Thursday, June 28, 2012

Need help lowering your college expenses?

While I always knew people that had free rides through college or whose parents were able and willing to foot their bill, I can't say that most college students can afford to pay for college themselves. That's what makes finding ways to plan ahead and lower your college costs even more important. Every dollar you spend during college that you don't already have will end up in the form of a student loan. Use some of the advice we give in our short guide to help you cut college costs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have you looked into solar power?

If you've thought about buying a solar power system in the past but it didn't make sense, you may want to look again. That's because there is a big glut in inventory and prices have fallen dramatically. Also, there are a number of solar companies that are willing to lease their equipment to eliminate some or all of the upfront cost of installing it. I've highlighted some of the factors to consider on whether or not solar power can save you money.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How do you manage paying your bills?

Some people use automatic bill pay through their online banking. Some people use post it notes stuck to the side of their desk. And some people use an inbox/outbox system to keep track of bills that need to be paid. Whatever you use, it's important to have a system in place that prevents you from missing any important payments that could jeopardize your good credit standing. Here are some tips that we put together to help you manage your bills.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How do you save money on family activities?

Although we normally stay away from Groupons, there are several websites that we use to find good deals on family activities. There are also some local free magazines that offer coupons for local attractions. The other way we find good deals is by continuing to search and read to find more and better deals. Once you find a deal, it is usually duplicated each month or year, so they become easier to find over time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summary of all the budget templates we provide

Today I put together a summary of the many budget templates that we provide on Budget Ways. Besides the actual spreadsheet files, each one also has a video tutorial on how to use it. There is a monthly worksheet, a family budget, a household month/annual spreadsheet, as well as a checking worksheet and even a printable version for those uncomfortable with using spreadsheets. Whatever budget help you're looking for, these budget templates can help.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How do you calculate how much money you need to retire?

Most people don't really have a retirement plan. They simply save as much as they believe they can and hope they can someday retire. While this may work for people that are really good savers, it won't work for most. The alternative is to make a plan to reach your retirement goal. We created a simple spreadsheet retirement calculator that you can update just four simple figures and it will arrive at an estimate for your retirement needs. If you're interested in giving it a try, please visit Budget Ways and find the free retirement worksheet.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Do you pay yourself first?

There is one thing that most finance gurus agree on. That you should pay yourself first. This means taking money from each paycheck or income source and depositing it directly into savings. By doing this, you in essence pretend to live off the remaining money. While it can be difficult for some to save, using a method like this can really work and is a great way to jumpstart your retirement savings. Have you tried something like this? If so, we'd love to hear about it. Visit our blog and leave us a comment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Is it hard for you to save ahead of your annual expenses?

Do things like annual property taxes or income taxes set you back each year? Have you ever borrowed money or used a credit card to pay a bill that you couldn't cover upfront? If so, you may need to take our advice about how to budget for those large and annual expenses that are going to happen. The best way to do this is to plan ahead and save a portion of each expense every month. In essence, you can set up your own escrow account to cover these expenses. Read our most recent post if you want to find more about this topic or leave us a comment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How did you get into budgeting, or are you just starting now?

While I thought the budgeting methods I was outlining in my posts were fairly simple, I still get the occasional beginner that just doesn't know where to start. For them, I wrote a post highlighting just how simple a budget can be. I also filled it with information about how a beginner can get started. If you also budget and have some advice to give our readers, please stop by and let us know what it is that helped you learn how to budget. And if you're a beginner yourself, you should stop by and hopefully get some help for your own budgeting needs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What are your best deals at the dollar store?

Do you shop at a dollar store? If not, you should. And if you do shop there, what have you found to be the best deals worth returning for? These are the questions that I asked myself today before I wrote a post on my blog about saving at dollar stores. I'm hoping that people like you will visit my blog and help me discuss this so that we can all find better ways to save more money. After all, every penny counts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is the strangest thing you've done to save money?

I was writing an article about strange ways to save money this morning when I realized that, while I've probably done some strange things to save money in the past, I couldn't remember any. Either that or I didn't think anything I did was strange. It's probably like that for other people too. What I consider normal is probably very strange to others. It's easy to look at others and say "you're strange". Anyway, we're looking for examples of strange money saving methods. If you have any to share, please drop by Budget Ways and leave us a comment.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Are you ready for this summer's AC bills?

If you're not ready to pay large air conditioning bills this summer, there are a number of simple ways you can cut your cooling costs. The easiest ways are to simply let your body adjust to a higher temperature in your house. Other ways include upgrading your AC unit or getting a programmable thermostat. You can even plant trees strategically around your house to help provide shade and shelter from the sun. If you want to see all of the ways that I save on my AC bills, visit Budget Ways and read up.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The average American only saves 3% of their income!

Can you believe it?! The average American only saves 3.4% of their income. That is very low compared to the rest of the world. For example, in China, they save about 15% of their income. The only countries with lower savings rates are countries like Sweden and Norway, where all of the retirement and health care is provided by the government and savings aren't as necessary. I guess Americans learned nothing from the great recession. After savings rates spiked during the recession it looks like they are back to their old spending habits. I mean three percent! That's less than the 401k "match" that most companies provide. Anyway, if you're interested in reading more about this, check out the latest post at Budget Ways.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Do you think of your finances like a business does?

Did you know that the best financial minds actually treat their own finances like a business does? And I don't mean that they are unproductive and waste their resources, but I mean the good things that a business does. Like having a good financial plan, planning for the future, investing in the future, minimizing costs, and maximizing savings/profit. A lot can be learned by looking at how businesses budget and applying those same fundamental principles to your own personal finances. I wrote a post that specifically compares the traits of a business to those of an individual. Click the link if you'd like to read more about this.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to calculate the real cost of car ownership

If you're like me you've purchased a car without really looking at all of the costs of ownership. It's a fact that most people only look at how much their monthly payments will be when making a car purchase decision. This can lead to thousands of dollars in costs that you hadn't thought about. You should take all of the costs of ownership into account BEFORE you make your car purchase decision. That includes the depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. You should create a worksheet that shows exactly how much each cost could be and then add them up to find out which car will actually save you money over the period you intend to own it. Read our latest post for help making these calculations.