Budgeting

Budgeting is every ones nightmare but it is a practice that we must do.Living without a budget is dangerous and can lead to a financial crisis.

How To Build A Budget For Your Family

How To Build A Budget For Your Family

Building a budget that works for your family

A good budget is the number one tool to helping a person pay off debt, build their retirement accounts, and plan for their financial future. A budget is a road map to help you with your everyday finances. A person should not look at a budget as being a negative item, but a helpful tool. When you take a vacation you use a road map or google maps in order to map your way from point “A” to point “B”, well a budget is the same thing, a map to help you manage your finances.

Many Americans have troubles with their bank accounts and other finances because many of us lack the skills to manage their accounts and their debt. There are many tools out there to help us with skills but most people do not know where to look or what to look for. Many financial tools  are free of charge if you know where to look.

Before putting together a budget the first thing you need to do is track all your expenses for a month. There are mobile apps that can help you record all of your purchases. Every purchase, from small ones to large ones need to be recorded for this month. Even ATM fee’s and bank fees need to be recorded in order to get a good picture of you spending habits.

Take this data after a month of tracking and sit down and you will probably be surprised to see where your money has gone. This is best way to get an overall picture about how you allocate your funds and spend your hard earned money..

When you finally sit down to put together your first month’s budget the number one thing you do not want to do is cut out all the fun things you do. Don’t make this a punishment and take all the fun out of your life. If you are too strict on yourself you will probably fail in a short time period. You will find yourself cheating and eventually you will stop following your budget and you find yourself back in the same boat your are trying to leave. Instead learn to limit yourself. Example would be, “if you stop every morning for a starbucks coffee or eat out for lunch everyday, don’t stop doing these things you enjoy all together. Just set yourself some limits, instead of doing these things daily, cut yourself back to once or twice a week, you will see the benefits add up in your wallet at the end of the month.

Now take your bills for the month and separate them into categories. The first category should be your fixed expenses, such as your mortgage or rent, your utilities, car payment and any sort of membership fees that you pay monthly. Hopefully this does not go over fifty percent of your monthly take home pay.

The next category would be savings. Experts recommend putting away ten to twenty percent of your take home pay into a auto deposit savings account that earns interest. They recommend an auto deposit, this is where the money comes out of your check before you notice it is missing so these funds will not be seen, “out of sight out of mind” kind of thinking.

The third category would be flexible spending. Your monthly budget should not exceed thirty percent of your take home pay for this category. This would consist of eating out, morning Starbucks coffee runs, groceries, gas, entertainment, hobbies, and etc. This category is called flexible because these items can be adjusted. For example, when shopping for groceries, try cutting coupons and look at adds in the paper to save yourself some money. Shopping for clothes, is another area that you can compare prices in order to save money. Filling the car with gas, shop around the area for cheaper prices for fuel. Cut back to once or twice a week for going to Starbucks instead of going daily. These are just a few examples of where you can be flexible and save money.

So if you see, fifty percent of your money goes toward your large ticket items like rent or mortgage, twenty percent goes to savings of some kind, and thirty percent goes toward your more flexible items.

Here is a list of tools to help you build your budget. These tools are online so I have put the links here for you to click on.

Budget Calculator

Mint.com

Budget Worksheet

BudgetPulse

Posted by Tom in Budgeting
Items That Will Pay For Themselves

Items That Will Pay For Themselves

Items That Will Pay For Themselves In A Year

We all are looking to save money where ever we can, we work hard for our money so why should we be throwing out the window on utilities and other items if we don’t need too. Here is a list of ideas and gadgets that will pay for themselves in a short period of time and save you money in the long run.

Solar Outdoor Lighting

I have switched all my outdoor lighting to solar this past year. Even my emergency lights around my home all work on solar now. Solar is a great choice if you want to light up your yard, drive wave or patio. Over the past year or so solar powered lighting has come down in price. You have a one-time investment but over the course of a year it will diffidently for itself.

Programmable Thermostat

These thermostats will pay for themselves in no time if you use them correctly. If you have central a/c this is the way to go to save money on your utility bills. These devices will lower or raise your heat and air conditioning while you are gone so energy and dollars will be saved. These devices are under a hundred dollars and can save you several hundreds of dollars a year.

Water Saving Devices

If you have city water and you have hot water tank you will want to install high efficient water saving devices on all your faucets, especially your shower heads. These devices are very inexpensive and can save you thousands of gallons of water each year. Also by saving water you will also cut down on the amount of hot water you will be generating with your hot water heater. You will save money by reducing the cost of electricity to generate hot water, plus you will save money by reducing the amount of water you purchase from your utility company.

LED Lighting

LED lighting is fairly new to the market place. This type of lighting can be a little expensive when first being purchased. I have heard where families have saved a few hundred dollars a year by switching their lighting in their home to LED. I have tried this yet, but with the cost of electricity going through the roof I may look into this myself.

Hot Water Heater Blankets

I remember years ago purchasing hot water heater blankets to save money on electricity. These items are fairly cheap and easy to install. They basically are an insulation blanket that wraps around your hot water heater giving the hot water heater a double layer of insulation to keep the water hot on the inside. You can also save more money by lowering the hot water temperature on the thermostat on the tank, by doing this and installing a blanket on the hot water heater you can save ten to twenty percent on energy cost which will put more money in your pocket.

Water Filtration System

An average American family drinks about 30 gallons of bottled water each year studies have shown. Tap water cost is pennies while bottled water is equal to dollars. People seem to think that bottled water is cleaner and healthier than tap water, while studies have shown that this is false. Filtration systems like Brita and PUR will cost some money in the beginning and for filters but the cost over a year is much cheaper than purchasing bottled water. Plus you will be helping the environment by less plastic bottles clogging up our landfills.

Smart Power Strips

These little gadgets smart power strips are awesome especially if you have a desktop computer. When all your computer parts monitor, printer, scanner, speakers, etc. are plugged into this device and you power off your main computer these over devices will power off also. When you power off and everything shuts off there will be no phantom “standby” electricity drawn to the other devices. In the long run you will save money on the powered down devices but you will also save money from the lack of phantom electric usage.

Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is a simple and easy to use device that can save you on your electric usage and save you money on your grocery bill. A slow cooker will use less electricity than a stove or oven, produce less heat which saves your air conditioning from coming on saving your money on your utilities. Also you can purchase cheaper cuts of meat at the grocery store. By cooking slow the crock pot tenderizes the meat as it is cooking. This saves me a lot of money on my groceries each week.

Hopefully this has been helpful for you, I would love to hear back from you on your ideas that save you money each month.

Posted by Tom in Budgeting
Setup Your Finances In Order To Homestead Properly

Setup Your Finances In Order To Homestead Properly

How to finance your homestead

Many people have asked me over the years how I went about setting up my finances in order to homestead properly? For our family we work very hard to live on half of the income that comes into the home. This is not easy for us but we do our best in order save as much money as possible. We pour in a lot of blood sweat and tears into our work instead of hiring things done and this helps us to save money. The other thing that we did that most people hate to think or talk about is budgeting. We will discuss budgeting in more detail in a later episode. Today we will just touch on a few key points of a budget.

The cost housing

Like I have mentioned in another post we live in the nature coast of Central Florida. The housing cost here is much much less than living in other areas of the country and even in the State of Florida. Many people would rather live in a more city type areas like Orlando or Tampa in order to enjoy all the fun and materialistic lifestyle that city life can give them. But living closer to these cities the housing cost would be three to five times higher than where I live now. In order to keep our housing cost down we choose to live here and by doing so we were able to pay off our house and property and live mortgage free. I will admit that there are days when my materialistic mind says let’s sell everything and build a new fancy home, but then I think what would happen if the economy tanks and the banks call in all their mortgages, we would be homeless. Since our home is paid off I don’t have to worry if the country falls back into a depression my family will have a roof over our heads.

Think before you buy

One of the main problems with our country today is the economy. From our government leaders all the way down to the blue collar worker we purchase things on credit. People need to stop pulling out their plastic credit cards and start paying for items in CASH ONLY. If for any reason you need to finance something do some real soul searching and decide if the item is really a need or a want, and if it is a need then try to work out some creative financing in order to keep the interest payments to a bare minimum. Many young people today finance everything that they own, credit card companies play these games with travel points to cash back deals and so on. Don’t fall for these scams, they sound great but they sucker you in with these scams and the next thing you know your credit is maxed out and you will be paying thousands of dollars in interest fees.

Weigh out your needs versus your wants

Do I need a new car or do I want a new car? These are questions that we all need to sit down and decide. The car I am driving has 228,346 miles and it runs great plus I get fifty miles to a gallon. But would I love to have a new car or truck, of course. But what comes with a new car or truck, a payment. I love so much not having any car payments, this money I save in car payments goes directly into the bank. I have friends that have three or four car payments, according to bankrate.com the average car payment in the U.S. is $479.00. Three to four car payments in a household like this would wipe out some families finances if one of the family members lost their job.

Take television, here in Central Florida we have one maybe two cable companies that supply cable television to the homes. The average cable bill according to USA News is $124.00 a month. In our home I purchased a high definition cable antenna and I pay nothing for television. I pull in over thirty television stations even though I live over sixty miles from a big city. That $124.00 a month can purchase a lot of other items that are needs not luxury items.

Eating out is another area that you can save a lot of money. Food is one of my downfalls, I love food and I love to eat out. I have friends and family that eat out for every meal, can you imagine what their food expense is every month. When I go to places like Outback, Olive Garden or etc my dinner bill for my wife and I comes to around $50 – $60 each time. This is such a waste of hard earned money. When I go to the grocery store and figure the cost of the same meal I could save more than half the cost of eating out.

These are just a few things that you need to sit down and decide for you and your family. If you truly want to be homesteaders and put cash away you may need to adjust your family expenses and get rid of some luxury items in order to live on much less and have additional funds for your homesteading projects.

Get the family involved

Homesteading is a family lifestyle. It takes hard work by everyone in the family. When it comes to finances the entire household needs to be on the same page. There needs to be family conversations and open communication with everyone in order to have everyone working towards the same goals.

Budgets

Like I said in the beginning living on half of a family’s income is hard. It takes serious discipline and special planning. If you put your mind to it you can make anything happen as long as you have a plan and stick to it. The key elements that led us to be able to live on half was making wise choices, work to cut out all debt, and being creative. In some future articles we will take a much closer look at budgeting and setting some financial goals.

Related Links:

5 Budgeting Tips

Budgeting ideas for mom’s

Helpful tips for family budget

 

 


Posted by Tom in Budgeting, Homestead