to wear that week, and invite them into the kitchen to choose what snacks and drinks they'd like in their lunches. As they get older, if this has become routine over the years, they'll eventually do all of this on their own (hopefully), so you can rest assured that your young adult is well on his or her way to being A-okay in the real world.</p> <h2>4. Establish a Dedicated Homework Time and Location</h2> <p>You'll have an easier time getting your child to do homework if you establish a dedicated time and location to do it. Once the routine is solidly in place, it will become habitual with, ideally, no after-school fuss.</p> <h2>5. Create a Checklist</h2> <p>In addition to my monthly calendar of projects, I also keep a daily to-do list &mdash; which includes both personal and professional items &mdash; to help me stay on task throughout the day. I try to plan them out in terms of the time I think each activity will take, but that's not always reliable as sometimes things don't go according to plan. Your kids can benefit from this system &mdash; and so can you &mdash; by providing them an outline of what needs to be done for the day and by what deadline.</p> <h2>6. Avoid Over-Scheduling Extracurricular Activities</h2> <p>A lot of kids get sidetracked or fall behind because of over-scheduling, and if that's happening in your family, it's time to take a step back and examine your priorities. Extracurricular activities &mdash; like sports, music, art, and theater &mdash; are important to your children's physical, social, mental, and emotional development, but not at the cost of education and overall well being. If they're doing too much in a day, and their homework or other educational pursuits are suffering, something has to go.</p> <p>Also, as a parent, stay sensitive to your child's demeanor and personality. If they're stressed out, unhappy, or constantly on edge, perhaps it's because they feel over-worked and overscheduled. Check in from time to time to see how they're doing in that regard.</p> <h2>7. Limit Phone/Social Media/TV Time</h2> <p>If you're addicted to social media, the Internet, or your e-mail like I am, you know firsthand how much time is wasted while you're on the phone and computer instead of concentrating on your work. This goes double for your kids whose hormones are raging amid all the traditional school drama that happens from pre-teen age all the way to high school graduation. To ensure their media doesn't interfere with their after-school responsibilities, limit the time they can spend on it by perhaps confiscating the devices until all homework, chores, etc. are finished, or granting them a certain amount of time to be online/the phone each night.</p> <p>You probably won't win any Parent of the Year awards in their eyes, but you're doing the right thing &mdash; and they'll recognize that someday.</p> <h2>8. Set Artificial Deadlines for Assignments</h2> <p>If your child has trouble remembering assignments or just procrastinates (like every other teenager &mdash; and adult &mdash; in the world), another potential tactic to take is to set artificial deadlines for assignments. I sometimes do this for myself if I dread a certain assignment, and I also employ this tactic when scheduling activities with my always-late husband. By creating a &quot;window of lateness&quot; as I like to call it, you can almost be sure that everything (and everyone) will be on time, or at least on the actual, much-later deadline.</p> <h2>9. Prioritize Assignments in Order of Importance</h2> <p>Kids tend to gravitate toward the easiest work there is, but that's not always the best approach to their assignments given that not all assignments are created equal. Some count for much more of their final grade than others, which makes the highly weighted projects a priority over smaller, more easily accomplished assignments. Review your child's schedule with them to go over their projects in depth to understand what they entail, recognize how much work they will require, and create a plan to meet the deadlines.</p> <h2>10. Keep a Regimented Schedule at Home</h2> <p>An after-school free-for-all will lead to certain disaster for your children in terms of their educational priorities, which is why it's in your entire family's best interest to keep a regimented schedule at home.</p> <p>&quot;To best help children manage their time effectively while in school, help them to understand and practice time management outside of the school day; this will allow them to internalize this structure and use it elsewhere, especially at school,&quot; says Dr. Lindsay Popilskis, certified school psychologist. &quot;Agree upon start and end times for academic tasks &mdash; such as homework &mdash; and fun tasks, and stick to those times. You may even set a timer for activities so that children can independently see how much time has been spent and how much time is left for each activity. With all that being said, the most important time for routine is bedtime. Without a good night sleep, children have difficulties maintaining their focus, which will not capitalize on their time no matter how managed it is.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have other time-management tips to help kids win at school that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school">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/8-ways-having-kids-makes-you-more-frugal">8 Ways Having Kids Makes You More Frugal</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/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About 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/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline">Don&#039;t Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</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/8-easy-ways-to-keep-your-family-organized">8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Organized</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-easy-things-science-says-you-should-do-for-your-family">5 Easy Things Science Says You Should Do for Your Family</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Family Productivity children good grades homework kids planning school time management Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:00:29 +0000 Mikey Rox 1536917 at http://www.wisebread.com Pay Your Bills and 5 Other Things You Must Do Before You Leave on Vacation http://www.wisebread.com/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_luggage_000039949614.jpg" alt="Mother and daughter doing things before going on vacation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You packed for the flight to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dramatic-vacation-spots-for-tv-and-film-fanatics">really cool location</a>, re-installed the smoke detector, and made sure the oven was off, but there's a lot more you can do to make your return home less stressful. Here are the six things to do before you leave on vacation.</p> <h2>1. Tell Your Bank</h2> <p>It happens to everyone at least once: You're enjoying a nice meal in a new city, you pay the bill, the server tells you the card doesn't work, and you panic. Prevent this by calling your bank several days before your trip to alert them that you're planning to use your card(s) on vacation. It's especially important if you're traveling to a faraway destination you've never been before.</p> <h2>2. Resolve Your Email Inbox</h2> <p>Any lingering emails still marked as &quot;unread&quot; at the top of the inbox? Now's a good time to respond with simple answers. Make coworkers and friends feel at ease and have a lot less to deal with when you return. Going away for longer than a long weekend? Definitely worth turning on the vacation auto-responder so your contacts don't feel neglected. When it comes to snail mail, it's worth setting up a vacation hold if no one's checking it for you.</p> <h2>3. Clean House</h2> <p>Who wants to come home to a dirty house? Get the sink clear of dishes, vacuum, and do a number on the shower you've been putting off cleaning. Also, take an afternoon to wash laundry, especially sheets &mdash; never underestimate the power of coming home to a fresh scented, freshly made bed. This will ensure coming home will be a stressless transition.</p> <h2>4. Secure a Pet Plan</h2> <p>Have pets and need to arrange for their care? Get your kennel or sitter lined up at least two weeks before a long trip. Plan for all the variables. Don't forget to stock up on extra pet food so someone else doesn't have to hit the store. Get extra keys made for your sitter if necessary. Get extra scat bags, toys, catnip, anything that may help your pets stay comfortable and alive while you're away.</p> <h2>5. Schedule Bill Payments</h2> <p>Going to be away for more than a week and don't want to stop the fun to pay your bills? Set up a bill pay system with your financial institution one billing cycle in advance so that you can be sure it works and the payments post. If timing is an issue, you can also try calling your credit card companies to let them know you are going to be away and payments might be a day or two late.</p> <h2>6. Turn Off Meters</h2> <p>Own a home? Those electric outlets still suck power. Leaks can happen anytime. Turning off your water, gas, and electric meters are a good way to save money while on longer trips and can prevent any kind of disasters that could happen from being worse. It's worth the extra few minutes.</p> <p><em>How do you prepare for a long trip?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fpay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FPay%20Your%20Bills%20and%205%20Other%20Things%20You%20Must%20Do%20Before%20You%20Leave%20on%20Vacation.jpg&amp;description=Pay%20Your%20Bills%20and%205%20Other%20Things%20You%20Must%20Do%20Before%20You%20Leave%20on%20Vacation" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Pay%20Your%20Bills%20and%205%20Other%20Things%20You%20Must%20Do%20Before%20You%20Leave%20on%20Vacation.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation">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/how-to-avoid-theft-while-traveling">How to Avoid Theft While Traveling</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/6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel">6 Unexpected Benefits of Solo Travel</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/5-ways-to-avoid-expensive-phone-charges-when-traveling">5 Ways to Avoid Expensive Phone Charges When Traveling</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-things-to-leave-behind-during-your-midsummer-trip">10 Things to Leave Behind During Your Midsummer Trip</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/car-yoga-and-9-other-ways-to-beat-long-drives">Car Yoga and 9 Other Ways to Beat Long Drives</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Travel bills mail out of town pets planning vacation Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:00:30 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1524655 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Easy Ways to Automate Your Everyday Life http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_post_its_000045422110.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to automate her everyday life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I once had a colleague who ate the exact same lunch every day: an apple, a carton of yogurt, and a handful of crackers.</p> <p>When I asked him if he got bored with the sameness of his daily lunch, he explained that he used to pack sandwiches and leftovers for lunch every day &mdash; and found himself gaining weight. He realized that if he ate the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, then he could eat whatever he wanted for dinner and maintain his weight without having to think about it.</p> <p>What my colleague had discovered was the importance of automation in achieving goals.</p> <h2>Decision Fatigue</h2> <p>Our brains have a limited amount of bandwidth for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/poverty-makes-you-stupid">making decisions</a>, leading to a phenomenon known as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=1">decision fatigue</a>. When you are forced to make small decision after small decision each day, you have less bandwidth available to make the big choices that will help you achieve your goals. If you are able to free yourself of the small decisions through automation, then you are much better equipped to make the decisions that cannot be automated.</p> <p>If you struggle with productivity, organization, or time management, try one of these surprising automation hacks. You'll be amazed at how much more you can get done.</p> <h2>1. Daily Uniform</h2> <p>Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits to owning twenty identical gray, scoop-necked t-shirts so that he does not have to think about what to wear each morning. Similarly, Apple's Steve Jobs was famous for his uniform of black turtleneck and jeans. Adhering to these personal uniforms allowed these extremely influential men to focus their attention where it belongs &mdash; on their products.</p> <p>Of course, it can be difficult to wear the same clothes every day without attracting attention. For instance, Zuckerberg has often come under fire for his t-shirt and hoodie style.</p> <p>However, Saatchi &amp; Saatchi Art Director Matilda Kahl recently wrote an essay for Harper's Bazaar explaining how she decided to adopt a <a href="http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/">chic personal uniform</a>. While she has experienced some pushback (people have asked if she was part of a religious sect), she has found the uniform to be freeing, particularly when it comes to allowing her to express her creativity at work, where she really needs it.</p> <h2>2. Automated Meals</h2> <p>Wise Bread readers are certainly familiar with the benefits of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-eat-well-on-just-20-a-week-with-meal-plans">meal planning</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend">once-a-month cooking</a>. But you can become even more automated in terms of meal prep if you take a page from my former coworker's book and create a schedule.</p> <p>For my former colleague, that meant he ate exactly the same meal for breakfast and lunch each and every day. Not only did this mean his weight maintenance was easier, but it saved him time and money at the grocery store each week since he always bought the exact same breakfast and lunch foods.</p> <p>Even if you are unwilling to eat the exact same food every day, you could plan four different weeks' meals and alternate the weeks. That way you'll know you need shopping list #1 during the first week of the month, list #2 the next week, and so on. Rather than spending time creating a list each week, that work is already done for you.</p> <h2>3. Toilet Paper Subscription</h2> <p>Do you ever have to make an emergency run to Target for toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, dishwasher detergent, dog food, or dryer sheets? These are the regular use items that it's easy to run out of before you remember to buy more. That's why it's a great idea to subscribe for delivery of household items.</p> <p>Amazon's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/subscribe-and-save/details/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=75TOL35ACH2PP4Y7">Subscribe &amp; Save program</a> allows you to schedule such regular deliveries. Amazon offers you 5% off anything you buy through Subscribe &amp; Save, and a 15% discount if you put at least five items on subscription &mdash; and shipping fees are waived. You are e-mailed a reminder about the shipment a few days before it ships, with an option to cancel, and you are not charged for the items until they ship.</p> <p>Signing up for a subscription means you will no longer make emergency runs to the store or ponder whether you need more paper towels every time you go grocery shopping (hint: whether you decide you've got enough Brawny at home or that you need more, you'll definitely be wrong).</p> <h2>4. Checklists for Daily Life</h2> <p>No matter how many times a pilot has flown a particular airplane, he or she still refers to a checklist in order to make sure each necessary step is taken in the proper order. Atul Gawande of The New Yorker describes the original implementation of the checklist for takeoff this way: &quot;[It] was too complicated to be left to the memory of any pilot, however expert.&quot;</p> <p>Critical-care specialist Peter Provonost has proven that <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/12/10/the-checklist">implementing checklists in hospitals</a> can save lives and reduce medical care costs. In both the flight and medical worlds, checklists prevent expert practitioners from overlooking or skipping a basic step, which is very easy to do when you are focused on something bigger, like taking off in bad weather, or a patient having a seizure.</p> <p>Though skipping basic steps in your daily life likely does not result in life-or-death consequences, you can still streamline and automate your life by using checklists.</p> <p>According to Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness, the best way to implement checklists in your life is to <a href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/12/08/the-power-of-checklists/#disqus_thread">look for the essential items</a> that you regularly overlook and create checklists around them:</p> <p>You don't need a checklist that lists every single step on how to complete a task. That renders a checklist useless. Instead, just focus on putting down the 'stupid' but essential stuff that you frequently miss. Your checklist should have no more than nine items on it. The shorter the better.</p> <p>For instance, if you have trouble remembering to take your medication each day, you could create a morning checklist listing the name of each medication and post it on your bathroom mirror. There's no need to remind yourself to shower beforehand or brush your teeth afterward. Presumably, those activities are already automatic.</p> <h2>Think Less to Be Smarter</h2> <p>It's so easy to get bogged down in the small daily decisions that must be made to maintain your life. There are many days when your brain becomes a hamster wheel of little choices that don't really matter to you. But automating those little decisions can help you to stay focused on the goals you really care about.</p> <p><em>What parts of your life have you automated?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life">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/5-reasons-not-to-delete-your-emails">5 Reasons Not to Delete Your Emails</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/these-checklists-will-make-your-life-better">These Checklists Will Make Your Life Better</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/free-online-tools-that-help-organize-people">Free Online Tools That Help Organize People</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-deal-when-youre-way-behind-at-work">6 Ways to Deal When You&#039;re Way Behind at Work</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/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline">Don&#039;t Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Productivity automating checklists meals planning routine Wed, 20 May 2015 21:00:10 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1423522 at http://www.wisebread.com Throw an Awesome Potluck Dinner With These 6 Easy Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/potluck_000031426074.jpg" alt="friends gather together for easy potluck dinner" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want to eat well and spend less at your next social gathering? Consider hosting an informal potluck dinner. We throw the majority of our parties this way, and we can typically accommodate up to 10 people on a dime, which includes providing a main dish, dessert, and some beverages. Aside from the savings, potlucks give friends and family the opportunity to try new dishes (or showcase old favorites) and flex their cooking muscles. It's both fun <em>and</em> frugal.</p> <h2>1. Think Scope</h2> <p>How big will your party be? If it's just a few friends or another couple, your planning will be pretty easy and compact. A standard recipe yield should work just fine. For larger get-togethers, you'll want to ask your guests to make servings enough for themselves and at least six to eight other people, depending. Choose a date at least a few weeks in advance to give your guests time to plan and execute their dishes.</p> <h2>2. Consider a Theme</h2> <p>If your friends have eclectic tastes, feel free to skip this step. However, to avoid some pretty funky food combinations (think lasagna and General Tso's chicken), try sending your guests an overall theme for their dishes. You can go Italian, Mexican, Asian, French, BBQ, American, seafood, vegetarian, small bites, or even try cooking meals from one cookbook. Choose a cuisine that will fit your guests' tastes and budgets. (For example: No truffles or foie gras required.)</p> <h2>3. Organize Food</h2> <p>Ask your friends to tell you what they plan to bring well ahead of time so you won't see repeats of the same dish. If you invite people via social media or other online invitation services, this can be as easy as having them post the info on the wall or notes section. You don't want to discourage excitement over certain foods, but your goal is to create a well-rounded culinary experience that everyone can appreciate. The exception to this rule is if you want to have a party with variations on the same food (think different types of pizza or pasta, etc.).</p> <h2>4. Make the Main</h2> <p>As the host, you are responsible for the main dish to serve. Make a generous portion that will fill all the bellies at the party. And whenever we throw potlucks, we also provide the bulk of the nonalcoholic beverages, some beer or wine, and a dessert (if the group is small or no one offers). Overall, you'll want to see how your party is balanced and try to fill in the gaps as you see fit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/win-your-next-potluck-with-one-of-these-23-cheap-easy-potluck-dishes?ref=seealso">Win Your Next Potluck With One of These 23 Cheap, Easy Dishes</a>)</p> <h2>5. Shop Around</h2> <p>While you're looking for ingredients to feed a crowd, try shopping at discount grocery stores like Aldi. The food is great and definitely wallet-friendly. For parties, I especially like their selection of cheeses, hummus, fresh berries, chips, and beverages. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-buy-from-aldi?ref=seealso">10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi</a>)</p> <h2>6. Label Everything</h2> <p>Provide note cards for guests to write down the ingredients they've put in their dishes. This will help people with dietary restrictions stay safe and happy. For example, vegans might like to know there's cream in that tomato sauce. People with peanut allergies might not imagine that those cookies are made with nut butter. If a friend does have a severe food allergy, mention it in the invitation (not by name, of course) so people can avoid that ingredient entirely.</p> <p><em>What are your tips for throwing an awesome potluck?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks">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/15-easy-dinner-party-dishes-you-can-make-in-advance">15 Easy Dinner Party Dishes You Can Make in Advance</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/a-dinner-party-for-6-feed-em-for-under-20">A Dinner Party for 6: Feed &#039;Em for Under $20</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/20-office-potluck-dishes-everyone-loves">20 Office Potluck Dishes Everyone Loves</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/class-without-tons-of-cash-frugal-cocktail-party-ideas">Class Without Tons of Cash: Frugal Cocktail Party Ideas</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-delicious-tater-tot-recipes">10 Delicious Tater Tot Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dinner parties party food planning potlucks Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1359591 at http://www.wisebread.com Do This One Thing to Defeat Disorganization Forever http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retro-businessman-messy-office-desk-Dollarphotoclub_72115873.jpg" alt="businessman messy desk" title="businessman messy desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people are just born to be organized.</p> <p>Labeling and categorizing comes naturally. Itineraries and schedules are seen as welcomed tools. These are the people that can easily lay their hands on a shopping receipt, the water bill, or the warranty on the refrigerator at a moment's notice.</p> <p>I admire these people. I even envy them at times. But I am <em>not</em> one of them&hellip; not even close.</p> <p>It's not that I don't appreciate the benefits of a good system&hellip; I do. But my brain just doesn't work that way. As counter-productive as it might be, I am innately disorganized to my core. And I have been that way for as long as I can remember.</p> <p>Which is why I knew I had to write this post.</p> <p>See, it's easy for an organized person to tell you how to bring order into your life. Throw stuff away, they counsel. And do one thing at a time.</p> <p>But for those of you &mdash; like me &mdash; who have trouble with those concepts, this kind of advice simply won't work. I do throw things away for instance, but one look at my closet or my garage and you'll know it's not nearly enough. And I'd love to focus on just one thing at a time, if only my mind (and my attention span) would cooperate.</p> <p>So, if you and I have this in common, if you too struggle with inherent disorganization in a relatively organized world, then this post is for you.</p> <p>Do this one thing, and defeat your disorganization for good.</p> <h2>Build Your Own System</h2> <p>I spent years trying to work within the commonly accepted model. File important papers alphabetically for example, and if you haven't used something in a year, toss it out. A place for everything and everything in its place.</p> <p>But those rules simply didn't work for me and the more I tried to adhere to that kind of structure, the more overwhelmed I began to feel.</p> <p>I have spiral notebooks full of story ideas that are older than a year, but toss them out? I think not. I also have the megaphone from my cheerleading days &mdash; decades old, I might add &mdash; and certainly not anything I'll be using anytime soon. Does it have &quot;a place?&quot; No. It's bulky and dented and dusty and it doesn't really &quot;fit&quot; anywhere. Is it something I really need to keep? You betcha.</p> <p>Filing things alphabetically isn't a &quot;bad&quot; idea <em>per se</em>, but let's be honest. Asking me to set up (and follow through with) said filing system is like asking me to stash my socks in those cute, individual cubbies they make for dresser drawers. It's a nice thought, but it's probably not going to happen.</p> <p>So, I've created a system that works for me instead, and you can too.</p> <p>Here's how you do it.</p> <h2>Find Your Flow</h2> <p>We all have a preferred way of doing things and finding yours is the key to building your system. So, look around and see what makes sense to you.</p> <p>What items do you most need to find on a regular basis? What items are you most likely to misplace? Do you frequently write down phone numbers or passwords or other important information on envelopes or scraps of paper?</p> <p>I do, and then would have to spend hours trying to find the right &quot;scrap&quot; when I needed that information again. To remedy that, I keep a steno pad handy at all times to record those little tidbits of data. It's not a &quot;pretty&quot; way to organize that information, but I haven't had to hunt down an old sticky note in ages.</p> <h2>Find Your Place(s)</h2> <p>And all those spirals containing my writing? They're in a box that sits underneath my desk. I know where it is, it's easily accessible, and I can take from it or add to it whenever I need. I do the same with receipts I want to keep and all our various warranties go straight into a drawer in the kitchen the moment they enter our house.</p> <p>Warranties also share space with our chargers, but it's a deep drawer so it works fine and again, both of these item now have a &quot;place&quot; that I can work with, even if it's not the most logical arrangement.</p> <p>My socks also make it to a drawer, but that's about as much as I can promise. Sometimes, they're matched, sometimes they're not, but they're all in the same place and that's good enough for me.</p> <p>The point is to create a system that works the way you work and addresses the areas you struggle with the most.</p> <p>Remember, the whole point of being organized is ultimately to make life easier. You want to find things when you need them, without having to launch an all-day search and rescue. And contrary to popular opinion, there's more than one way to achieve that goal.</p> <p>Building your own system allows you to create your own version of &quot;order,&quot; even if that version still looks chaotic to your more traditionally organized counterparts.</p> <h2>What About Clutter?</h2> <p>Will this get rid of all the clutter?</p> <p>It depends on how deep your clutter runs. The reason that disorganized people find themselves surrounded by clutter is that we haven't yet decided what to do with all that stuff.</p> <p>I have tons of craft supplies for instance, and at some point in my life, I've had specific plans for each and every one. If I can comfortably say that I'm no longer interested in doing a particular project, it's easy to get rid of the supplies in question.</p> <p>But that's not always the case.</p> <p>So, I compromised. I keep the supplies not being used in a plastic tub in the back of my closet. The supplies I use frequently are kept in a smaller tub that slides underneath my bed.</p> <p>Is it a perfect solution? It's perfect for me!</p> <p>Building your own system may not permanently clear out all the clutter, but it at least organizes the &quot;stuff&quot; together, so that you can focus on how to store it. And that makes it easier to find the things you use without weeding through the things you don't.</p> <p>So. Does this mean I won't have to throw things away?</p> <p>You'll still eventually have to &quot;spring clean&quot; and clear things out, especially when you need to make space for the new &quot;stuff&quot; you need to store.</p> <p>You can however, use this model to give yourself more time to come to that decision by making your potential junk less of a nuisance while you assess your options and remember, there's more than one way to &quot;get rid&quot; of something.</p> <p>Maybe you can find a way to upcycle the item into something you'll actually use. Maybe a friend or relative will mention they're looking for that very thing, allowing you to say, &quot;Hey, I just happen to have one you can use!&quot;</p> <p>You can also donate the items, sell them on eBay or Craigslist, host a garage sale, or in some instances, wrap them up and give them as gifts (use common sense with that last one). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever?ref=seealso">Do This One Thing to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <h2>What About Non-Stuff Clutter?</h2> <p>That sounds great, but what about organizing the non-tangible aspects of my life?</p> <p>So, you're starting to see your physical environment take a more organized shape, but still you're struggling with things like appointments, reminders, bills, and due dates?</p> <p>The same basic approach still applies.</p> <p>I don't work well with day planners for example, but I do love lists and as luck would have it, my cell phone has a simple notes app that keeps those lists forever at my fingertips.</p> <p>I have a running grocery list that gets updated any time I notice we're out of something, a list of clothing sizes (should I want to shop for the family), and another list for thoughts and ideas that that come to me when I'm out and about and my spirals aren't within reach.</p> <p>Birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, bill dates, and trash days are easily managed with the generic reminder app, but if you want something fancier, there are plenty of ready-made apps to help keep you on track as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you?ref=seealso">The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You</a>)</p> <p>The key to success here is to write it down (or type it in) when you think of it. Don't assume you'll remember later, because you won't.</p> <h2>Where to Start?</h2> <p>Okay, but one last question&hellip; where do I start?</p> <p>My organized friends would tell you to pick an area, be it a room or one of those non-tangible aspects, organize it and then move to the next area. Focus on one thing at a time.</p> <p>And that's not bad advice. It just may not be the best advice for you.</p> <p>My recommendation is to pick the areas that need your attention the most. After all, restoring order to your kitchen cabinets might give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will be short-lived if your electricity is turned off because you forgot to pay the bill.</p> <p>So, start with your most immediate concerns, then work your way out from there. And don't be afraid to think outside the box because chances are, that's where you'll find the best solutions to defeating your disorganization for good.</p> <p><em>Have you defeated disorganization? What worked for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever">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/10-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-home-office">10 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Home Office</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/12-things-in-your-office-you-can-throw-out-today">12 Things in Your Office You Can Throw Out Today</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-to-clear-out-financial-clutter">How to Clear Out Financial Clutter</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-smart-ways-to-keep-your-entire-life-clutter-free">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Entire Life Clutter-Free</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/my-16-favorite-ways-to-get-rid-of-clutter">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization clutter planning productivity Wed, 11 Feb 2015 10:31:14 +0000 Kate Luther 1285778 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons January Is the Right Time to Start Planning for Christmas http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-thinking-christmas-Dollarphotoclub_57994542.jpg" alt="woman thinking christmas" title="woman thinking christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>To ensure that I always spend the last month of the year relaxing, I start prepping for the holidays in January.</p> <p>I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.</p> <p>December has always been the big travel month for me. When I was a single lady, celebrating New Year's Eve overseas was my yearly tradition. As a married lady, my husband and I still try and reserve the month of December for vacations. What this means is that I have no time in December to waste on holiday prep.</p> <p>Here's how I get it all done earlier in the year.</p> <h2>1. It's All on Display So I Might as Well Look It Over Now</h2> <p>January is the perfect time to purge unloved decorations. Instead of mindlessly packing away all the Christmas lights, decorations, and ornaments in a post-holiday stupor, I take the time now to sort through my Christmas supplies. Before I stuff things back into the garage, I ask myself if I really love and use everything that I am storing for the next 11 months. For example, my husband brought beautiful mantel hooks into our marriage. I loved them, but our current house doesn't have a fireplace, so I sold them to a neighbor. No mantel also means we have no place to hang Christmas stockings either. Out they went. Also, why spend the time hanging and removing Christmas lights every year when we can use the white twinkle lights year round to light our garden? My husband loves decorating the house for Christmas, but we've gone from four bins down to one bin of holiday supplies that we have to store every year.</p> <h2>2. January Is the Perfect Time to Declutter the House</h2> <p>Why is my New Year's Resolution always &quot;Get organized?&quot; Because I live in a tiny house with two tiny closets, it's always a challenge to find space to store anything in Dinky Manor. I use my holiday gifts as a way to jumpstart my organizing goals for the year. Since I literally have to get rid of things to make space for new gifts, January is always about assessing what material goods actually bring joy to my life right now as opposed to more dusting.</p> <p>On a side note, since books are my storage Waterloo, every year on New Year's Day I host a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">book swap party</a> for all my favorite bookworms. Everyone brings the books that have been cluttering their shelves and dumps them on the communal table. Party guests take home whatever books they want for free. All the leftover books are donated to the Public Library Book Drive. I try to start every year with one empty shelf so I have space for new ideas.</p> <h2>3. After Christmas Sales Are the Work of the Clutter Devil</h2> <p>Many money advisers talk up buying Christmas supplies for next Christmas during January's post-Christmas sales as a way to save on the holiday budget. While January is definitely the time to stock up on cheap replacement twinkle lights, I make every effort to resist buying holiday specific décor, wrapping paper, or stationery, regardless of how deeply discounted the sale prices, because then I have to find a place to store it all year.</p> <p>More importantly, shiny wrapping paper isn't recyclable. It becomes garbage very quickly. Instead of buying wrapping paper, I try to find <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reusable-gift-wrapping-the-wrap-that-keeps-on-giving">greener alternatives</a>. And, nothing is cheaper than something I already own.</p> <p>For the record I will state that there is no shame is ironing the wrinkles out of used tissue paper.</p> <p>I'm also a fan of wrapping luxury gifts like jewelry and cashmere sweaters in cereal boxes or tea tins for an extra layer of surprise. This year I used pages from the Arabic edition of the Financial Times, National Geographic maps, and old color copies of film location photos to wrap gifts.</p> <h2>4. Transform This Year's Cards Into Next Year's New Holiday Ephemera</h2> <p>I know. Even by my own standards Christmas cards are a waste of trees and money. But I love stationery. Also, I can't decorate my home with holiday e-mails.</p> <p>Since I'm a <strike>masochist</strike> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects">crafty up-cycler</a>, I use old Christmas cards to create new cards with careful cutting and pasting. This year I went crazy with the glitter and the wavy scissors and turned some vintage Christmas cards into large gift tags that double as ornaments. (I got huge compliments on these.) Old cards and advent calendars can also be folded into gift boxes or holiday envelopes for wrapping small things.</p> <p>Instead of buying separate thank you cards, I cut the fronts off old Christmas cards and use them as holiday thank you postcards. (This requires some organization to avoid &quot;regifting&quot; cards to their original senders!)</p> <p>Used cards that don't make the literal cut for future Christmas crafts are donated to St. Jude's <a href="https://stjudesranch.org/about-us/recycled-card-program/">Recycled Card Program</a>.</p> <h2>5. It Is Never too Early to Start Making Peace Keeping Gifts</h2> <p>I married into a ginormous Catholic family who <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gift-giving-hacks-that-will-save-your-money-and-your-sanity">take Christmas very seriously</a>. Early on I figured out that I can avoid uncomfortable conversations with my in-laws by wowing them with homemade gifts. Instead of listening to them talk about politics and death, our small talk is all about my latest relish recipe or how the shawl I made was the perfect Alaskan cruise accessory. For many people, knitting is seasonal because who wants to hold a furry, wool blanket on her lap when it's 100 degrees outside? Unfortunately, last-minute holiday knitting comes at a price for me: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I now practice preemptive needlework and complete one gift project a month, even in the dead heat of summer, instead of ruining my wrists by cramming it in when the temperatures dips in the fall.</p> <p>I also rely on easy, handmade, non-knitted gifts that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">cost next to nothing</a> if planned in advance.</p> <h2>6. Saving Money for Holiday Travel Is a Year Long Endeavor</h2> <p>Last year, my husband and I went on a super-tight budget with the goal of paying down the mortgage on my rental property <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this">ten years early</a>. Although our Easter Island travel plans have been shelved for the foreseeable future due to this goal, we're still planning to fly cross-country to spend Christmas this year with friends and family on the East Coast. We will not be able to afford this trip unless we start budgeting for it <em>now</em>, as we've agreed that we won't take this trip unless we can pay for it without resorting to credit.</p> <p><em>Do you long for a stress-free holiday or do you love the Christmas frenzy? Make your argument in the comments section!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas">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/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</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/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</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/9-smart-money-moves-to-make-before-the-holiday-season-begins">9 Smart Money Moves to Make Before the Holiday Season Begins</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/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</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/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Organization Christmas DIY Holidays planning resolutions saving Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:00:19 +0000 Max Wong 1278204 at http://www.wisebread.com