Having a budget is great but not if you can’t stick with it.
Creating limits is one of the first steps in changing your finances for the better. Going through the process of developing a plan can be challenging but is time well spent. However, it’s useless if it is never utilized. If you already created a household budget, it’s time to follow through. These top tips will help you stick with your financial plan.
Does your budget really suit your current needs? Perhaps it is difficult for you to move forward with your plan because it is not actually right for you. In order to determine this, ask yourself the following:
Is it too complicated? Too much content can be overseen. If you created multiple categories for your allocations, it may be too much for what you need. Try condensing if you feel overwhelmed with your objective.
Is it too general? “Save money” does not make for a good budget plan. Stating how you are going to do so does. Include details on what you need to do to get started and where you need to make cuts. Action items are a great way to encourage you to proceed. I like to create checklists for myself to keep me on track with all of my goals, including finances.
Do you have a backup plan? One reason your household may have a hard time following through with a budget is not having a process for when you actually do cut back on purchases. If you decided to take cable out of the picture do you know what you’re going to do with that money that would have gone to your cable bill? What will you do instead of going out to eat? Knowing this in advance will prevent you from falling back into old ways.
Is it realistic? Your budget may not work out if your income goals are too ambitious. If they are based more on fantasy and less on reality, you will have a hard time.
Do you have incentives in place? Rewards should go with your budget as a pat on the back for making it happen. These “awards” will be a little (or big) reminder why budgeting is so important (and why you should stick with yours). A vacation, a new outfit or a night out on the town are some examples of ways you can reward yourself.
Make It Fun
Budgeting is not typically enjoyable, but that does not mean you can’t make it entertaining. As previously stated, having a backup plan can keep any holes filled from your cuts, thus preventing abandoning your budget. Some examples include:
Turn your living room into a theater. Save money from going out to a play or a movie by creating your own in your very living room. Get the kids involved to put on a play, puppet shows the like. Record them for future nights of fun where you can re-live all the funny moments.
Do date night in. Part of the fun of going out to eat with your significant other is getting dolled up, especially if you never get to. But, you can have a night in and still get dolled up. Bring out the fancy plates, put on some nice clothes and cook a new recipe together. You’ll save money and make memories.
Create your own entertainment. Build a living room fort and have a picnic in it or plan a night of the week for family game night. You don’t have to always pay for entertainment; it’s often right under your nose in your very own home with the people you love most.
A budget needs to be on-going and monitored in order to work. By checking to make sure it fits you and your needs along with making it amusing, your budgeting process will go a long way. Keep in mind that you can have some flexibility when it comes to your budget as far as periodic adjustments go; just stick with it.
Over the weekend, I decided it was time to look into life insurance. Next year, I will be 30, and according to my own personal finance goal list, I need to get life insurance.
Life insurance was previously not a priority to me. However, life has also proven how short it is and that anything can happen at any time. In fact, a good friend of mine sadly passed away earlier this year at the young age of 34 from cancer. Thus, I felt it was high time that I, too, look into life insurance for myself despite not having children yet. Here are a few reasons you may want to consider life insurance for yourself:
Life insurance is for everyone
As I mentioned, life happens and very quickly. You do not need to wait to have a family of your own in order to consider purchasing this type of insurance.
Someone else will have to take your financial burdens
If you have someone who c0-signed a loan for you or will be responsible for your funeral costs, this is a way to prevent the stress of your loss be increased by the looming expenses falling under their responsibility. Not to mention, if you share a household with a significant other as I do, the ongoing living costs and existing debt won’t be as overwhelming due to money coming in from the policy. Giving your loved ones financial comfort should the unthinkable happen is more important than you may realize.
A variety of options exist for your current situation
The life insurance policy you sign up for may not be the same as your parents. For instance, you could opt to do a term insurance plan of 10 up to 30 years. An expert can help you determine which route is best for you, which does also help determine your cost as well. But, in the long run, the investment could be worth it; in fact, 86 percent of consumers feel people the same, according to this 2016 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA.
There are so many options out there when shopping for life insurance. Term life insurance sales agencies like SelectQuote, though, exist to shop companies for you. I went through the process myself, and here is what I found:
Using the online quote service from SelectQuote
I started with retrieving a quote online first, which was pretty straight forward to use. As you work your way through the health history questionnaire, you are prompted to answer from fairly basic and straight forward inquiries. There were some questions I was slightly unsure of due to some overthinking on my end, I am sure. None of the questions are really open-ended so you don’t get that opportunity to type in any specific or special situations. Thus, I had every intention of following through with a phone call once completing the initial survey, but SelectQuote got to me first.
Once you finish noting your answers, a representative promptly contacts you and forwards you to a licensed agent in your state that will be your assigned agent throughout the process. It was during this conversation that I was able to go through some of the details I needed to clarify, such as my mitral valve prolapse and heart murmur.
What to expect
The agent clarifies all questions with you and will even go through more as they do the shopping for you at no cost to you. If you were to do the policy shopping on your own, you would apply to multiple companies before finalizing one. What the agents at SelectQuote do is shop the market for you so that, at the end, you are only filling out one application.
Immediately, prior to even going over any companies or rates, my assigned agent gave me a recommendation of a 30 year term life insurance policy with a $250,000 based on my responses. I had initially marked a 10 year term policy so that I was giving myself room to change my policy, but Danny, my agent, mentioned my premium would not go up if I went with a 30 year policy. This is something I would prefer to clarify through a little more research but was mostly satisfied by his advice. He added that I could always apply for a higher amount.
It’s important to note that the companies they work with must have an A or A+ rating, and the agent’s job is to find you the best rate possible for your recommended policy.
It took a little digging and adjusting, but Danny was able to find not only a low-cost monthly payment for me but also for my boyfriend. At first, it seemed I would qualify for a number one rate class due to my great state of health and health history; however, due to my father’s passing at the young age of 51 from a heart aneurysm, I was pushed to a number three rate class. This increased my monthly quote slightly, but the quoted rate is still affordable. All the companies they work with will pay out the death claim, but for SelectQuote, it is who will charge the least amount for you.
What you need to know
It is best to reach out to SelectQuote only if you are serious as they work diligently with you to get the process on your policy started. However, a simple quote and idea of coverage is still very much attainable through the conversation. But, they will encourage to schedule a medical exam with you over the phone, which is just to make sure you follow through to solidify those rates.
A medical exam will need to be conducted before any rates are finalized or locked in. Danny did take my card on file but assured me I would not be charged until the exam and process were complete, which can take three to five weeks to finalize. The medical exam costs are also actually covered by the insurance company you plan to sign up with.
Before making the call, you should also do a little more research on what policies might be best for you and your situation. You should also decide who your beneficiary will be if you are not married or have children. I chose Ryan, my boyfriend, because he is considered my domestic partner, we’ve been together for more than seven years and do have an intention of getting married. The agent can also help you decide this if you wish to ask for their opinion.
Once your agent finishes the final questions, he or she will attempt to schedule the medical exam. You can turn it down and choose to schedule it when you receive a call from the examiners in the following three days like I did, but be prepared for this to be requested.
The entire process took close to an hour, but it could take longer depending on your questionnaire. While somewhat time consuming for a simple quote, the attention and detail is included to ensure the best price for you. So, it is worth going through.
Over the phone, I was also able to get a quote for my boyfriend as well. Overall, my first impression was quite positive. At one point, my phone call was even cut off with the representative, and they called me back right away. Customer service and personal attention are extremely important to me when choosing a company, and they get an A+ from me for this alone.
My end final quote was roughly $25 while Ryan’s was $20 for the same policy. I found these rates affordable and felt much less overwhelmed about the entire process than I did prior to even looking into life insurance plans. It was also convenient to have someone else do the shopping for me.
*Note: This article was sponsored by SelectQuote, but all thoughts and opinions are all my own.
Are you looking into life insurance? What has been your experience?
Personal finances can easily get out of hand. With the holidays coming up in just a few weeks, it is a great time to take control before they get worse.
Whatever your current situation is, the following information and tips will help you regain some control of your finances. Reduce stress now by taking action today.
Make a budget, and stick with it
If you are unsure where to start with your budget, start by creating a checklist of each item you need to improve financially. Are you shopping too many times in one month? Do you find yourself wasting groceries more than you would like? These are things to consider when making your list. I use my online banking to help me keep track of my expenses. By checking it regularly, I can see when I am about to reach the limit I created for myself and adjust my spending accordingly. It’s important to be strict with yourself when developing your budget and list of expenses in order to avoid overspending. If you allow yourself to continuously break budget, you are only hurting yourself and preventing future success with your money. It was not easy at first, but I made it a point to make it a part of my regular routine.
Learn a new skill to improve your personal finances
While paying for school may not seem ideal as the holidays draw near, it is something to consider perhaps even as a New Year’s resolution. If you are at a standstill in your job financially with little room to grow, you may have a hard time getting out of your current financial situation without an extended knowledge. On average, a college graduate does earn more throughout his or her lifetime than someone who did not continue their education after high school. However, there are also a variety of online classes you can take to learn a new skill. Udemy offers many options from becoming certified in yoga to learning how to be a photographer.
Compare interest rates on your mortgage
Looking into getting a mortgage? That’s great! Before you dive too far into the paperwork, though, be sure to compare interest rates as well as additional expenses. To weigh out the best mortgage option for you, you’ll want to think about how long you plan on living in your home. You may want to also ask about discount points to help your mortgage payments become cheaper throughout the years.
Pre-determine your meals for the week
You can save money by planning out your meals for the week due to wasting less food. Determine the ingredients you’ll need and take a list with you while shopping. Having this list will prevent your falling off the plan and buying anything you don’t really need or plan on eating. It can be easy to veer off, but this can also lead to waste. Produce, in particular, goes bad much faster than we are often able to eat it. So, be realistic when at the grocery store.
Stay away from grace periods on your credit card
You should really try to not accept the grace periods from your credit cards. Doing this could lead to future missed payments, which, in turn, affects your interest and starts to really create problems. Part of having your personal finances under control is to create healthy habits of paying your bills on time.
Make filing for bankruptcy a last resort
Look into all other options to save your personal finances before filing bankruptcy. Debt consolidation could be a possible solution instead. It takes roughly seven to ten years, depending, to recover from bankruptcy. So, you want to really try to do what you can to take care of your obligations and see this as a final and last resort.
Buy things used to save money
Every penny counts, and one way you can really make the money add up is by buying things used. CD’s, books and even cell phones can all be bought used. If you are a huge book nerd, you may want to even just sign up for a library card since you can just return the books once you are finished. You can also switch to a subscription to Netflix or Hulu instead of paying for cable with all those channels you don’t even watch. I haven’t had cable for five years, and I personally do not miss it.
Vehicles are another item to contemplate purchasing used. After the first 10,000 miles, the car will still function great but the price will drop. These are the used vehicles to really ask about.
Avoid being a co-signer
No matter how much you think you can trust someone, it is highly recommended to avoid being a co-signer for someone. There may be a time where you feel it is necessary, such as for a family member, but make sure to talk to them about a plan of action of paying you back. Do they have a reliable job? Why do they need a co-signer? Do they have non-existent credit? Have a very open and honest conversation because if they end up missing payments, you become responsible for their debt.
Life should not be spent worrying about your personal finances. Money is a huge stress is our lives, but the good news is you can take control. Apply these tips to your current strategy to get yourself on the right path. By regulating your finances, you enjoy life more without worrying about your financial situation all the time. It may take several steps, but it will all be worth it. Remember what they say: Start with the end in mind.
Have you been able to improve your personal finances? Feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your stories!