It Is Never Too Early Budget for the Future

It is unfortunate that personal finance is not a required course in high school. That is no excuse to neglect your finances. Bills have to be paid and common sense tells you that your income needs to exceed your expenses. As a young adult, it is easy to fall for the trappings of seemingly easy money. Young people are targeted by banks and lenders. Your mailbox is guaranteed to spit out a credit card offer almost every day. So how do you keep on the financial straight and narrow? How do you plan for the future when it feels like you are living paycheck to paycheck? Here are some things you need to know about money and finances.

  • Self-Control – You do not need all things. The sooner you learn self-control the sooner you’ll be able to grasp the art of personal finance. Resist spending money you do not have. Racking up a credit card bill on superfluous items is ill advised. The interest on credit cards can have you paying for those treasured items for years later.

Just because a lender is willing to loan you money, doesn’t mean you can afford the loan. You are better off in most situations to simple save for high dollar items. Buy a car you can afford. Take evening or online classes at a school like Maryville, so you can still work your way through college. Consider renting instead of purchasing a home. Debt can be an anchor and practicing self-control helps.

  • Take Control of Your Future – It is time to learn to manage your own money. Today. Don’t dig yourself into debt trying to build somebody else’s future for yourself. Your family will always come up with something to worry about. If it is not the fact that you don’t own your own home, it will be something else. Know your limits and what you can afford.

Stop relying on other people for advice. Purchase some books on money management and personal finance. Better yet, rent some from the library. Once you understand how money works, you can start making it work for you. Until then, don’t blow all your hard earned money on a weekend bender with friends. Your future self will thank you.

  • Budget – Start tracking your spending now. Until you know what you are spending your money on, you cannot make wise decisions about finance. Take a month to track every dollar you spend. Your expenses should never exceed your income. Eating out every night might not seem like much, but it adds up quick. The fastest way to make more money is to spend less.

Pay attention to your recurring expenses. During that month that you track your expenses, take the time to look over your bank statement as well. You might have subscriptions and other recurring bills that you forgot about. Reduce these monthly expenses as best you can. You probably don’t need cable, Netflix and Hulu. Explore cheaper phone plan options. Make an actual budget. Assign a dollar amount to categories of expenses. You should know approximately what your rent, utilities and other bills cost monthly. Set limits for entertainment and stick with them. Review your finances at the end of each month to help you stay on track.

  • Save – It is important to put money aside for emergencies. Open a savings account and add money to it religiously. Determine a reasonable amount that you set aside from each paycheck, even if it is only ten dollars. When your car breaks down, you will be glad you did. Setting financial goals is a great way to encourage yourself to save even more. Have your emergency fund, but also have a piggy bank for fun. Add to it regularly with a specific goal in mind.

It is important to get a hold on your finances early. It is never too late to create a budget. Know what you can afford, so you can make wise financial decisions.

How to Say No More Often: The Cost of Being a “Yes-Man”

How to Say No More Often

I’ve spent most of my life afraid to disappoint people. This has caused me to put myself after everyone and everything else, especially work. Work first, play last, I’d think to myself. I would take on projects or serve on committees even when my schedule was already full. The new crafts I’ve been dying to do would be put off, and that time would be given to something else. I truly always wanted to help people, and I believed I was being helpful by always saying ‘yes.’ What I’ve realized, though, is that no one really wins when you take on too much. So, I’ve learned how to say no more often, and in today’s post, I cover how you can too.

The Cost of Being a “Yes-Man”

It’s important to realize the cost of being a “Yes-(Wo)man.” While you should strive to be selfless, it is also absolutely OK to have selfish moments. When you commit to everyone and every task, you leave little room for rest, both physically and mentally. But, more importantly, you leave little room for yourself. In fact, Psychology Today advises to actually schedule time for solitude, in this 2012 article by Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy. D.

Solitude, she writes, “helps to improve concentration and increase productivity.” The more you are able to concentrate, the more productive you will find yourself to be. Wasted time can be reduced or completely eliminated through this process.

For me personally, I found myself to always be thinking about the next thing I had to do, instead of just dedicating all my attention to the task at hand. It caused feelings of resentment as well. Granted, at this point in my life, I was also working a full-time job, started two side businesses, and was the Marketing Chair of more than one committee plus served as a board member for my local arts council. As you can see, the word “no” was essentially non-existent. But, I dove into all these side projects because I truly believed in them and enjoy being part of a greater cause. So, how do you know what to say no to? How do you do this without offending anyone?

How to Say No More Often

It is definitely possible to still be helpful while also staying true and mindful to yourself. Here are my suggestions:

Prioritize

When choosing what to take off your commitment list, begin by prioritizing. What is causing you more harm than good? Is there anything that you are not fully connected to or feel you are failing to meet expectations due to lack of time (or energy)? What are absolute musts that you cannot get rid of?

Prioritizing is not just job or community-related; it also refers to friends and family. Do you over-extend yourself to certain people who may not return the favor in your own times of need? Learn to let go of those feelings of obligation for people who cause more stress and pain in your life. It may be time to make some cuts for your health.

Ask Who (or What) You’re Serving

If you serve as a volunteer on a committee, do you believe in the cause? Or, is it that you just agreed to sign up because you were asked and did not want to say no? When using your free time to donate to others, consider why you chose to do so. Commitments in your life that just take up free space in your mind without meaning may need to get pushed aside until you have fewer responsibilities.

Actually Saying the Word No

The hardest part is surely actually saying no, but don’t overthink it.  Once you know how to say no, you’ll see more people understand than what you originally thought. If work is the main culprit, you can also let your employer know when you are unable or unrealistically able to take on more work. Be respectful, of course. Approach your boss in a professional way, showing him or her your present workload. Be sure to explain your concerns about productivity and discuss alternative solutions. Together, you may find other efficient ways to complete the work. This recently happened to a friend of mine, and he was able to show his employer that he needed more help in his department in order to continue with business growth.

You might find that as you begin turning down projects and people more, some individuals may be left disappointed. However, their disappointment (if existent) will quickly dissipate and your mental health will improve. Be honest with not only the people involved but also yourself. Let people know how busy you are right now but thank them for thinking of you. Another way to say it would be informing them you, unfortunately, cannot commit and worry you would not be about to put forth 100% energy to their request, even if it is just a party invitation. How much time can you actually give to extracurricular activities?

When you transform from being on board to everything to picking and choosing, you’ll notice the quality of your current commitments will be better than ever. This process of practicing how to say no creates a healthy relationship with being helpful…and yourself.

Are you a “Yes-(Wo)man?” What challenges have you or do you notice in your own life?

6 Very Simple Ways to Save Money

Saving money is a lost art for Americans, as a 2015 survey found that 62 percent didn’t even have $1,000 saved. In 2016, the percentage of their income that people saved was half of what it was 50 years prior.

If you aren’t saving money, you’re setting yourself up for financial troubles in the future. Without an emergency fund, you could end up putting unexpected bills on your credit card or getting a high-interest short-term loan, such as payday loans and car title loans. Saving doesn’t need to be a monumental task, though, as there are several simple ways you can save more.

  1. Set Up Automatic Transfers

The best way to save money is to make a deposit into your savings first every time you get paid. Commit to setting aside a certain amount of money – 10 percent of your income is a great place to start. While you can do this manually, it’s better to set up automatic transfers so you don’t forget to save or put it off.

  1. Round Up Your Purchases

Call it saving spare change with a modern twist. There are savings apps, such as Acorn, that you link to your debit or credit card. Every time you make a purchase with your card, the app rounds it up to the nearest dollar and puts the extra money into an investment portfolio.

  1. Cut Down on Nonessential Services

Do you really need cable TV, Netflix and HBO Go? Opting for only a streaming service and getting rid of cable could save you $30 per month or more, and you’ll still have plenty of content available. Go through the subscription services you pay for every month and make cuts on anything you’re not using frequently.

  1. Sleep on Potential Purchases

One reason people have so much trouble saving money is because they spend too much on things they want, but don’t need. There’s an easy way to stop impulse purchases, though. Whenever you’re going to spend more than a certain amount on a purchase, give yourself at least 24 hours to think it over. You’ll find that many of those must-have items aren’t things you need.

  1. Join Every Free Rewards Program

Almost every major retailer has a rewards program to entice people to spend more money. But receiving constant coupon offers can lead to overspending. Instead of providing your personal email address for these programs, create a new email account for reward program accounts only. Sign up for free reward programs with all the retailers that you shop at. When you want to buy something, check your email for any coupons that retailer has sent you.

  1. Use a Credit Card and Always Pay Off the Balance

If you use the right credit card, you can earn 1.5-percent cashback or more on all your purchases. A travel rewards credit card is another option if you know how to make the best use of your reward points.

The best way to use a credit card is putting all the expenses you can on the card, and then paying off the balance in full by the due date. You get a return on the money you spend without paying anything in interest. The key is that you stay disciplined and never carry a balance.

Saving money is all about getting in the right financial habits. When you make small changes, they can add up to big long-term results.