- Tonight, we’ll call it Night 1: Sit down and write down what your financial goals are. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 30 years? Then ask, “Is this attainable doing what I’m/we’re doing?”
- Night 2: Write down all of your debt! All of it! List it ALL out and be honest! Any of those secret credit cards you’re hiding from your spouse, get ‘em out! List them smallest to largest!
- Night 3: Look at your bank and credit card statements and write down what you spent last month.
- Night 4: Using the information you gathered on Night 3, attempt a budget. Be realistic! If you need a form check out Dave Ramsey’s budgeting form’s here. Try the quickie budget first, and then go from there. We use these forms and it’s worked for us, however, Mint.com or Quicken might work for you.
- Night 4: Figure out what you can do to save more money or how you can increase your cash flow. Check out my Snowflaking post for some ideas.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
- Bigger paycheck and therefore more monthly cash flow.
- Earn interest by saving on my own.
- Nice windfall once a year.
- Forced savings.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Snowflaking is something I came across while trying to figure out how to get out of debt. I’m not sure who coined the term but it’s a take-off of Dave Ramsey’s snowball. You take little bits of money you find, earn, frugally save and apply it to your debt. This would be in addition to anything you’re currently paying on your debt snowball. These little “flakes” are paid to the debt you are currently working on. Don’t wait for the bill to be due, start making little payments once or twice a week. There may be limits your particular institution has on the number of payments you can make per month so check that before you start.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
- Drive more smoothly. Speeding up, hitting the brakes, only to speed up again uses a lot more gas than keeping a smooth ride. Getting up to speed is where you use the most gas; maintaining that speed uses significantly less gas.
- Reduce drag: Remove the ski/luggage rack and drop the tailgate on those pickup trucks. If you’re willing to do it yourself, wash and wax your car! Every little bit helps, right?
- Replace your spark plugs. Older spark plugs misfire more frequently wasting gas.
- Don’t fill up until you are empty! It goes along with reducing drag.
- Park in the shade to reduce fuel evaporation.
- Keep it at or under 65 MPH. Speeding increases drag.
- Avoid idling for long periods. According to consumerreports.org, if you plan on idling for more than 30 seconds, turn off your car.
- Keep you tire pressure at recommended levels BUT do not over-inflate! Over inflation may cause less friction by having less of the tire on the road but this can be very dangerous. Consider filling your tires with nitrogen. Nitrogen is less likely to migrate through the rubber of the tire and it does not change pressure with temperature changes. This creates a more stable tire pressure over the long run.
- A common tip is to buy gasoline in the morning, when the air is cool, rather than in the heat of the day. The theory is that the cooler gasoline will be denser, so you will get more for your money. But the temperature of the gasoline coming out of the fuel nozzle changes very little, if at all, during any 24-hour stretch. Any extra gas you get will be negligible.
- Some people advise you not to run the air conditioner because it puts more of a load on the engine, which can decrease fuel economy. But others say that opening the windows at highway speeds can affect gas mileage even more by disrupting the vehicle's aerodynamics. In our tests in a Honda Accord, using air conditioning while driving at 65 mph reduced the vehicle's gas mileage by over 3 mpg. The effect of opening the windows at 65 mph was not measurable.
- Our tests show that driving with a dirty air filter no longer has any impact on fuel economy, as it did with older engines. That's because modern engines use computers to precisely control the air/fuel ratio, depending on the amount of air coming in through the filter. Reducing airflow causes the engine to automatically reduce the amount of fuel being used. Fuel economy didn't change, but the Camry accelerated much more slowly with a dirty filter.
Monday, March 12, 2012
I drive a 2004 Honda Civic that has 104,000 miles on it and I plan to drive it for another 150,000. I wouldn’t classify it as a beater but by the time I’m done with it, it will be! My Honda has a few qualities that I really like in a car, it’s a standard, it gets good gas mileage and it’s completely paid for.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Have you ever walked out of a store and wondered, "How did I spend so much?"
Did you have a plan? Did you know exactly what you needed when you walked into that store?
In terms of groceries, every Saturday night or Sunday morning, Andrea sits down and plans out the week's menu, writes out the list of groceries we need and posts the menu on the white board on our fridge. Sunday morning, after breakfast, we all head to the grocery store. At the store, Andrea hands me my list. My youngest and I go one way and Andrea and our oldest go the other. After we're done we meet in the produce aisle then head to checkout. 25 minutes…in and out!
Creating a menu every week helps us in a few ways:
- It helps us create a healthy and kid friendly menu.Andrea and I are borderline health nuts. We are trying to teach the kids to eat the same, yet kid friendly, way.
- It helps us to stay on budget because we buy only what's on the list.We don't buy whatever looks good or fall for the end cap pitfall!
- We don't waste food.We eat what we buy so nothing sits on the shelves, unused, waiting to expire. Our fridge is full at the beginning of the week and bare by the end.
- It helps our evenings run more smoothly.Andrea and I both work full-time. Whoever gets home first can look at the white board and know exactly what to make for dinner.
What do you do, when shopping, to save money?
Monday, March 5, 2012
There isn't a company out there that I won't force into a negotiation! For example, this past weekend I negotiated a reduced rate on my TV, internet and phone with our local cable company. We currently have our phone and internet service with the cable provider but we had our TV through a satellite company. We still had another 13 months left on our contract with the satellite company but the satellite service was poor and the price was about to increase significantly. I called the cable company and the best their first line customer service rep could offer was a 3 in 1 package for $135 a month. That would only have saved us about $10 a month and I still would have been on the hook for a $260 cancellation fee to the satellite company. I said, "Thanks, but if that's the best you can do I'd like to cancel my phone and internet service." For the record, I had no intention of cancelling our phone and internet service. The representative said that she could put me through to their Promotional Department and that they might be able to offer me something better.
The person to whom I was transferred in the Promotional Department offered to lock me in, for a year, to the same 3 in 1 package but this time at $125 a month. I reminded the rep that new customers are being offered $89.99 a month for a year. He said that wasn't available to me because I was a current customer. I said, "Thanks, but if that's the best you can do I'd like to cancel my phone and internet." He said he could transfer me to the Sales Department and that they might be able to help me further.
I explained to the next representative that I was willing to cancel my phone and internet and give my business to their competitor if I wasn't given the $89.99 a month for a year that was being offered to new customers. He also said the new customer offer wasn't available to me but that he might be able to get me into a "win you back" promotion. After waiting patiently for about 2 minutes, listening to the clicking of his keyboard, he said that he could lock me into the 3 in 1 package for $99.99 a month for two years AND that they would pay up to $200 of my cancellation fee from the satellite company. Now that's what I was looking for and then some!
I love negotiations, especially when I can save over a $1000 over the next 2 years!
Perhaps you can call your credit card company and ask them lower your interest rate; you'll be able to attack the principle more quickly. Maybe you can shop your car/home insurance to reduce your rates. While you're busy reducing your rates, you should consider raising your deductible from $500 to $1000 which will save you some cash. Call your cell phone company to see if you can reduce your payment. If you didn't know, Virgin Mobile offers unlimited data, texting and 300 anytime minutes for $35 a month; up that to 1200 min and it's $45 a month; unlimited data, text and phone and it's $55 a month. They're on the Sprint network so make sure they have decent service in your area.
Research! Call other companies or go their websites to see what they can offer you. Then call your current provider and tell them what you've been offered and that you're willing to switch. If the first rep doesn't help you, ask to speak to another. If the second or third rep can't help you, call the "other" company back!
Don't give up, don't be afraid to negotiate and don't be afraid to switch companies. The only loyalty that should exist, in this situation, is the loyalty to your wallet. Use the savings you just negotiated to build your emergency fund, add it to your debt snowball, fund your retirement contribution or throw it at your home payment. Whichever you choose, you'll be saving money just by making a few phone calls!