Avoid Debt With These Expert Personal Finance Tips

Debt is a dark cloud that lingers above millions of people. It’s never fun when you’re in debt, and the best solution is to avoid it in the first place.

Avoid Debt With These Personal Finance Tips

Here are three expert tips that are designed to help you stay clear of financial debt:

Create a Budget and Stick to It

Creating a budget you can actually follow might be harder than you might think, in order to get a good budget, you need to think about a couple of things:

  • Calculate your income – First of all you need your income to get started and estimate how much money you can spend.
  • Budget spreadsheet – Use a simple to follow spreadsheet, the simpler the better, I recommend using this one published here on CC Bank’s tutorial for creating a budget.
  • Don’t forget to save – The main point of using a budget is to help you save money, use it wisely and set a minimum amount in your budget that will go every month towards saving.

Set Up Direct Debits

If you ever have to make regular payments, then you need to set up a direct debit. This is a handy way of keeping up to date with all your important bills. Instead of having to worry about payment dates, the money is taken out of your account automatically.

How does this keep you out of debt? Well, it means that you’ll stay on top of your regular payments. So, you shouldn’t miss any, leading to excess charges. Excess charges can soon add up and cause you to fall into debt. Plus, missing payments gives you a low credit score, so, direct debits can help you with that too.

Downsize To A Smaller Home

Buying a big house may seem like a good decision, but it can often lead to years of debt. Generally speaking, the bigger the home, the more expensive it costs. The initial price will be high, which requires a hefty home loan. So, you end up having to keep up with massive repayments every month, and it can be a huge burden. Similarly, bigger homes will use up more energy from electricity and heating. As such, your utility bills will be very high too.

Have no fear; there’s an easy way around this. Sell your home and downsize to a much smaller property. Now, I know what you’re thinking; this could take ages, how can I sell my house fast? There are ways for you to get a quick sale, it all depends on the current market. Either way, the sooner you sell, the sooner you can avoid debt and life a more comfortable life.

Approach Credit Cards With Caution

For many people, credit cards are a way of life. It’s normal to apply for a credit card and use it to pay for things. In fact, you can save money on some big purchases by doing it this way. There are lots of benefits to using a credit card that lures people in. The problem is, they also happen to be a top cause of debt. Loads of people up and down the country will fall into credit card debt, and end up in lots of financial trouble.

However, there’s an easy way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. What you need to do is approach credit cards with caution. Don’t apply for the maximum amount of credit as possible. If you do this, you may be unable to keep up with your monthly credit card bills. Apply for less than you’re entitled to, and you’ll cope a lot easier. Also, only apply for a card if you have a steady, regular income. You need to earn money each month to pay the statements.

With these expert tips, financial debt can be avoided. Don’t make silly financial decisions, or they’ll end up coming back to haunt you in the future!

Am I Paying Too Much For My Car?

Though most consumers do not realize it, they are probably paying too much for their vehicles. People go to dealerships with their price quotes gathered from so-called reliable online and print sources to negotiate a payment plan. However, even if the agreed upon amount seems fair at the moment, when calculated over the long-term, it is usually over their budget.

Furthermore, always remember that a car depreciates in value from the minute it is taken off the lot. That means you can expect no significant return on your investment, in most cases. If you have ever attempted to trade-in a used car, you probably know what we mean here.

All you can hope for in reality is try to reduce your overall losses by spending a reasonable percentage of income each month. That is what we are to here to help you do.

car cost

Following are the top four ways to save on your vehicle costs.

Follow the 20-4-10 Rule

To spend a fair amount on your car, use our simple 20-4-10 Rule. First, make a down payment of 20% or more when buying. Second, finance the car for four years or less. Last, spend only 10%.

Though the rule is straightforward, many have problems following it. You have to calculate your gross income honestly. Gather the paycheck stubs of all living in the household to determine just how much this number is. Gross income is the total amount before taxes and other deductions.

Also, take a look at your auto insurance payment receipts. Multiply your gross income times 0.10 to calculate 10 percent of your income. Then, subtract your insurance monthly payment from this number. If your car payment is above this figure, then you are paying too much and need to find a way to make a serious change.

Find Cheap Gas Online

Gas is another cost that can overextend a monthly household budget. A wise strategy is to download a software application to keep you updated on prices. These apps to help you save on gas provide the latest prices at stations across the nation. You can bypass a more costly station for one more gentle on your budget.

Lease a Vehicle Rather Than Own

Many savvy drivers have taken to leasing vehicles rather than outright owning them. These people believe that the burden of ownership proves too much.

If opting to lease, be sure to negotiate a monthly payment amount within the above 20-4-10 calculations for your household.

Save on Auto Insurance

Different types of auto insurance will add significantly to the monthly household transportation costs. At times, we can do little to reduce insurance premiums, it seems. A lower payment from a budget insurer may mean inadequate coverage. With road accidents at all times highs in some municipalities, going without comprehensive coverage is rarely a smart move.

Nevertheless, there are other ways to save. First, check if your state has a license point reduction program. Quite often motorists who take a defensive driving education course can receive discounted insurance rates for a certain number of years. Also, if you have a teen driver in the house, keeping them on your own auto insurance plan may prove financially beneficial.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Vehicle

We all need a decent automobile, but the payments can prove a drain. Use the above suggestions to get your transportation costs within budget and avoid paying too much. In these tough economic times it is wise to save as much as possible. Start now.

How to Save Money Using Online Coupons

You may use coupons every week or you may think of this kind of promotion as something that went out of style with the advent of the internet, but, believe it or not, coupons are alive and well. While you still may spot someone clipping the odd coupon out of a newspaper, sitting on the floor with a pile of newspapers and a pair of scissors is not the way shoppers save money anymore.

how to save money with coupons

Like almost everything else under the sun, coupons have gone online and there are new ways of using them that can help secure deals you never imagined possible.

Finding Online Coupons

You can browse through coupon and promotion sites or simply try to locate a coupon every time you find a product you may want to buy. Simply open a new window in your browser and do a search for the product or brand. If you are lucky, you might find the exact coupon you are looking for instantly, or you may land on the website for coupons and promotions and will have to look through the categories. You may be able to use a code to redeem your coupon on a website or download it, print it and take it to a physical store. You can find other money saving tips & ideas on these promotional sites, in addition to coupons.

But Do Coupons Really Help You Save Money?

Some people are skeptical about the notion that coupons are a money-saving device. They see them as mainly a marketing technique to persuade people to buy things they ordinarily wouldn’t think of purchasing rather than saving them money on items they buy every week or would purchase anyway. When using coupons, it is essential to keep this in mind and use self-discipline. Ask yourself if the coupon is for something you would purchase anyway. If not, put it aside and think it over.

Online coupons are actually better than old-fashioned promotions to help you avoid this pitfall. If you browse the internet every time you are preparing to buy something online rather than vice versa, then it is unlikely the promotions are influencing your purchases. Whenever you draw up a shopping list, check for coupons online, so you know that the need for the product precedes looking at promotions. Put coupons on the side if they are not for items you need at the present time.

Watch Out for Scams

Any legitimate product or service can create an environment in which false versions pop up. There are always unscrupulous people online who are trying to steal your personal contact information for their own ends. They will try to influence you to give them your email in exchange for fake coupons for discontinued items or things that are already free. Be careful if you notice the coupons are not issued by companies and have no expiration date or if there are other important details that are missing. Also, be careful of sites that are overly aggressive in asking you for information. With coupons, as in purchases, it pays to think twice and to stay safe.

Get Out of Debt and Stay There for Life

When you’re in debt, every day is stressful. You can’t sleep, you don’t eat right and you spend many of your awake hours worrying. The good news is that you can change your status faster than you might imagine. All it takes is dedication and commitment on your part and a rethinking of how you view money. Many people who live paycheck to paycheck receive windfalls of cash such as their income tax and instead of putting it away for emergencies, they spend the entire amount on items they want versus what they need. If you are ready to break bad habits and start living and enjoying your life, you can do it.

Get Out of Debt

When you live paycheck to paycheck you are also setting yourself up for disaster. If your car needs work or an unexpected household repair comes along you end up using your bill money to pay for it, leaving you struggling to make it through the month. And once you make a few late payments or even miss a payment taking out a loan from a bank to get back on track isn’t an option you can use. The good news is that for the immediate future, you can apply for online installment loans. Companies like Maxlend Loans provide personal cash loans and installment loans in amounts up to $1250 as an alternative option to payday lending. Key benefits include minimal eligibility requirements, fast funding and flexible repayment. Qualified applicants must have a social security number, an active checking account, and a verifiable source of income. While this will help you to get over the hurdle, it should not become a way of life.

Establish and stick to a budget

You’ve heard it before and before you go thinking it’s easier when you have money to work a budget, that’s the whole purpose. In the beginning, you will test your resilience but, if you stay the course, you will break free from the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle and enjoy financial freedom. Gather your bills, set aside a few hours and find a quiet place to lay them out and list them. Include all of your household expenses like your mortgage or rent, utilities, cable and cell phone bills, any loans and credit cards. Then make a list of the average weekly cost for gas, food, child care expenses and whatever else you need to pay for during the month.

Reduce the amount of debt

Once you have the list together, it’s time to prioritize them into categories. Your mortgage or rent, house bills and personal loans fall into the must pay, then your credit cards. If you bring in enough to cover all of your bills then getting back on track won’t take long. All you need to do is to pull in your belt for a month or two and you’ll be in good shape. Refrain from things like eating out, buying a coffee on the way to work and brown bagging your lunch instead of ordering out will all help to give you the little extra you need to recover quickly. If you add up the numbers and you realize, maybe for the first time, that you don’t have enough coming in to pay for everything, then it’s time to pay your debt down fast. You can do this by reducing your cable bill to basic service and your cell phone too.

Also, if your credit is still in good standing you can transfer a credit card balance over to a new card that offers an introductory no-interest rate for 6 to 12 months. All of these things will help give you the extra money to balance your budget and pay your expenses each month. Once you are even then you need to start paying down your debt. You can start by paying off a few of your credit cards. You don’t need to have more than two and reducing the balance and the amount of open account will actually help to raise your credit score. Once you have these under control then follow the same procedure with your car loan. Add a hundred a month or if you can double the payment. It’ll save you a lot just on the interest and free up income sooner versus later.

Establishing a budget lets you see exactly where your money is going. In the end, it will help you become a savvy shopper, spending only what you need to and enable you to enjoy a stress-free, well-deserved vacation yearly.

Money Saving Tips for the Students

Whether you are a fresher or a seasoned university student, managing a budget of an academic year would always be tough. But, you need to become smarter about the ways you are spending money. If not, it would be hard for you to get out from the cycle of debt.

Don’t forget to keep in mind that the key to financial success lies in being aware of how you are spending the money. So, here are some valuable Money Saving Tips for Student to build a strong financial foundation while studding.

Money Saving Tips for College Students

Create a Budget:

This is one of the most important things a student needs to go for. Opt for listing the monthly income sources including, savings, wages, parental allowance, etc. Then, write down all the estimated expanses of the month. Try to identify the college living expenses in advance for chalking out a budget. For tackling your expanses wisely, you can also think about using an online budget app.

Use Public Transport:

Using a public transport can be a smart idea from a student rather owing a car. To fulfill your shopping needs you can also opt for using a bicycle. Some universities do organize free weekly or monthly trips for shopping malls; always take advantages of such occasions. People moving out of city often donate their bicycles, try to get hold of one such bicycle.

Save Money on Books:

There is no strict rule that a student have to pay a lot of money for getting new text books. A lot of students are opting for buying text books from the used bookstores to harness the extra cost. Students can also post different items they wish to sell on the bulletin boards of their universities. It can actually be a great place for the pupil to buy and sell their textbooks. In addition, many college campuses are now offering the students to avail the opportunity of lending the text books. Conducting a search through online sites might also be helpful as many sites often sell textbooks at a lower price, compared to the market.

Have a Check on your Mobile Bills:

The mobile bill is responsible for giving you some nightmares. Try to find out some effective way to get out of this mess and here they are:

  • Opt for picking the most effective plans to meet your needs.
  • Pinpoint your average usage for calls, texts and data. Use these details to have a check on your needs.
  • Don’t forget to compare the tariff rates before getting a plan.

Take Care with Credit Cards:

If going to college is like stepping in the land of fairy-tales, then credit card companies are the hidden dangers of that dream land. They specifically set their targets on inexperienced freshmen as the new college goers have a little experience about the real world.

Build a clear idea about the pros and cons of different cards and look for those cards, which have points or cash back rewards. Setting a low spending limit is also very essential to build a strong financial foundation.

Learn the Art of Cooking:

Cooking food items by yourself can actually save you a lot of money. While your college canteen will charge less money for providing you with the meals, cooking by yourself will enhance the chances for you to save some dollars. Think about making your own sandwiches to cut down the cost. When it comes to buying fruits and vegetables, shop from the cheap stores rather than from the fancy super markets.

Avoid Unnecessary Expenses:

Avoiding unnecessary expenses is one of the most useful student money saving tips, which you can follow. Try to quit the habit of smoking. In spite of damaging your health, this habit can also drain a lot of money from your monthly budget. If you are living in private accommodation, there is no need for you to pay the council tax. Share the load of laundry with your flatmate instead of spending some extra dollars behind it.

Housing:

If the distance allows, try to live at home. According to a survey, the students living in their own homes can possibly save around $40,000 over four years. In case, you are going to get an apartment, don’t forget to read the papers before signing. Make sure you know each and every clause of the documents for understanding the hidden costs

College can be expensive, but learning the basics of money management can actually help you to solve the problem easily. Laying the groundwork for smart budgeting and spending habits in college can help the students to handle various responsibilities in the future. With the help of these above mentioned tips, the students would be able to lead a more budget conscious life-style.

New Car, No Regrets: When to Know You're Financially Ready to Buy

Buying a new car? There are lots of things you need to check off your list. If you’re wondering whether it’s time, here’s what you need to know.

Buy New Or Used?

The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to buy something new or used. Think carefully about this one as it impacts a lot of your other decisions going forward. There are benefits to both options. Sometimes, it’s easier to find a vehicle that’s in your price range if you go used, but the prices have definitely creeped up on them.

new car buying check list

A new vehicle might have updated safety equipment like back up sensors and collision avoidance systems, but it might cost a lot more than you’re willing to spend. Also, new cars tend to depreciate rapidly. When making a list of vehicles, consider what you’ll use the car for.

Will you commute to work and back or is this more of a “fun car?” Do you work from home? If so, why do you need a vehicle?

Something like a Dodge Challenger might be a fun way to get around town if you’re just looking for something pleasurable to drive.

If you decide to go with a used vehicle, have your mechanic check it over to make sure there are no hidden problems. Make sure it’s got basic safety features like airbags, and antilock brakes. All newer vehicles have them.

How Will You Use It?

Your dream car might be a convertible or maybe a Porsche, but that might also not be practical. It might not be something you want to commute to and from work in. When making your list of cars, ask yourself what the vehicle will be used for most of the time. If it’s commuting through heavy traffic, then you probably don’t want a standard transmission, for example. If you’re driving four kids to school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, then you probably want something like a van or SUV.

Also, consider where you live. If you live in the north, for example, you might want 4-wheel drive during the winter. If you live in the south, you might not need it. Fuel efficiency also factors into this equation. If you get an SUV, you will probably be paying more for your gasoline than if you have a car.

Fuel Efficiency

Buying a hybrid vehicle used to be an easy decision. There weren’t too many models on the road to choose from. Today, it’s not such an easy choice. Choosing a hybrid or flex vehicle can lower your fuel costs dramatically, but they can also increase the base price of the car. There are some additional factors to think about too, like the fact that you can get a tax credit for buying a hybrid.

On the flip side, the total cost can be 20% more than a gas-powered vehicle. If you’re financing, keep in mind the additional interest you pay if you need to buy the more expensive hybrid or electric vehicle.