How to Actually Start Living Within Your Means

Believe it or not, it is possible to be happy and satisfied with what you have rather than going beyond your means to buy the most expensive items money can afford. Living within your means can actually make you happier and healthier.

change purse with measuring tape constricting it

Step one: start slow.
We could all stand to be more frugal. After all, who doesn’t like to save money? But it isn’t always easy to curb our spending habits, and sometimes trying to find the best deal can feel like a chore. Unfortunately, entering the frugal lifestyle isn’t the easiest thing to do. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help make it a smoother transition. With that in mind, here’s my advice on how you can break into frugal living.

1. Start Slow

Sometimes it can be difficult to make changes, and while some of us possess the fortitude to quit our bad habits cold turkey, the rest of us need to ease into transition. That’s why it’s best to take it slow when adopting the frugal lifestyle. Maybe you start by just cutting down on the number of times you go out to eat a week and cook a meal or two from home. Or you start to check for coupons online before you go out to shop. Taking baby steps towards frugality can help make it easier to stick with your new lifestyle.
2. Track Everything

How much are you spending each week? How much are you saving? Paying closer attention to how you’re managing your money can help you identify what areas of your life would most benefit from some frugal practices. Not only that, but tracking yourself can help turn frugality into a game! Each month is a new chance to beat the months prior; an opportunity to spend less and save more.

3. Really Think About What You’re Buying

Every time you’re about to purchase something, really take a moment to consider what it is you’re buying and why you’re buying it. Not only can this habit keep you from making impulsive purchase decisions, but it can also help you reevaluate your choices.

See more: http://time.com/money/3909256/live-within-your-means/

ATM, debit & credit card security tips

ATMs are a great convenience, but they can compromise your safety if you are not careful. ATM crime can happen anytime anywhere so follow these tips to help keep you and your money safe.

A hand taking a debit card out of an ATM

Think about your personal safety when using an ATM. Because most ATMs give out cash and many accept deposits, it makes sense to be alert and aware of your surroundings no matter where or when you use an ATM. When you’re by yourself, avoid using an ATM in out-of-the-way or deserted areas. Use ATMs located inside banks or supermarkets where other people are around. Use ATMs in well-lit, public areas.

Be sure to look at the ATM. If it looks like someone has tampered with the equipment, don’t use it. (This could mean that a criminal has attached a “skimmer” to the ATM to steal your financial information.) If a suspicious person offers to help you use the ATM, refuse and leave.

Put your money and ATM card away before you leave the ATM. Always avoid showing your cash. Always verify that the amount you withdrew or deposited matches the amount printed on your receipt. Shred or destroy your ATM receipts before you throw them away.

Report loss or theft!

Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately to the company that issued you the card. If your ATM card or debit card is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately.

To help you respond quickly in case your cards or ID are lost or stolen, make a chart like this one. Be sure to store the list in a safe place. Never carry it with you.

Sign your card

Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

Treat cards like cash

Protect your cards as if they were cash — never let them out of your possession or control. Don’t leave your credit cards …

 

See more: http://www.bankinfosecurity.com/10-tips-to-improve-atm-security-a-2852

How to Budget When You’re Broke

The process of building a budget can help you to take a hard look at your priorities and to determine whether you’re on track to reaching your financial goals and also to avoid going broke.

It takes commitment and time, but you can learn to manage your money even when there’s not much of it. Follow these steps to set up a budget if you’re broke.

We’ve discussed how to create a basic, real-world budget, but that advice often doesn’t apply when you’re struggling to make ends meet. The basic ideas are the same, but your breakdown of spending is probably going to look a bit different, and everyone’s situation is going to be unique to them. So here’s what you need to do to get back on track.

First: Assess Your Financial Situation

If you have more money going out than coming in, here’s what your financial plan boils down to: spend less and/or earn more. To figure out how to do this, first take an assessment of your income and expenses. This will help you develop a reasonable and realistic budget.

Categorize Your Expenses

Break down your expenses over the past few months. Categorize and separate them into needs and wants. Separating will help you prioritize your finances. To get a clear idea of your needs and wants, consider creating a hierarchy of spending. Organize your debts, too.

Identify Your Problem Spending Areas

Take note of your spending habits. Are there any specific stores you frequent? Do you have a coffee habit that can be cut? Many times, there are “leaks” in a budget that can be plugged. The first step is figuring out where they are. Identify these categories, and keep them in mind once you start your budget.

Cut Back Your Spending

Find ways to reduce your expenses. The first place to start is the “wants” category.

It’s important to allow yourself a little breathing room for fun in your budget. If you don’t, you risk …

 

Read more: http://twocents.lifehacker.com/how-to-budget-when-you-re-broke-1561620381

What You Should Know About Bankruptcy (from Someone Who’s Been There)

“Anyone who is struggling to pay their debts have the potential to be declared bankrupt, but it should only be considered once alternative debt solutions have first been explored. By going bankrupt you will be able to wipe the majority of your debts. You also gain an element of legal protection as the majority of your creditors will not be able to proceed with any enforcement action against you without permission from the court. Please note the word majority here. It is important to realize that not all debts can be wiped through bankruptcy. Similarly, some of your creditors can still take steps to recover their debts.”

What You Should Know About Bankruptcy (from Someone Who's Been There)

At 24, I was in a good place both financially and personally. I had a full time job, my dream apartment, and enough disposable income to keep myself entertained. Sure, I had a little credit card debt–who didn’t?—and my car payment was a tad high, but I wasn’t worried. I made enough money to keep things running smoothly.

This post orginally appeared on Girls Just Wanna Have Funds.

And then one morning, a stomachache I mistook for indigestion signaled the start of a mystery illness that would drastically change my life. Without going into too much detail, my illness kept me from working and thus, I was unable to pay my bills. My parents were able to scrape enough together for my car payment, but rent and other bills were just too much for them to shoulder.

I ended up broke, living with my parents and in constant, mind-numbing pain—all of which caused me to spiral into a depression. When faced with bankruptcy, I felt as if I’d been handed a death sentence. I had worked hard to build my credit. I never missed payments, always paid well above the minimum amount due and had even bought and paid off a car without a cosigner. For a 24 year old, my credit was gorgeous.

Read more: http://lifehacker.com/what-you-should-know-about-bankruptcy-from-someone-who-1463705702

8 Steps To An Organized Financial Life

“Lack of organization can harm your finances much more than just being short on cash. Invoices and late payments can lead to high charges and overdrawn bank accounts can generate overdraft fees. Getting organized financially is going to take some effort, but it is work best tackled before trouble hits. Start by taking a step or two to get the momentum going, and don’t forget to reward yourself for the hard work. If financial organization has been a struggle for you throughout the year, now’s a good time to take another stab at it. Here’s a list of seven steps towards an organized financial life.”

1. Sloppiness can hurt your accounts as much or more than being short on money. Losing bills can prompt late charges, and not staying informed concerning your ledger could bring about overdraft expenses. The accompanying are a few tips that will help you remain focused of your bills and accounts, and will prompt more prominent association and, in particular, less spending.
2. Haul Out Your Budget At Least Once Per Month 
Your bills could change on a month to month premise. Update your financial plan as bills come in and modify different costs to compensate for it, so you don’t unintentionally overdraw your ledger. For example, a few months and seasons bring higher electrical bills than others.
Imagine a scenario where you don’t have a financial plan. Make one today! Begin by recording your financial plan the path you’d like your costs to develop. Toward the end of the month, begin tweaking your financial plan by modifying different costs when one cost is more than you anticipated.