Financial Planning Articles
- 15 Ways to Stretch Your Paycheck
Here are some of the best ways to stretch your paycheck:
Budget closely and carefully
The best way you can stretch your paycheck is to budget very carefully for each and every month then follow through on that budget. This is a very common budget break down that average Americans use:
- Housing – 35%
- Food – 15%
- Transportation – 12%
- Debt – 8%
- Retirement – 7%
- Health Care – 5%
- Communication – 5%
- Savings – 5%
- Entertainment – 5%
- Clothes – 3%
You can feel free to adjust this as need be, according to your unique financial situation.
Save on electricity with just a one or two-degree difference.
By just turning your heat down one or two degrees or your air conditioning down one or two degrees, you can save between 3% and 6% on your utility bill. That may not seem like much but it really does add up over time, saving you tons of money.
Save on unnecessary subscriptions.
Get rid of your landline as mobile phones are far more common now and you likely don’t even use it. Don’t sign up for an unlimited data plan on your phone and connect to wi-fi instead as that can save you tons of money every month. Wi-fi can be found nearly everywhere nowadays so why waste the money. And, finally, cut your cable or satellite bill and rely on streaming services like Netflix instead!
Find deals anyway you can but remember to only use coupons on things that you actually buy instead of spending more money on things you don’t need or usually buy.
Brew your own coffee
We promise you that brewing your own cup of joe every morning will save you loads of money as it is a fraction of the price of your typical morning Starbucks.
Track your spending with a smart phone app like Mint.
Use these great new technologies to know exactly where your money is going so you can cut expenses when you need to.
Make some extra money on the side.
Sell some of your belongings online or have a garage sale. Start driving for Uber or Lyft on the weekend. Deliver pizzas on the weeknights and make a whole bunch of tips.
Adjust your withholdings by filling out a new W-4.
You can simply make your paychecks larger by filling out a new W-4 since most employees actually have more taxes withheld than are necessary for income taxes.
Stop buying bottled water.
Why waste money and plastic? Just use tap water instead and if you need filtered water, just get a re-usable filter like Brita. You will still be paying a fraction of the price.
Buy less pre-prepared food.
Prepped food always costs almost twice as much as un-prepped food. So it is definitely necessary to stretch your culinary skills in order to stretch your paycheck.
Always look for sale or deal items when shopping.
When you walk into any sort of retail store just head straight for the sale section. You can find great deals for items of just as high quality.
Eat out less often.
Work on your culinary skills and cook dinner for yourself or your family more. You will not believe how big of a difference this makes in how long your paycheck will last.
Use cash instead of debit or credit cards.
When you are using real money instead of little plastic cards, you are far less likely to spend as freely. When you use cash, you will think harder before making a purchase.
Pay bills first.
Always try to pay your bills, especially the crucial ones, first so that you know exactly what you realistically have to spend for the rest of the month. That way you won’t come to the end of the month and realize that you don’t have enough to cover the necessary bills.
Get a title loan.
Consider getting a title loan with TFC Title Loans in order to cover some expenses that your paycheck cannot stretch far enough to cover. We can get you up to $50,000 at competitive rates in as little as one business day.
- How to Do Your Tax Return by Yourself
We are smack dab in the middle of tax season and with a tighter budget than last year, you may be wondering how to do your tax return by yourself. It seems too much to gather the funds to hire an accountant while it seems too daunting to take on the feat yourself. We would like to offer you a helping hand by walking you through the process so you don’t feel as uncertain.
As the oldest title loan lender in California, we, at TFC Title Loans, have gained extensive experience in finance including an in-depth knowledge of the process of filing tax returns. Over the 25 years that we have been in the lending business, we have come to the conclusion that it can be extremely beneficial to file your taxes on your own. So, we want to give you some tips on how to your tax return by yourself.
Even though we are a title loan lender and not an accounting firm, we strongly believe in consumer education and customer support. This is why we have begun to include informative resource articles on our website, so that we might assist all of our amazingly loyal customers with every aspect of their financial lives.
Not as Scary as You Think
Doing your taxes on your own is not quite as intimidating as you might think it will be. People tend to be very afraid of making mistakes, thinking that they might get audited or in some other form of trouble if they make any mistakes at all. But that is simply not the case. If you do make a small, honest mistake- there will be no audit, we assure you. If you are not purposefully providing false information, then the most that will happen is the IRS will let you know what you did wrong and either give you a bigger refund or ask for a little more money.
If you do your tax return by yourself, you can gain a lot of knowledge that you did not have before. It can help you to better understand what you are paying in taxes and why you need to do so. It is also significantly cheaper to file your tax return on your own. There are tons of free and very inexpensive software options out there that will make it easier for you and help you out along the way. Using tax-prep software can significantly reduce your chances of making minor errors and there are completely free options for taxpayers who have a lower annual income.
If you get stuck on something that you don’t know how to do, most tax-prep software will provide you with awesome step by step how-to instructions but if you can’t find the information you need there, you can always get your answer straight from the IRS by either going to www.irs.gov or by giving them a call.
- Avoidance and evasion are two completely different things. Evasion is illegal but avoidance by trying to minimize how much you need to pay in taxes is completely legal and smart. So, make sure that you get all the deductions, benefits, reductions, and credits that you might be eligible for.
- Be sure to save and keep track of all the documentation and forms that come from your tax return. If you don’t have a printer home, still save all the electronic documentation in PDF files that you can print out at a later date.
- Additionally, keep the CD or the link to the tax-prep software that you used to do your taxes each year so you can go back and consult a certain year in the future if you need to.
- Don’t forget that this year’s deadline in Tuesday, April 18th – 2017
By deciding to do your own taxes, you can save a bunch of money on professional help and feel significantly more in control of your money than you did before.
Refund Anticipation Loan
Are you anticipating that you will receive a major refund this year? If you are, that is excellent news and we are thrilled for you. However, we are aware that, in many circumstances, people need their refund money sooner than it comes. If you are crunched for time and need that tax refund money now to pay bills, then you ought to consider an auto title loan. A title loan could be the perfect way to hold you off until you receive that refund check in the mail.
Through TFC Title Loans, you could get a large chunk of cash very quickly based on the current equity value of your car. These loans from TFC are absolutely perfect as a refund anticipation loan because we charge absolutely no prepayment penalties, meaning you can pay back the loan anytime that you wish. You can pay it all off the moment you receive your refund check in the mail so you pay nearly no interest.
If this option interests you, then fill out our online application located on our homepage today!
- What is Net Worth and How Is It Calculated?
If you are currently trying to improve your financial well-being, you may need an answer to the question: what is net worth and how is it calculated? Determining your net worth is an excellent step in getting your finances on track and we would like to help you with that process. Here at TFC Title Loans, we may not necessarily be a financial planning agency but we care about our customers and want to see them succeed. This is the reason that we push ourselves constantly to not only be a lender but also a support to our customers with their financial needs. We strongly believe in consumer education so we have been expanding our website to include informative resource articles to enrich our customer’s financial knowledge and literacy.
In this article, we will be explaining exactly what net worth is and how you can go about calculating your own. We will also discuss how knowing your net worth can help you improve your financial situation. If you are interested in learning about net worth, then please continue reading below.
However, you may have come across this page because you are interested in obtaining an auto title loan to take care of some unexpected expenses. We have been in the title loan industry for nearly 25 years, making us the oldest title loan lender in California. With that experience, we have been able to perfect the lending process so if you need a title loan, you ought to consider us. Simply fill out our online application located on our website’s homepage.
What is Net Worth?
Net worth can easily be defined as what we are worth in monetary terms. Our net worth is how much we “have”, in way of things or assets of monetary worth, at any given moment in time. Your net worth is found when you subtract your liabilities, meaning what you owe, from your assets, meaning what you have. Therefore, if you have more liabilities than you do assets, you will have a negative net worth while if you have more assets than you have liabilities, you will have a positive net worth. When it comes to net worth, the main goal for personal financial health is to get a positive net worth and keep it moving upwards over time. By knowing your net worth, you will know how well you are meeting your various financial goals such as saving for retirement or paying off debt.
How to Calculate It?
Calculating your net worth is easier than you might anticipate. In it you don’t consider annual income since it is meant to be a snapshot of your current financial situation so it cannot take into account past income or future, rather just what is in your bank right now. First, you add up your assets. Next, you add up your liabilities. Finally, you subtract the total number of liabilities from the total number of assets.
These are the assets that you add up:
- The market value of your vehicle/vehicles
- The market value of your home and all other property owned
- The money in any of your various investment accounts including retirement funds and life insurance
- The amount you have in all your bank accounts including checking, savings, CDs, and money market accounts
- Valuable items with a substantial monetary worth such as furniture, collectibles, jewelry, or artwork
These are the liabilities that you need to add up to subtract from the above assets:
- Any unpaid medical bills
- Your mortgage
- Car loans
- Student loans
- Credit card balances
- Back taxes
How It Can Help You?
Some people wonder how simply knowing whether you are in a good spot financially or not can actually help you out. If you never know where you stand, you don’t know if what you are doing is working or if it isn’t. If you have a positive net worth, then you will know that what you are doing is working and be able to evaluate what liabilities you could get rid of to make that positive number even higher! If you come out of your calculation with a negative net worth, then you will know that you need to change your ways and do some serious work to improve your situation. Analyzing your net worth and the finer details of it will give you a plan of attack so you know which liabilities to erase first and which assets you could improve upon. Without calculating your net worth, you will never know how well you are accomplishing your various financial goals.
- Financial Help for the Home of Your Dreams
I am sure many of you, if not all of you, would appreciate some financial help for the home of your dreams. We would like to help you achieve your goals by offering both practical help and theoretical advice. If you are interested in improving your living situation, then please continue reading.
Sometimes the best start to improving your living situation is to declutter and get rid of some of your belongings. Additionally, it can be quite economically beneficial since you may have a lot of pieces that you never use which could make a good amount of money. All this extra money you make can be used to make new renovations around your house that you have been wanting to pursue for quite a while. There are endless possibilities of projects that you can take on: spruce up your garden, paint the house, upgrade the windows, or renovate your kitchen.
When you get rid of most of the things you don’t need anymore, your home will look cleaner and more spacious making it easier to see it’s potential. Additionally, cleaning will be much easier. When there is less stuff, organization and dusting is a breeze. Your furniture remaining will make the house look minimalistic, just like a magazine!
Start designing the house of your dreams now! Why are you waiting?
We Can Provide the Financial Help for the Home of Your Dreams!
In all likelihood, the most precious asset we have is our home. Investing money into it is an actual long-term savings account. If you notice that you still need a little extra money to do the renovations, then you can count on us to help you out! Remember that have high quality products and high quality construction services are incredibly important for the investment in your house to bring about a decent return. You can truly make you home an impeccable, beautiful, useful, and durable place that may one day give you a lovely retirement fund.
You can take out an auto title loan with TFC Title Loans to make your dream home become a reality. We have locations all across California, New Mexico, and Arizona. You can stop by to visit one of our offices at any time and we would be happy to assist you. And if you can’t take time out of your busy schedule then just shoot us a call and we would be happy to help you out.
One of the benefits of our company is that we have bilingual customer service representatives. This makes communication much easier. When it comes to our companies’ priorities, the most important thing is communication and trust.
We have 25 years of experience in the lending industry. This makes us a company of trust and tradition. And we want to be with you in the special moments of your life.
If you need information, do not hesitate to reach out. We are ready to solve any doubts you have. Do not think about it: Call us! We are here to assist you. That is and will be our priority.
- Fashion on a Budget
Dressing to impress is vital to getting ahead. However, it is hard to find good fashion on a budget. It’s a vicious cycle: you can’t find financial success without expensive and impressive clothing but you can’t access expensive and impressive clothing without financial success. Good style is not defined simply by the brands that you wear, but by how you wear them and in which occasions each item is used. What is important is to have several key pieces in your closet that you can mix and match to make outfits for situations where you need to dress to impress. This way you can have a luxury closet before you are earning the big bucks with a little bit of organization and strategy. This is fashion on a budget.
We will help show you how to take this organizational system into account as a tool that will help you to develop professionally. Having a larger than life present is fundamental to developing your business or career. You ought not to take your appearance lightly. And by this, we don’t mean you need to be better looking but rather that you need to look neat, put together, and professional. Dressing professionally to job interviews, in front of your employees/employers, and current/future clients will develop confidence and project a positive and trustworthy message to those who you come into contact with.
How Do I Optimize my Current Closet?
- The first step is to get rid of all the clothes that you have not used in more than a year or no longer fit you or you don’t like anymore. Either donate them or if they are in good condition than you ought to try to sell them and make a little money to buy new clothes or put in your savings.
- Take some times to wash older winter coats, work jackets, or blouses that look worn but are still in good condition. They will look as good as new and much more professional.
- Before replacing your clothes in your closet or dresser, check that they are clean and dust free. If clothes are wrinkled or dusty because of the closet or drawers will look ten times more less professional than if you were to store them properly.
- Place the clothes that you use constantly in the newly cleaned closet and organize them properly. Organize your shoes so they are kept clean and in good condition so that they will last longer.
- Once you do all of these tasks, you will be able to see your closet much more clearly. You will be able to analyze what you actually have and what you still need. If it is filled with things you don’t need you cannot properly see what you have that will impress your colleagues.
Your wardrobe ought to have something for every occasion, especially professional situations, and be in good condition. You should both showcase your individual style while looking impeccable for work and business surroundings. These are a few of our inexpensive yet professional recommendations, some specific to women and some to men:
- Brown, navy, or black slacks: you can wear them with higher boots, lower boots, flats, heels, or dress shoes. If your workplace permits, women can wear dark colored skinny jeans as well, as long as they don’t have any rips in them.
- White work shirts or white blouses: the more of these you have the better for both men and women. They can go with nearly everything and the clean and bright white makes you appear professional right away.
- Black dresses: for women, these are a necessary staple. You can wear them in the summer and pair them with tights in the winter. They go with nearly all shoes and sweaters/blazers.
- Heels in a variety of neutral colors: black, nude colored, brown, and white. They will add an edge of professionalism for all women. Neutral colors are a must because the crazier colors make you appear like you aren’t serious.
- Black blazer or sport coat: this is necessary for both men and women since they make nearly any outfit look more serious and professional.
- Work suits: one navy and one black is positively essential for both men and women. The measurement must be extremely accurate as an ill-fitting suit is unbelievably uncomfortable.
Is It Sometimes Worth It to Invest in Brand Names?
Absolutely. As we mentioned earlier, there are certain pieces of clothing or accessories that you use a lot and others that will hardly ever use your closet. We advise, for those items that you use a lot, that you buy a really good quality brand that will last much longer. For those other items, don’t spend too much money on them until you are more financially stable.
If you need further funds to create a closet that will improve your professional career, you can apply for a loan that can be used for that exact purpose. This will give you a new business persona so you can get ahead. The money you take out in a loan for professional clothing will likely be returned to you tenfold in the end.
TFC Title Loans has been in the lending industry for nearly 25 years. Because of that you can find a human value that will help you solve whatever issues may arise in your life or in your loan. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact our offices since we are prepared to resolve any doubts that you may have. We can get you the most competitive rates and offer you all the options we have available.
Come and visit us, we are for you: https://www.tfciloan.com/contact/
- Learn to Save
Whatever stage of life you are currently in, it is vitally important to learn to save! When you learn how to not waste money, you will be more likely to make the plans and dreams you have a for the future a reality. All of this starts with day to day living. We want to see you succeed in your finances so we are going to give you a few tips to help you save a little daily and see big results each and every month.
Do you know how to save money on daily expenses?
Those daily expenditures might seem immovable but that isn’t always the case. It may feel as if you saved only a few cents on items you buy, it wouldn’t be worth it. But each little tiny amount you save will continue to add up to make a big difference in your monthly expenses. Here are some examples of how you can save daily:
- Don’t spend money on low-quality items. Sometimes we want to buy things not because of their usefulness or quality but because of how they look. For example: a pair of shoes that are fashionable but cheaply made. Two months of use and they have holes in them or are falling apart. However, we are still paying interest for that purchase on our credit cards.
- Pay your credit cards on time or early every single month! Having a credit history in perfect condition is one of the best things you can do for your finances. This way your interest rates will not be so high and you won’t waste money on them. Ideally, you should organize a payment plan for yourself that will not greatly influence your monthly expenses already established.
- Snacks and drinks through the day, every day. We all know how enjoyable it is to get a cup of coffee at two in the afternoon as a break from the office. Perhaps get a snack or a bottle of water from the vending machine. But try adding up all of those expenses to think how much you are actually spending daily. Of course, sometimes those small luxuries are needed but we can try to primarily plan our snacks and bring them from home. This solution is both healthier and cheaper. Drinking your coffee from home could save you hundreds of dollars a year!
- Lunches out on the town in the middle of a long work day can be extremely enjoyable. You get try new things and talk with your coworkers. But it would be better for this to be an occasional treat rather than an everyday occurrence. Make your lunches for economical, fresher, and homemade. By pre-making your lunches at home you could save thousands of dollars every year!
- Save money on transportation. Avoid using taxies at all costs and carpool whenever you can to save on gas. Use public transportation or bicycle to work and you could save hundreds.
Simple Saving Techniques
- Write down all of your expenses and analyze your spending patterns and habits. We can then pinpoint where we are spending too much and cut back. Record your daily expenses in a notebook, an Excel spreadsheet, or an application on your smart phone. It doesn’t matter how you go about it, just that you observe your spending habits objectively.
- Budget everything according to what you observed in your analysis. Include every one of your expenses including, food, credit card payments, or home remodeling. This truly helps you stop spending so much.
- Be very clear about your saving goals. This will give you motivation and with motivation, everything is easier. You can set goals for both the short term and the long term. Short terms goals may help you save up to travel, buy a car, or pay off a debt. Long term goals can help you save up to buy a home, prepare for retirement, or pay for your children’s or grandchildren’s education.
- Put all the money you set aside in harder-to-access savings accounts. If you have a separate account that does not have debit cards or checks connected to it, you will find it much easier to leave that money you save untouched. Once you see your savings grow, you will feel great and you won’t have felt like it was a major sacrifice.
A Loan to Grow Your Savings
If you have the ambitious goal to multiply your savings quickly, we can help you! Once you invest some and start to see results, you will be better prepped to make a long-term organized savings plan.
You can get a substantial loan from us and even ask for professional financial advice. One of the great benefits of our lending service is that have different locations all over California, New Mexico, and Arizona. You can come to any one of them and speak with one of our representatives. If that is not possible, you can give us a call toll-free anytime.
Another great benefit of our company is that we have bilingual representatives who can speak to customers in both English and Spanish so if English is not your first language, there is no need to worry. When it comes to finances, the most important things are communication and trust.
We have been in the lending industry for over two decades and have experienced representatives who will help you get the help you need.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call right away! We are here to assist you. That is our top priority.
- How to Apply for a Successful Loan
Most people would like an easy formula for how to apply for a successful loan. Even if there isn’t an exact formula that works for everyone, there are some general principles that can help you be successful in your loan application and approval. There are many entrepreneurs out there who would bet everything on the creation of their very own business. However, you need a certain amount of capital to do so and the easiest way to access this is by applying for a loan.
Loans are a speedier alternative to obtain a large sum of money for a life event or endeavor that requires immediate funding. There are numerous different types of loans and lines of credit, such as loans for small or large businesses, mortgage loans for a new home, auto loans for a new car, and personal loans for medical emergencies, home remodeling, travel, weddings, or college tuition. You just need to choose the one that suits your particular needs best and meet the different requirements requested by the particular financial institution you are seeking your loan from.
This is certainly easier said than done. Actually, obtaining a loan can be somewhat complex, since it usually requires the submission of a large number of documents including bank references, personal balances, credit history report, proof of income, personal references, family references, among others.
Your credit score and credit history report needs to be emphasized, as it is largely up to your credit score whether or not you will be approved for the loan that you are applying for. It is deemed by the banks as the best way to prove that you are a responsible person who has the ability to meet the monthly payments on time. If you have never opened a line of credit yet then start building your score now by avoiding a default on any of your monthly payments so you never have any major issues in the future. Remember that banks keep close track of each of their customers, so don’t damage your reputation.
Recommendations on applying for a bank loan
There are many bits of advice that will be very helpful when requesting a loan from a banking institution, among them are the following:
- Don’t keep your eyes set on a single bank. Scout out a few different banks and apply at a few of the best ones. As there are some banks that require less of you than others, this way you will have a better chance of getting approved for at least one of them.
- Be completely honest when you are filling out all of the application forms. Do not add more monthly income than you actually have since the bank statements and personal balances will show what your income really is. You do not want to appear dishonest to the loan officer. Every detail is important when filling out the forms. Make sure to not make any errors on your address, your phone numbers, your work address, and other important information since errors, no matter how unintentional, can appear misleading and will cause the bank to question your credibility.
- Don’t make mistakes and then erase them. It would be better to fill out the form a hundred times and turn it in as clean and neat as possible. This might seem trivial but it is all about making a good impression and making your application as easy to read as possible.
- Ask for a lower amount. Especially if you are applying for a bank loan for the first time, it is best to request an amount on the lower end. Since the bank does not have as much confidence in you yet, they will find it difficult to approve you for higher amounts.
- Don’t let the process intimidate you, although it feels like you need to meet a lot of requirements. Don’t be discouraged. It’s better to have patience and gather all the documents that the bank requests than to allow stress get the better of you.
- Deliver all of your documents at once. It is far better to compile all of the required documents before taking them to the bank than to deliver them randomly at different times. This way the financial advisor can keep your file organized and it will be more quickly reviewed.
- Get more advice from experts. It is a great idea to consult with someone who is skilled in the subject of lending so you can make the wisest decisions at each step of the process.
To sum up…
Applying for a loan from a bank is no small feat, it is important to understand the responsibility you may be taking on if you are approved for one. Arm yourself with patience, enthusiasm, and follow the advice of financial experts because, even though bank loans can be a bit complex to apply for, they are significantly better for your finances than many other alternatives you may turn to.
Avoid making late payments. Don’t forget that your reputation depends on how you deal with this loan. And your credit reputation will determine whether you approved for funding in the future. Ensure that the loan you apply for is not higher than what you can reasonable pay back in monthly payments.
If you are denied the loan, don’t give up just yet. You can keep trying at different banks or different financial institutions. Remember that there are many little factors that go into each loan officer’s decision to approve or deny a loan so someone else may view your situation differently. Don’t be discouraged.
Another important factor to remember when you are applying for a loan is to demonstrate your character virtues. You can do this by being kind to the loan officer and be responsive if they ask you to do something specific. Remember they are the experts in this situation and it will make this less convenient for them if you are rude or apathetic.
- Tips to Improve Your Credit Score
Do you need tips to improve your credit score? Well, we can help you out with that. There are several key factors that go into determining an individual’s credit score. And that score has a huge impact on an individual’s ability to obtain a loan from any kind of banking institution. So, it is incredibly important to ensure that we always meet the minimum requirements for a good credit score and resolve any outstanding issues that may cause a low score or a negative report.
Out of all the variables that come into play when determining your credit score, pay special attention to the following:
Do not incur defaults
This is undoubtedly the factor that will have the greatest effect on your credit in the long term. You need to pay each and every loan installment or credit card bill on time every month. The more payments you make on time the higher score you will have, and vice versa: the more late payments you make or don’t make at all the lower your score will become.
This is calculated into your score at varying percentages with the most recent late payments affecting the score the most while those that were late two years ago, do not have as high of an impact.
Additionally, a default is a very serious blow to your credit report that will decrease your credit score quickly. Be sure to keep up with all your pending payments and after you do so, it will reflect positively on your personal credit rating. If the payment delays are due to lack of resources, don’t allow them to become defaults. You can do this by negotiating with your bank, credit card company, or lender. If you describe your situation before the problem occurs they will be more likely to act sympathetically towards you. You can propose a way to alter the agreement slightly so the payments are more affordable for you. They want you to succeed in the loan because, otherwise, they lose money. You may have the opportunity to extend the loan period to lower the monthly fees or to agree to a grace period where you are exempt from amortizing your loan and simply commit to pay interest for a while.
Do not use up your credit card balance
The second most impactful factor in your credit score is the percentage of your credit balance is used. Obviously, the greater amount you owe, the more problems you will have when applying for a new loan or credit card.
The most common example of this is credit cards. If you are using 80% of your credit limit at all times, then it will not reflect kindly on your score. You want to keep your use of credit cards at 30% of the available balance. To avoid this, pay higher than the minimum payments each month and don’t use your credit cards that often.
Pay credit card debt off faster
Most of us are aware that once you use up a large amount of your credit card’s balance, you have two options: pay small incremental payments over many months or pay the whole, or large portion, of the balance the next month.
The latter option has significantly more advantages than it might seem. By paying more at once, you will avoid tons of monthly interest charges and you will feel lighter with less debt. But the way in which you pay off your card is just as important as the action of paying it off to the calculation of your credit score.
Your credit score will increase substantially, sometimes as fast as the next month, if you are able to pay off a credit card balance right away. From good to bad, in that order, these are the options for paying off your cards:
- Immediate payment of all your credit card debt
- Incremental payments that are slightly higher than the monthly minimum payments
- Incremental payments that are just equal to the monthly minimum payments
Don’t get a loan until you’re sure you need it
Banks will always look to see what state your credit is in before approving you for a loan, as will credit card companies. Each and everyone one of these “credit inquiries” are registered and negatively affect your score. They have a harmful impact because they make you appear as if you are desperate for more and more credit.
The wisest thing you can do is research the conditions and terms for your loan before applying for one to avoid credit inquiries for loans or credit that you may not qualify for or even want. The more applications you send out to different banks or lenders, the more credit inquiries you will have on your credit report in a very short amount of time. But with a little research on your part, you can determine which bank or lender best suits your needs so you can go directly to the best option and only have one inquiry on your report.
- How to Make Your Paycheck Last
Everyone would like to know how to make your paycheck last. It can be difficult to make it to the end of the month with any leftover. Let’s pretend it is the first of the month and your paycheck has been deposited into your checking account. Now you can buy that brand-new gadget you have become obsessed with or go out to celebrate with a good dinner and a few drinks at a trendy bar.
But wait a second before you do either of those things. Try to take it systematically instead. Perhaps it would be logical to the rent or the mortgage first. Have you made sure that you can pay the bills for your phone, electricity, gas, and water yet? That may be important to take care of first as well. Surely, you have a few other fixed monthly payments like a gym membership or the insurance for your car. Look at your bank account after all of that is taken care of instead of before. This way you will have a more realistic view of your situation.
Do you still have a budget for whims? Maybe next month…
It is no secret that most middle-class and low-income families in America are caught in the vicious cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. This is largely because a substantial percentage – if not all – income made goes directly to cover those monthly fixed expenses, with no margin for saving or covering next month.
It is extremely difficult to handle unforeseen events when you are living paycheck to paycheck, but breaking out of that vicious cycle is possible. In this article, we will reveal five useful strategies to cut costs and stop living paycheck to paycheck:
If you made less, you’d spend less
Now I am not telling you to ask for a demotion, don’t worry. However, it is a good exercise to imagine making less and how you would spend that. You probably wouldn’t starve but you would cut down frivolous spending to adapt to your new economic reality. Wouldn’t it be much more useful to cut expense while you’re still getting the same paycheck?
Although it is much easier said than done, pretending to cut your own salary is really the only solution to stop living paycheck to paycheck all the time. Once you register the (fictitious) idea that you are making less than your actual paycheck, you can start building up a substantial amount at the end of each month. That “cut” can be directly deposited into your savings account and you can pretend it’s not there!
You can figure out how much you can “cut” from your paycheck by first calculating the amount you spend on the most superfluous expenses like meals out, new clothing, or vacations. You can start small and aim to save 10% of your salary. You will find that you adapt surprisingly fast and your life won’t feel horribly different from before the “cut”. As you become more comfortable with the first cut, continue with more every three to four months, and it will become even easier.
Set a budget and acclimate to it
Use a budget planner you find online or one of the numerous smart phone applications out there. They can help you organize and identify your expenses so it will be easier to detect all those extra expenses you have avoided.
Work to accumulate an emergency fund
Life is full of unexpected surprises. Issues with your house or with your car may need to be repaired, a broken tooth or decay that appears out of nowhere, the flu that may take you away from work for a while or requires special treatment. Emergencies happen all the time.
Even if you can only gather up a small amount, it is always important to have some money set aside for those unexpected expenses.
A simple life isn’t a bad thing
The moment you think you can’t – or don’t want to – continue cutting back on your monthly expenses, you should start thinking about what you are doing from a different light. Simplifying your life may make it exceedingly more enjoyable, not just cheaper. Do you like to work out? Maybe you hate the idea of quitting your gym membership but what if you ran outside around your city instead? What if you did yoga in your living room? You could end up learning you like this better than what you were doing before!
Apply this concept to all of your other activities as well and you will see how much you can gain from saving each month. Is it necessary to live in a two-bedroom apartment when you never use the second room? Do you really like to eat out? Learn how to cook and you might soon enjoy that more than going to a restaurant.
In debt? Pay it off as soon as possible
Debts are one of the main reasons that people end up living paycheck to paycheck. The sooner you pay off your debts, the sooner you will break the cycle. Get to work right away on establishing a plan whether short terms or long terms to get rid of all your debts. If you have several debts, pay them down one by one to motivate yourself. You can do it if you set your mind to it.
- Grocery Shopping on a Budget
You might be wondering how to go about grocery shopping on a budget. It’s true, it can be hard. Larger supermarkets and food brands understand perfectly how to drive us to pick one product over another. In addition to positioning and packaging, the stores are filled with psychological traps and seemingly attractive offers or deals. While all of this leads to an enjoyable shopping experience for us and money made for the seller, it can have a detrimental effect on our pocket books. If you are aiming to spend less, or even save more, on your daily purchases at the grocery store, always keep the following tips in mind the next time you go shopping:
Planning is saving; prepare your menu of the week in advance
Let’s start with the most obvious. Before you leave the house to go shopping, make a menu of what meals you will be cooking that week. This way, you will stop yourself from making impulsive purchases of more expensive foods and you will avoid having to throw away leftovers. Additionally, it is a good idea to elaborate your menu according to deals or coupons you know of. You can get these off the internet, phone apps, or catalogs in the mail.
Avoid buying products that are at the level of your eyes
When you walk through the aisles of your grocery store, which area do your eyes focus on? If you look straight forward at the level of your eyes, then you are doing what most shoppers do. Food manufacturers know that this is the case which is why they pay a higher amount to get that particular positioning on the shelves. Because they pay more, the price of those products cost more. You spend more money when you buy those products. The next time you go to the grocery store, be sure to look at other areas to find similar products at a better price.
Always carry a calculator with you
If you really wish to stick to a strict budget and save a few dollars on your weekly shopping list, a calculator is your best friend. Only add something to your shopping cart if it is on your list then automatically add the cost to your running calculation on your calculator. Before you go to the store, calculate your maximum budget, and ensure that you stick to it while buying everything you need for the week. Now, all cell phones have a calculator so this part is even easier.
The eternal battle: generic versus brand name
In general, brand names are usually quite expensive because of the large investment they make in advertising and marketing. However, you ought to know that the generic is usually the exact same quality and often are pretty much the same product in different packaging. So, look at the generic products instead when you go to the grocery store.
Buying seasonal products is a great way to go about grocery shopping on a budget. Buy abundant quantities of in-season items and freeze the leftovers, to use them in the future when they are out of season and the price has increased. Look up seasonal products on the internet. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
Avoid the products at the beginning and end of each row
As mentioned above, the location of the products can increase its price. In addition to all products placed at eye level, those at the beginning and end of each row are more visible than those that remain in the middle of the row. Every time you go through a new row of products, avoid the temptation, and stick to the shopping list you’ve worked out at home.
Do you use a product regularly? Take advantage of coupons
Surely you use a series of products on a regular basis like pasta, vegetables, shampoo, razor blades, etc. Take advantage of any deals or coupons you find for them and stock up for the rest of the year. This advice is especially valid for products with a long-term expiration date.
Cook for yourself, do not buy pre-cooked food
Do not pay for low quality food that is already precooked. When buying fruit, buy a whole melon instead of a cut and packaged portion that is significantly more expensive. Avoid buying vegetables in the frozen section, and buy them while they are in season and fresh then freeze the extra yourself.
If you wish to start grocery shopping on a budget, then try all of these tips and you will be surprised by how well they work.