Posts Tagged ‘Budget Tips’

Who is the CFO in Your Household?

Monday, February 6th, 2017

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This post was created in partnership with Chase. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

The entrance of a new year often comes with a renewed focus towards financial goals and a quiet respite after all the holiday spending. Perhaps, you are dreaming of the same thing as me, to be a wiser spender and tracker of funds.

I am curious, as a busy mom, who holds the CFO reigns in your household and if you have found this role has evolved for your family over the years?

My husband and I have been married for sixteen years and I have always had the CFO duties in our house.

There are times where I am nailing it as a diligent tracker, an oh-no-you-didn’t-charge-me-that-much customer service caller, and a fierce barterer on rates.

As our life has gotten busier though, I am ashamed at how poorly I have been keeping up this role on top of every other hat I’m wearing.

I find myself, a negligent CFO who needs to get her ducks back in a row.

It’s not that I lack confidence with money; it is that I often feel like I lack time.

Chase Mastery recently ran a study called the, “Chase Generational Money Talks Study,” to see how this evolution of CFO has shifted through the generations. Much like me, they discovered that 78% of Millennial women agree they are able to make good financial decisions, even if they are new to them, compared to 71% of Gen X and 67% of the Boomer generation.

My Millennial confidence is great, but how can I implement better follow through for my family this year?

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This year, as our Household CFO, I would like to focus on four goals with our finances!

Track My Money Better

I can admit that my first instinct is to grab my phone and do a little scrolling. If that instinct is already there, wouldn’t it be great to replace my social media time with a quick analysis of our family finances?

I’m a big fan of Mint as it does a really great job of tracking and helping you visualizes where your money is going, but I had fallen off the bandwagon with my daily tracking.

I am a nerd when it comes to pie charts and graphs so why not geek out a little bit over my morning coffee again? I am hoping this tool can help me to be a better monitor of our funds.

Removing Those Slow Leaks

It is so easy to get caught up in monthly memberships to things from our music to our television watching to our digital consumption to the gym memberships.

I really want to revisit where these slow leaks are happening and be serious about canceling the memberships to things we are not using. We can ALWAYS come back to these subscriptions, should we find we really miss them, but I’m wondering how many of these things we would truly miss.

Embracing No-Spend Weekends

I don’t have a lot of down time during the week, but I do on the weekends. What inevitably happens is that those periods of laziness often gets filled with online shopping, dining out, and boredom busting activities.

I want to start replacing those impulses with commitments to not spend on the weekend.  Making dinners together, playing board games, watching documentaries, and really enjoying my kids without spending money needs to be my new jam.

Talking About Our Financial Goals

The “Chase Generational Money Talks Study,” shared that couples often have conflicts regarding their household finances. Three-quarters of Millennials and GenXers have conflicts with their spouses over money, compared to 62% of Baby Boomers, the study found.

Although I believe the CFO roles have changed, I feel like conflict about money is something that has carried on for generations.

I’ve been lucky that we don’t have conflicts about money, but I can remember the difficulties and struggles when we were sinking in $13,000 of debt and how awful it felt to feel our financial future slipping away.

I want to always have an open dialogue with my spouse and I think we need to start talking about our retirement goals and figuring out what we can do now to prepare for our future.

To learn more about the Generational Money Talks series, you can watch it here:

A huge thank you to Chase for sponsoring this conversation today and spurring a much-needed conversation in our own home about our financial future!

Tell me, who holds the CFO reigns in your household and has this role evolved at all for your family? I’d love to hear!

This post was created in partnership with Chase. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

Reducing Expenses: Put the ‘Personal’ In Your Finances

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

How to Reduce Your Expenses

Personal finance is called ‘personal’ for a reason. No matter what advice or best practices exist, money—how we earn, spend, and save it—is intertwined with our values, beliefs, and experience.  By exploring not only the practical side but also the personal side, you will find that you not only can ‘find’ more money, but you’ll be happier because you’ve given your personal finances careful thought.

Knowing your goals and setting up a budget that works are the first steps in putting the personal in your finances. Once you know where your money is going and how much you’re spending you can challenge yourself and your family to reduce or eliminate unnecessary spending by examining what you’re spending through the filter of your goals.

Each expense should be evaluated and considered. Is it essential? Could it be reduced? Should we be ‘investing’ more in this area?

Let’s examine a few common areas where you may be able to find savings that can really add up:

 

Trivial Spending

Buying a cup of $3 coffee at work or spending $10 on lunch out with co-workers every week may not seem like a big deal, but it can add up…and fast! Spending $30/week on those little things can add up to over $1,500/year!

Tips to Manage Trivial Spending:
Choose intentional spending instead. If you know you are going to spend money on little thing it’s best to set a budget of yourself-or an allowance. Once you’ve spent your ‘allowance’ you will have to skip the little expenses for the rest of the month. This will allow you some freedom while staying within your budget.

Stop, Think, Spend Strategy

This simple strategy will keep you from overspending. Stop before you go to the checkout counter. Think about what you’re buying. Go over a few questions in your head to get yourself to be in the moment. No justifying the clearance cost or the unnecessary stuff.

Tips for using Spending Strategy: 
Some sample questions you can either keep in mind or have a list in your wallet (ideally in front of your credit or debit card)

  • Is it a need or want?
  • Can you use something else in place of the item you’re going to purchase?
  • Can you find a better price elsewhere?

Only after you’ve given it the stop and think then and only then is it time to spend.

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

One of the best strategies I have is to always shop with a list. I keep running lists on my phone and in a notebook I carry. This includes everything we need and things I’m looking out for-like a new pair of curtains and the budget I have for those items. If it’s not on the list we don’t purchase it. This keeps me from impulse purchases (my weakness!) and allows me to keep track of things we need that may not be at the forefront of my mind.

Tips for using Lists: 
Use your phone or a dedicated notebook to keep track of your lists. There are plenty of apps that work great for this including Notes (on iPhone), Moleskine’s app, and Taasky.

Unwanted Expenses

We all have things in our budget we’d rather not spend money on-not the things we have to (like home repairs), but expenses that come from a lack of time management or organization. Some examples include; late fees, parking tickets, monthly contracts, or convenience fees. It could be you forgot to return your library books or you needed to pay a bill online that day and had to pay a $3.95/fee. You may have signed up for a ‘free’ trial and forgotten to cancel. While these may seem like small time they can add up if you aren’t careful.

Tips to Avoid Unwanted Expenses:
Avoid unwanted expenses when possible, but also make sure to have some room in your budget (Misc. category) for paying off those unwanted expenses now. To keep from making the same mistake again you can set reminders in your phone or have notes on your planner for due dates and mark down the day you should cancel a ‘free trail’.

Cutting the Cable(s)

One expense most families have is their cable bill. It can add up to more than $150 with internet access, cable channels, premium channels, DVRs, and a home phone. That’s a lot of dough! While internet access may be a requirement at home cutting the cable or dumping the home phone are both ways you can save big bucks.

Tips for Cutting the Cable:
Cutting the cable doesn’t mean never watching TV or movies! You can get a membership to Netflix, use Hulu, HuluPlus subscription, or Amazon’s Prime to stream movies and TV for cheap or free. The best part is you aren’t in a contract so you can cancel or ‘pause’ your membership at any time.

Reducing Interest Payments and Debt

The best way to reduce your expenses is to cut back on interest and debt payments. After all, saving more doesn’t make sense if you’re spending 10% or more on interest payments or more a large percentage of your earnings on debt. Debt isn’t all bad-it may allow you to pursue higher education, purchase your home, or finance a business. Revolving debt, loans, and high interest rates are an expense we should fight to eliminate.

Tips to Reduce Interest: 
While you’re working to pay off debts you can reduce interest rates by:

  • refinance your mortgage-you may be able to refinance for a lower interest rate
  • call your credit card company-call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate
  • switch credit card companies-0% intro rates are a great way to eliminate interest (be mindful of fees for transferring balances)
  • consolidate loans-by consolidating loans into one payment you can often reduce interest rates

What are effective ways you’ve reduced expenses?

 

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