How to Keep Track of Your Money

Before we take a look at few ways to keep track of your money, here is a simple test. Ask yourself these questions, and answer with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

– Do I owe anyone money?
– Do I borrow money too often?
– Am I usually late to pay my bills?
– Have I put off doing something that I actually need to get done but can’t because I can’t afford it?
– Do I run out of money before my next paycheck arrives?

If you answered most of the above questions with a ‘Yes’, there is no other way to break it to you but to say – you need help, friend! It is not everybody’s cup of tea to manage their personal finances. However, the good news is, you can learn to do it pretty soon and quite effectively too. The following tips on how to keep track of your money are going to help you save money. It is never a good idea to live paycheck to paycheck; so if you don’t want to do that, follow the tips given below and start keeping a tab on your money!

Ways to Keep Track of Your Money

Wallet
Know the exact contents of your wallet. That does not mean you should keep track of every single penny that you put in or remove from your wallet. But it always helps to know how much money you have in your wallet. It even saves you from embarrassment – what if you were to have coffee with a nice girl in a nice cafe and you discovered you had no money left in your wallet? I wouldn’t want to be the girl with you! (Just kidding… I hope that never happens to you.)

Tip: Check in the morning before you leave the house how much money you have in your wallet. Even if you find some of it missing, you have only a day’s expenses to cross-check and trace back your missing money.

Expenses
It is best to keep track of your expenses to know exactly how much money you spend and on what. Many a time it so happens that we do not remember how much money we spent. We buy a box of liquor chocolates and forget we bought it. We pick up a bottle of wine on our way to someone’s house and forget we did. And then we rack our brains trying to remember where it is that the money was spent! So keep a track of your expenses. You can keep a record in a small pocket diary. If you want to be all pro, you can do the same on an iPad!

Tip: Do this daily (at the end of the day, before you hit the sack) and you won’t even have to keep a diary! It is not important to actually ‘write’ down all your expenses; even a mental check can suffice, as long as you are absolutely sure.

Credit
This is how credit cards work (in the simplest, crudest terms) – they (credit union) give you money to use for free. They give you a time limit within which you have to return the money. But if you fail to return it in that time, they charge you an interest such that you eventually end up returning a lot more than you borrowed! Now the problem is, somewhere we have this psychological block in our heads – credit card is somebody else’s money, so even if I overspend, ‘my’ money is still intact. So we tend to overspend. But that is so wrong, for we all know that ultimately we have to pay the credit card bill from our own money. Plus credit card bills are always unbelievable. We take one look at the bill, and we are like ‘Damn! When did I spend that much money?’

Tip: Switch to using an ATM card or a debit card. That way, you would think twice before spending, as it would be ‘your’ money. Also all your transactions will show in your monthly bank account statement. It makes keeping a track easier.

Budget
Set yourself a budget and do not spend outside the budget. If you do, make sure to keep a track of what you spent the extra money on. Did you indulge in a shopping spree? Did you lend anyone money? Were you hit by some unexpected expenses? Medicine? Dinner? Trip to somewhere? Keeping track of your money when you are out on a small trip, holiday or vacation becomes almost impossible. Everybody is in the mood to spend. It is essential you set yourself a budget to keep track in such cases.

Tip: Keep a comfortable margin. Too low a budget can make it seem like you are overspending all the time, when actually you are not. It can bog you down! Take into account all your monthly expenses before setting a budget.

Account
Monitor your bank account vigilantly. It is the world of e-banking, so make sure you subscribe for an electronic monthly statement of your bank account, and make sure you actually go through the statement when it arrives and check for any transactions that seem fishy or unaccountable. I do hope this never happens to you, but a possibility of theft cannot be overruled. Credit card scams are not something unheard of. A lot of people have a lot of reasons (though wrong ones) to tamper with people’s bank accounts. It is better to be careful than sorry!

Tip: Train yourself to read through the bank statement carefully. Do not simply throw it in the trash can. It hardly takes a few minutes. Also report any unusual transactions immediately, without further ado.

So those were some personal finance tips that will help you keep track of your money. Train yourself to deal with money responsibly. You can inculcate responsibility in your children right from their tender years, so that they learn to use money carefully from an early age. Everything in life is not about money, yes. But many important things are – food, clothing, shelter, medical help, for starters. So it is always a good idea to save and invest. Hope the above tricks and tips help you out. Cheers!

Easy Ways To Save Money

There is no denying the fact that saving money is easier said than done. But as the saying goes ‘Nothing is impossible’, you’ll realize after reading this article that saving money is also not impossible! It does not have to involve making life-changing sacrifices, all it requires is to take some wise decisions and make a few minor alterations to our lifestyle.

Here are some easy ways to save money, by bringing in minor changes to what we consider to be a desiderata in our daily lives:

On Groceries:

– Make a budget. It is the first and foremost thing which should not be ignored.
– Make a list before walking into the store.
– Before leaving, check the pantry, fridge, and cupboard to ensure that you don’t buy what you already have at home.
– Inquire about the sale period in your store.
– Avoid buying prepared food, instead cook yourself double the usual portion and freeze it for later.
– Be open to buy in-store brands, as the quality is the same as the regular brands and anyway, the brand name mustn’t matter when saving.
– There is nothing wrong with using coupons, they are as good as cash. Look for them in the Sunday newspaper.
– Look for your store’s weekly advertisement fliers on any offers or discounts.

On Holidays and Christmas:

– Plan a holiday during the off-peak season.
– Go to an offbeat vacation spot.
– Conduct a thorough research on the offers available with different travel agents.
– Opt for a family package, instead of individual deals, while holidaying.
– If you are the adventurous kind, then plan a vacation yourself, instead of having it done from an agent. Choose the destination, mode of travel, and plan out the expenses accordingly.
– Book the flight tickets in advance to get cheaper fares.
– Avoid shopping at duty-free stores, as they are overly expensive.
– Make a list for your Christmas shopping.
– Don’t wait for the last day, start your Christmas shopping early. Grab the offers as they come, or else you might have to spend much more later.
– Try to make homemade gifts for your near and dear ones, as they are not only cheaper, but they would mean much more than merely buying gifts from the store.

On Utilities:

– Disconnect the landline phone in the house, if all members of the family use cell phones.
– You could also use Skype to make free phone calls.
– For electricity, opt for fixed-bill plans, wherein a specific amount is payable every month.
– Change your incandescent bulbs to the energy saving CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp).
– Use a fuel efficient car.
– Get a programmable thermostat, as it automatically regulates itself according to the outside temperature.
– Instead of washing your clothes with hot water, use cold water, as that can save a lot of energy.
– Obtain credit cards without annual fees.
– Make ‘auto pay’ payments to the credit card companies, to avoid being charged a late payment fee (if you are not in the country or just forget to do it on time).
– Avoid getting a cash advance, as they come with a higher interest rate.

On Entertainment, Eating Out and Exercise:

– Rent a DVD, instead of buying one or watching the movie in a theater.
– Avoid eating out, except for weekends or so, and take a brown bag lunch to work. This would take care of your health too.
– Book your tickets online and in advance, for events and concerts.
– Instead of taking your friends to a fancy restaurant, invite them home for a house party, it will be more fun and you wouldn’t have to spend a lot.
– Get yourself a library membership, where you can get free books and magazines, and could also get free Internet access.
– You don’t really need a gym membership. The best alternative would be to spend quality time with your family. You could play a sport with the kids, which is a much more enjoyable workout.
– Visit local museums and zoos, they usually have annual passes, which means that with a one-time fee, you can make multiple visits to see your favorite animals.
– Read online magazines, instead of subscribing to the print ones.
– If you must go to restaurants, then go for lunch, instead of dinner, as they are relatively cheaper.

On Kids:

– Kids can earn their daily allowance at home by doing some chores. It also helps them become more responsible and frugal.
– Sell the ‘no longer in use’ stuff like old toys and comic books.
– Set up a savings account for the children.
– If the kids have saved any money, then make sure to invest it, by opening an investing account, wherein you get returns in the form of interest.
– Teens can take up a job like babysitting, pet sitting, gardening, and many more.

I am sure, while reading through the article, you must be thinking that you already knew about most of these points. But what’s important is how much of it, do we actually follow. Hence, it is better to start now than repent later.

Money Saving Tips for College Students

Are you familiar with these woes? College goers, if money is worrying you, then this article on money saving tips for college students will give some solace to you

College life is full of fun, but in this fun-filled life we forget to manage our expenditures according to our needs. Sometimes we invest on things which are not into our priority list. This is called careless investment. While at other times we spend extravagantly on our friends just for the sake of fun and enjoyment. Away from home, we are sometimes tempted to do things which were restricted by our parents. The ultimate outcome is, we run short of money. So, money saving policy is very important not only for the college students but for every person. I shall definitely help to get few good money saving ideas for college students.

Tips for Saving Money

There are many ways by which you can easily save your money and invest it in the right direction. The following money saving tips will guide you.

Managing the Account Balance: First keep a track of the money in your account, then decide your monthly investment and expenditure according to the amount available.

Your Cost of Living: It is very important to know your cost of living no matter you have an extravagant or a mediocre lifestyle. Know in which direction you are spending your money and then start saving.

Jot Down the Expenses: This is a very useful money saving tip for college students. Build a habit to write down your daily expenditures. This will help to know your exact investment everyday and you can curtail down if you are spending more than you need to.

Savings Policy: When you have learned the money management policy, you can start saving a certain amount every month in your personal account. Go through the various saving policies of different banks and start saving using the best policy with maximum gains.

Know How to Save Money

After reading these tips, you might be thinking how to curtail wasteful expenditure, how to invest in the right direction and how to change the lifestyle as a whole. Well, it is very important to know how to save money.

Credit Cards: If you have credit cards go for the ones that have the lowest interest rates. Try not to withdraw a big sum at one shot or purchase things with your credit cards always. This can be quite dangerous at times due to online theft.

Payments on Time: Make a habit to clear all the dues within the given time. Electricity bills, house rents, food allowances, etc. should be paid on due date, to avoid the burden of huge overdue at the last moment.

Tuition fee: Avail the various scholarships for college students to get a discount on your tuition fees. You can also go to banks to get a loan with low interest rates. This plan can save the money from being spent at one shot and you can repay in installments.

Commuting and Traveling: If you are an outstation college student, try to get an accommodation close to your college, so that the traveling cost is minimized or saved. Don’t go for luxuries like car rather commute by bikes, buses and other regular modes of transport. Prefer walking if you stay nearby your college.

Sharing Basis: Try to go for a sharing basis accommodation. This will curtail your monthly rent, food, and other bills. This money saving tip for college students is really a helpful tip for saving money.

Cut your Daily Entertainment: If your entertainment routine with friends is sucking too much money just avoid it. Regularly going to discos, pubs, restaurants, parties, movies and many group hangouts involve huge expenditures. To save your money from being spent, avoid these unwanted activities as much as possible.

Food and Drink that Save Money: Don’t get tempted to have fast foods and junk foods everyday. Go for daily meals and healthy diet. Invest less in expensive restaurants and cafeterias. Avoid intake of alcohols regularly. This habit not only involves wasteful expenditure but is also harmful to your health. You can even try cooking by your self in your personal electric oven. This way you can save some money.

Collect Books: You can sometimes avoid buying the expensive books by collecting it from your seniors or libraries. You can also go for second hand books at low prices or get the photocopies of the original books. Try to download it from websites or get the CDs of the books. This is one of the easy money saving tips for the college students.

Earn a Few Bucks: You can also add some extra bucks to your pocket in many ways. Try the Google Ad Sense, the RSS feeds or create blogs to make money. You can also try freelancing in various newspapers or magazines during free hours to get some extra income. Save the extra money earned and utilize it when you need.

Other Expenditures: Keep a check on extra expenditures like phone bills, Internet usage bills and other bills related to electronic gadgets. Go for the cheap plans available to cut down your expenses and save some money.

These money saving ideas for college students are easy to follow. So, college students, kindly try not to be too extravagant or prodigal. Spend less than you earn. I hope these simple money saving tips for college students will prove to be useful.

Tips on How to Save Money on Bills

When you go through a financial crunch, it is very important that you focus on how to save money. During such a time, every penny you spend holds more value than it once did. Keep a record of all your expenses on a weekly or monthly basis as per your convenience, and then carefully analyze these expenses and prioritize them based on the most important, to the least. You will find that some expenses are unavoidable and therefore cannot be compromised on. However, there are other expenses like electricity, grocery, and phone bills, that can be considerably reduced with wise planning and budgeting.

Electricity Bills

Because we are highly dependent on various electrical appliances in our homes, our electricity bills are constantly high. Make it a habit to turn off the lights whenever you exit a room, even if you are leaving it for just a few minutes. You can save a lot of money if you keep certain appliances that are not in use, either switched off from the main power source or unplugged. This is because some of the appliances still use small amounts of electrical currents, even when they are not in use. This constant flow of electricity adds up a little a day, thus resulting in a heavy monthly bill. Let’s take a look at how you can save money on other expenses.

Grocery Bills

Saving money on your grocery bills, does not mean that you have to compromise on the quality of the food you buy. Prepare a list of items that are essential, and stick to buying them. In the absence of such a list, we end up buying a lot of things on a whim, especially things we don’t need. Avail of grocery coupons that come with the morning newspaper or at the grocery store, and you will be able to save some money with the discounts.

Some convenience stores issue discount cards with which you can buy your groceries; take advantage of special offers too. Another money saving tip is to buy larger packs of non-perishable food, so that they last longer. Even for household cleaning products and the like, you can do the same and save a significant amount of money. The price on a larger product is a tad cheaper when bought in a bulkier size.

Phone Bills

A phone is an integral part of our everyday life; you need it to keep in touch with your friends, co-workers, and family, as well as in emergent situations. Cutting costs can be a little harder here, but it is nonetheless possible. You can cut down all those unnecessary phone services like voice mail, call waiting, etc. if you do not need them. Avoid using any costly services that charge you extra, and you will find that you end up spending way less than usual.

The cost of calling someone who isn’t in the same city/country, can be expensive. For this reason, you can make those calls during a time in the day when they’re cheaper, like in the nights, over the weekend, or during those particular hours when calls are free. There are also family-calling plans that offer a discount on call rates to a specifically-chosen numbers or regions. If you have to call a company, use their toll free number if they have one. Expenses that arise from using a cellular phone are higher compared to land line bills, therefore, make sure to choose the right plan that suits your requirements, with cheap SMS bundle packages and a reasonable internet plan.

You need not be a money management expert to understand these ways on how to save money. You can avoid other unnecessary expenses like shopping when you don’t have to, and buying products because the packaging design beckons and tempts. Avoid eating at restaurants too (limit it to once a week, like on Sundays), and learn how to prepare your own meals at home using wholesome, reasonably-priced produce. As you get into the habit of saving and investing your hard-earned money, you’ll find how easy it is to get by. Seek financial advice from a professional if you really think you need a second opinion and more help.

Money Management Tips for Teenagers

When you are a teenager, you often have a limited amount of money at your disposal. So, it is very important that you spend that money judiciously. It is likely that, you are unable to figure out as to where all your money has gone. It is an indication that, it is high time you develop the habit to monitor your expenses and spend more carefully. Some of the tips given below can help you in this task.

Start Budgeting

The money that you get every week or month is fixed. So plan your expenses in advance. Make a list of those expenses that are essential and allot a certain amount to each of them. It should include major expenses like cell phone plans, restaurant bills, gas for car, etc. Additionally, a small amount has to be kept aside for some minor unplanned expenses, which are bound to happen.

Monitor your Purchases

Planning your budget is not very tough. But sticking to the budget is a difficult task. Keep a close watch on your expenditure. It can happen that you make several small unnecessary purchases in a day, and that may sum up to a really big figure. In order to avoid this, pen down the things you bought and their price everyday. On weekends, find out if your expenses matched up with the estimation in your budget of the week. If not, then make sure you cut back on a few spending in the following weeks to fit your expenses. When you succeed to restrain your expenditure, compliment yourself.

Save for Expensive Purchases

When you come across an expensive item like a cell phone, that you wish to buy but do not have the money, you feel disappointed. You feel that luxury items like these are not meant for you. Do not lose heart. That does not mean you go out and buy it impulsively. Start saving some amount every week. Suspend all kinds of unwarranted spending for a few weeks. Eventually, you will be surprised to find out that, you can actually afford to buy the things which once you felt were out of reach.

Avoid Using Credit Cards

You may feel it is very convenient to buy things using credit cards, just because you do not have to use cash on the spot. Later, you will realize that you have ended up paying more than you had wanted to. It happens, because the interest rates charged by credit card companies are very high. So it is better, if you shop using cash payments in order to save a good amount of money.

Handle Cash Machines with Care

There is no doubt that cash machines are very convenient to withdraw cash. But, it often happens that after withdrawing money from a cash machine, we tend to forget how much cash has been taken out. This can lead to the risk of overdrawing on your account. So, make sure that you keep a track of it.

A little bit of attention and practice will help you develop the skills of money management. It is one such quality, that will help you all your life.

Easiest Ways to Save Money in a Tight Economy

We all know we need to cut back on spending these days. But, we, Americans, loathe to make big changes in our lifestyles. We like what we like and we don’t want to have to give it up.

But, there are so many easy ways to make small changes that add up to more savings annually; in fact, if you do all of them, you’ll save hundreds or even thousands every year.

Much of it has to do with planning and prioritizing. With a little pre-planning, you will be surprised at how easy it is to save money, and by prioritizing what is important to your lifestyle, it will be relatively painless to cut out what you don’t need.

The most obvious issues faced by most families these days are the costs of food and gasoline.

Here are the best simple tricks and tips that you can use to save money on groceries and filling up the gas tank:

Nothing is more basic than food, and with food costs rising along with everything else, this is where a lot of your family budget is probably going. A few simple changes can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year:

Studies have shown that people who only shop once per week spend far less money than those who go several times per week. In fact, shoppers who make that quick trip to the store for one item will spend as much as 54% more than they had planned. In addition, buying in bulk less frequently is less expensive (and easier on the environment) than purchasing individually packaged items. So, plan out your list and try to only go to the grocery store once per week.

Leave your children at home, if at all possible. You can focus better without them who keep on asking for this or that, and you won’t end up buying extras that you do not want or need.

Adopt a tip from your mom or grandmother (who probably survived some tough economic times and know what they are talking about) and clip coupons. Find the coupon booklets from the store you frequent (and thus, find coupons you would actually use), and have an envelope at home to save them. When it’s time to plan your shopping trip, look through your coupons and use them to help plan the week’s menu, and then buy the items on sale.

While it is important to buy some products for their brand name or organic health benefits, choose generic labels whenever possible.

Many people are already cutting down on expensive extras like going out to eat. You don’t have to give it up entirely; just prioritize. Save restaurant outings for very special occasions, and savor the outing for the treat that it is. Pick places that offer two-for-one deals, or ask your friends for recommendations of inexpensive restaurants. It’s difficult to enjoy yourself if you are worrying about the bill, so next time you think about dining out, consider whether it is worth the expense.

Pre-planning goes a long way in terms of lunch meals also. If you grab lunch at a cafeteria or nearby sandwich shop from work, it will cost you a lot more than if you take a few moments the night before and pack a delicious, nutritious bagged lunch. Include this planning for your grocery trips, and use ideas from your deli to dream up imaginative and creative lunches for yourself.

Think the same way about that triple-whip-whatever latte you grab from the espresso drive-through. A cup of coffee (costing USD 3 – 4) every morning can add up to about USD 75 per month, or over USD 900 per year. That’s the equivalent of about five gallons of gas per week.

It seems like everyone is trying to cut down on their spending at the gas tank. But, there are some simple ways to make it even easier and make your gas dollar go further:

The first and most obvious one is not to drive whenever possible. Of course, most of us would say that’s impossible; Americans are in love with their cars. And in many communities, driving to work is a necessity. But, that does not mean we can’t try our best to make a few smarter choices when it comes to our gas consumption.

Whenever you can, walk. Going to the local park with the kids? Make the walk an integral part of the trip. Try to plan your errands so that you can take one day a week and make it a no-drive day.

See if there’s a way to carpool with someone else from work. It will save a lot on gas, and you might find a new ally at the office. Or check out public transportation. It may take a little longer to get to work, but sometimes with efficient bus systems, it’s not that much harder to do than drive.

If that’s not possible, try to negotiate a work-from-home day, may be one day a week. People do this with their job and mostly, work from home two days per week. They are already witnessing big savings in gas. If your workplace isn’t that flexible, there are still things you can do to save on gas:

Find the best station near you. Our local radio station lists the best gas station deals in the area every day, but even if yours doesn’t, notice where the gas is cheapest, and plan your route around stopping there. It may seem like just pennies, but it all adds up. Some gas stations will have discount days; find out when your local stations have the cheapest gas.

Furthermore, find out about a gas-saving driving technique called “hypermiling.” In simple terms, this is just trying to get the most miles out of your tank of gas. Hypermilers recommend driving 60 miles per hour maximum, which improves your gas mileage. In addition, avoid excessive braking and speeding up. If cars ahead are braking, try just taking your foot off the gas pedal at first, before applying pressure to the brakes. Often, by the time you catch up to traffic, it’s begun moving again and you don’t need to brake. Use your cruise control whenever possible as sudden changes in speed will eat into your gas. When you are in doubt, let your car coast. Devoted hypermilers say they have been able to double their gas mileage, and when using a super-efficient car (a hybrid or fuel-efficient compact car), this can lead to huge amounts in gas savings. Honda Insight Hybrid owners brag of getting more than 100 miles per gallon with the combination of the hybrid engine and hypermiling techniques.

Another important point: the more weight you are carrying around in your car, the worse your mileage will be. So, dump out the softball gear and all the extra junk you have in your trunk, and see the mileage improve. Some experts recommend never filling your gas tank up completely, because the extra weight of the gas will drag down your mileage. However, take into consideration the extra trips to the gas station for more frequent fill-ups, and calculate whether that’s worth the lighter load.

Make sure that the car is in good running condition, and have the brakes and air filters checked. Get regular tune-ups to ensure efficiency, and get the tires filled. The proper amount of air in the tires alone can improve your gas mileage noticeably.

Fill up in the morning. Gas is more condensed when it’s cooler, during morning or evening hours, so you will literally get more gas for your buck than if you fill up mid-afternoon.

The more you see the savings from these techniques, the more you’ll want to do even more. It can be fun and a challenge at the same time to see where else you can save in your grocery budget and at the gas pump. These tips may seem like a lot, but try one or two you think are doable, and when you see the savings start, you’ll be motivated to try others.

The economy may very well get worse before it gets better, and we all may need to make even bigger changes to our habits in order to survive. But for now, these small adjustments can be a start, and when you see they are not that difficult to make, the future may not seem so daunting.

Buying Secondhand Saves Money, but Can Cost You Dearly

It used to be that there were three basic ways to find used items to buy―yard sales, thrift stores, and the classified section of newspapers. But nowadays, with the Internet bringing the world into your living room, people have access to a multitude of online yard sales and auctions. It’s hard to resist the lure of getting something used for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it new. In some cases, you can find a great bargain and get just what you were looking for while saving a little money. But there are some things you should always buy in person or brand new, instead of buying them unseen.

Computers
Yes, you can get what sounds like a screaming used system on eBay and other online sites, and you can save a lot of money by buying factory refurbished models from dealers and online computer stores. But many new computers nowadays are so affordable that there’s no real reason to buy a used system. With a used system you can’t get it customized to provide exactly what you need, and the technology will always be at least a little outdated. Because of the speed at which technology changes nowadays, it never pays to buy an old or used computer, especially if you plan to use it for work or anything important. Many mass-market manufacturers, including Dell and Compaq, offer entire computer systems for less than $500. They may not be the best built computers in the world, but at least everything is brand new and you’ll have a manufacturer’s warranty to back them up.

Appliances
One of the most risky large items to buy online can be appliances. Washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, gas ranges―you can find just about any used appliance out there for sale. But old appliances have no warranty or guarantee, and you can’t tell how well they will work just from a seller’s description and a photograph. Newer models of appliances will be more energy efficient and have more up-to-date technology, which will save money on utility bills. Shipping for large items such as appliances can also be expensive. If you really want to buy a used appliance to save money, the best way to do it is to see it in person, and preferably see it working, before laying out the cash for something that might not work when you get it home.

Strollers, Car Seats, and Cribs
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year at least 16 children die because of unsafe cribs. Some of those deaths are from cribs that are designed poorly, but many of them are from cribs that simply break down unexpectedly. The risk of your child being injured or killed isn’t worth the few bucks you might save by buying something online sight unseen. Strollers, car seats, cribs, and any other child-related merchandise should always be bought new.

High-tech Electronics
With the growing plethora of fancy electronic items taking over our lives every day, and the expensive tags they carry, it can be tempting to search online auctions for affordable digital cameras, DVD players, and even plasma screens. But because high-tech electronics usually have delicate mechanisms, even the slightest flaw can affect your enjoyment of the product, and that flaw might not be readily apparent. Older models of plasma screens, for example, may have images burned into the screen that you might not see right away. Electronics are also being continually updated, and the speed with which newer models are released is growing faster each year. You can buy brand new digital cameras cheaply that won’t have the highest pixel count and won’t have many of the fancy features new cameras offer, but you will have a manufacturer’s warranty, and sometimes you can even try them out in the store before buying.

Mattresses and Upholstered Furniture
Mattresses are particularly tricky to buy used, because you never know who has been sleeping on them, what has been spilled on them, or what type of home they were used in. Unless you know the person you’re buying it from, or you have access to a reputable company that can clean and disinfect it, you should never buy a mattress used. Upholstered furniture also carries the same risks. These items may come from homes with heavy smokers, cats or dogs, babies in diapers, people with chronic illnesses, flea or bedbug infestations, or any number of situations that could contaminate the furniture to a point where it makes your life miserable. Spend the money and buy them new.

Although there are hundreds of things you can buy used that will save you money and give you just as much satisfaction as you’d get from a new item, there are also hundreds of used things that could easily make your life miserable. With a little savvy and common sense, you can save yourself a lot of heartache―as well as money―by spending a little more and buying something new in the first place.

Basic Money Management Skills

Money. That which makes the world go round. It all boils down to the money that we have at the end of the day. Money determines the way we live, what we do, and basically every other decision of our lives. Without money, we are basically nothing. And that, I know, is something that no one will want to go through. So it becomes imperative that we earn well. But earning well is not the end all of everything. It actually begins from there. Money which is earned, needs to be managed well, so that we continue to benefit from it for a long time. And therein comes the part where we need to learn some basic money management skills. Because without these, we will not be able to develop effective methods of money management.

Most of us do not have the knowledge of what some of the most simple and effective money management skills are. So to help you out, this article shall provide you with just that.

Money management skills are not difficult to learn once you get the hang of how to go about it. Given below is a step by step plan that you can follow in order to nurture some of these skills.

Take Stock
The first thing you need to do is calculate how much you are earning. Add in all the resources. Once you have this figure, calculate how much money you need to spend every month. To learn how much you spend every month, the best method is to write down each and everything that you spend for a couple of days. The amount will most generally exceed the amount that you had in mind―that’s because we don’t realize how much we end up spending on small things. Keep in mind that you need this spending figure to learn the basic skills. It is also important to note that the figures of two months will never be the same, there will be more expenditures incurred in a particular month and not so many in the next. But an average figure can be definitely arrived at.

Allot Amounts
Now that you know an average amount of the money that you need to spend for a month, it’ll be easier to allot amounts to different things. Make a list of all the things that you need to spend on―rent, tuition, bills (newspaper, Internet etc.) groceries, emergency (very important), and miscellaneous. You can make a long term-short term list as well. Like monthly/weekly/daily, and segregate the items accordingly. Now calculate the amount that you need for each and allot the money accordingly.

Many people use the envelope method for household items and it seems to work for them. For this, use different envelopes and mark them―for example ‘vegetables’, ‘toiletries’, ‘groceries’ etc, and at the beginning of the month fill the envelop with the amount that you need. Stick to that amount no matter what. When you put it down on paper like that, you are constantly reminded of it and the tendency to overspend is curbed.

Take Care of Debts
Never ever keep a debt. Pay a debt off as soon as you can, because if you keep on piling it, it’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger and cut into your regular saving plan. Find out how much you owe and what you need to pay off―that is the first step in managing your debt. Credit cards, surplus bills―everything needs to be paid off. Make a plan for the same. How? Along with the other envelopes, make another one for the debts so that you have a clear segregation made. It might be difficult in the beginning, but once you start physically putting in the money, you’ll deal with the problem head on and with continued efforts, the amount will be paid off.

Plan the Future
Now that the preliminary stage is taken care of, you’ll need to save for the future. The most important thing to do here is draw up a goal. What do you want to save for? Retirement? Children’s education? A house? Car? Or even small plans like a music system, a new phone etc. Calculate the amount you’ll need to save for it. This is your first step. The next steps will be how to get that money in a stipulated period of time.

Budget
Having a budget is really important. One way of budgeting is the envelope way, so that you don’t end up spending more when you have already allotted a fixed amount to yourself. The second method of making a budget, and this is somewhat of a conscious change in attitude, is that you get it in your head to budget things. Consciously decide that you want to budget. Do not spend recklessly. Other than that, planning for the future and drawing up plans of the things you need to save for will help you to budget well. This is because you’ll know what and how much you need to save up on to get that amount.

Invest
After paying all the bills, the surplus amount that lasts needs to be invested well. There is nothing worse than stagnant money. So consult a financial adviser or an investment adviser who will calculate how much you can afford to save per month, after deducting the expenditure and surplus. After this he will draw up a scheme that suits you best. It could be anything from a fixed deposit account to investing in mutual funds or buying property as assets.

Easy Saving Tips
Along with budgeting and drawing up plans, you can also consciously decide to save. Here are some money saving tips that you can use:

– Buy things in wholesale.
– Instead of buying books, join a library or start a club. Use this same formula for different things.
– Car pool to work, that will save on money for gas AND is good for the environment.
– Buy things on sale.
– Go through your daily expenditure sheet, you will find that there are several things in there that you can easily give up. Like a very expensive brand of hair product.
– Turn off the power when you don’t need it.

Earn Extra
It has been found that we never tap the full potential when it comes to expending our talents or finding other means of earning some extra money. This is one of the more indirect money management skills that we need to learn. Here are some of the easiest ways to make money―taking on freelancing jobs, giving tuition, making use of your hobbies and talents like singing or dancing (giving classes, singing in a club) or cooking (providing snacks for a establishment or making a fixed amount for a bakery). Other methods include, selling things for scrap, holding garage sales etc.

Acquiring money management skills allows you to live better. It secures your future and helps you gain control over your life rather than the debts and money problems controlling you. It should therefore be our prerogative to learn and practice the several money management skills to lead a more fulfilling and comfortable life.

How to Raise Money for a Business?

The capital is one of the first things that needs to be taken into consideration when one is setting out on a business venture, and there are many different sources to obtain this capital. It is not necessary to stick to one particular source rigidly; even a combination of various different sources can be used.

Anyone who is wondering how to raise money for a restaurant, a start-up, an advertising agency, or any other small-scale venture should keep these methods in mind. Approaching the right people for it is vitally important for the success of the business, and if this is not catered to properly, it will be doomed from the very beginning.

Personal Savings

This is the most obvious source of money for starting a business. If you have saved up enough money over the years, go ahead and make use of it to serve the underlying purpose. You will not be answerable to anyone, and you will not have to worry about repaying someone. If you choose this option, ensure that you are not using all your savings though. Many people neglect this option because if they lose it, they will have nothing left to live on.

Venture Capitalists

This is the next most obvious source for your initiative. Venture capitalists are professional agencies who put in venture capital into an upcoming business. What they get in return is either its share, or a share of the profits, or pretty high interest rates. It may sound like exploitation, but this is one of the best ways to get money. Venture capitalists are always looking for new and innovative business ideas that are likely to succeed.

Angel Investors

These are a refined form of venture capitalists, but many people think that they mean the same thing. Angel investors are less demanding than venture capitalists and remain with your initiative in the long run. Usually, these are someone who you would know personally, and they are simply looking for ways to get a higher return on their investment. How companies raise money depends a lot on the nature of the business and the method of entrepreneurship adopted. Angel investors also help them by providing some guidance and mentoring.

Personal Borrowings

Here is a method that should be avoided as far as possible. You can borrow money from someone you know, namely your friends, family, or other people. The problem here is that once you mix business and personal relationships, things start to get a bit sour. This is a situation that needs to be handled with great tact and diplomacy, and not everyone can manage to do that. Still, this is a method that many people consider.

Bank Loans

Another answer is to approach a bank for a small loan. With banks, you will not be required to pay a very high interest rate, but you will need sufficient documentation about the business model of your initiative. Along with that, your credit history and financial stability will also be scrutinized, in order to find if you are worthy of getting a loan. Most people would love to get it, but are simply not eligible. This is especially true for someone looking to collect the money, without owning any fixed assets.

Advertising

Here is another answer, but one that requires a suitable amount of investment and more than a fair share of patience. If you can handle the advertising of your upcoming company well, you can get more than enough money to sustain it in the long run. There are some websites that also allow you to advertise your business plan and then suit you up with a matching investor. This is a slightly unreliable method for sure, but it works wonders if one can find the right match.

Other Options

One can approach some small-business investment companies, business development commissions, life insurance companies, or a money broker. The reliability of these options will not be very high, and their demand may be exorbitant, but if you have run out of all other options, then this is something that you will need to resort to.

You should act as early as possible, in order to get sufficient capital and business financing. There is a variety of sources available, and as long as you have a great and reliable plan, you will be able to procure capital. It is not all that difficult; all you need more than anything else is faith in yourself.