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Shopping Tips: How to Stick to Your Budget

Blog11 - Shopping Tips: How to Stick to Your Budget

Impulse or unplanned shopping is the easiest and most common way to overspend and crash your budget. Your budget is there for a reason and you should stick to it to reach your financial goals. It can be tempting to just go on a spree but it is usually a very bad idea. With shopping we mean any shopping that tends to make you go a little crazy. It can be clothes shopping, shoe shopping, gadget shopping, food shopping, or whatever strikes your fancy.

If you know you tend to overspend, our tip list for today is especially for you. So, how can you curb those impulses and stick to your budget?

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Carry your budget allocated amount in cash – If you carry the cash of a specific amount you cannot overspend. If you have only that money to spend on your chosen area of purchase, you cannot spend more. So, restrict yourself by not having the option of using a credit card or more cash than you have allocated for clothing or food.

Don’t shop when you’re emotional – Yes, retail therapy can be good and necessary at times but you should have a budget for that. If you know that shopping makes you feel better you should have a spending spree section in your budget. When you’re emotional, man or woman, we tend to get impulsive and just plain stupid. So, either avoid shopping when you feel sad, angry, or excessively happy or budget for those days when you really need retail therapy.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry – If you go grocery shopping while you’re hungry you are almost guaranteed to end up with a whole bunch of unnecessary items in your trolley and they will be double the number of things you went to get. Shopping when you’re hungry makes you want everything you see and that leads to impulsive buys that blow the budget.

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Only buy what you need – This one links in with the others but it is worth mentioning on its own. If you have a list of things you need to buy, stick to the list. On that point, always have a list. When you can tick things off, you see what you get and you don’t go off script. Buying things you want but don’t need should be two separate activities with two separate budget-allocated funds.

Your budget shouldn’t take the fun out of shopping, but it should plan for those expenses. If you go to the store to get things you need, stick to that and stick to the budget. If you want to go and buy things for fun, use the funds allocated for entertainment and the funds for the groceries. It’s actually not that difficult to stick to the budget if you separate the different purposes of your shopping sprees.

 

Finance Tips for Parents: How to Plan for Your New Addition

Blog10 - Finance Tips for Parents: How to Plan for Your New Addition

When a baby is expected everything tends to go topsy-turvy for a while. To avoid the chaos that this can bring, you should make use of our tips for planning your finances and future with the new addition to your family. A new baby is a blessing and an adventure but his or her appearance will influence your finances a lot. So, if you are planning to start a family or extend your family, have a look at our tips.

Do some research on the costs of raising a baby. You will find many online resources that give you estimates for diaper costs for the years they will be necessary, the cost of formula and other supplies, etc. Your experience will very likely not mirror those estimates but it gives you a starting point. Ask your family and friends about their financial experiences when a new baby arrived.

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Draw up a new budget. When you have an idea of what costs you will need to add you can draw up a tentative budget with those costs included. You should actually have two budgets when planning for a baby. The first budget should include extra savings for hospital costs or unforeseen events as well as funds allocated to buying things like a crib and baby products. The second budget should be the one planning for when the baby is here. You will need to change some allocations and add new areas for spending. Don’t take away from your retirement fund. You will likely want to start saving for college, but that can actually wait a year or two.

Change your will and indicate a guardian. Your will should reflect your new bundle of joy as a beneficiary and you should indicate any specific savings or funds that apply to him or her. You should also indicate who will be the guardian if something happened to you. This may not seem all that financial, but it is a very important part of planning for the future.

Start an emergency fund if you don’t have one. If you didn’t have an emergency fund before the baby’s arrival you need to start one immediately. Unexpected things happen and your baby may get sick and require medical treatment that insurance doesn’t cover. You may need extra funds for babysitters. The point is that an emergency fund is a necessity once you have children in the house.

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Add your baby to your insurance. Within the first month after your baby arrives you should update your health insurance to include him or her. They should be on there to make sure that the insurance can pay for all or part of the check-ups that are ahead and any illnesses and treatments.

A baby changes everything. It is exciting to have a little one but you need to plan ahead way into the future to make sure that you can give that baby everything you want to. So, start planning early and get things in place before he or she arrives.

Budgeting: Everything You Need to Know

Blog9 - Budgeting: Everything You Need to Know

A personal or home budget is a tool that helps to allocate funds to different areas of your life. It is part of good financial planning. Financial planning is necessary to make sure that you cover all your expenses every month and that you save enough money for emergencies, retirement, and other financial goals. So, today we want to look at budgeting a bit closer.

What is a budget?

A budget is a detailed summary of your monthly income and expenses. It shows what your salary is and any other forms of income. It shows what you pay towards groceries, car payments, insurance, etc. It also shows your debt and the payments due for paying that back. Lastly, it indicates your savings and where they are going. When you have all this information in one place it is easy to plan ahead and see if you need to make changes to your spending.

Why do you need a budget?

A budget helps you keep track of your finances. It shows you what is available and what is being used It also shows you whether you are reaching your goals with regards to saving and paying off debt. When you look at your budget, you can see where you are maybe spending too much and you can make adjustments accordingly. It is basically a tool or system to help you manage your finances.

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What tools can help you with budgeting?

You will find a wide range of software programs that will generate a template for you or even a whole budget and it will do the math for you as well. You can also just use good old-fashioned pen and paper if you prefer. The tools help to set up your budget more correctly and it can indicate problem areas you may not otherwise notice.

How much should you allocate your funds?

Each person will do what they feel is right and suit their lifestyle. Everyone approaches money and the spending thereof in their own way. A famous finance expert once set out a formula for allocation of funds. It is called ‘The60% Solution’. Basically what it comes down to is that 60% of your monthly income must be allocated to expenses that are standard like insurance, food, etc. The remaining 40% is divided between retirement savings, other savings, spending money or entertainment money, and emergency funds.

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How often should you re-evaluate the budget?

You should re-evaluate your budget at least every six months if you didn’t experience any major changes. Changes like job loss, promotion, new pets, a new baby, emergency medical expenses, a break-in, car trouble, etc. will require an adjustment of your budget. So, you should re-evaluate as often as you see fit but at least once every six months.

When you have to draw up a budget the first time it will take time and patience. However, once it is done it becomes a lot easier to manage your finances and make adjustments. It is even easier if you use software or online tools to do the work for you.

Tips for Dealing With Gambling Debt

Gambling Debt

Gambling can be seen as a leisure activity, but it goes way deeper than that. The whole exercise slowly becomes addictive, and it can lead the gambler into huge debts if they do not gamble responsibly. The debts majorly affect the credit card lending, general loans borrowed to gamble and to some extent some give their home property equity to get loans purposely for gambling. This is how deep the vice has been practised and here are some of the ways that you can follow to get yourself out of the debts caused by gambling.

Treat the Gambling Addiction

The worse destruction that one gets into once they start gambling is to get addicted to this vice. Therefore, before you can start to heal from any harm caused by gambling, you should start by dealing with the gambling addiction. This is the surest way that can help you to start the healing process and eventually get off the debts.

Regularly evaluate the mess that the online gambling in Alaska has gotten into, the debts that you have incurred and for the sake of your loved ones and your well being, terminate the source of your gambling resources. If it is from the families account or credit card, you may consider doing away with them. Avoid using or applying for credit cheques as this may be another source of your gambling money. You may also consider including a freeze or caution on your credit report to help you not to over-borrow.

A lot of gamblers to have the perception that, they can borrow a loan then use it to gamble win their stake to pay back the loan. Typically, they later realise that it does not happen that way when they are already in huge debts. Therefore, one needs to get some other means to earn real money and not through gambling.

Lias with your health insurance provider and establish whether they can settle the gambling treatment bill if they do well and good. You should start your treatment right away.

Paying Off Gambling Debt

After you are done with the treatment program with the addiction, you should start focusing on how you will have your debts settled. Check your bank statements and balances. Get the list of the creditors and people that you owe. Once you have established them all start to settle them by taking action with the least owed first.

You can at sometimes have your creditors threaten you to pay up your debt as soon as possible. For this, you may ask for support from friend or relatives to help you clear you debt if you owe loan sharks or bookies. Money borrowed from loved ones will mean that you will fess up to this problem but you may gain a support system in return to help you deal with the problem once and for all.

You can also pay your gambling debt by selling some valuable assets if you had not sold them to acquire more money to put into gambling. Some of the assets are like jewelry, furniture, electronics, cars and many more assets that you may be owning. You can consider selling them to help you pay off your gambling debt.

Getting a second job is another consideration to help you pay off the gambling debt. Depending on a single source of income can turn you into problems if you do not get sufficient income from that particular source. You should consider working extra hours to help you earn more money to clear this debt. Sometimes you will find not to get that second job for more extra money, all you need to do is to engage yourself in a money making hobby that you will turn to be your small part-time business after some time.

Efforts on coming up with a certain percentage on how to pay debts in few days is something that most creditors do accept.

All gambling debts including those charged on credit cards and those incurred from casinos can be discharged in bankruptcy. A creditor can object to bankruptcy filing. This can be done by claiming that you incurred the debt through fraud or even under pretenses. For instance, the creditor may ask the court not to discharge the gambling debt by claiming that you took a credit cash advance knowing that you never had money to clear the advance at the time you borrowed. This can only however be undertaken if your creditor proves to the court that you committed fraud. The only option to deal with any gambling debt is bankruptcy.

Credit Wise: Tips for Smart Use of Credit

Blog8 - Credit Wise: Tips for Smart Use of Credit

Credit has caused many people to pull out their hair and regret ever getting a credit card. If you don’t use your credit cards wisely it is very easy to get stuck in a bad situation where you have credit debt you just cannot get rid of. The best policy is to not get a credit card to start with. If you can avoid this then do so. However, you do you need a credit record to rent a house or buy a car. Luckily, there are different types of cards and several ways to keep yourself out of trouble.

Understand what You’re Applying For – When you apply for a credit card make sure that you read all the materials and ask a lot of questions. If you don’t understand something, ask or find out. You don’t want to sign up for something that you may later regret. Check for fine print and know what your interest rate will be.Being informed is a very important aspect of wise credit use.

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Pay Your Bill in Full – The first and most important tip for wise credit use is to pay off your credit card bill in full every month. So, no matter what the amount you spent, you should pay it off and start with a clean card the following month. If you follow this tip, you will avoid paying interest fees and accruing debt that you may not be able to pay off in future.

Be Careful With Multiple Cards – If you only have one credit card, focus on paying that bill in full every month and avoid applying for another one. If you have multiple cards that all have debt on them, you may want to reconsider your spending behavior. If you have multiple cards, you should try and keep at least one clean by following the first tip we gave you. While you do that you also need to make your payments towards the other credit cards. Try and pay more than the minimum so you can get the debt amount down faster.

Keep it for Emergencies – A credit card shouldn’t be a way to spend more than you have. That is actually a very dangerous habit. Instead of using your credit card for impulse or unnecessary buys, keep it for emergencies. Things like medical emergencies, a course you want to take or having to buy a plane ticket unexpectedly can be paid for on your credit card. You should try and use your credit card as a fall back for emergencies and not for spending sprees.

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Avoid Unnecessary Purchases – We have mentioned this a few times because it is important. Spending because you can on your credit card will eventually get you into a trouble situation. If you spend without paying the full amount back or make use of several credit cards, the debt builds and can become a big mountain of financial debt and problems.

Credit can be a saving grace in an emergency but it can also be your downfall if used unwisely. Follow these tips and use your credit cards wisely and avoid debt problems. For more tips, visit our RESOURCES page as well as here and here.

Healthy Personal Finance: Guidelines to Keep You in the Green

Blog7 - Healthy Personal Finance: Guidelines to Keep You in the Green

Sometimes we just need someone to tell us how to fix our problems. Today, Ifg Loan will be that person for you. If you find yourself lost in confusion when it comes to personal finance, we can help. There are some basic guidelines that you should follow to keep your personal finances healthy and keep you out of the red. These guidelines include saving, budgeting and more. So make a list and get cracking on these guidelines.

Save 20% of your monthly income every month. This is a good guideline to ensure that you put enough money away for an emergency and retirement. Without these savings, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot pay for medical bills or have to work past retirement age.

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Pay off your credit card debt every month. When you use your credit card, you should know which amount you will be able to pay back. To keep yourself out of deep debt you need to pay off that credit card balance at the end of every month and start with a clean card the next month. Your credit card should only be used if there is no other option.

Make use of tax-advantaged funds. 401(k) retirement funds and individual retirement accounts are tax-advantaged funds. If you maximize on these, you will save money and get the best results. If you are unsure about which of your investments fall into this category, consult your banker or financial advisor.

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Invest your money wisely. If you want to invest for retirement you need to keep certain things in mind. Trading individual securities is not the best route to go and you also want investments that are not too costly or high risk. You need to find the low-cost and low-risk investment options that will suit your retirement timeframe.

Hire a financial advisor. This may not seem necessary if you have a small income and don’t really have debt. However, if you are wealthy or need advice on investments or financial planning, you should hire the services of an advisor. He will be able to give you the best advice based on your financial situation, income, and financial goals.

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Develop good spending behavior. This means that you should budget and stick to it. It also means that you need to control your spending and ensure that you don’t spend important funds on unimportant things. Developing healthy spending behavior may take some time if you didn’t learn it from a young age, but once you get it, you will always manage your finances well.

If you follow these simple guidelines you will be developing healthy financial management. Money is an important part if life but it shouldn’t take over your life. If you manage it well, you will have very little problems and peace for what the future holds.

 

What Can Investments Do For You?

Blog6 - What Can Investments Do For You?

Investments are great tools for a regular income as well as planning for the future. Investments hold many benefits and can be great comfort in times of need. If you can start investing from a young age, you will be way ahead in the life and finance game. So, if you’re wondering what investments can do for you, here are some answers.

Investments teach good financial planning

If you need to set aside money, pay monthly fees, or keep track of stocks, you will learn lessons that other people will only learn later or never. Investing money is like a learning school for the future. It teaches you the value of money and how quickly it can go away. It is definitely a good tool for young investors to learn about proper and successful financial planning.

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Investments offer comfort for the future

Retirement is a time when you want to relax and do things you couldn’t do when you were working. However, in order to do that you need to have money saved up to cover living expenses and any activities you want to do. Investing money at a young age is one of the best ways to save that money. Different investments offer different returns and have different requirements, but you will find one or two that will be well-suited to save for retirement. Just ask your bank for advice on which investment plan or annuity will be best.

Investments can offer relief in difficult times

Things happen unexpectedly. If you were to lose your job or if a loved one has a medical emergency, you and release earnings from investments to cover costs. Investments offer a safety net for when things go wrong. You can use them as a type of emergency fund. Not all investments allow for early withdrawal, so your emergency fund investment should offer the option of early release.

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Investments make big purchases possible

Most investments require a monthly fee and a date of withdrawal. The terms for different types of investments are not the same. If you know that you want to buy a new car in two years or go overseas in 5 years or go back to school, your investments can help fund those things. When you invest you simply set the date for when you can release the money and buy that car or pay for that dream. You will be in a position that few people get to.

Investments can be a true blessing. If your monthly contributions are automated it is even better. Your investments can grow for months and years until you need it. Read about more benefits here. Also, visit our RESOURCES page for more helpful links.

5 Steps for Successful Financial Planning

Blog5 - 5 Steps for Successful Financial Planning

Financial planning involves all the different aspects of personal finance. For you to successfully plan your finances, you need to make use of the five steps of good financial planning. These steps will help you stay on top of your finances and ensure that you make good decisions. It helps you plan, track, and adjust as needed.

The five steps of financial planning are:

1. Assessment

The first step is to assess your financial situation. It requires income statements, payslips, financial statements, and any other financial documentation. You need to draw up a sheet or sheets with your monthly income, your total debt, your assets and their value, and monthly expenses. This should give you a good idea of what is going on in your finances.

2. Setting Goals

Financial goals are important to reach certain desired outcomes. For example, a long-term goal can be that you want to retire at a certain age with a specific net worth. A short-term goal can be saving up for a new car or the replacement of a broken appliance. Ideally, you should have a mix of these goals. Financial goals help us keep our spending and saving behavior in line with what we need.

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3. Planning

The planning step requires you to draw up an action plan to reach your goals. In the previous step, you should have made a list of long-term and short-term goals that you want for yourself. Your plan needs to set out how you are going to reach these goals. Some actions that will be helpful is earning more money, getting a second job, cutting unnecessary costs, investing money, etc. The actions that form part of your plan will depend on the specific individual goals.

4. Executing the Plan

Executing your plan and sticking to it is not always easy. You can hire professionals to help you execute and manage the plan. Accountants, advisors, lawyers, and other professionals can all play a part in helping you execute the plan and staying within the parameters you set for yourself. If you want to reach your financial goals you will need discipline and perseverance.

5. Evaluation and Adjustments

Life changes in an instant and so does financial situations. Lay-offs, promotions, higher costs of living and gas, expecting a baby, etc. can all happen without warning. You need to evaluate, re-assess, and make adjustments to your plan regularly to keep up with whatever changes happened. An evaluation every quarter should work unless a major event occurs that require immediate adjustments.

If you want to master financial planning and empower yourself to be financially stable, you need to follow these steps. They offer a map to success and financial freedom. Read more on financial planning here and here.

Smart Spending and Debt Decisions

Blog4 - Smart Spending and Debt Decisions

Spending money is like a drug to some people. Not everyone likes spending money equally, but it tends to give us some satisfaction. Because of this, we often tend to make bad decisions when it comes to spending our money and creating debt to spend more money. Spending money you don’t have is almost never a good idea. Making smart decisions when you spend is important to keep you out of trouble.

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Smart spending decisions you should master:

  1. Don’t spend money you don’t have. If you don’t have a credit card, don’t get one. If you cannot afford a new car, don’t get one. It’s as simple as it sounds. We convince ourselves that we need things that we really actually don’t need. So, stop spending money that you don’t have.
  2. Buy what is needed not wanted. This is an area where we all tend to be guilty. Whether it is new shoes, a new video game, a new gadget, or snacks, we all do it. Don’t get us wrong; it is important to spend money on these things because they make us happy. However, there should be boundaries and control. Wants must only get attention when the needs have been covered. If you have food, paid your bills, and paid your rent then you can spend your allocated money on the wants.
  3. Buy smart. Stores often have specials of all kinds. This may require some careful planning, but it could save you money in the long run. If a store has a special on bulk buys or something that you tend to use a lot of, buy it. If you go outside the budget for that item or items, re-arrange your budget for the next month to absorb those expenses. Bulk buys save costs in future months so it should balance out. However, this requires planning and you should avoid spending recklessly.

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Smart debt decisions:

  1. Don’t do it. The best decision is to not get yourself into debt. If you really cannot avoid taking out that loan or mortgage, then do so, but make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Before you sign up for a credit card or a loan, read the terms and conditions. Ask questions and do research and know as much as you can find out. This way you will be prepared for taking on extra monthly payments. You will need to redo your budget to accommodate debt.
  2. Pay it off as fast as possible. If you have debt try to pay more than the minimum fee. This will help you get out of debt faster and will also likely reduce the amount that you need to pay back. If the payment period is shortened, you don’t pay as much interest.

Impulse spending and debt are like black holes. They suck us in. You should plan your finances so well that the black hole doesn’t become a problem for your financial situation. Read more on debt here. If you need some more tips on personal finance planning, read this article.

The Saving Dilemma: How to Make Saving Easier

Blog3 - The Saving Dilemma: How to Make Saving Easier

Let’s be honest: saving money is tough. No matter how old you are or how well you understand the importance of saving. Putting away money instead of using seems to go against human nature. Luckily, there are ways to bypass this nature and make saving money easier. Saving is essential if you want to buy that car or that house or that new game. So, give our tips a try and let us know if they work and if you are successfully saving money.

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Automate your savings process – Most banks offer a service where they take money from your account every month and put it into your savings account. The great thing about this is that you don’t need to think about it or remember to save money. It happens automatically and you don’t have control over whether it goes or doesn’t. The bank essentially takes over your savings actions. Automated savings is a great way to go if you tend to rather skip saving and spend the money immediately.

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Save first before anything else – If you save manually into a piggy bank, money jar, or savings account, this one is for you. Once you receive your salary, take out that money or pay it over immediately. Don’t think about it and don’t reason with yourself about whether it is really necessary. Just do it. Once your savings amount is where it belongs you can start paying your bills and spending where needed.

Save everywhere you can – There are different ways to do this. One is to have a money jar or something by the door or even in the kitchen where you can drop all your change for the day. It doesn’t matter how little or how much it is, drop all your coins in the jar at the end of everyday. You will be amazed at how fast that jar fills up with savings. Another option is to put all the money you save on specials towards your savings. In other words, if you buy a cold drink that was on special, subtract the amount from the original price and place the difference in your savings jar.

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Invest your money – This is a long-term savings strategy. If you want to have a comfortable retirement and not worry about whether you will be able to live, invest your money today. Your money will grow and you will have less to worry about in your retirement when it comes to finances. You can never start investing and saving too early.

Saving is important. We all know that. So, take these tips to heart and get yourself set for the future and whatever big dreams and plans you have. It may be tough sometimes, but it is worth it when you see your savings build.