Tag Archives: budgeting

Money Moves for 2021

At the start of each calendar year, people make plans about how they are going to do things differently to change or improve their situation. Typically money moves are somewhere on the list. Unfortunately by mid-January we often see people giving up on those plans. But let’s face it, after everything we’ve faced in 2020 if you only change or improve one thing, YOU’RE WINNING!

2021
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Here are a few money moves you can make for 2021. But more than that we’re giving clear action steps that you can incorporate that should help you stick to the changes past January.

#1 Cut your expenses and debt, if possible

I know you’ve heard this one countless times before, and probably rolled your eyes. (🙄 here we go again!) You think you really need cable or satellite with 300+ channels to catch that one show on that premium channel or to keep the kids entertained. You NEED Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, AND Apple TV. (Yes, we realize their ads are probably popping up on the page since we mentioned them.) That new gaming console and subscription service is ESSENTIAL for your kids, so that they stop bothering you before you end them after how many months of trying to shelter in place as much as possible. So we’re not going to mention any of those changes. But here are some ways to cut your expenses that you may not have thought about.

· Shop for less expensive insurance

If you have a car, apartment, or house, you have insurance on those items (unless you like riding dirty and living dangerously). But why spend more for a truly necessary item than you have to? So often we stick with the same company year after year while they slowly inch up our premiums while providing the same level of coverage and at times less service. Shop around prior to each renewal and see if your company still has the best premium. If not, switch. If they’re not valuing your business by keeping your cost low, why are you out here being loyal to a corporation?

Don’t know where to start? Just tell us below which insurance quotes you’d like and your residential (or commercial if you own a business) zip code and you’ll receive an invitation email to get multiple quotes within minutes.

· Refinance and/or payoff your debt

Are we recommending you go through a long credit approval process here? Not necessarily. Look at the interest rates on all of your current debt. If you have lower interest rate funding sources (a line of credit, credit card) that isn’t maxed out, it might be advantageous to move some of that debt over to the lower interest rate source. Especially while the Fed has held rates hovering just over 0% for most of 2020. (We’ll do a post later about what that means in detail; just know while you won’t get that rate necessarily you should be able to find lower interest rates because of it depending on your credit score.) Just be sure to watch out for transfer fees that may offset the money you’ll save in lower interest costs.

If you have the means to payoff some of your debt with money you have sitting in a low-interest rate savings account, go ahead and do it. You’re not going to make any more keeping that money in the account any time soon at 0.01%. Still not convinced? Play with these calculators to see how much your debt is costing you and how to get rid of it.

#2 Save money on food and cut food waste

So many people are struggling to afford food right now. The nightly news displays how the lines at food banks continue to grow in length. If you’re able to still buy the food you need first let’s take a moment to be grateful for that. 🙏
Now on to how to cut costs…

· Always. Make. A. List.

We know, we know. You’ve read and heard this one before too. So why aren’t you doing it? “I’m too busy.” Really? Too busy to save money? You’re going to end up spending one or the other (time vs. money) so why not spend a little time to save more money. “I write the list and forget it at home.” Ever heard of a phone? They have cameras and apps to make lists. “The kids always end up asking for things in the store.” Uh, here’s an idea. Teach them to make a list too! Good habits are taught and learned early just like bad ones, like shopping without a list and worse yet, hungry.

Stores are designed as mazes to make you wander around and notice as many products as possible. After all, you might just see something you “need” but didn’t plan on getting! (Darn kids 🧒) That’s why bringing a list with you is key. You’re far more likely to stay on track if you have a few written objectives. Making that list also helps you find all of the best sales, discounts and coupon codes. Speaking of coupons, here are some of our favorite apps:

  • Ibotta
    While it doesn’t include a list feature like another app on our list, it does offer a wide variety of coupons and our new fave for saving money and staying on budget, digital gift cards. Set your budget for groceries at lets say Walmart, buy the gift card in that amount through Ibotta for a percentage back immediately. Then, pick out all of the available coupons at Walmart for your shopping list and use the gift card to pay. In a few days (often a few minutes but we don’t want to overpromise), those coupon amounts will be credited to your account. Cash out whenever you reach a $20 balance.
  • Coupons.com
    So SavingStar went the way of the dodo bird and everyone had to migrate over to Coupons.com. We’re not mad at this as the offerings from SavingStar had gotten less desirable over the years. Also, Coupons.com was a site we had used in the past, albeit less frequently because it was associated in our minds with printing out coupons to take to the store. While you can still print coupons, there is an app now that we’re getting acquainted with. Follow our social media for updates on our experience with the app.
  • Checkout 51
    This used to be the app to turn to for discounts on fresh produce, which at times can be challenging to find. While those offers have become fewer and farther between, this app has started expanding into other savings areas like gas and online shopping. It also has a built-in pharmacy savings card and a newer feature we’ll also be sharing on social media, surveys for money. 💲💲
  • KeyRing
    Ok while this one doesn’t offer any coupons or rebates, it is great for storing all of those customer loyalty cards. It’s also one of the only apps we’ve discovered so far that also allows you to create a shopping list for each specific store that’s not dependent on whatever rebates are available.

What apps do you use to save money on groceries? Share in the comments below. And while you’re grocery shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store. That’s where the more healthy, essential items you’ll need are often stocked!

Talking about healthy foods…

· Wait until evening to hit up your farmers market

ECV Talks is based in Florida, USA where finding farm grown foods is relatively easy. If you’re blessed to have farmers markets near you, make sure to shop local and support them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal. Local vendors usually don’t want to lug their unsold goods back home with them. That’s why they’ll often start discounting their produce as the day drags on. Hit them right at the end of the day to get the best deals. And don’t be afraid to ask them for items that aren’t visually perfect but are still usable.

But don’t over-purchase just because you’re getting this great deal without a plan to avoid tossing all those fresh fruits and veggies. Try canning, blanching and freezing to preserve your purchases and cut back on food waste. Or if you want to spend a little more, we highly advise investing in a Foodsaver or similar vacuum sealing appliance. Saving money on food is a long game. If you’re preparing your own meals instead of going out (which let’s face it alot of us are doing right now), you’re already well ahead of the curve. Trying out these tips can take your frugality game to the next level!

What money moves do you plan to make in 2021? Talk to us below!

SPLURGING RESPONSIBLY?

We have an odd relationship with splurging.

Many of us treat it like a guilty pleasure and almost take a little pride in our extravagant purchases, even seeing it as “self-care”. But there’s also a part of us that knows we’re not being wise when we senselessly spend money.

So how do we resolve that tension between having fun and making good decisions? Here are a few ideas to help you splurge responsibly (even during the “holiday” season)!

checklist1. Budget in advance
“Responsible splurging” might seem like a contradiction, but the key to enjoying yourself once in a while and staying on track with your financial strategy is budgeting. Maintaining a budget gives you the power to see where your money is going and if you can afford to make a big/last-minute/frivolous purchase. And when you decide that you’re going to take the plunge, a budget is your compass for how much you can spend now, or if you need to wait a little longer and save a little more.

2. Beware of impulse purchasing
The opposite of budgeting for a splurge is impulse buying. We’ve all been there; you’re scrolling through your favorite shopping site and you see it. That thing you didn’t know you always wanted—and it’s on sale. Just a few clicks and it could be yours!

Tempting as impulse buying might be, especially when there’s a good deal, it’s often better to pause and review your finances before adding those cute shoes to your cart. Check your budget, remember your goals, and then see if that purchase is something you can really afford!

3. Do your research
Have you ever spent your hard-earned money on a dream item, even if you budgeted for it, only to have it break or malfunction after a few weeks? Even worse, it might have been something as significant as a car that you wound up trying to keep alive with thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs!

That’s why research is so important. It’s not a guarantee that your purchase will last longer, but it can help narrow your options and reduce the chance of wasting your money.

Responsible splurging is possible. Just make sure you’re financially prepared and well-researched before making those purchases!

What tips do you have for splurging responsibly or as we like to call it “ballin’ on a budget”? Share them below or on our social media:

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3 Slow Cooker Meal Ideas That Are Budget-Friendly

Cooking home-cooked meals every day for the whole family can cost you, but food doesn’t have to be expensive to be delicious especially if you know how to budget your money. If you’re on a tight budget but still want to enjoy fulfilling home-cooked dishes with your family, here are 3 slow cooker meal ideas that everyone will love – so will your wallet!

Try these slow cooker meal ideas today:

Coco Sweet Potato Curry

What you need:

  • 1 kilogram sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 red chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 1/4 cups passata
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped (for serving)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and cook onion until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic amd ginger then season with paprika and cayenne. Pour mixture into a crock pot. Return pan to heat then cook chillies, red peppers and cabbage in 1 tablespoon oil for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring mixture to crock pot. Heat remaining oil and cook sweet potatoes for 5 minutes. Add potatoes to crock pot. Pour passata and coconut milk over everything. Stir, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. When ready, stir in peanut butter and top with coriander.

Rosemary & potato wedges
Image from https://www.pxfuel.com/

Mixed Herb Potato Wedges

What you need:

  • 2 large potatoes, sliced into 8 wedges each
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, mix together flour, mixed her and cayenne pepper. Add potatoes and oil. Season with salt and pepper then toss to mix ingredients and to coat potatoes. Transfer to a crockpot and cook for 1 to 2 hours on low or until potatoes are cooked through.

Spicy Garlic Mushroom and Tomato Pasta Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • Small bunch parsley (leaves only)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped tomato
  • 2 cups spaghetti pasta, cooked
  • 1 2/3 cups sliced chestnut mushroom
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

In a pan over medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil then cook mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic then cook for 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to a bowl with parsley. Set aside. Return pan to heat, add remaining oil, onion, celery, tomatoes, chili and salt and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a crock pot and cook for 15 minutes on low. Toss spaghetti with tomato sauce and top with garlic mushrooms.

A delicious meal doesn’t have to be expensive – try these slow cooker meal ideas that are budget-friendly!

Donna H. is a nutrition expert. Although not professionally, she has dedicated over a decade of her life researching and interviewing licensed nutritionists to gain the knowledge she has today – all for the love of healthy eating and dieting. She is an avid slow cooker and has contributed countless of recipes to countless popular websites.

Check out helpful tips and tricks as well as easy and delicious slow cooker recipes when using a crock pot.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Donna_H./1519703

Watch out for Budgeting Potholes

Maybe your numbers never add up or too many expenses are coming “out of the blue”. You might also feel a sense of dread every time you make a purchase. No matter what you do, this whole budgeting thing doesn’t seem to be working.

Hang in there! Here are a few budgeting potholes that might be slowing down your financial goals and how to avoid them!

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Excessive or Frivolous Spending
A job loss or a sudden, large expense can change your cash flow quickly, making you wish you still had some of the money you spent on… well, what did you spend it on, anyway? That’s exactly the trouble. We often spend on small indulgences without calculating how much those indulgences cost when they’re added up. Unless it’s an emergency, big expenses can be easier to control. It’s the small expenses that can cost the most.

Recurring Payments
Somewhere along the line, businesses started charging monthly subscriptions or membership fees for their products or service. These can be useful. You might not want to shell out $2,000 all at once for home gym equipment, but spending $40/month at your local gym fits in your budget. However, unused subscriptions and memberships create their own credit potholes. If money is tight or you’re prioritizing your spending, take a look at your subscriptions and memberships. Cancel the ones that you’re not using or enjoying.

Stinginess
Budgets are supposed to help you use your money wisely. They should be a positive part of your life—they’re not supposed to make you feel like you’re constantly failing. But sometimes our passion to save money and get our financial house in order gets the better of us, and we set up budgets that are too restrictive. While coming from good intentions, an overly thrifty budget can actually make it harder to achieve your goals. An impossible to follow plan can make you feel discouraged and resentful. You might even decide that it’s not worth the hassle! Try starting with a more reasonable strategy and then build from there!

Too complex
Sometimes our budgets are just too complicated to actually be useful. Not everyone loves working with numbers, and sometimes fiddling with spreadsheets can get so overwhelming that we just want to quit. Plus, there’s plenty of room for human error! A good option is to investigate free budgeting sites or apps. All you do is punch in the correct numbers and the magic of technology will do the rest!

One time budget
Life is constantly changing. Your simple, streamlined budget might be perfect for the life of a young single professional, but will it still hold up in five years? Where will the portion of your paycheck that works down your student loans go once you’re debt free? And when will you start saving for a house?

Take some time every few months to review your budget and see what’s changed. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished and areas that need improvement. Ask yourself what your next milestones should be and if those line up with your long-term goals!

Budgeting takes work. But it shouldn’t be a burden. Cut yourself some slack, prune your process, and stay consistent. You might be surprised by the difference filling in budgeting potholes can make in your financial life!

Did you think of another budgeting pothole that we didn’t mention? Tell us in the comments. 💬

How To Make A Budget You Can Keep

Some people love to live a life of thrift.

It’s a challenge they tackle with gusto. Shaving down expenses with couponing, hunting the best deals with an app on their phones, or simply finding creative ways to reuse a cardboard box, gives them a thrill. For others, budgeting conjures up images of living in tents, foraging for nuts and berries in the woods, and sewing together everyone’s old t-shirts to make a blanket for grandma.

To each their own! But budgeting doesn’t have to be faced like a wilderness survival reality TV competition. Sure, there might be some sacrifice and compromise involved when you first implement your budget (giving up that daily $6 latte might feel like roughing it at first), but rest assured there’s a happy middle to most things, and a way that won’t make you hate adhering to your financial goals.

Simplifying the budgeting process can help ease the transition. Check out the following suggestions to make living on a budget something you can stick to – instead of making a shelter out of sticks.

Use that smartphone. Your parents may have used a system of labeled envelopes to budget for various upcoming expenses. Debit cards have largely replaced cash these days, and all those labeled envelopes were fiddly anyway. Your best budgeting tool is probably in your pocket, your purse, or wherever your smartphone is at the moment.

Budgeting apps can connect to your bank account and keep track of incoming and outgoing cash flow, making it simple to categorize current expenses and create a solid budget. A quick analysis of the data and charts from the app can give you important clues about your spending behavior. Maybe you’ll discover that you spent $100 last week for on-demand movies. $5 here and $10 there can add up quickly. Smartphone apps can help you see (in vivid color) how your money could be evaporating in ways you might not feel on a day-to-day basis.

Some apps give you the ability to set a budget for certain categories of spending (like on-demand movies), and you can keep track of how you’re doing in relation to your defined budget. Some apps even provide alerts to help keep you aware of your spending. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, there are even apps that mimic the envelope systems of old, but with a digital spin.

Plan for unexpected expenses. Even with modern versions of budgeting, one of the biggest risks for losing your momentum is the same as it was in the days of the envelope system: unexpected expenses. Sometimes an unexpected event – like car trouble, an urgent home repair, or medical emergency – can cost more than we expected. A lot more.

A good strategy to help protect your budget from an unexpected expense is an Emergency Fund. It may take a while to build your Emergency Fund, but it will be worth it if the tire blows out, the roof starts leaking, or you throw your back out trying to fix either of those things against your doctor’s orders.

The size of your Emergency Fund will depend on your unique situation, but a goal of at least $1,000 to 3 months of your income is recommended. Three months of income may sound like a lot, but if you experience a sudden loss of income, you’d have at least three full months of breathing room to get back on track.

Go with the flow. As you work with your new budget, you may find that you miss the mark on occasion. Some months you’ll spend more. Some months you’ll spend less. That’s normal. Over time, you’ll have an average for each expense category or expense item that will reveal where you can do better – but also where you may have been more frugal than needed.

With these suggestions in mind, there is no time like the present to get started! Make that new budget, then buy yourself an ice cream or turn on the air conditioning. Once you know where you stand, where you need to tighten up on spending, and where you can let loose a little, budgeting might not seem like a punishment. In fact, you might find that it’s a useful, much-needed strategy that you CAN stick to – all part of the greater journey to your financial independence.